Mercy Lewis (Salem witch trials)

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Mercy Lewis
Born ca. 1674/1675
Falmouth, Maine
Residence
Occupation Maidservant
Known for Accuser in the Salem witch trials
Spouse(s) Mr. Allen
1876 illustration of the courtroom; the central figure is usually identified as Mary Walcott

Mercy Lewis (ca. 1674 or 1675 – ?) was born in Falmouth, Maine. On September 30, 1689 an Indian attack killed her grandparents, aunts, uncles and most of her cousins; as a result the 14-year-old Mercy was placed as a servant in the household of the Reverend George Burroughs. By 1691 she had moved to Salem, Massachusetts, where a married sister was living; she became a servant in Thomas Putnam's household.[1]

Salem Witch Trials[edit]

Lewis played a crucial role during the accusations of the Salem witch trials in 1692, when 20 people were executed for witchcraft, including her former master George Burroughs.

As a member of the Putnam household, Lewis became friends with Ann Putnam and her cousin Mary Walcott. Putnam and Walcott's accusations would help launch the witch hysteria. In early April 1692, Lewis claimed that Satan had appeared to her, offering her "gold and many fine things" if she would write in his book; shortly thereafter, Satan appeared to her in the form of Burroughs, whom she reported "carried me up to an exceeding high mountain and showed me all the kingdoms of the earth, and told me that he would give them all to me if I would write in his book."[2] Lewis also accused Mary Easty, sister of Rebecca Nurse, who would be tried and hanged.[3] Others accused by Lewis include Giles Cory, Bridget Bishop, Mary Lacey, Sr., Susannah Martin, John Willard, and Sarah Wilds.[4]

Lewis was also the subject of accusation. Ann Putnam claimed that she had seen Lewis' apparition, though she said it had not harmed her.[5] After the trials, Mercy moved to Boston to live with her aunt. There she bore an illegitimate son. By 1701 she had married a Mr. Allen in Boston, Massachusetts.[6]

Fiction[edit]

Mercy Lewis is one of the featured characters in Arthur Miller's fictional play and later film The Crucible. She is also a character in the 2014 TV series Salem portrayed by Elise Eberle.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Carroll, Meghan; Stone, Jenny (2002). "Mercy Lewis". Salem Witch Trials Documentary Archive and Transcription Project. Charlottesville, Virginia: University of Virginia. Retrieved 16 March 2014. 
  2. ^ Boyer, Paul (1974). Salem Possessed. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press. p. 210. 
  3. ^ Richards, Jeffrey J (2002). The Cry at Salem: America's Witch Trials. Eugene, Or.: Resource Publications. pp. 40–41. 
  4. ^ Carroll, Meghan. "Mercy Lewis". The Salem Witch Trials Documentary Archive and Transcription Project. Retrieved 5 March 2015. 
  5. ^ Norton, Mary Beth (2002). In the Devil's Snare: The Salem Witchcraft Crisis of 1692. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. p. 134. 
  6. ^ New England Marriages Prior to 1700. Genealogy Publishing Co., Inc. 

Sources[edit]

  • Norton, Mary Beth. In the Devil's Snare: The Salem Witchcraft Crisis of 1692. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2002.
  • Paul Boyer and Stephen Nissenbaum. Salem Possessed: The Social Origins of Witchcraft. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1974.
  • John Hale. Modest Inquiry into the Nature of Witchcraft, 1702.
  • Carol F. Karlsen. The Devil in the Shape of a Woman: Witchcraft in Colonial New England. New York: Norton, 1998.
  • Bernard Rosenthal. Salem story: Reading the Witch Trials of 1692. Cambridge [England]; New York : Cambridge University Press, 1993.
  • Charles W. Upham. Salem Witchcraft. New York: Unger, 1867.
  • Clarence Almon Torrey and Elizabeth Petty Bentley, New England Marriages Prior to 1700, 1985.