Rare Salem Witch Trial Document Sold for $26,000

A rare document from the Salem Witch Trials sold for $26,000 last week at a New York auction house.

The document was a court indictment for Margaret Scott, an elderly Rowley woman who was one of the last victims of the Salem Witch Trials of 1692.

The document was a part of the Eric C. Caren Collection and was purchased by an undisclosed buyer. According to an article in the Salem news, this was the first Salem Witch Trial document to be sold in almost 30 years.

Margaret Scott was accused of witchcraft in July or August of 1692 by a local teenager named Mary Daniel. Scott was found guilty on September 17 and hanged on September 22 along with Martha Corey, Alice Parker, Ann Pudeator, Mary Easty, Samuel Wardwell, Wilmott Redd and Mary Parker. These were the last hangings of the Salem Witch Trials.

A month after the September 22 hangings took place, Governor Phips forbade any further arrests and many of the remaining accused were released from jail.

Born in England in 1615, Margaret Scott’s maiden name was Stevenson. She married Benjamin Scott in 1642 and had seven children, although only three of them lived to adulthood.

Her husband Benjamin died in 1671, leaving Margaret a poor widow. Due to her lack of finances, Margaret often begged for money and food.

All of these factors made her an easy target for a witchcraft accusation. According to court documents, Margaret Scott’s neighbors suspected her of being a witch for many years prior to the Salem Witch Trials but never officially accused her until the hysteria of 1692.

In 1711, the Massachusetts legislature passed a resolution clearing the names of the convicted witches and offered financial restitution to their descendants. Margaret Scott’s family did not wish to be named in the law and did not seek restitution.

In 1957, the Massachusetts legislature formally apologized to the victims of the Salem Witch Trials but only cleared the name of  “Ann Pudeator and certain other persons.”

Finally, on October 31 in 2001, the Massachusetts legislature amended the apology and exonerating five of the victims not mentioned in the previous resolutions: Susannah Martin, Bridget Bishop, Alice Parker, Wilmot Redd and Margaret Scott.

“Session Laws.” The 187th General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, www.malegislature.gov/Laws/SessionLaws/Acts/2001/Chapter122
Dalton, Tom. Rare Witch Document Expected to Sell For Thousands. Salem News, Eagle Tribune Publishing Company, 14 March. 2012: www.salemnews.com/local/x1511614329/Rare-witch-document-expected-to-sell-for-thousands
“Salem Witch Trials Document Sells for $26,000.” Boston.com, Boston Globe Media Partners, 16 March. 2012, www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2012/03/16/salem_witch_trials_document_sells_for_26000/
“Margaret Scott, Executed September 22, 1692.” The Salem Witchcraft Papers, Volume I, University of Virginia, salem.lib.virginia.edu/texts/tei/swp?div_id=n119&term=Margaret%20Scott&name=

About Rebecca Beatrice Brooks

Rebecca Beatrice Brooks is the author and publisher of the History of Massachusetts Blog. Rebecca is a freelance journalist and history lover who got her start in journalism working for small-town newspapers in Massachusetts and New Hampshire after she graduated from the University of New Hampshire with a B.A. in journalism. Visit this site's About page to find out more about Rebecca.

21 thoughts on “Rare Salem Witch Trial Document Sold for $26,000

  1. Laura

    I hope whomever purchased it will make a copy available for her descendants to view. Margaret Scott is my 9th great grandmother.

    1. Sylvia Horine

      Laura, Margaret Scott was my 9th Great Grandmother. My mother was a Scott so my line is a straight one through her. I wonder if we could be related ? My Great Grandfather was from Worcester, and his father was from Winchendon. Massachusetts.

  2. Charlie

    Margaret is my 8th grandmother also my direct link was through her son joseph who is my 7th I would love to learn more and meet other family members 352-897-7761 or caejme@yahoo.com

  3. Kim Espejo

    Margaret Scott is my 8th great grandmother. I have done quite a bit of research on the Margaret’s family and would love to share/converse with other relatives!

  4. Kristin Thompson

    She is somewhere around my 15th great grandmother. i would love to see and compare notes with any of you!

  5. Karen Lisenby ugate

    She is my great grandmother, too. This fall (2014) my grandchildren took a picture of her memory bench while Rosa (student at Harvard Business School) had Robert (her brother) visiting her. Now, 2015 I am taking a tour and hope to sit on her bench, too. I saw a picture of her house——need to know where it is located—-is it still standing?

  6. Shelah

    I am a descendant of Margaret Scott on my father’s side and a descendant of John Alden and Priscilla Mullins on my mother’s. Would also like to have a copy.

    1. Sylvia Horine

      Hello Cherie, I also have a Tree on Ancestry. I have a direct line through my mother, who was a Scott. I descend through Margaret’s son Benjamin. Would love. to hear from you.

  7. Harold Hopkinson

    She was also my great, great—–grandmother through my great grandmother Eunice Decker. The Hopkinson/Noyes and others is on Ancestry.com.

    1. Denise

      I am descended via her son Benjamin Scott as well. I am on ancestry via Moreau-Cochrane tree.

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