Salem 1692: Geoge Jacobs Is Hanged for Witchcraft

George Jacobs house in modern-day
Danvers, MA. Taken about 1900
Click here to see full image

Gallows Hill, August 19, 1692. George Jacobs Sr., tall but bent with arthritis, hobbled to his own execution. The old man got around with the aid of two walking sticks and was the eldest and feeblest of the five persons about to die, a victim of hysteria, greed, and his own unpopularity. George had been accused, tried and convicted of being a wizard, or male witch.

On the Hill another accused, George Burroughs, recited the Lord's Prayer flawlessly, usually considered a proof of innocence. However this did not save Burroughs, Jacobs, John Proctor, Martha Carrier, or John Willard--all five were hanged. George's family buried the body on his farm.

George Jacobs -- Marcel McMullen's 8th great grandfather through the Bartletts -- was born about 1612 in England. The date of his passage to America is unknown. He and his wife Mary settled in Salem, Massachusetts, in Salem Village, now Danvers, in a secluded spot east from the main road leading to Topsfield, and bordering upon the river leading to Danvers Post.

He bought his 10-acre homestead from Richard Waters on November 20, 1658. He received a grant also from the town of Salem, which remained in the family several generations.

George Jacobs, Sr.
Age in 1692: Abt. 80.
Born: Abt. 1612
Birthplace: England
Occupation: Farmer
Home in 1692: Salem, Massachusetts
Spouse: Mary
George's 1st accuser was his servant Sarah Churchill. She claimed to have heard George refer to local girls as "witch bitches". George was put in chains for several weeks and finally brought to trial . When magistrates accused him of being a wizard , George retorted, "You tax me for a wizard; you may as well tax me for a buzzard"!

By contemporary standards George was not much of a church-goer and during the trial, the magistrates brought this up. They then demanded that George, who could not read or write, recite the Lord's prayer. When George stumbled, this appeared more evidence that he was possessed by the Devil.

Abigail Williams was George's main accuser. To charges George replied in characteristic salty fashion, "Well burn me or hang me. I'll stand in the truth of Christ".

George's 7-year-old granddaughter, Margaret, was jailed and intimidated into accusing her grandfather. Her later recantation was ignored.

His son George Jr. and wife Rebecca were also accused but George Jr. escaped to what is now Wells, Maine and when his wife was released, she joined him. His great granddaughter Priscilla Jacobs returned to Massachusetts to marry Joshua Bartlett, Marcel McMullen's 4th great grandfather.

In all 19 hanged for witchcraft in Salem. In 1711 the town of Salem granted reparation to the families of those who had been executed. George's heirs received 79 pounds.

Descendants unearthed George's remains in 1864 and found a tall, toothless skeleton. In 1992 Salem paid homage to George and other victims as as part of the 300th anniversary of the trials.

George's two canes are on display at Essex Institute at Salem. The picture of his trial for witchcraft (below) is also owned by the Institute.

19th century depiction of the "Trial of George Jacobs, August 5, 1692" by Thomkins H. Matteson
(Portrayal of our kneeling ancestor is idealized, as he was 80, lame, and suffered from arthritis.)

Wikipedia: Salem witch trials

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