Good, Sarah

SarahGood (d. 1692) was one of the first people to be accused of witchcraft in the Salem Witches hysteria of 1692–93. Sarah Good was executed by hanging and on the gallows delivered a famous Curse that seemed to bear true.

Good was married to her second husband, William Good. They had at least one child living at the time of the hysteria, four-year-old daughter, dorCAs good. Sarah came from an unhappy background of debt and deprivation. Her father, John Solart, a prosperous innkeeper who ran up a lot of debt, committed suicide in 1672, leaving behind a small estate. Sarah never received her rightful though small inheritance. She married Daniel Poole, a former indentured servant. Poole died sometime after 1682, leaving Sarah in debt. She and William were held responsible for Poole’s debt and had to sell their property to satisfy the court. This reduced the couple and their children to begging for shelter, work and food. The circumstances probably made them unpopular in the vicious Salem social politics leading up to the hysteria. When others refused to give aid to the Goods, Sarah reacted in anger, muttering to herself as she went away. Thus, she was readily seen as a good candidate for witchcraft—she was old and forlorn, and she had grudges, anger and reason to strike out at people.

The first people cried out against by the hysterical girls were Good, Sarah Osburn and reverend Samuel Parris’ slave Tituba. Warrants were issued on February 29, 1692, and the three accused were examined by magistrates on march 1.

Good, the first to be examined, did little to help her case. She was indignant and evasive. She readily accused Osburn of being the one hurting the children, not her.

She denied having familiarity with evil spirits and said she had made no pact with the Devil.

The children accused Good to her face of tormenting them at a distance, appearing in spectral form. She denied it. The magistrates asked her what she muttered against people, and she replied that it was a psalm. No one believed her—everyone thought her to be muttering Curses against others.

Even William turned against Sarah, apparently because their relationship had soured prior to the hysteria. William said he was afraid that Sarah either was a witch or would become one rather quickly. He admitted that he had no hard evidence of witchcraft practiced by her, but said that he considered her a witch because of “her bad carriage” to him. “Indeed,” he said, “I may say with tears that she is an enemy to all good.”

Tituba confessed to witchcraft and named Good and Osburn as two of four witches who were causing the afflictions and fits of the hysterical girls. Both women had signed marks in the Devil’s book and rode on a pole through the air with Tituba to witches’ meetings with the Devil.

Good and Osburn were sent to jail in Boston to be held for trial, along with a growing number of others accused by the girls of witchcraft. Dorcas followed Sarah by about a month, landing in jail with her mother after having testified against her.

Good and others were tried on June 29 and were sentenced to death. The executions were carried out by hanging on July 19. Prior to her hanging, reverend Nicholas Noyes urged Good to confess, saying that she was a witch and knew she was witch. Good shot back,

“You are a liar. I am no more a witch than you are a wizard; and if you take away my life, God will give you blood to drink.”

Her words sounded like a curse, and strangely her prediction came true. Noyes later died of a hemorrhage in his throat, blood pouring from his mouth.

See also :Hawthorne, Nathaniel.

FURTHER READING:

  • Hansen, Chadwick. Witchcraft at Salem. New York: New American Library, 1969.
  • karlsen, Carol F. The Devil in the Shape of a Woman: Witchcraft in Colonial New England. New York: W.W. Norton & Co, 1987.
  • Upham, Charles. History of Witchcraft and Salem Village. Boston: Wiggin and Lunt, 1867.

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

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