January 17, 2024

Perhaps the most devastating story from the Salem witchcraft trials is that of Dorothy Good, the youngest person to be arrested and jailed in 1692. At the age of just four years old, Dorothy was accused of practicing witchcraft and confined to a dungeon-like prison for nearly eight months. Though at first jailed with her mother, Sarah Good, and infant sister, even these small comforts were eventually removed; first when her sister perished in the dank prison conditions and then again when her mother was convicted of practicing witchcraft and taken away for execution. Forever altered by this traumatic experience, Dorothy’s father later described her as “chargeable having little or no reason to govern herself.”

Historical accounts of the Salem witch trials almost always reference this tragic individual, noting Dorothy’s status as the youngest person to be imprisoned, and concluding her story with reference to the reparation payment awarded to her father in 1712. However, recent research conducted by our Director of Education has revealed more information about the adult life of Dorothy Good. Records paint a tragic picture of the adult years of this unfortunate soul, who bounced from home to home, described as “straying and rambling,” and gave birth to two children with no husband to claim them as his own.

An article about this ongoing research appeared in the spring 2023 issue of American Ancestors magazine. “The Untold Story of Dorothy Good, Salem’s Youngest Accused Witch” is available here courtesy of American Ancestors. The magazine is an exclusive benefit of American Ancestors membership. Find out more at AmericanAncestors.org.

The Untold Story of Dorothy Good

A lecture about this research was given at History Camp Boston in August of 2022. A recording of this presentation is available here.

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