Sarah Osborne (also variously spelled Osbourne, Osburne, or Osborn; née Warren, formerly Prince, born c. 1643 – died May 10, 1692) was one of the first women to be accused of witchcraft in the Salem witch trials of 1692.
Early life and first marriage
Born Sarah Warren, she 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.
Sarah became one of the first accused of witchcraft at the beginning of the year 1692, when Betty Parris became ill with an unknown sickness. Both girls claimed that Sarah Osborne, along with Tituba and Sarah Good, had been afflicting them. Elizabeth (Betty) Hubbard also accused 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. Osborne had not attended church in almost three years due to a long illness, and was still dealing with legal issues with the Putnam family. The accusations against Osborne likely were the product of powerful suggestions from the Putnam family. The warrant for Sarah Osborne's arrest was written for March 1, 1692. She was to be placed in the Boston jails for the duration of her examinations and trials. She died in jail on May 10, 1692, believed to have been 49 years of age.
- Osborne is mentioned in the original version of Arthur Miller's The Crucible but does not appear as a character. Miller 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. As no evidence indicates that Osborne was mentally ill, her movie depiction may be a composite character of Osborne and Sarah Good, the latter of whom was known to mutter and insist she was reciting the Ten Commandments, as does the Osborne character in the movie.
- "Goody Osburn" is mentioned in episode 5 of True Blood's season 3.
- Charles W. Upham. "Witchcraft at Salem Village". Salem Witch Trials, Vol. 2. Williamstown, Massachusetts, Corner House Publishers, 1971, pg. 4
- Marilyn J. Westerkamp. Women in Early American Religion, 1600–1850: The Puritan and Evangelical Traditions. London: Routlyyedge, 1999. p. 66
- Frank W. Thackery. Events that Changed America Through the 17th Century. Connecticut: Greenwood Publishing Group, 2000. pg. 160
- Profile, salem.lib.virginia.edu; accessed September 7, 2015.
- Meghan Carroll. Sarah Osborne profile, salem.lib.virginia.edu (2001); accessed September 1, 2016.