of the Devil
MOST WITCHES IN New England were middle-aged or old women eligible for inheritances because they had no brothers or sons. But not all women who shared these demographic and economic characteristics were accused of witchcraft. It was Rachel Clinton rather than her mother or her sisters whom neighbors saw as casting spells on themselves and their children. It was Susanna Martin rather than her sister or stepmother whom neighbors said appeared to them in animal shapes, bewitched their cattle, and prevented them from prospering. Many female relatives of reputed witches were eventually found among the accused, especially during the Salem outbreak, but many others seem to have escaped the stigma of suspicion. So too, apparently, did other inheriting or potentially inheriting women in New England who had passed their childbearing years. What was it about the accused that set them apart even from other women in similar positions?
The answer most likely to emerge from recent historical accounts of New England witchcraft is that the character or personalities of New England's witches made them suspect in
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Publication information: Book title: The Devil in the Shape of a Woman:Witchcraft in Colonial New England. Contributors: Carol F. Karlsen - Author. Publisher: W. W. Norton. Place of publication: New York. Publication year: 1998. Page number: 117.