"I am as innocent as the child unborn."
Little is known about Bridget's early life. Scholars believe she was born Bridget Magnus around 1632, although actual records don't emerge until 1660, when she marries Samuel Wasselbe in Norwich, England (see right). Their child Benjamin is baptized in 1663. It is presumed that both Samuel and Benjamin died before Bridgette gave birth to Mary, in Boston, Massachusetts Bay on January 10th, 1665.
Sadly, Mary would not survive and Bridget Wasselbe found herself completely alone in a new world. We do not know how, or when, Bridget met Thomas Oliver of Salem Town, but the two were wed on July 26, 1666. They gave birth to a daughter (named Christian) on May 8th, 1667.
On paper, the two seemed like a good match; not only was Thomas from Norwich, England, but he was also a widower. In reality, however, their marriage was a nightmare. On two separate occasions, their bad tempers landed them in court for verbal and physical abuse.
Their quarrels ended when Thomas died
in the summer of 1679. He left no will, and by
November the courts granted Bridget administration of his estate and
allowed her use of the house during her lifetime (not just during her widowhood).
Inventory of the estate of
taken June 21, 1679, by Edmund Batter and Hilliard Veren Senior:
House and ground adjoining of about one-half an acre 45
About ten acres of land in the north field 25
A small old bed, bedstead, flock bolster, and pillows, with all appurtenances 2 10
His wearing apparel 1 5
A little table and three old chests 15
Two iron pots and an old iron kettle, a hanger and tongs 10
A brass skillet and some few earth [enware] dishes 5
Three or four old chairs 3
Two pigs 10
Two pails and old tubs and some odd lumber 5
An old rusty sword and old bandoleers 5
Total L 76 8
Despite the debts she was responsible for paying, Bridget's life seemed to be improving. Perhaps her new fortunes made others in Salem Town jealous, for by February of 1680, Bishop was accused of witchcraft for the first time.
Juan's testimony is the only record of this case, suggesting that Bishop paid a bond to avoid jail and was never tried. Any suspicion of witchcraft failed to frighten off Edward Bishop, who married Bridget in 1685.
The couple lived in the center of Salem town and over the course of the next 12 years, many altercations and quarrels occurred between Bishop and her neighbors; feuds that would later haunt her during her trial.
In February of 1692, a group of children in Salem Village began accusing adults of witchcraft. By early April, 9 people had been arrested and were awaiting trial in prison. It may have come as no surprise when, on April 18th, the marshall knocked on Bishop's door with an arrest warrant in hand.
The next morning, Bishop was brought to the Village Meeting House, where she was officially charged and questioned by the Court of Oyer and Terminer. Her testimony, recorded by Judge Hathorne and Ezekiel Cheever, failed to convince the grand jury of her innocence, and she was indicted for using the "detestable arts called witchcrafts and sorceries."
On May 3rd, Deliverence Hobbs mentions Bishop while being examined, and further convinces the judges of her guilt.
On May 30th, William Stacy and Samuel Gray provide a deposition against Bishop.
On June 2nd, 1692 the Briget Bishop's trial finall begins "before the Jarris of inequest." Read the following testimonies of:
Although she was accused by over 10 people, Bishop was only found guilty of one crime: for using , practicing, and exercising certain acts of Witchcraft in and upon the bodies of Abigail Williams, Ann Putnam, Jr., Mercy Lewis, Mary Walcott, and Elizabeth Hubbard.
On June 10th, Briget Bishop was hanged on Gallows Hill.