Four-year-old Dorothy Good is jailed for witchcraft, March 24, 1692

Sarah Poole’s husband died in 1682 leaving her in debt. Sarah then married William Good, but creditors seized their Salem home, and by 1692, Sarah Good and her husband were homeless beggars. Sarah had long been a melancholy and somewhat confrontational woman, and was accused of witchcraft on February 25, 1692 by the girls Abigail Williams and Elizabeth Parris. On March 1, 1692, Sarah Good, Sarah Osborne, and the Rev. Paris’ servant Tituba were arrested.

Sarah’s daughter, Dorothy (the name Dorcas was also erroneously recorded) was only four years old at the time. On March 24, she was taken custody, and was interrogated (“examined”) by the local magistrates for two weeks. Hungry, cold and missing her mother, Dorothy broke down and told the inquisitors what they wanted to hear, that her mother was a witch, consorted with the devil, and also that her mother had given her a snake that bit her. She was delivered to the Boston jail, but as the jails overflowed with the accused, she and her mother were transferred to the Ipswich jail.

Sarah Good memorial hung as a witch

The Court of Oyer and Terminer met on June 30th, and Sarah Good, Rebecca Nurse, and Elizabeth How of Ipswich were put on trial. Having gained the contrived evidence they sought, Sarah Good was convicted on the basis of her daughter’s forced testimony. While she was in prison, Sarah Good gave birth to a daughter she named Mercy, but the infant died. Sarah was taken from her daughter Dorothy, and was hanged on July 19, 1692.

The Deposition of Ann Putnam, 3th March 1691/92

“I saw the Apparition of Dorothy Good, Sarah Good’s daughter who did immediately almost choke me and tortured me most grievously: and so she hath several times since tortured me by biting and pinching and almost choking me, tempting me also to write in her book, and also on the day of her examination, the Apparition of Dorothy Good tortured me during the time of her Examination and several times since.”

Dorothy Good was in custody from March 24, 1692 until December 10, 1692. She was never charged, but was kept in the cold Ipswich jail until her her poor father managed to gather up £50 for Dorothy’s bail and “board.” By that time, the child suffered from grave psychological damage that would destroy the rest of her life. By some historic accounts, she had become insane.

More about the Salem witchcraft trials

25 thoughts on “Four-year-old Dorothy Good is jailed for witchcraft, March 24, 1692”

  1. so tragic. I would have been done for being a witch as I have mental health problems and Autism. Poor little girl, no matter when these things happen its always terribly sad

    1. AGREED, Ali Browning!!! Poor kid! Although not just mental health problems were the reason people were condemned as witches. Often it was because the people who called out “witches” were frightened by an “evil eye” or just didn’t like a person, so they called them out.

  2. That sentence in the bible is responsible for so much suffering and even today, superstition is still doing the same.

    1. Ronald Pope made a comment saying “that sentence in the Bible is responsible for so much suffering and even today” – did I miss something? What is the scripture??

      1. I believe the sentence to which he refers is Exodus 22 verse 18: “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live.”

  3. My heart goes out to all that were tortured and murdered. .The church has a lot to answer for. My Brothers and Sisters always in my thoughts. XxX

    1. Which church is the one that has a lot to answer for? Althrough believe it is more like the judges and the accusers are the ones who are the true guilty parties.

      1. While the ministers of Ipswich all resisted the Witchcraft hysteria, you need look no farther than Cotton Mather, the spineless and hypocritical leader of the Puritan Church who had the power to stop it but did not.

    2. Though this is sad, there is no reason to blame the Church. It was the culture back then. The judges repented: We should be proud to be descendents of people brave enough to confess. Not many people nowadays will confess their sin. That alone is courageous. Also, the state of Massachusets formally apologized sometime in the 1900s.

  4. Sarah Good was one of the first accused witches. Sarah’s first husband died sometime after 1682 leaving her in debt. Sarah and her second husband William Good had to pay the debt, and not long after, all of their land was sold to try re-pay it. By the time she was accused her and her family were homeless and begging for food. Some might think that this is one of the reasons she was accused to be a witch. One of the main things that caused her execution was when her 4-year-old daughter Dorothy(wrongly written as Dorcas in the legal document) was convicted and after days torture she said that she saw her mother communicating with the devil and she gave her a talking snake that drank blood through her finger. Then she showed them a red spot on her finger that could even be a flea bite. Sarah’s execution was set and she was hung on July 19th 1692 age 39. Sarah was meant to be executed at an earlier date but was set back because she was pregnant. Not long after her child was born she was executed. Sarah had a daughter she named her Mercy Good which I believe was because Sarah hoped that someone would show the child mercy and look after it. Sady Mercy didn’t survive. She died a few days after she was born from a lack of care.

  5. It makes me so sad… poor little Dorothy… I have mental problems as well due to abuse but this is just too far. I realize that I now have another reason to fear my church , and I’m only twelve,the things you can learn from a random website… the worst part is I read a book based on these events called THE SALEM WITCH TRIALS OF 1692 A DIARY OF DELIVERANCE TREMBLEY. it is a very sad book but at the same time very very sweet and once you read the first chapter or two you have to read the rest of the book. may Dorothy rest in peace and may god keep her within the gates of heaven.

    1. Caitlyn, never feel you are alone. 12 yrs old is such a young and delicate age where you should be molding your future. I hope You always remember there are always people out in the world who can help you and want to see you succeed! I hope your past abuse is over and if it is not, please seek someone to talk to. You’re in my prayers and even though that might not seem like much, I hope you find strength to push forward everyday regardless of your past. You are stronger than you believe.

    2. I can’t believe this was ever a thing. I mean yeah it’s sad. But it’s sickening that people would do these things to each other.

      1. Mankind is cruel, greedy, and loves to lie! This was done out of jealousy because if someone was accused their land was up for purchase.

    3. Hi Caitlyn – My name is Karen–It makes me so sad as well about little Dorothy. She was a baby! And people in that time –their thinking was insane!!! Poor little girl was tortured until she became insane! As you experienced abuse as well. I too suffered many years of abuse, and I am healing from it all. You are a very brave young lady. Im so very sorry you experienced abuse. You possess much power inside yourself. Look there to heal. No human-especially a defenseless child- should ever endure abuse. You have much healing power within yourself. We are all connected to our Creator. He is called by many names depending what each person believes. All mean the same thing. I believe in Universe–many call this God–Some call this Allah–Buddha. Whatever you believe its ok– we are all connected to this spirit inside us. Ask for healing from the abuse and spirit will help you. There is also therapy and self help groups that can help process your feelings. Remember people–family members-school mates- may have told you bad things about yourself that you as a child believed–ITS A LIE–You are very special and there is NO ONE ON THIS EARTH LIKE YOU you are one of a kind:-}

  6. Sad & Terrible.. Religion Has Quite A Trail Of Misery and Torture. I am Native.. My People Have Seen This Convert, Confess and Die Crap as Well..

  7. Saddest part is everyone was suffering from ergot poisoning. And their pastor thought god was punishing you for your sins if you got ill.

  8. I was working on my ancestry a few years back and found that I’m related somehow to Sarah’s Good. I need to look into more. How interesting and sad.

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