Elizabeth howe

Mural in Ipswich, MA

Howe homestead

Reconstructed Site Map of Howe Homestead

Elizabeth Howe was a kindly grandmother who was caught in the cross hairs of the Salem Witch Trials.

Personality in Suffer a WitchEdit

Elizabeth is a school teacher in Suffer a Witch. So far (August, 2014), she tends to stay in the background, letting the more argumentative witches have their say. 

Historic ElizabethEdit

"Her gentle, patient, humble, benignant, devout and tender heart bore her, no doubt, with a spirit of saintlike love and faith through the dreadful scenes. We cannot doubt that in death, as in her life, she forgave, prayed for and invoked blessings on her persecutors." - Charles Wentworth Upham, historian

Elizabeth Howe was born in England around 1635. Her parents immigrated to New England when she was a little more than a year old. As a child, she worked as a maid in a wealthy neighbor's home. She married James Howe when she was 21 years old. They had six female children, and by all accounts lived a happy life in Topsfield, Massachusetts on the border with Ipswich. 

Unlike many of the other women accused as witches, Elizabeth was not known to have a harsh tongue. In fact, she was considered by all to be a sweet, kind grandmother who doted on her children and grandchildren.

There are three possible factors which may have been responsible for Elizabeth's conviction: 

  •  Elizabeth's husband went blind when he was 50 years old. Elizabeth was required to take over the business of the household and farm due to her husband's illness. By all accounts, they continued a loving relationship and their farm was successful. However, the perception that she was in charge could have irritated her neighbors.
Howe house

This is a drawing of the Howe home, which is no longer standing

  • Elizabeth and her husband had a falling out with their Topsfield neighbor, Samuel Perley.There is no record of what this "falling out" was about. It is generally assumed that the conflict revolves around Elizabeth's sister, who married Sam Perley's brother. What is known is that Hannah Perley fell ill around the age of 10. The illness was said to be a possession and Hannah blamed her illness on Elizabeth. Because of Hannah's accusation, Elizabeth was denied membership at the Ipswich church.
  • Because Elizabeth had only girls, she was likely to inherit her husband's estate. As we've seen before, a woman owning property appears to have been a strong motivator for being charged with witchcraft. It should be noted that her husband was still alive when the trials went on.  
Elizabeth's daughters and husband came to the jail in Boston once a week to try to support her. Through their eyes, we learn about the torture, harassment, and general conditions of the jail. 
Howe basement

This is a corner of the Howe household in Topsfield, MA