Entertaining Satan: Witchcraft and the Culture of Early New England

By John Putnam Demos | Go to book overview

1
“A Desolate Condition”

As the witchcraft drama of 1692 moved outward from its initial setting in Salem Village, one of the new characters added to the cast was an Ipswich woman named Rachel Clinton. Hers was not an especially conspicuous role, but she did suffer arrest, trial, conviction, and imprisonment for a period of several months. She regained her freedom only as part of the general reprieve of January 1693.

A variety of Ipswich residents were summoned to give sworn depositions against her; three of these have survived.1 Mary Fuller testified about a recent occasion when “Rachel Clinton came to our house and charged me with raising of lies of her.” A heated argument had developed—in the midst of which came news that a girl in a neighboring house (belonging to the deponent’s brother) had “fallen down dead … as she, the said Rachel, passed by.” This report proved exaggerated, but the girl “continued for the space of three hours” to be unable to move or speak. At length Mary Fuller asked her to “hold up her hand if Rachel was the cause of it, and she did. And when she could speak, she said, ‘a woman with a white cap passed by and struck me on the forehead.’”

Another witness, Thomas Boreman, described a disturbance of some time previous in the Ipswich meeting-house. “Some women of worth and quality” had accused Rachel Clinton of “hunching them with her elbow” as they went to their seats for Sunday services, and had asked Boreman to refer the matter to the town selectmen. Boreman did as requested; then, while riding home the same night, he encountered a

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Entertaining Satan: Witchcraft and the Culture of Early New England
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface to the Updated Edition vii
  • Preface xi
  • Acknowledgments xv
  • Contents xvii
  • Introduction 3
  • One - Biography 17
  • 1 - "A Desolate Condition" 19
  • 2 - "Peace with No Man" 36
  • 3 - Witches- A Collective Portrait 57
  • Two - Psychology 95
  • 4 - "A Diabolical Distemper’ 97
  • 5 - "Let Me Do What I Could" 132
  • 6 - Accusers, Victims, Bystanders- The Innerlife Dimension 153
  • Three - Sociology 211
  • 7 - "The Mini of Our Town" 213
  • 8 - "Hard Thoughts and Jealousies" 246
  • 9 - Communities- The Social Matrix of Witchcraft 275
  • Four - History 313
  • 10 - "From Generation to Generation" 315
  • 11 - "Hearts against Hearts" 340
  • 12 - Communities- Witchcraft over Time 368
  • Appendix - List of Known Witchcraft Cases in Seventeenth-Century New England 401
  • Notes 411
  • Subject Index 533
  • Name Index 537
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