Sarah Osborne

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Sarah Osborne (also variously spelled Osbourne, Osburne, or Osborn) (c. 1643 – May 10, 1692) was one of the first three women to be accused of witchcraft in the Salem witch trials of 1692.

Early life and first marriage[edit]

Sarah Osbourne, born Sarah Warren, married a prominent man by the name of Robert Prince. He was the brother of a woman who married into the prominent Putnam family. She moved with her husband to Salem Village in 1662, where the couple had two sons and a daughter: Joseph, James, and Elizabeth. Robert Prince died in 1674, leaving Sarah Prince a widow.[1]

Accusation[edit]

Sarah became one of the first persons accused of witchcraft at the beginning of the year 1692, when Betty Parris and Abigail Williams became ill with an unknown sickness. Both girls claimed that Sarah Osbourne, along with the servant Tituba and Sarah Good, had been afflicting them. Elizabeth Hubbard also accused Sarah Osborne of afflicting her, describing it as her pinching and poking her with knitting needles. All three women were considered social outcasts, albeit for different reasons. Sarah Osbourne had not attended church in almost three years due to a long illness, and was also still dealing with legal issues with the Putnam family. Ann's accusation of Osbourne was most likely the product of powerful suggestions from the Putnam family.[2] The warrant for Sarah Osborne's arrest was written for March 1, 1692.[3] She was to be placed in the Boston jails for the duration of her examinations and trials.

In popular culture[edit]

Goody Osborne is mentioned in the original version of Arthur Miller's largely fictional drama The Crucible but does not appear as a character. He added her (along with other characters) into a courtroom scene when he wrote the screenplay for the 1996 film adaptation. In the drama, her name is spelled "Osburn".

She was portrayed as a very pathetic character by actress Ruth Maleczech, an impoverished and obviously deranged beggar but also aware that she is in grave danger.

"Goody Osburn" was mentioned in episode 5 of True Blood's season 3.

As the evidence does not indicate the historical Sarah Osborne was mentally ill, her movie depiction may be a composite character created of Osborne and Sarah Good who was known to mutter and insist she was reciting the Ten Commandments, as does the Osborne character in the movie.

Osborne's hanging is also depicted in the film.

References and bibliography[edit]

  1. ^ Charles W. Upham. "Witchcraft at Salem Village". Salem Witch Trials, Vol. 2. Williamstown, Massachusetts, Corner House Publishers, 1971 p. 4
  2. ^ Marilyn J. Westerkamp. Women in Early American Religion, 1600–1850: The Puritan and Evangelical Traditions. London: Routlyyedge, 1999. p. 66
  3. ^ Frank W. Thackery. Events that Changed America Through the 17th Century. Connecticut: Greenwood Publishing Group, 2000. p. 160