About Mary Warren, Salem Witch Accuser
Both an accuser and then an accused during the Salem Witch Trials, Mary Warren (c1674 - 1697) was the oldest of the "afflicted" girls and became one of the most rigorous accusers. She also became a defender and confessor, unique among the accusing girls of Salem Village.
Mary was orphaned early in life and her parents are unknown. She became a servant in the house of John and Elizabeth Proctor, who lived on the outskirts of Salem in what is now known as Peabody.
The Proctors were opponents of the trials and thought that the accusers should be punished. In early March 1692, Warren began to have fits, saying she saw the specter of Giles Corey. John Proctor told her she was just seeing his shadow, and put her to work at the spinning wheel, threatening to beat her if she had any more fits.
For some time, she did not report any more sightings, but she started to have fits again in his absence. Warren was kept hard at work at the Proctor home and was told that if she ran into fire or water during one of her fits, she would not be rescued.
After her "fits" stopped, she posted a note at the Meeting House to request prayers of thanks. On 3 April 1692, Samuel Parris read Mary’s note to the church members, who began to question Mary after the Sunday services. In her answers, she introduced the possibility of fraud on the part of the accusing girls when she stated that they "did but dissemble." Mary told them she felt better now and could tell the difference between reality and visions. That night, Mary said that Elizabeth’s spirit woke her to torment her about posting of the note.
The other "afflicted" girls then became angry with Mary and began to accuse her of being a witch. A formal complaint was filed on 18 April 1692 and she was examined. During her testimony, she was contradictory, telling the high court that all the girls were lying, but continuing to have fits herself. She then confessed to witchcraft and began to accuse various people, including the Proctors. She was released from jail in June 1692.
Nothing is known for certain of Mary's life after the trials. A possibility is that Mary died in 1697.
Mary Warren's parentage is much debated. Research has revealed that she could not have been the daughter of Captain John Warren and Michaela (aka Michal or Michel) Jennison; although Abraham and Isabel Warren of Salem are still possibilities; further research is needed.
- Colonial Witches: Mary Warren "Warren, Mary (unmd.) 1672- Salem, MA 1692 I, R afflicted"