Elizabeth Hubbard (Salem witch trials)
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Massachusetts Bay Colony
|Known for||First accuser in the Salem witch trials who was of legal age to testify|
|Home town||Boston, Massachusetts Bay County|
Elizabeth Hubbard (born c. 1674/1675) was one of the original girls to begin the Salem witchcraft accusations, and she continued to be a leading accuser throughout the summer and fall of 1692.
Hubbard was the seventeen-year-old orphaned maidservant to Dr. William Griggs, who purchased Hubbard from Boston after the death of his son, Isaac Griggs. She was a relative of William Griggs' wife, the former Rachel Hubbard, which made Elizabeth's adopter, Dr.Griggs, her great Uncle. Scholars connect the origins of her afflictions to her position in Griggs' household. As an indentured servant to Griggs, the doctor to originally diagnose bewitchment, she was familiar with the initial fits of Abigail Williams and Betty Parris on January 3, 1692.
Hubbard experienced her first recorded fit on February 1, 1692. Because of her age, she was the first of the accusers old enough to testify under oath, moving the accusations to the legal domain. Along with seeing the apparition of Tituba, she was among the first to accuse Sarah Osborne and Sarah Good of practicing witchcraft. Throughout the witchcraft crisis in Essex County she filed forty legal complaints against various tormentors and testified thirty-two times, the last of her testimony given on January 7, 1693.
By the end of the trial Elizabeth Hubbard had testified against twenty-nine people, seventeen of whom were arrested, thirteen of those were hanged, and two died in jail. As a strong force behind the trials, Elizabeth was able to convince both the townspeople and the court into believing her. One way she and the other girls did this was through their extreme fits in the courtroom. The fits, they would claim, were brought on by the accused persons. Elizabeth was especially known for her trances. She spent the whole of Elizabeth Proctor's trial in a deep trance and was unable to speak.
Mary Beth Norton states that after the trials, Elizabeth Hubbard moved to Gloucester, Massachusetts, married John Bennett in 1711, and had four children. Her cited basis is the record of a woman named Elizabeth Hibbert and a man named John Benet published in marriage on October 27, 1711 at Gloucester, whose union did eventually produce four children. Whether this Elizabeth Hibbert was the Elizabeth Hubbard of the Salem witch trials is unclear. Multiple women having the name Elizabeth Hubbard or variations thereon are recorded as having existed in the area at the time.
- Norton, Mary Beth (2003). In the Devil’s Snare: The Salem Witchcraft Crisis of 1692. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. pp. 310, 410. ISBN 978-0-375-70690-5.
- Galoupe, Augustus A., ed. (1907). Early records of the town of Beverly, Essex County, Mass. Boston, Massachusetts: Eben Putnam. OL 13489774M. Retrieved March 16, 2014.
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