Margaret Jacobs inspires me.
In early 1692, her father and uncle were accused of witchcraft and ran away. Her mother went mad, and Margaret’s siblings hid themselves.
She and her grandfather where accused and brought to court. As she walked through the court room nothing could fully prepare her for what would happen next. She wrote in her retraction about her confusion when those who claimed to be afflicted by witchcraft acted: ““which persons at the sight of me fell down, which did very much startle and affright me. The Lord above knows I knew nothing in the least measure how or who afflicted them.”
She was told she would not die if she confessed, and so confessed she did. She even pointed out other already accused “witches”. This included George Burroughs, a controversial reverend, and George Jacobs, Sr., her grandfather.
A depiction of Margaret Jacobs accusing her grandfather.
It would have been easy for her to rationalize. After all, she wasn’t solely responsible for the fates of her grandfather and Reverend Burroughs.
But she knew what she did was wrong. “The very first night after I had made confession, I was in such horror of conscience that I could not sleep, for fear the Devil should carry me away for telling such horrid lies… What I said was altogether false against my grandfather and Mr. Burroughs.” She suffered physically for denying her confessions, but there was some relief. “Upon my denying my confession, I was committed to close prison, where I have enjoyed more felicity in spirit, a thousand times, than I did before in my enlargement.”
Before the reverend’s execution and her grandfather’s on August 19, 1692, it’s believed that she was allowed to visit them. She asked Burroughs for forgiveness. He did and they prayed together. Her grandfather probably already forgave her as he had changed his will in prison which included her to inherit some of his money and provisions.
Margaret’s trial was postponed due to a boil on her head. Even when the convicted were free in early 1693, she stayed in prison longer than others due to the fact that she couldn’t afford her stay in prison (yes, people had to pay for being in the far from luxurious jail) and bail.
Margaret later got married, had seven kids, and was compensated some by the government. I believe she should be recognized more today. Not all teenage girls in the Salem witch trials went along with the chaos. She overcame weaknesses and showed integrity. This is what makes her a hero who we need to remember.
There were young Puritan women who remembered their values among the chaos in Salem.
http://ancestoryarchives.blogspot.com/2014/02/the-jacobs-family-salem-witch-trials.html . “The Jacob and Family and Salem Witch Trials 1692: From the Archives Salem Witch Trials”
The Salem Witchcraft Papers.
http://www.geni.com/people/Margaret-Foster/6000000017450304347 Geni “Margaret Foster”
Norton, Mary Beth. In the Devil’s Snare: The Salem Witch Crisis of 1692. Published 2003 by Random House.
Salem Witch Trial Documentary by National Geographic. .
Salem Witch lithograph
“Trial of George Jacobs, August 5, 1692″ by Thomkins H. Matteso
“A Fair Puritan” by Edward Percy Moran