Around this day in Salem Village, October 30, 1692, the Court of Oyer and Terminer was in turmoil. Sir William Phips - Governor - Copy

The court had been established by Governor William Phips  just months earlier on, May 27th, 1692. The court’s primary purpose was to oversee the witch trails since so many accusations had been brought by that time.

In the months after the court was established, witch hysteria grew. Men, women and dogs were arrested, tried, convicted, imprisoned and executed because of “evidence” such as the discovery of black or odd marks in the ‘private parts’ of the accused, or the admittance of spectral evidence – which was evidence like the apparition of an accused appearing alongside the actual accused, or the accused shifting into the shape of a bird, a rat, or even another person. This spectral evidence was admitted in court for while it was seen, heard and felt by only a select few, it was feared by all.

However, as this October of 1692 neared its end, a new debate had arisen. It was one in which ministers and magistrates were urged to discuss a more appropriate, and less random, manner in which to proceed with the trials of witchcraft. The very suggestion that another way should be chosen implied the right way had not been applied, and how could a sitting court, The Court of Oyer and Terminer, resume its duties if it had failed so terribly at them already…