Bridget Bishop

BridgetBishop (d. 1692) was the first victim of the Salem Witches hysteria in Massachusetts in 1692-93. Bridget Bishop was the first to be accused and examined, and the first to be tried and executed.

Bishop was an easy target when the hysteria began. She was not well regarded by her neighbors, for she owned a tavern and exhibited “loose” behavior. She dressed provocatively, and some of her younger tavern patrons were known to stay well past closing, drinking and playing games.

According to the testimony lodged against Bishop, she had bewitched a baby and a girl to death, paid a man in disappearing money, caused various mishaps with carts and horses and paid nocturnal visits to a man as a glowing apparition that hopped around his room in a cloak. She also had bewitched people into serious illnesses, caused people to argue violently and bewitched animals.

John Lowder, 24, a laborer, testified that Bishop tormented him numerous times after they argued over her chickens damaging the gardens of Lowder’s employer. Lowder said he woke up one night to find Bishop sitting on his chest. She tried to choke him.

Lowder also said that he had other dark bedroom visitors: a black pig and a flying Demon that had the body of a monkey, the feet of a rooster and the face of an old man. The Demon told him he was sent by the Devil and promised him money if he would pledge himself. Lowder chased the creature out of his room. It disappeared, but he saw Bishop in the distance. When he returned to his room, the Demon came back. Lowder invoked God and it flew out, causing apples to fall from trees. It kicked gravel into Lowder’s stomach, and he was unable to eat for three days.

Cotton Mather said that when Bishop was brought to trial, he had no doubt of her guilt. With a look, she brought in an invisible Demon who damaged part of the courthouse. Bishop was executed by hanging on June 10, 1692.

The Encyclopedia of Witches, Witchcraft and Wicca written by Rosemary Ellen Guiley – Copyright © 1989, 1999, 2008 by Visionary Living, Inc.