Susannah Martin (Salem witch trials)

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Susannah Martin
Born Susannah North
Died July 19, 1692 (aged 70)
Salem, Massachusetts Bay Colony
Cause of death Hanging
Residence Salisbury, Province of Massachusetts Bay
Nationality American
Spouse(s) George Martin
Parent(s) Richard North and Joan Bartram

Susannah North Martin (baptized September 30, 1621 – July 19, 1692) was a woman executed for witchcraft during the Salem witch trials.


Early life

The English-born Martin was the fourth daughter, and youngest child, of Richard North and Joan North (née Bartram). Her mother died when she was a child. Her stepmother was Ursula North. Martin was baptized in Olney, Buckinghamshire, England on 30 September 1621. Her family moved to Salisbury, Massachusetts around 1639[1] when she was about 18 years old.

On August 11, 1646 at Salisbury, Susannah married a widower George Martin, a blacksmith with whom she had eight children, including a daughter Jane, the great-great-great-great grandmother of United States President Chester A. Arthur.[2]

In 1669, Susannah was first formally accused of witchcraft by William Sargent, Jr. In turn, George Martin sued Sargent for two counts of slander against Susannah, one for accusing her of being a witch, and another for claiming one of her sons was a bastard and another was her "imp". Martin withdrew the second count, but the Court upheld the accusation of witchcraft.[3] A higher court later dismissed the witchcraft charges.

By 1671, the Martin family was again involved in legal proceedings dealing with the matter of Ursula North's inheritance, most of which Ursula had left to her granddaughter, Mary Jones Winsley. The court sided against Susannah and George, although Susannah was able to bring five further appeals, each being decided against her.[citation needed]

Trial and accusation

George died in 1686, leaving Susannah an impoverished widow by the time of the second accusation of witchcraft in 1692. Inhabitants of nearby Salem Village, including Joseph and Jarvis Ring, had named Susannah a witch and stated she had attempted to recruit them into witchcraft. She was tried for these charges, during which process she proved by all accounts to be pious and quoted the Bible freely, something a witch was said incapable of doing. Cotton Mather countered Susannah's defense by stating in effect that the Devil's servants were capable of putting on a show of perfect innocence and Godliness.

Susannah Martin was found guilty, and hanged on July 19, 1692 in Salem. Some interesting excerpts from the transcript of Susannah's trial are below: (spelling, punctuation, capitalization as original)

"To the Marshall of the County of Essex or his lawful Deputies or to the Constable of Amesbury: You are in their Majesties names hereby required forthwith or as soon as may be to apprehend and bring Susanna Mertin of Amesbury in þ county of Esses Widdow at þ house of Lt. Nathaniel Ingersolls in Salem village in order to her examination Relating to high suspicion of sundry acts of Witchcraft donne or committed by her upon þ bodies of Mary Walcot, Abigail Williams, Ann Putnam, and Mercy Lewis of Salem village or farms whereby great hurt and damage hath been donne to þ bodies of said persons.... etc".

At the preliminary trial for the crime of "Witchcraft and sorcery" Susanna pled not guilty. The original court record book has been lost, but the local Puritan minister, Cotton Mather, recorded the testimony. Susanna and the others accused were not allowed to have counsel.

"As soon as she came in, Marcy had fits"
Magistrate: Do you know this woman?
Abigail Williams saith it is goody Martin, she hath hurt me often.
Others by fits were hindered from speaking.
Marcy Lewis pointed at her and fell into a little fit.
Ann Putnam threw her glove in a fit at her.

................ Susanna laughed ................

Magistrate: What! Do you laugh at it?
Martin: Well I may at such folly.
Mag: Is this folly? The hurt of persons?
Martin: I never hurt man or woman or child.
Marcy: She hath hurt me a great many times and pulls me down.

Then Martin laughed again.

Susannah Martin was twice forced to submit to physical examination for evidence of a "witch's tit or physical proturberance which might give milk to a familiar." No such deformity was found in Susannah Martin but it was noted that "in the morning her nipples were found to be full as if the milk would come", but by late afternoon "her breasts were slack, as if milk had already been given to someone or something." This was an indication that she had been visited by a witch's familiar, and was clear evidence of guilt.[4]


Lone Tree Hill, a famous historical site, bore a tablet on its westerly side marking the site of George and Susannah's home. The boulder which marked their homestead has been moved to make room for a highway, and it can be found on the map where the highway crosses Martin Road in Amesbury. The marker lies nearby. George was one of the largest landowners in Amesbury. The inscription on the marker reads: "Here stood the house of Susannah Martin. An honest, hardworking Christian woman accused of being a witch and executed at Salem, July 19, 1692. She will be missed! A Martyr of Superstition. T.I.A. 1894."[citation needed]

In the 19th century, poet John Greenleaf Whittier composed "The Witch's Daughter" about Martin.

"Let Goody Martin rest in peace, I never knew her harm a fly,
And witch or not - God knows - not I?
I know who swore her life away;
And as God lives, I'd not condemn
An Indian dog on word of them."

On Halloween in 2001, Susannah Martin and four other women from the Salem witch trials were officially exonerated by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.[5]


  1. "Susannah Martin: Accused Witch from Salisbury". History of Massachusetts. Retrieved January 16, 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Lineage by Generation of Chester A. Arthur, Generation 6
  3. Records and Files of the Quarterly Courts of Essex County,; accessed December 25, 2014.
  4. Essex County Archives, Salem - Witchcraft, Vol. 1, pg. 35
  5. "Massachusetts Clears 5 From Salem Witch Trials". New York Times. Retrieved 31 March 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

Further reading

  • Greene, David L. (1993), "The English Origins of Richard North And His Daughter, Susannah (North) Martin, Executed For Witchcraft in 1692", The American Genealogist, Vol. 68, pp. 65–70.
  • Upham, Charles (1980), Salem Witchcraft; New York: Frederick Ungar Publishing Co., 2 vv., v.1 p. 427, v.2 pp. 145, 268.