People of the Salem Witch Trials: Abigail Williams

Pop Culture Crime
2 min readApr 14, 2022
“Pioneers in the Settlement of America” by William A. Crafts. Vol. I Boston: Samuel Walker & Company, 1876

We’ve already talked about Betty Parris and her role in the Salem witch trials, but she had an accomplice in the earliest days of accusations. That accomplice was her cousin, Abigail Williams.

Abigail’s Life Before the Salem Witch Trials

Abigail Williams was born around 1680. One source claims her birthday was July 12, 1680. We know very little about Abigail’s life before the accusations began in 1692, but it is evident that the girl moved in with the Parris family shortly before everything started to happen. She was somehow related to Reverend Samuel Parris and is often described as his niece.

Abigail began to spend a lot of time with Samuel’s daughter, Betty, who was 9. She and Betty were the first two girls to be “afflicted” and make accusations.

The Accusations Begin

Abigail and Betty first accused Tituba, the woman enslaved in the Parris family home. They also went on to accuse Sarah Good and Sarah Osbourne of witchcraft. Complaints were officially filed against the three women on February 29, 1692.

Abigail went on to complain about a variety of other men and women in the community, including Mary Easty, George Burroughs, Bridget Bishop, John and Elizabeth Proctor, and Mary Witheridge. She also claimed that Rebecca Nurse tried to force her to sign the devil’s book and that she saw Martha Corey’s spirit leave her body in the middle of church.

During the Salem Witch Trials

During the trials, Abigail testified in about 17 cases. While Betty was sent away to live with other relatives, Abigail stayed on the scene. As part of her testimony, Abigail claimed that she saw Elizabeth Proctor and 40 other community members drinking blood outside the Parris home. Her testimony led to many executions of innocent men and women.

After the Salem Witch Trials

Little is known about the life of Abigail Williams after the trials. Marilynne Roach wrote that Abigail may have died in 1697 at the age of 17.

Abigail was at least partially responsible for the executions of more than 15 people and the torture of at least one…

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