Bridget BishopWitch Trial Defendant
Born: c. 1635
Died: 10 June 1692 (execution by hanging)
Best known as: The first person executed in the Salem witch hunts
Bridget Bishop was the first of 19 people convicted and hanged in the witch trials that convulsed Salem, Massachusetts, in 1692. A controversial tavern owner with an edgy personal style, Bishop already had been at odds for years with her strict Puritan neighbors. She thus became an easy target for a group of girls and adults who alleged that "witches," enlisted by Satan, were responsible for unexplained illnesses and misfortunes. Arrested in April, she first met her accusers at her 2 June trial. They said, among other things, that Bishop's "shape" or ghost had threatened and even physically harmed them. Bishop denied any involvement with witchcraft, but was nonetheless convicted that day and hanged publicly eight days later.
Extra credit: Biographical details on immigrants from England to the Massachusetts Bay Colony can be hard to find. Bishop's birthdate remains unclear; estimates range from 1632 to 1640... She was married three times: first to a man whose last name was Wasslebee; then, in 1666, to Thomas Oliver, who died in 1672; and then, in 1687, to Edward Bishop... The Salem witch trials are portrayed in Arthur Miller's 1953 play, The Crucible, featuring John Proctor as a main character.
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