The assistant reverend in Salem during the witchcraft trials of 1692 was Nicholas Noyes. In 1692 he was 45 years old and was the assistant to Reverend John Higginson who, at 76 years old, was starting to reduce his ministerial activities.
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More About Reverend Nicholas Noyes Home, Site of
Reverend Noyes ran the Latin School, which was downstairs from the courthouse, in a building almost directly across the street from his home. Noyes was a great reader of the Book of Revelation, and a fervent believer in the ongoing struggle between good and evil. When the trials began, he volunteered to be their chaplain. As the trials progressed, Noyes acted more like one of the judges than a chaplain. Although he would deliver the opening prayer at many of the proceedings, he also cross-examined several of the accused. He testified about conversations he’d had with Alice Parker at her examination, and oversaw the excommunication of Rebecca Nurse from the church in Salem Town.
Noyes is particularly remembered for two quotations. Sarah Good’s curse against him at her execution, “I am no more a witch than you are a wizard, and if you take my life, God will give you blood to drink,” is a key element in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s novel The House of the Seven Gables. Also unforgettable is Noyes’s own quote uttered on the last mass execution day, September 22: “What a sad thing it is to see eight firebrands of Hell hanging there.”
Nicholas Noyes was born in Newbury, MA in 1647 and graduated from Harvard in 1667. Even he was affected personally by the witchcraft accusations. His cousin Sarah was married to Beverly’s Reverend John Hale. Sarah Hale was accused of tormenting Wenham’s Mary Herrick in November, 1692, a charge that came quite late in that fateful year. It is not known if Noyes came to regret his participation in the events of 1692, as he is not a signer on any of the documents asking for forgiveness that were produced in subsequent years.
Reverend Noyes died of a brain hemorrhage in 1718, just short of his 70th birthday. Popular legend recalls that Noyes illness resulted in his coughing up blood, ultimately choking him. Though this is but a popular folk legend, the tale eerily recalls the last words said by Sarah Good to Noyes as she stood on the gallows, asserting that, “God will give you blood to drink.” Nicholas Noyes is thought to be buried in the Old Burying Point Cemetery on Charter Street in Salem, although there is no existing marker for his grave.
The site of Nicholas Noyes’s home was in a large lot approximately where Koto Restaurant is today, at 90 Washington Street. Noyes’s lot abutted Stephen Sewell’s to the west.