jonathan corwin

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March 1st 1692: The Salem Witch Trials begin

On this day in 1692, three women were brought before local magistrates in Salem Village, Massachusetts, thus beginning the infamous Salem Witch Trials. The women were Sarah Good, Sarah Osborne and Tituba and all three had been accused of witchcraft after local girls began experiencing strange fits. Given the lack of medical knowledge at the time and the preponderance of beliefs in the supernatural, witchcraft was the only logical explanation for their condition. The accused women matched the description of the stereotypical witch: Good was a beggar, Osborne rarely went to church and Tituba was a slave of different ethnicity. The women were interrogated by magistrates John Hathorne and Jonathan Corwin and Tituba eventually confessed to witchcraft, claiming Good and Osborne were her co-conspirators. The three were then sent to jail; Osborne died in jail, Good was hanged and Tituba (as a useful confessor) was kept alive and eventually released after the trials ended. The initial interrogation was followed by many more accusations of witchcraft throughout the village and the surrounding area, fueled perhaps by local rivalries, poisoned grain or just mass fear. The manhunt resulted in 19 ‘witches’ being hanged, one pressed to death and hundreds more imprisoned in horrendous conditions. The event is a famous example of mass hysteria and has become a cautionary tale for religious extremism and false accusations.

The Witch House (also called the Jonathan Corwin House), was the home of Judge Jonathan Corwin and is the only structure still standing in Salem, Massachusetts with direct ties to the Salem witch trials of 1692. The house was bought by Judge Corwin in 1675, when he was 24 years old, and he lived there for more than forty years. Corwin is buried in the nearby Broad Street Cemetery. The house remained in the Corwin family until the mid-19th century. The Witch House is located at 310 Essex Street, at the cross streets of North & Summer in the Chestnut Street District of Salem.

As a local magistrate and civic leader, Corwin was called upon to investigate the claims of diabolical activity when a surge of witchcraft accusations arose in Salem and neighboring communities. He took the place of Judge Nathaniel Saltonstall, who resigned after the execution of Bridget Bishop. Corwin served on the Court of Oyer and Terminer, which ultimately sent nineteen to the gallows. All nineteen refused to admit to witchcraft and maintained their innocence.

The house is an excellent example of 17th-century architecture. To this day historians have not come to a conclusion as to when it was built. Jonathan Corwin’s descendants claim the house was built in 1642. Some Victorian scholars alleged that the house was built between 1620–1630, and that Roger Williams, the founder of Rhode Island resided in the house in the 1630s.[1] However most historians now believe the house was built in the 1660s or 1670s. It bears a strong resemblance to the Whitehall building in Sutton, England, a historic home museum built around 1500.

Despite rumors to the contrary, no interrogations or trials were ever conducted in the Witch House. There are no documents in which an accused is demanded to be brought to Judge Corwin’s home, nor is it likely the judge would have used his own home as a place to conduct legal proceedings of this nature. Interrogations were done at either the Old Meetinghouse or Ingersall’s Tavern.

talysalankil  asked:

I take it you read the new pottermore story. Is it as bad as your tags make it sound?

If you mean the Salem witch trials story–yes, it’s that bad. This is what she had to say about the Salem witch trials:

“The last, and probably the most dangerous problem encountered by wizards newly arrived in North America were the Scourers. As the wizarding community in America was small, scattered and secretive, it had as yet no law enforcement mechanism of its own. This left a vacuum that was filled by an unscrupulous band of wizarding mercenaries of many foreign nationalities, who formed a much-feared and brutal taskforce committed to hunting down not only known criminals, but anyone who might be worth some gold. As time went on, the Scourers became increasingly corrupt. Far away from the jurisdiction of their native magical governments, many indulged a love of authority and cruelty unjustified by their mission. Such Scourers enjoyed bloodshed and torture, and even went so far as trafficking their fellow wizards. The numbers of Scourers multiplied across America in the late seventeenth century and there is evidence that they were not above passing off innocent No-Majs as wizards, to collect rewards from gullible non-magic members of the community.”

“The famous Salem Witch Trials of 1692-93 were a tragedy for the wizarding community. Wizarding historians agree that among the so-called Puritan judges were at least two known Scourers, who were paying off feuds that had developed while in America. A number of the dead were indeed witches, though utterly innocent of the crimes for which they had been arrested. Others were merely No-Majs who had the misfortune to be caught up in the general hysteria and bloodlust.”

This version fucks up several things:

1) The A good number of judges of the Salem witch trials were NOT native to Salem. All  Many of them were brought in from outside the community, and they did not know the people of Salem before coming there. That would seem to make “paying off feuds” a little difficult. 

[ETA on March 12, 2016: I should add that there were three courts, not one; the second court, known as the Special Court of Oyez and Terminer, was the one that condemned nineteen people to hang. The Chief Judge was Lieutenant Governor William Stoughton, and he was appointed by the Royal Governor, William Phips. The associate judges, also appointed by Phips were: Thomas Danforth of Boston, Bartholomew Gedney of Salem, John Hathorne of Salem, John Richards of Boston, Nathaniel Saltonstall of Haverhill, Peter Sargent of Boston, Samuel Sewall of Salem, and Wait Winthrop of Boston. When Nathaniel Saltonstall resigned from the court upon being told that spectral evidence would be admissible, he was replaced by Jonathan Corwin of Salem. So there were four Salemites on the court that condemned people.  

However, the only truly believable Scourer in the group is Hathorne, who was also on the first witch court with Jonathan Corwin, vehemently hated witches and who acted more like an angry prosecutor than a judge. Although Gedney appears to have been easily swayed–he believed that his friend John Alden was guilty after seeing the afflicted girls in action–both he and Corwin only attended the trials of the second court sporadically.  And Samuel Sewall issued a public confession in 1698 expressing his remorse and accepting “blame and shame” for his actions against innocent people…the only judge on any Salem court to do so.]

2) Rowling cannot say that some of the dead were witches but were “innocent of the crimes for which they had been arrested”, because the crime for which they had been arrested was witchcraft. A witch, by definition, would be guilty of witchcraft.

(I think that she was trying to say that the accused witches and wizards had not hexed anyone’s animals, made anyone sick, etc. But those were not separate crimes. They all came under the umbrella of witchcraft. This fact is well-known to students of that era and to legal scholars, which makes the “wizarding historians” that she cites look ignorant by comparison. If you’re writing fake history, you need to make it convincing.)

3) Rowling’s version places the blame on the judges, saying that they were Scourers out to destroy witches and wizards. This completely ignores the fact that everything started because of the “afflicted girls”–girls and young women ranging in age from 9 (Betty Parris) to 25 (Sarah Churchill). If the girls had not started accusing their neighbors (both slave and free) of witchcraft, no one would have sent for the judges.  There would have been no need.

4) The Salem witch trials were not the only witch trials in America.  The earliest arraignment involving colonists was in 1622 Jamestown; the accused was Goodwife Joan Wright. The first execution in the colonies of a suspected witch was Alys Young, who was hanged in Hartford, Connecticut in 1647. There was also a witch hunt in Hartford, Connecticut in 1662. The wizarding historians make it sound as if Salem was the one and only witch hunt, ignoring others in America and numerous witch hunts in Great Britain and on the continent.

5) Nor were the witch trials of 1692-93 the last witch trials in America, as Rowling’s account would suggest. Virginia, Connecticut, Maryland, New Jersey and New Mexico all had witch trials after that, to 1694 to some time after 1762.  And [i]n 1792 Winnsboro,  [South Carolina,] Mary Ingelman, who had a knowledge of “pharmacy…and simple cures,” and three others were found guilty after cattle got sick and people began acting possessed. Mary and the other three were flogged and the bottoms of their feet were beaten until they burst. There was another witchcraft trial in South Carolina in 1813 (the accused, Barbara Powers, was acquitted). And then there was the Ipswich witchcraft trial of 1878, in which Lucretia L. S. Brown, an adherent of the Christian Science religion, accused fellow Christian Scientist Daniel H. Spofford of attempting to harm her through his “mesmeric” mental powers. (The case was dismissed.)

6) If some of the dead were witches–which is by no means proven, but let us accept it hypothetically–then the following plotholes arise:

a) Why did none of them use Apparition to escape from jail or from the hangman’s noose? There were other cities, even other colonies, and some people who had advance warning that they were going to be arrested did flee by both land and sea.

b) People without magic did try to save the accused by means of petitions and pleas to the court.  Why did none of their magical friends or family try to save any of them by using, y’know, MAGIC? Because there is no mention of such attempts in this account.

c) Why did none of the accused use Imperio on the afflicted girls to make them admit that what they were saying was not true–or on the judges to force them to admit publicly that they were biased, out to get them, etc.? 

d) Why were some people spared if they confessed to witchcraft? If the Scourers were out to destroy all witches, surely there shouldn’t have been any survivors.

e) Given that most witches and wizards in America are not purebloods and that many have been born into non-magical families, why does this book dismiss the non-magical victims of the trials as “merely No-Majs who had the misfortune to be caught up in the general hysteria and bloodlust” as if their deaths did not matter?

And that’s without even getting into the issues of racism, classism and accusations for the sake of land grabs, which had a hell of a lot to do with who was accused.

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The Witch House of Salem
The Witch House (also called the Jonathan Corwin House), was the home of Judge Jonathan Corwin and is the only structure still standing in Salem, Massachusetts with direct ties to the Salem witch trials of 1692. The house was bought by Judge Corwin in 1675, when he was 24 years old, and he lived there for more than forty years. Corwin is buried in the nearby Broad Street Cemetery. The house remained in the Corwin family until the mid-19th century. Jonathan Corwin was called upon to investigate the claims of diabolical activity when a surge of witchcraft accusations arose in Salem and neighboring communities. He served on the Court of Oyer and Terminer, which ultimately sent nineteen to the gallows. All nineteen refused to admit to witchcraft and maintained their innocence.

Judge Jonathan Crane is a time traveller.

He’s also Judge Jonathan Corwin, head of the Salem witch trials. 

  1. The witch trials were a time of panic and paranoia,both emotions caused by fear toxin.
  2. During a trial, you couldn’t deny you were a witch. “Your guilt has been determined, this is merely a sentencing hearing.”

Conclusion:  The Scarecrow traveled back in time to dispose of toxin that didn’t really cause fear, but panic and paranoia, and dumped it in the water of Salem. Then, he stayed and observed the aftermath as Jonathan Corwin.

I’m perfectly sane.