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Edward Bishop (Salem): Wikis


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Edward Bishop was involved in the witchcraft hysteria of 1692. Both Edward Bishop and his wife Bridget Bishop were arrested and jailed in April of 1692 on accusation of witchcraft. [1] Edward was able to "brake gaol". Bridget didn't fare as well, she was the first of the accused executed in the Salem witchcraft trials.


Early circumstances

He was probably born in England and his father Edward Bishop brought him to Salem, Massachusetts where they were living as of 1639. They had moved to Beverly as of 1667 where they lived on the North side of Conant St. At the time of his marriage to Bridget (the widow of Thomas Oliver), he was a sawyer, which was one of the more highly paid occupations in New England (according to the early sources he was engaged in the operation of a pit saw). As England's need of lumber was one of the major reasons for the settlement of New England he was well fixed and (according to the sources) well respected, and perhaps even envied.

First marriage

His first wife's name may have been Hannah Raymond. They had at least three children, one of whom Edward bapt. Salem 23 Apr 1648 married Sarah daughter of William Wildes of Ipswich. (cf. Upham v 2 p 135).

Second marriage

Some time between 1680 and 1687 (perhaps 1684) he married, as her third husband, Bridget (maiden name Playfer or perhaps more likely Playford) widow of George Wasselbe and Thomas Oliver.

Bridget Wasselbe Oliver Bishop's second marriage, to Thomas Oliver, had been a troubled one. After his death she was accused of witching her husband to death. There was a trial on this charge, and she was acquitted, however this seems to have set her up for the trouble in 1692 (and her being the first actual victim, this may even have been the genesis of the entire mess).

Thomas Oliver's death left her well off financially. Unfortunately her prosperity was also troubled with resentful inlaws who felt that they were more deserving of Thomas Oliver's property. This was especially the case involving a house near (perhaps across the street from) the Meeting House in Salem, which at the time of the troubles Bridget was managing as a public house, where she served strong cider and played shuffel board with her guests until late in the evening. Upham and several websources have it that the wife of one of her second husband (Thomas Oliver)'s sons with his first wife (Mary) was a relative of (perhaps a sister of) one of the constables, and that this is where this part of her trouble may have started.

Involvement in the Salem witchcraft trials

According to several of the older 19th century Sources he and his wife Bridget were both arrested in April of 1692 on charges of witchcraft. Upham, among others, seemed to think that this was purely for pecuniary reasons, and that it was primarily because Bridget's step children wanted her share of their fathers' property. However, there may have also been a jealousy of another sort involved here. Both Edward Bishop, who was a wealthy sawyer, and his wife were clearly prosperous.

Thomas Oliver appears to have had a taste for outspoken and perhaps feisty women. If his first wife is in any way a measure of Bridget Oliver Bishop, then it may not have just been that she liked to wear clothing with a bit more color than the norm. Certainly as the owner and manager of a public house there was reason (pecuniary in the form of profits from guests) for her to be acting so as to be a figure whom guests would find entertaining and exciting simply to spend time with and to look upon. Clearly her conversation was entertaining. In this she excited a bit too many of the people of Salem.

Sources are nowhere near unanimous in identifying him as the Edward Bishop who after being jailed was able to "break gaol," after which he went into hiding and his property was confiscated.

His son Edward and his wife Sara were also arrested. This appears to have been too much for him and he was unable to retrieve his wife, who became the first of the accused executed.


He married a third time 9 March of the next year to Elizabeth Cash and Hutton has him living until 1705.

In 1956 the General Court of MA finally admitted the mistake of the judges. However there also was a further legal action along the same lines involving the General Court and Bridget Oliver Bishop during the present millennium.


  1. ^ A Genealogical Dictionary of the First Settlers of New England. James Savage, Boston MA: Little Brown & Co., 1860. v 1 pp 183-4.
  • A Genealogical Dictionary of the First Settlers of New England. James Savage, Boston MA: Little Brown & Co., 1860. v 1 pp 183-4.
  • Salem Witchcraft with an account of Salem Village and a history of opinions on Witchcraft and Kindred Subjects. Charles W. Upham, NY: Frederick Unger Pub Co, 1978, 2 VV.
  • Seventeenth Century Colonial Ancestors of the Members of the National Society of Dames of the 17th Century. (1915-1975) Mary Louise Marshall Hutton, Baltimore Md: The Genealogical Publishing Co. Inc., 1984, 317 pp.


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