Roger Toothaker (Salem witch trials)

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Roger Toothaker (November 27, 1634, England – June 1692, Province of Massachusetts Bay) was a dentist[1] who came to Massachusetts from England shortly after he was born. He was one of the victims of the Salem witch trials who died in prison.


Roger Toothaker was born in England in 1634. In 1635, as an infant, Toothaker traveled to the Massachusetts Bay Colony from London, sailing from August 21 to September 11 on the Hopewell, led by Captain Babb. In 1638, his father, Roger Toothaker, died, possibly in Plymouth on February 5. Later that year his mother Margaret married Ralph Hill on December 21 and they lived in Billerica. He served as an assistant to Samuel Eldred, and later became a physician although he had no formal medical training. In or around 1662 or 1663, his stepfather died. In 1665 he married Mary Allin, a midwife, and had eight children who survived infancy: Nathaniel, Martha, Allin, Roger, Sarah, Mary, Andrew, and Margaret.[2]

Toothaker, a farmer and folk-healer, claimed to specialize in detecting and punishing witches. For several years before the Salem witch trials began in 1692, Toothaker had reportedly bragged to locals that he had taught his daughter, Martha Emerson, wife of Joseph Emerson, his trade and that she had killed a witch.[3]

Salem witch trials[edit]

On May 18, 1692, Elizabeth Hubbard, Ann Putnam, Jr., and Mary Walcott accused Dr. Toothaker of witchcraft. Elizabeth was the servant of Dr. William Griggs, Dr. Toothaker's competitor. On May 28, Mary Toothaker, Margaret Toothaker (aged 9), Martha Carrier, and Elizabeth Jackson were arrested. John Willard of Salem, Thomas Farrar, Sr. (or Farrer) of Lynn, and Elizabeth Hart were arrested, along with Toothaker.

Toothaker was sent to Boston Prison where he remained until his death the following month at age 57. His body was examined and it was confirmed that he died of natural causes, although it is impossible to separate his death from his imprisonment, and likely illness and/or maltreatment and/or malnourishment.[2]


  1. ^ Some sources claim he was not a dentist but a "farmer and folk healer".
  2. ^ a b "Roger Toothaker profile". Retrieved 2007-02-14. 
  3. ^ Toothaker family profile,; accessed September 12, 2015.

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