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Rev. George Burroughs
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Martyr
    (1652-August 19, 1692)
    Born in Suffolk, United Kingdom
    Former village Minister to Salem village (1680-83)
    Key victim of the 1692 Salem Witch Trials
    Resided in Falmouth, Maine (now Portland), and later Wells, Maine
    Initially accused by Abigail Williams and Ann Putnam Jr. on April 19th, 1692 (later accused by former Congregational associates)
    Executed on Witches Hill, Salem, on 19 August 1692
    Successfully recited the Lord's Prayer, considered by the Court of Oyer and Terminer to be impossible for a witch to do, while waiting to be hanged (Aug. 19, 1692)
    Abigail Williams nicknamed him 'the little black minister.'
    He was 'identified' by accusers as the Satanic leader of the witches in Salem.
    He left his job as Minister of Salem village because his salary was not paid on time.
    His parishioners criticized him for prioritizing 'pulpit preaching' over 'the spiritual care of his flock.'
    His third wife accused him of spousal abuse, which may have motivated the 'bewitched girls' to accuse him.
    That the wife he allegedly abused was the ex-sister-in-law of the Witch Trials' presiding magistrate, Judge Hawthorne, didn't help much either.
    He was accused of using his supernatural power to kill his first two wives and to bewitch the soldiers fighting the Indians on the main frontier.
    He probably sealed his fate by reading a defense statement not only proclaiming his innocence, but also doubting the existence of specters and witches at all (he may as well have said there was no God).
    He was the only known minister to be accused and convicted of witchcraft during the trials.
    He was considered a progressive minister, one whose congregation was considered disorganized by Puritan standards (he also was never officially ordained as a Puritan minister).
    He displayed a defiantly relaxed attitude during his interrogation and, later, his execution.
    Several of his accusers elicited apologies to both his family and to him, posthumously, for their false accusations.
    He lived at a village in Falmouth until it was destroyed by the Wabanaki in 1690 (he would survive several other Indian attacks).
    He was charged with extraordinary weight lifting of a musket with a finger in the barrel, deemed impossible without diabolical assistance (show off).
    He had a longstanding feud with the main instigators of the witch hunt, the Putnam family, who had sued him years earlier for his failure to repay his debt to them (he won the lawsuit on grounds that the town had not paid him, therefore he could not as yet repay them).
    His dark complexion and the fact that he had escaped several close calls with Indians led many to see this as confirmation of his guilt in the charge of bewitching the Indian fighters (the Putnam family maid also survived the same attack he did, one which killed a majority of her family).
    His trial received the widest coverage of all the accused 'witches' and received the attention of Cotton Mather, who traveled from Boston to watch his execution.
    His recital of the Lord's Prayer before being hanged resulted in the crowd temporarily rushing towards the gallows in his defense, intent on halting the proceedings (Mather, however, eased the tension by claiming the Devil was trying to deceive them by making him appear angelic).
    Although the executions continued into September, it is believed that his recital of the Lord's Prayer planted one of the first seeds of doubt which led to the end of the hysteria.
    If the stories of his spousal abuse are true, at least something good came out of that horrible period (Puritan society rarely, if ever, punished wife beaters).
    He never appears in Arthur Miller's 'Crucible' play based on the trials, but it is clearly evident that he provided the template for the John Proctor character, moreso than even the historical Proctor himself (the film versions even have Proctor recite the Lord's Prayer at the end, in the same fashion).

Credit: BoyWiththeGreenHair


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