Tragic Deaths During Witch Trials
Although many accused were hanged some faced something worse. during the time of the witch trials, if someone was accused and didn’t confess or take the attention off of them they were hanged on gallows hill where everyone watched. Those who faced other ways of death weren’t so lucky as to have an almost sudden death like appeal. One of the most rememberable tragic deaths was a 71-year-old named Giles Corey, but there were many others who didn’t see the best death possible.
Giles Corey, Lydia Dustin, Ann Foster, Sarah Osborne, and Roger Toothaker, along with other unnamed people, died but the ways were nowhere near as humane as they could have been. Giles Corey born in England about 1611 was one of the six men to be executed during the Salem witch trials of 1692. When asked to say names and accuse others of witchcraft 71-year-old Giles Corey refused to plead innocent or guilty in a court appearance. This lead to his brutal punishment. The elderly Giles Corey was crushed to death by stacks of thick stone slabs, not scared of facing his death. He was sentenced to peine forte et dure even though it was an illegal punishment and ended up being torturously crushed to death on or before September 18, 1692. His famous last words were remembered by most of them being “more weight”. These words were uttered as a final attempt to expedite his death while also showing that not even imminent death could convince him to go to trial.
Although Giles suffered quite a bit others did as well. Four more of the convicted, Lydia Dustin, Ann Foster, Sarah Osborne, and Roger Toothaker, died in the unbearable conditions in the witch jails awaiting their execution dates. These people were the accused that either mainly got forgotten about or put on hold because of other trials. Not only were they just left in holding cells they were left in poor conditions with hardly any food or water. All of the jails intended to hold prisoners only temporarily were hot in summer and cold in winter. They often stank of dung and tobacco and were infested with lice. The dungeon was cold and foul smelling and kept in total darkness. Located near the north river it often flooded during high tide with water rising to the prisoner’s ankles. They were also victims of insulting unending examinations and excommunication from the churches. the small cells had no bedding and no bars on the cells as most prisoners accepted their punishment. For those who tried to escape if they were caught they would be immediately executed. For those who stayed and died after they were found dead they were thrown into shallow graves to live their afterlife in peace.
In addition, seven others died in jail and faced the same fate. when people died inside the jail they were put into shallow graves while those who were hanged got proper burials. The society found that those who pled guilty and where hanged were still seen as children of God. They were seen as making up for their wrongdoings as a type of offering to god for peace. While those in jail were dying they went out and dug very shallow graves just big enough for them to squeeze the body into. Those who saw this fate were still seen as ungodly and were not worthy of a proper Christian burial like the rest. Even though being hanged isn’t exactly a walk in the park others still face worse things. And though people don’t see it as wrong because they were the accused their fate could have been changed if people around them weren’t so naive. Whether their death was out of dignities like Giles Corey or it was just someone’s unlucky day like those who died in jail the witch trials didn’t have a good ending for some. People should remember and acknowledge those who suffered and didn’t have a proper Christian burial because yes they may have been witches, but they deserved a better end to their life.
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