Boston

Some of the judges, ministers, and critics involved in the Salem witch trials came from Boston. Goody Glover was the last accused witch tried and hanged in Boston in 1688.

Orientation

Greater Boston Convention & Visitors Bureau

Explore

1743 map showing the Boston prison

Boston Gaol site, Court Street, Boston. Built in 1635 with stone walls three feet thick, the jail held numerous accused witches, including Sarah Osborne who died before her trial in 1692. The original jail was replaced by a new building on the same location in 1704. (The street first was called Prison Lane, then Queen Street, and finally Court Street.)

Copps Hill Burying Ground, Hull and Snowhill Streets, Boston. Second oldest cemetery in Boston, opened 1659. Burial place of Rev. Increase Mather (1639-1723) and his son Rev. Cotton Mather (1663-1728), both very involved in the witchcraft cases and in writing about them. The Mather tomb is located near gate on Charter Street (CH/I23). HBGI.

Dorchester North Burying Ground, Columbia Road and Stoughton Street, Upham’s Corner, Dorchester. Open by request. Chief Justice William Stoughton (1651-1701) was a driving force in condemning accused witches to death in 1692-1693. Although little remains of his original epitaph, except in books, his grave is distinct. One end features a coat of arms and the other end has two life-sized skulls on top of crossed bones with a bat-winged hourglass above (DN/E51). Stoughton’s grave even gets its own post on J.W. Ocker’s Odd Things I’ve Seen blog. HBGI.

Robert Calef gravestone (Farber Collection)

Eliot Burying Ground, Eustis and Washington Streets, Roxbury. Open by request. Burial place of Robert Calef (1648-1719), merchant and opponent of Salem witch trials, who wrote More Wonders of the Invisible World. Original tombstone no longer exists, but another one marks his spot (E/B223). HBGI.

Goody Glover plaque, outside wall on Our Lady of Victories parish church, 27 Isabella Street. Hanged in 1688 for supposedly using witchcraft on the Goodwin children, Irish-born Catholic Goody Glover’s story was told in Cotton Mather’s Memorable Providences Relating to Witchcrafts and Possessions. (The church closed in 2016.)

Granary Burying Ground, Tremont Street near Park Street Church, Boston. Third oldest cemetery in Boston, opened in 1660. Burial place of Judge Samuel Sewall (1652-1730), the only judge to publicly ask for forgiveness for his part in the Salem witch trials. His table tomb is located in the northwest section of the cemetery (G/B 694). HBGI.

King’s Chapel Burial Ground, Tremont Street next to King’s Chapel, Boston. Boston proper’s oldest burying ground, part of its land was seized by Gov. Edmund Andros to build an Anglican church, King’s Chapel, in 1688. Waitstill Winthrop (1642-1717), one of the judges of the 1692 Court of Oyer and Terminer and the 1693 Superior Court during witch trials, is buried in the Winthrop family tomb (KC/20DT20). Thomas Brattle (1658-1713), a merchant, openly criticized the Salem trials. He’s buried in the northeast part of the cemetery, in a table tomb with brick foundation topped with black stone. HBGI.

Old South Church, 645 Boylston Street, Boston. On the wall of the portico outside, you’ll find three gravestones found during street excavations, including one for accused witch Captain John Alden (1626-1702). He escaped from jail and returned after the 1692 trials were over. Samuel Sewall offered his 1697 public apology for his role in the Salem witch trials before the members of Old South (a.k.a. the Third Church), which was delivered at the church’s first building, the Cedar Meeting House.

Research

Boston Public Library, 700 Boylston Street, Boston. Witchcraft papers.

Commonwealth Museum, 220 Morrissey Boulevard, Boston.

Congregational Library & Archives, 14 Beacon Street, Boston. Colonial church records and sermons, manuscripts, obituaries.

Dorchester Historical Society, 195 Boston Street, Dorchester.

First Church, Boston: James Allen (teaching elder) and Joshua Moody (minister) served in 1692. The Historical Heritage site includes information on founding of church, profiles of people, controversies, and early documents.

Historic Burying Grounds Initiative (HBGI): Maps and a database of gravestones for 16 cemeteries operated by the city of Boston. Read how to find burials in the HBGI database.

Massachusetts Archives, 220 Morrissey Boulevard, Boston. Witchcraft papers. Judicial court papers.

Massachusetts Historical Society, 1154 Boylston Street, Boston. Treasures include Samuel Sewall’s manuscripts and his diary mentioning the death of Giles Corey. Witchcraft papers.

Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Archives, 220 Morrissey Boulevard, Boston. Contact archivist for access. Witchcraft papers: Suffolk county; Witchcraft papers: Middlesex countySuperior Court of Judicature Witchcraft papers.

New England Historic Genealogical Society, 99-101 Newbury Street, Boston.

Partnership of the Historic Bostons, 66 Marlborough Street, Boston. Check out animations and maps, previous recorded lectures, and other information. Sign up to take a tour, attend a lecture, join reading group.

Online Books & Records

Memorial history of Boston: including Suffolk County, Massachusetts. 1630-1880 by Justin Winsor (1881) Volume 1, Volume 2, Volume 3, Volume 4

Old Landmarks and Historic Personages of Boston by Samuel Adams Drake (1873)

Blog Posts

Where is Captain John Alden buried? from Genealogy Ink

Cotton Mather and the six degrees of separation from Genealogy Ink

Samuel Sewall: Salem witch judge from Genealogy Ink