The Witchcraft Trial of Susannah Martin

Susannah North Martin was one of a handful of accused witches during the Salem Witch Trials who did not actually live in Salem.

Born in 1621 in Buckinghamshire, England to Richard and Joan North, Susannah relocated with her father and stepmother to the Massachusetts Bay Colony and settled in Salisbury, Massachusetts in 1639.

Susannah Martin’s Early Life:

The North family were some of the first settlers of Salisbury, which is located 40 miles north of Boston. The family lived with the other settlers on plots along the “circular road,” now known as the triangle formation of Elm street, School street and Bridge road in Salisbury square. At the time, the area was inhabited by Penacook Native Americans, wolves and wild animals.

After Susannah grew up, she married a blacksmith from Salisbury named George Martin in 1646 and eventually gave birth to eight children. In 1654, George and Susannah moved to nearby Amesbury.

Susannah Martin, Memorial Marker, Salem Witch Trials Memorial, Salem Mass, November 2015. Photo Credit: Rebecca Brooks
Susannah Martin, Memorial Marker, Salem Witch Trials Memorial, Salem, Mass. Photo Credit: Rebecca Brooks

Much like the other accused witches, Susannah was also viewed by others as a troublemaker and her name appears numerous times in court records prior to the Salem Witch Trials.

Like Bridget Bishop, Susannah had also been accused of witchcraft twice before 1692. During her first witchcraft case, she was accused by William Browne of tormenting his wife Elizabeth with her spirit. After her arrest, Susannah was released on bail and the charges were eventually dropped.

She was accused again in 1669, this time by William Sargent Jr, who also said he witnessed Susannah give birth to and kill an illegitimate baby.

Susannah posted bail, promising to return to court for her trial but, again, the charges were dropped. Her husband, George, later sued Sargent for slander.

The court held Sargent libel for slander in accusing Susannah of fornication and infanticide but allowed the witchcraft accusations. The charges were later dismissed.

After several failed court battles to inherit the bulk of her father’s estate in 1671 and with the death of her husband in 1686, Susannah was left a poor, defenseless widow.

Susannah Martin & the Salem Witch Trials:

When Susannah was accused of witchcraft for the final time in 1692, she had no one to come to her rescue. According to Susannah’s arrest warrant, she was accused by the afflicted Salem village girls: Mary Walcott, Abigail Williams, Ann Putnam, Jr., and Mercy Lewis.

Since they lived in different villages, it is not known how these girls knew Susannah, but it is possible they heard about her bad reputation from others and made the decision to accuse her.

After her arrest in Amesbury on May 2, Susannah was brought to Salem Village where she was questioned by Judge John Hathorne and Judge Jonathan Corwin and twice underwent a humiliating physical examination in an effort to find a witch’s teat that prosecutors believed witches used to feed their familiars.

No such witch mark was found but the examiner did make a note that “in the morning her nipples were found to be full as if the milk would come,” but later in the day “her breasts were slack, as if milk had already been given to someone or something.”

Although most of the court records from her trial were lost, Cotton Mather, a well known minister at the time, personally documented her trial:

“[Magistrate] (to the afflicted girls): Do you know this Woman?
[Abigail Williams]: It is Goody Martin she hath hurt me often.
Others by fits were hindered from speaking. Eliz: Hubbard said she hath not been hurt by her. John Indian said he hath not seen her Mercy Lewes pointed to her & fell into a little fit. Ann Putman threw her Glove in a fit at her. The examinant laught.
[Magistrate] (To Martin): What do you laugh at it?
[Martin]: Well I may at such folly.
[Magistrate]: Is this folly? The hurt of these persons.
[Martin]: I never hurt man woman or child.
[Mercy Lewes]: She hath hurt me a great many times, & pulls me down
Then Martin laughed again
[Mary Walcott]: This woman hath hurt me a great many times.
Susan Sheldon also accused her of afflicting her.
[Magistrate] (To Martin): What do you say to this?
[Martin]: I have no hand in Witchcraft.
[Magistrate]: What did you do? Did not you give your consent?
[Martin]: No, never in my life.
[Magistrate]: What ails this people?
[Martin]: I do not know.
[Magistrate]: But w’t do you think?
[Martin]: I do not desire to spend my judgm’t upon it.
[Magistrate]: Do not you think they are Bewitcht?
[Martin]: No. I do not think they are
[Magistrate]: Tell me your thoughts about them.
[Martin]:Why my thoughts are my own, when they are in, but when they are out they are anothers.”

Despite the lack of evidence against her, Susannah was found guilty of witchcraft and hanged at Proctor’s Ledge near Gallows Hill on July 19 along with Rebecca Nurse, Sarah Good, Elizabeth Howe, and Sarah Wildes.

Susannah Martin Memorial Marker, Proctor's Ledge Memorial, Salem, Mass
Susannah Martin Memorial Marker, Proctor’s Ledge Memorial, Salem, Mass. Photo Credit: Rebecca Brooks

She was buried in a shallow grave near the execution site with the other victims but because the exact location of the executions has never been found, it is not known where her body currently lies.

In 1857, the poet John Greenleaf Whittier, who was a direct descendant of Susannah Martin, honored Susannah in a poem titled The Witch’s Daughter:

“Let Goody Martin rest in peace, I never knew her harm a fly,
And witch or not – God knows – not I?
I know who swore her life away;
And as God lives, I’d not condemn
An Indian dog on word of them.”

Residents of the town of Amesbury later placed a stone marker near Susannah and George Martin’s home that read:

“Here stood the house of Susannah Martin. An honest, hardworking Christian woman accused of being a witch and executed at Salem, July 19, 1692. She will be missed! A Martyr of Superstition. T.I.A. 1894”

In 1711, the Massachusetts legislature passed a resolution clearing the names of the convicted witches and offered financial restitution to their descendants. Susannah Martin’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 did not specifically mention any of the victims by name.

In 1992, the Salem Witch Trials Memorial was built in Salem, Mass and a marker was established for Susannah Martin.

In 2001, the Massachusetts legislature passed a resolution officially exonerating five of the victims not mentioned in the previous resolutions: Susannah Martin, Bridget Bishop, Alice Parker, Wilmot Redd and Margaret Scott.

In 2017, the Proctor’s Ledge Memorial was built in Salem, Mass and a marker was established for Susannah Martin.

Susannah Martin Historical Sites:

Salem Witch Trials Memorial
Address: Liberty Street, Salem Mass

Proctor’s Ledge Memorial
Address: 7 Pope Street, Salem, Mass

Site of the Salem Witch Trials Executions
Address: Proctor’s Ledge, wooded area between Proctor Street and Pope Street, Salem, Mass

Former Site of the Salem Courthouse
Address: Washington Street (about 100 feet south of Lynde Street), opposite the Masonic Temple, Salem, Mass. Memorial plaque located on Masonic Temple.

Former Site of Susannah Martin’s house
Address: end of North Martin Road, Amesbury, Mass. A large boulder with a memorial plaque marks the spot of Martin’s house.

“Massachusetts Clears 5 from Salem Witch Trials.” New York Times, The New York Times Company, 2 Nov. 2001,
“Susannah Martin Executed July 19, 1692.” Salem Witchcraft Papers, Volume 2: Verbatim Transcripts of the Legal Documents of the Salem Witchcraft Outbreak of 1692, University of Virginia,
“Salem Witch Trials Chronology” Salem Massachusetts,
Goss, David K. The Salem Witch Trials: A Reference Guide. Greenwood Press, 2008.

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.

41 thoughts on “The Witchcraft Trial of Susannah Martin

  1. Dana Davis

    Interesting because I am also a direct descendant; also of Phoebe (Wildes) Day also accused, presented, and imprisoned, step-daughter of Sarah (Averill) Wildes.

  2. angel worthen-shaneyfelt

    I am also a descendant of Susannah my grandpa did a 40yera old research of our family before internet visited places and gathered info till he created our family tree. I had some he sent some to my sister which had moved back home grandpa died few years back I started to get interested in family tree few years ago but he had died. His book and notes is all we have and given to us separate I think he did that on purpose for us to search and get interested. I found and read some of the things Susannah went through and looked her up this is one of the sights and pick up where he left. I’m a worthen though Susannah’s daughter Hannah martin

    1. Teena Sandberg

      I am also a descendant and have just uncovered this relationship through my mother’s side of our family. We are from George Martin Jr. line. Check on Family Search and you can find a large amount about Susannah.

      1. Mershon Niesner

        I am a descendent as well. On my mother’s side. My great grandfather was Dr. David Martyn. He’s the one who changed the I to y.

    2. Loree Childress Wright

      I am a descendant of Susannah Martin on my grandmother’s side of my family. I also was born on her birthday. My cousin traced my family back and wrote a book which all of the Susannha Martin story.

    1. Amanda

      Im related to her as well directly…her son george then grandson ebenezer and so on…all the way down to my great grandmother elsie martin.

  3. Bradley Mabb

    Through my nephew, who is working on an ongoing history of our family tree (and fact checking 100% as he does), I found Susannah Martin to be my great grandmother to the 9th degree (on my maternal grandmother’s side). That being said, I long before always found the Salem witch trials to be outlandish and a way of condemning anyone they didn’t like. To find my ancestor was one of the victims of these witch hunts saddens me. It saddens me further to find people different from ourselves today are still condemned by many. We have not yet learned from this mid-evil superstition. At least we don’t hang them, or burn them at the stake. “Each to his own way, I’ll go mine…” ( “We Used To Know”,Ian Anderson, Jethro Tull)

    1. S Johnson

      Bradley –
      Susannah Martin is also my 9th great grandmother on my maternal grandmother’s side. I’d be interested in seeing your family tree.
      Back in the 90s, my maternal grandfather did a in depth search for his & grandma’s side of the family – dated back to the 1600s.
      I found out at the family reunion my sisters & I are 9th great grandchildren of Susannah Martin. I’d really be interested in seeing the records & connecting with family.

  4. Lisa Mathis

    Let anyone know I am direct decent of Susannah North Martin. I went on few years ago and she is on my mother’s side , maternal. Susannah had some children , not surprised that her husband had been married before & had I believe 3 previous marriage. Susannah is my 9th GGM and her son John Martin- 8th GGF, He had a daughter Deborah Martin- 7th GGm she had a daughter Sarah Davis -6th GGM . She had a daughter Hannah Johnson – 5th GGM She had a daughter Nancy Ann Spencer -4th GGM. She had a daughter Cassan Dana Poer – 3rd GGM She had a daughter Dana Palestine McEver- 2nd GGm and then my great-grandmother Ora Edith Randolph and she had a a daughter Rachel surene Sullivan my biological grandmother who I never knew . She passed away in 1956.My mother Elizabeth Kirk Mathis passed in 2012. I’ll leave dates birth – death dates , John Martin, 1651-1693,Deborah Martin 1689-1732 Sarah Davis 1716- ? Hannah Johnson 1747-1831 NancyAnnSpencer 1784-1840 Cassan Dana Poer 1808-1888 Dana Palestine McEver 1850-1921 Ora Edith Randolph 1881-1973 Rachel Surene Sullivan 1910-1956. Just to know that Rachel ,Ora , Dana, Casssan, & Nancy Ann were born & raised in Bartow co. Georgia Lisa Mathis from Cobb co. Georgia who is direct decent & finding about Susannah was facinating yet sad what our ancestors ruled their lives with supertitions.

    1. Hannah Williams

      I have been conducting research on my family history and discovered that she is my great grandmother to the 10th degree. It’s tragic to read her story, and yet also incredibly interesting!

  5. Cindy (Many) Dailey

    Suzanne Martin is my 8th great grandmother. plus a comprehensive geneological search into my family’s roots by a prof geneologist verified.

    1. S Johnson

      Cindy –
      My mother’s maiden name is Many – my maternal grandmother’s married name. Maternal grandmother’s maiden name is Willis.
      Most people pronounce mispronounce Many.

  6. Dorothy Tully

    I love history, especially the witch trials and New England history. I am a descendant of Winifred Benham, accused witch of CT. and Mary Hale, her mother, accused witch of Boston. Also, Wiiliam Hooke, David Atwater, Ezekiel Cravath, and many other ancestors are from New England. Thanks for sharing information. I am planning a trip this fall to walk in the footprints of those who passed down their DNA.


      1. Georgiana Zeender

        I am a desendant slso. My mother did genealogy research for our family decades ago. Related to suzannah on maternal side. Both my parents had visited Salem before their deaths.

  7. Peggy Wilson Dobbs

    George Martin was my 4th great grandfather.
    Lack of evidence yet they hanged her. Truly a miscarriage of justice. Since the passing of her husband she became easy prey not having anyone to come to her defense. Do not understand why those members of the court could not see through the lies of those girls and the faking of the fits. No one can have a “fit” on cue. Shocking!!

  8. Jerome J. Levans

    Ms. Brooks:
    Thank you for your kindness in sharing your work.
    There is finally a memorial erected at the hill where she was hung.
    Our family connection is through Susannah’s older sister SARAH NORTH OLDHAM.
    Levans & Munley families

  9. Roger Kriney

    I’m a direct descendant of Susannah North Martin, as she is my 9th great grandmother, as well. There are three separate lines as her daughter’s Jane and Abigail are each my 8th great grandmothers and step daughter, Hannah is a seventh great grandmother. The three separate lines came together through my maternal grandmother, Emma Hadley Hight who was born in Weare, New Hampshire in 1881. I am also a direct descendant of Mary Perkins Bradbury who was charged with witchcraft at that time, convicted and sentenced to death. She, however, managed to escape the noose and fled Salem with her husband. It’s interesting to note that Jane Martin married Samuel Hadley who is my 8th great grandfather. His mother was Mary Proctor (my 9th great grandmother) the sister of John Proctor who was also executed one month after Susannah. So many lines, so little time left to fully experience it all.

    1. Rachel

      Hi Roger, I’m new to genealogy and wonder if you could help. I believe I am also a descendant of Susannah Martin through her daughter Jane Martin Hadley. However, in most of the sources I can find, several of Jane’s children are listed as being born after her death in 1684, including my ancestor Joseph Hadley, born 1700 (when Jane would have been 44). I’ve seen alternate death dates though, and wonder if there is any way of verifying whether Jane was really the mother of all the children listed under her name.

      1. Roger Kriney

        Initially I found the same situation, however, the latest and apparently the most accepted date of her death was 1704. My line runs from her son George Hadley(1686-1762) all the way down to my Grandmother, Emma Belle Hadley (1881-1977)

  10. Brenna

    So neat to read, heading to Salem next spring. Susannah is my 11th great grandmother threw my maternal side.


    It is my understanding I am also related to Susannah on my mothers side, it would be interesting to communicate with the other’s that say they are also related! Judy

  12. Karen hope Roberts

    I am a direct decendent or Susannah Richard North her dad is my grandfather15th back I believe

  13. Stuart Beilby

    Hello I am a sculptor forensic artist I am to start a collection of Witches that were sadly
    executed Susannah Martin is to be the first of many to be captured in wax also clay I find my hands sculpt the person so I hope that her image will be saved for ever. all the poor ladies will be sculptor

  14. John

    Was my 9th Great Grandmother on my Fathers side. I plan to make a trip to Salem this year and also to the town where she lived. I will pay my respects.

  15. Al May

    She is my 9th G-grandmother, the interesting thing for me, is that the man that accused her, William Sargent, Jr., is also my 9th G-Grandfather…………

  16. Anne Quast

    Susannah Martin’s grand-daughter Mary Martin married John Peaslee the son of Joseph Peaslee and his wife Ruth Barnard on May 1, 1705. Mary was the daughter of John Martin and Mary Weed. John was born January 26, 1650/51 in Salisbury, Massachusetts. John was the eldest son of Susannah North and George Martin.

  17. Stephanie Rideout

    I am a direct descendant of Susannah North Martin. She is my 9x Great Grandmother, through my paternal grandparents.
    George Martin 1618-1686
    Susannah North Martin 1621-1692

    Richard Martin 1647-1728
    Mary Hoyt Martin 1646-1730

    George Martin 1680-1744
    Isabel Beedle Martin 1682-1730

    David Martin 1719-1779
    Hannah Brooks Martin 1724-1763

    Robert Brooks Martin 1755-1808
    Rosanna Cole Martin 1747-1830

    John Martin 1792-1867
    Susan Smith Martin 1795-1871

    William Henry Martin 1828-1902
    Sarah Smethurst Martin 1831-1902

    Sarah Jane Smethurst Martin 1840-1887
    Henry A Walton 1840-1887

    Henry Herbert Walton 1871-1953
    Elizabeth M. Canny (Kenny) 1878-1935

    Edgar Wesley Walton Sr. 1905-1971
    Lois Eliza Barclay Walton 1909-1992

    Carl Barclay Walton Sr. 1933-2017
    Charlotte Maria Prems 1933-living

    Stephanie Ann Walton Rideout 1964-living

  18. Joe

    May peace be with my 11th Great Grand Mother. I will visit her on a day trip. I will not spend a dime in that town. God speed Grandma.

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