More About Site of Mary and Samuel Sibley Home

Historian Sidney Perley describes their property as, “This lot of land early belonged to Benjamin Hutchinson of Salem, husbandman, and he conveyed it to his son Joseph Hutchinson of Salem, yeoman, May 16, 1666. Joseph Hutchinson conveyed it with the road (four rods wide) to the street, to Samuel Sibley of Salem, cooper, Sept. 2, 1686; and Mr. Sibley built a house and barn and planted an orchard on the lot.”

 

On February 25, when Reverend Parris and his wife were off attending weekly lecture in another town, Mary proposed to Indian that a rye flour cake be baked that included the urine of the two afflicted girls, Betty Parris and Abigail Williams. Tituba baked the cake and fed it to the family dog. It was believed that the “evil essence” of the tormenting witch was in the urine, and so the witch would be harmed when the cake was devoured by the animal – and possibly reveal him or herself.

 

However, the counter-magic effort didn’t work. In fact, the same day the witch cake episode took place, two more girls, Ann Putnam Jr., aged 12, and Doctor Griggs’s 17-year-old niece Elizabeth Hubbard, began to show signs of affliction. In addition, Betty and Abigail named their tormentors, the first of which was Tituba herself.

 

When Reverend Parris discovered this act had taken place in his home, he was outraged. He denounced the practice to the congregation, after privately lecturing Mary Sibley in his study, and pointed to this counter-magic act as the moment the Devil was unleashed in Salem Village. Communion was withheld from Mary as punishment, and reinstated after she confessed in front of the church in mid-March.

 

Mary Sibley is not mentioned again in the records, but her husband Samuel appears on a few other occasions. On March 1, after the initial examination of Tituba, Sarah Good, and Sarah Osborne at the meetinghouse, a group of villagers gathered at the home of Dr. Griggs. The doctor’s niece Elizabeth Hubbard was now one of the afflicted. She cried out that the specter of Sarah Good was present and tormenting her. Sibley struck at the space where Hubbard pointed and, she claimed, he struck a hard blow to Good. “You have almost killed her,” Hubbard said. That same evening, Sarah Good escaped from the home of Constable Joseph Herrick nearby, where she was being held for further examination. The guards found only her shoes and stockings left behind. Barefoot and, it is suspected, with her baby in her arms, Good had nowhere to go and so returned to Herrick’s. When they looked her over upon her return, her arm was bloody from wrist to elbow. One can only imagine she was injured as she ran, frightened, through a New England night, but the earlier vision of Elizabeth Hubbard, and Sibley’s blow with his walking stick, were thought by some to be the diabolical reason for her wound.

 

On March 25, John Proctor met Samuel Sibley at Walter Philips’s Tavern on the Ipswich Road. Proctor was headed to Salem Village to fetch his servant Mary Warren, who, acting as an afflicted witness, had stayed overnight at the court. According to Sibley, Proctor made his skepticism of the witchcraft delusion clear. “If those girls were allowed to continue, we should all be devils and witches quickly. They should rather be had to the whipping post,” Proctor was quoted to have said. These were dangerous times to be voicing such opinions. It is likely that Sibley’s report of the conversation added to the evidence against Proctor, and contributed to his execution on August 19.

 

Mary Sibley was born Mary Woodrow in Salem in 1660. She married Samuel Sibley in 1686 and together they had seven children. Mary Sibley was the aunt of the afflicted Mary Walcott – her husband’s sister Mary was Captain Walcott’s first wife.

 

It has been suggested Mary Sibley died circa 1761, which would have made her approximately 100 years old.

 

Additional note: The name of the main female protagonist in the television show Salem is Mary Sibley, “the most powerful witch in Salem.” The character is fiction and has no relationship to historic fact.

 

Additional note: The Clark Farm has been operating since 1728 and, according to Bill Clark on their website, the land here has been continuously farmed since around 1635.