Massachusetts Senate Pardons Witch Convicted in 1693
Elizabeth Johnson Jr. was only 22 years old when she was convicted of practicing witchcraft when the Salem Witch Trails were all the rage here in progressive Massachusetts 329 years ago. Johnson was lucky, as many who were found guilty of practicing witchcraft in Massachusetts in 1693 were put to death.
According to the website "Witches of Massachusetts Bay," 20 people were killed for being witches in 1692 in Essex County, Massachusetts. Only one was from Salem.
Historian Sidney Perley told the Associated Press (AP) in 2016, "Twenty people from Salem and neighboring towns were killed, and hundreds of others were accused during a frenzy of Puritan injustice that began in 1692, stoked by superstition, fear of disease, and strangers, scapegoating and petty jealousies."
Perley told the AP, "Nineteen were hanged, and one man was crushed to death by rocks."
Last Thursday, the Massachusetts Senate approved an amendment pardoning Johnson. She was the last of those falsely accused of being witches to be exonerated. Though Johnson was sentenced to hang upon being convicted of practicing witchcraft, the AP reported then-Governor William Phips "threw out her punishment as the magnitude of the gross miscarriages of justice in Salem sank in."
The AP reported an eighth-grade class at Andover Middle School took up Johnson's case and researched the steps required to have Johnson pardoned.
Dozens of others were accused of practicing witchcraft in Massachusetts during the 17th century, including Johnson's mother, who was eventually cleared.
Witches of Massachusetts Bay has an extensive list, including what became of the accused.