People of the Salem Witch Trials: Bridget Bishop

Pop Culture Crime
3 min readMay 26, 2022
“”The Witch, №2.” Photo via Wikimedia Commons

Bridget Bishop was the first person to be executed for witchcraft during the Salem witch trials. She’d been accused of witchcraft before the Salem witch trials and found not guilty.

So how was it that she was executed in 1692?

Bridget’s Life Before the Salem Witch Trials

Bridget Bishop was first born Bridget Magnus, but her family adopted the name Playfer. Bridget seemed to travel or move often before settling in outside of Salem Village. Her role in the Salem Witch trials is somewhat puzzling, considering that there is a lot of thought that she may have never met most of the Salem Village residents who accused her of witchcraft.

Bridget had been married three or four times, but I could find the names of only three husbands. Her first husband died in 1666, and she was later accused (and acquitted) of bewitching her second husband to death. She married Edward Bishop, her last husband in 1687.

Bridget was known for wearing brightly colored clothing. Her non-traditional appearance attracted attention. This is perhaps what made her a target of early accusations. In 1680, a man claimed that Bridget pinched him, stole eggs, and scared horses he was tending to. Neighbors claimed that Bridget was using counter-magic with small dolls and that she was bewitching people to make them sick.

Something incredibly disturbing happened when Bridget Bishop was married to Thomas Oliver, her second husband. She began to show signs that she had been abused by her husband, and locals also claimed that they saw Bridget abusing Thomas. They were both once charged and punished for fighting in public (on the Sabbath, apparently). Bridget was forced to stand in the town square as part of her punishment.

Bridget Bishop & the Salem Witch Trials

On April 19, 1692, Bridget faced accusations of witchcraft by Abigail Williams, Ann Putnam, Jr., and the rest of the usual suspects. They claimed that she hit and pinched them, and that she even threatened to drown them. While Bridget denied the accusations, Bridget was forced into a physical examination. The original findings reported that the woman had a third nipple (clearly, the sign of a witch)…

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