salem witch trial legislation
Digital image by Ryan Stevens; image source by Larisa Koshkina from Pixabay 

In the spirit of Halloween, one may be interested to know that Massachusetts state lawmakers this year introduced legislation related to the Salem Witch Trials.

The Salem Witch Trials began in 1692 and involved over 150 women, men, and children, accused of witchcraft. Not only were these individuals accused of witchcraft, but 19 were sentenced to death and hanged. However, public sentiment in the later part of the year turned against the trials and guilty verdicts against accused “witches” were annulled.

Court Action in 1957 and Legislative Action in 2001

In 1957, the Massachusetts General Court issued an apology to those descended from the alleged witches who were executed in 1692. The official “Chapter 145 of the Resolves” was originally titled a “Resolve Relative to the Indictment, Trial, Conviction, and Execution of Ann Pudeator and Certain Other Persons for Witchcraft.”

The Massachusetts legislature later passed a bill in 2001 that added even more names to the resolves of 1957, as the “certain other persons for witchcraft.” Those added by the 2001 legislation were Bridget Bishop, Susannah Martin, Alice Parker, Margaret Scott, and Wilmot Redd.

2021 Salem Witch Trial Legislation

In February of 2021, Senator Diana DiZoglio introduced a bill, S. 1016, to amend the Act created by the 2001 legislation which would add Elizabeth Johnson, Jr., to the list of names. Johnson is apparently the only alleged “witch” who has not been exonerated yet in the nearly 330 years since the Salem Witch Trials took place. Johnson lived in North Andover and was convicted in Salem, both areas which Senator DiZoglio represents in the legislature.

S. 1016 was originally referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee in March and the House Judiciary Committee concurred. While the bill was scheduled for a hearing over the summer, it has not advanced past that point.