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Burroughs-on-Trial

Image from Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper 31 (1871), p. 345, Library of Congress, LC-USZ62-122180.

Reverand George Burrough is Em's partner, and a lover of women. 

Personality in Suffer a WitchEdit

George is a smart, charismatic man who lives with Em. Over the years, he's been a lover to all of the female witches. Human women find him irresistible, which makes him a popular psychic reader at the Mystic Divine. He is medium in size and very strong. He wears his hair long and grey.

As Em's partner and sounding board, he takes the place as the male leader of the Salem Twenty. He is a gifted leader and the Salem Twenty rely on him for spiritual guidance and wisdom. The Salem Twenty trust him.

SA GAL

Boston Herald, May 14, 1930. © Artist F. C. Yohan

Historic GeorgeEdit

Most historians place Reverend George Burroughs was at the very center of the Salem Witch Crisis. Here are some pertinent facts:

  • George was said to be a strong man. He'd survived a number of brutal Indian raids. These two facts lent credence to the idea that he was a witch.
  • He was born in Suffolk, Virginia to an English merchant who returned to England. He was raised by his mother. He went to Harvard where he was an athlete. He graduated in 1670. 
  • He was a short man with dark black hair, a dark beard, and darker skin. His dark stature was equated to the "black man" the accusers spoke of. 
  • George was one of a string of pastors that came through Salem Village. He was the pastor at the Salem Village church from April 1680 through March 1683. Salem Village had a difficult time paying him which led to a variety of difficulties for George and his family. He left the senseless bickering and financial struggle of Salem Village for Casco Bay, an island off Maine. When his wife, Sarah, died, he moved his family to Wells, Maine.
  • George

    George Burroughs memorial stone

    He was never ordained which meant he could not administer communion or baptize children. 
  • He married to Hannah Fisher in 1676. She bore him four children, three of whom survived. She died in 1681, mostly likely due to complications of childbirth. They lived with the Putnams while the rectory was being completed.
  • He married young widow, Sarah Ruck Hathorne, in 1682, who was the sister-in-law of John Hathorne, one of the magistrates in the Oyer and Terminator court. She bore George four additional children.
  • George was said to have been cruel and unkind to his wives. He was accused by Ann Putnam, Jr. to have killed his first two wives. Further, she proposed that all of her symptoms were generated by the unhappiness and restlessness of the souls of his two murdered wives. He was questioned about his treatment of his wives during his trial as a witch. 
  • He met his third wife, Mary, in Maine. They had a daughter. He was a popular pastor in Wells. 
  • He was dragged away from his dinner table by constables from Salem, MA. His third wife, Mary, was reported to have sold all of his worldly goods and left his other seven children, the oldest seventeen years old, to fend for themselves.
  • In The Old Town of Berwick, Susan Orne Jewett described this scene: "While on the return journey from Maine to Salem, Massachusetts, the group found themselves in isolated and unfamiliar territory as a thunderstorm broke out. Sarah Orne Jewett described what happened next, in “The Old Town of Berwick”: the men later claimed that Reverend Burroughs cast a spell upon them. The horses seemed to fly through the air, and the lightning flashed blue, and there were awful gleams around Burroughs’ head as he led them onwards. Of the four men, only Burroughs showed no fear. The Salem men believed the whole situation to be the work of the devil, as they assumed they were in the presence of a powerful witch. Their terror was worsened as they rode their horses up and down small steep hills in midst of the turmoil of the storm, on a path overhung with huge and wildly waving trees. That path is now called Witchtrot Road." (link
  • He was said to be a "ringleader of the witches" by the accusers. 
  • There is "evidence that (George) was self-denying, generous, and public spirited, laboring with humility and with zeal." By another account "he was an able, intelligent, true-minded man; ingenuous, sincere, humble in his spirit, faithful and devoted as a minister, and active, generous and disinterested as a citizen." (link )
  • His case was watched closely by Cotton Mather, an appointment by the governor of Massachusetts. Mather and his father, Increase Mather, were said to have attended George's entire trial.
  • After executed, his clothing was pulled from his body and he was shallowly buried. No other witch was treated with such disdain. 

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