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1876 illustration of the courtroom; the central figure is usually identified as Mary Walcott

Mercy Lewis was born in Suffield, Hartford, Connecticut, and was the servant in Thomas Putnam’s household. She is also one of the featured characters in Arthur Miller's play The Crucible.

On May 20, of the same year she fell very ill and Mary Esty was blamed for it; consequently she was arrested again for witchcraft.

"Afflicted Children"

Mercy was among the accusing girls during the Salem Witch Trials. This group was known as the afflicted children and consisted of Betty Parris, Abigail Williams, Ann Putnam, Jr., Mary Walcott, Elizabeth (Betty) Hubbard, Elizabeth Boot, Susannah Sheldon, Mary Warren, and Sarah Churchill. Sometimes Goody Bibber, and a Mrs. Pope also testified with the girls.

Effects of the Testimony

As a result of the personal testimonies of all of the above, nineteen people were hanged, and more than a hundred more accused were left to languish in prison.

During the early spring of 1692 these children continued to have fits and convulsions at their meetings and attracted considerable attention to their antics and actions. These were all attributed by the people to witchcraft, and presently the children under this favorable notice began to extend their activities to the meeting-house on Sundays, crying out that they saw yellow birds sitting on the minister's hat, and other similar nonsense.

Much pressure was put on the children to tell who afflicted them and they began to name various people: Sarah Good, Sarah Osbourne, and a slave woman from Barbados named Tituba, and warrants were obtained for their arrest. They were arrested on February 28, 1692.

On March 1, 1692, John Hathorne and Jonathan Corwin, the magistrates, proceeded in state to the village to hear the cases. Then these three women were brought to Salem Town and examined in Corwin's home, also called "The Witch House", which remains in Salem as the only building erect today with ties to the actual witch trials.

Roger Williams House (or "The Witch House") in c. 1910

In spite of the "afflicted children" who charged them with hurting them, the first two steadfastly maintained that they had made no pact with the Devil, had not hurt the children, and were innocent; but the surprising thing is that Tituba admitted that she did serve the Devil; that her fellow prisoners were witches; also that they rode around on broomsticks accompanied by familiar spirits and did all sorts of injury. Tituba confessed to seeing the devil who appeared to her "sometimes like a hog and sometimes like a great dog". In addition, Tituba testified that there was a conspiracy of witches at work in Salem. For five days the examination continued, and then the magistrates committed all three of the women to the jail in Boston.

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