Elizabeth Howe, Salem Witch Trials

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Elizabeth Howe (Jackson), Salem Witch Trials

Also Known As: "How"
Birthplace: Rowley, Essex County, Massachusetts
Death: Died in Salem, Essex, Massachusetts
Cause of death: Execution by hanging
Place of Burial: Salem, Essex County, Massachusetts, United States
Immediate Family:

Daughter of William Jackson and Joane Jackson
Wife of James Howe, Jr. (~1633-1702)
Mother of Deborah Howe; James Howe; John Howe; Elizabeth Howe Jackson; Mary Howe and 2 others
Sister of Mary Foster; Deborah Trumble; John Jackson and Rebecca Jackson

Managed by: Damien Wilson
Last Updated:

About Elizabeth Howe, Salem Witch Trials

Elizabeth (Jackson) Howe was one of the accused in the Salem witch trials. She was found guilty and executed by hanging on 19 July 1692.

Marriage and Children

  1. James Howe (c1633 Hatfield, Essex, England - 15 February 1702 Ipswich, Essex, Massachusetts), married 13 April 1658 Ipswich, Essex, Massachusetts
    1. James Howe (circa 1659 Ipswich, Essex, Massachusetts - 1664)
    2. Deborah (1659 Ipswich, Essex, Mass - 4 November 1743)
    3. John Howe (c1660 Ipswich, Essex, Massachusetts - 22 May 1697 Ipswich, Essex, Massachusetts)
    4. Elizabeth Howe (1661 - 1701)
    5. Mary Howe (25 February 1664 Ipswich, Essex, Massachusetts - 29 January 1723)
    6. James Howe (c1665 Ipswich, Essex, Massachusetts - c1666 Ipswich, Essex, Massachusetts)
    7. Abigail Howe (December 1673 Massachusetts - 16 January 1753 Massachusetts)

"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 Jackson was christened 14 May 1637 in St. Peter, Rowley, East Riding, Yorkshire, England. She died 19 July 1692 in Salem, Essex, Massachusetts. Elizabeth married James Howe (c1633 - 1702), son of James Howe (born c1598) and Elizabeth Dane (1610 - 1694) on 13 April 1658 in Ipswich, Essex, Massachusetts.

Born to William Jackson and Joane or Deborah Jackson (see Notes, below) in England in about 1635, Elizabeth was little more than a year old when she and her parents immigrated to New England. Upon their arrival, the family settled in Rowley, Massachusetts. By the age of seven Elizabeth was described as a maid who worked in the house of Reverend Ezekiel Rogers. In April 1658, when she was 21, she married James Howe, who came from the nearby village of Ipswich. The couple had seven known children and resided in Topsfield, Massachusetts.

Topsfield was a Puritan community. They were a deeply pious society, with an extreme religious focus not only as a community but also on an individual basis. They believed firmly in the devil, and felt that he was not only an enemy to mankind, but to the Puritans specifically. “The devil, as envisioned by the people of Salem, was a short, black man with cloven feet who stood about as high as a walking stick”. The fight against the devil was viewed as an individual religious responsibility.

Though her husband James was blind, they seemed to have been successful farmers. Elizabeth had an assertive personality, which made her unpopular in the pious community. Elizabeth's problems first started in 1682 when she was 45 years-old, at which time a young girl in the community named Hannah Trumble started having fits, sometimes accusing Elizabeth Howe of using witchcraft to make her ill. Though nothing came of this accusation, the damage was done and Elizabeth's reputation was tarnished. Afterwards, she was refused admittance to Ipswich church.

Ten years later, during the witch frenzy of 1692, Elizabeth would find herself accused again. On 28 May 1692 a warrant was issued for her arrest for “Sundry Acts of Witch-craft done or [committed] on the [bodies] of Mary Walcott, Abigail Williams, and others of Salem Village.” She was arrested the next day by Topsfield Constable Ephraim Wildes and taken to the home of Lieutenant Nathaniel Ingersoll to be examined. During her examination, Mercy Lewis and Mary Walcott, two of her main accusers, fell into fits and when Elizabeth looked at Mary Warren, she fell down. Ann Putnam Jr. and Susannah Sheldon also testified against her. When asked how she pled to the charges made against her, Elizabeth Howe boldly responded, “If it was the last moment I was to live, God knows I am innocent of any thing of this nature”.

On June 1st, testimony was taken from the Perely family of Ipswich, Massachusetts, who claimed that their ten year-old daughter had been afflicted by Howe. The child complained of being pricked by pins and sometimes fell into fits. In their testimony against Howe, they quoted their daughter as saying, “I could never afflict a dog as Goody Howe afflicts me.”

Conditions in prison were harsh for those accused of witchcraft. The supposed witches were “bound with cords and irons for months, subjected to insulting, unending examinations and excommunication from the church”. Marion L. Starkey’s The Devil in Massachusetts says, “. . . they were periodically subjected by prison officials, especially by the juries assigned to search them for witch marks”. Yet while Elizabeth Howe was imprisoned in these difficult conditions she was able to rely on the support of her family. Her daughters, and her blind husband, took turns in making regular trips to Boston. Starkey said they would bring her “country butter, clean linen, and comfort”.

On June 30th, Elizabeth was one of five women arraigned in the first Salem witch trial. During the proceedings, the Reverend Samuel Parris' slave, John Indian, cried out that she had bitten him and he fell into a fit. Despite strong support from family and friends, she and the other four women tried that day were found guilty. On 19 July 1692, Elizabeth Howe, along with her sister-in-law, Rebecca Nurse, Sarah Solart PooleGood, Sarah Averill Wildes and Susanna North Martin, was hanged on Gallows Hill in Salem Towne and buried in an unmarked grave.


  • Although some sources claim that the Jackson family emigrated to New England in or about 1635-1636, their names have not been found on any passenger lists. They specifically do not appear on the list for the John of London (1638), as is often claimed.
  • Sources conflict about the identity of Elizabeth's mother. More research needs to be done to determine if it was Joane/Joan or Deborah.


  • Anderson, Robert Charles, George F. Sanborn, Jr., Melinde Lutz Sanborn. The Great Migration: Immigrants to New England, 1634-1635 (Boston: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 1999-2007.), 3:434, Los Angeles Public Library, Gen 974 A549-1.
  • Howe, Daniel Wait. Howe Genealogies: Abraham Howe of Marlborough (Boston: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 1929.), 2:158, Los Angeles Public Library, 929.2 H858-1.
  • Tingley, Raymon Meyers. Some Ancestral Lines: Being a Record of Some of the Ancestors of Guilford Solon Tingley and his wife Martha Pamelia Meyer (Rutland, Vermont: Tuttle Publishing Co., 1935. FHL US/CAN Film #1,321,281 Item 2.), p. 158, Family History Library.
  • Upham, Charles Wentworth. Salem witchcraft: with an account of Salem village, and a history of opinions on witchcraft and kindred subjects, Volume 2 (Boston: Wiggin and Lunt, 1867)


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Elizabeth Howe, Salem Witch Trials's Timeline

Rowley, Essex County, Massachusetts
May 14, 1637
Age 2
Rowley Parish,Hunsley,Yorkshire,Eng
April 3, 1658
Age 23
Ipswich, Essex County, Massachusetts
Age 24
Ipswich, Essex, Mass
Age 24
Ipswich, Essex, Mass.
Age 25
Ipswich, Essex, MA, USA
June 1, 1661
Age 26
Ipswich, Essex, Mass.
February 25, 1664
Age 29
Ipswich, Essex, Mass.
Age 30
Ipswich, Essex, Massachusetts
December 1673
Age 38