More About St. Peter’s Church

Philip and Mary English were accused of witchcraft in late April of 1692, examined and held for trial in May, and escaped to New York by August to wait out the turmoil.  As the wealthiest merchant in Salem, English was afforded opportunities others did not have. He was not only able to rent rooms in the Boston jailer’s own home, but had the support of two Boston reverends, Samuel Willard and Joshua Moody, who helped arrange the couple’s escape. Though English and his wife Mary were able to flee, ultimately saving their lives, they forfeited an enormous £4000 bond.


English was not a popular man with everyone in Salem. He came from the Channel Island of Jersey, so his first language was French. He avoided paying his fair share of taxes, was quick to sue, and represented a more cosmopolitan lifestyle, which did not sit well with some of his Puritan neighbors. He had also been a supporter of the unpopular Royal Governor Edmund Andros. Above all, English was of the Anglican faith.


Upon returning to Salem in the summer of 1693, English was outraged to find just how much of his personal wealth had been stripped in his absence. His belongings had been confiscated by the High Sheriff George Corwin and his own neighbors had looted his home.


English would spend the rest of his life suing to regain his property and he would refer to Reverend Nicholas Noyes as a murderer until the end. English died in 1736 just short of his 85th birthday. After all of his battles with the Puritan community, it seems an appropriate legacy that he would not only help establish the first Anglican Church in Salem, but that Prison Lane would be re-named St. Peter Street in its honor.


St. Peter’s rich history includes not only its connection to the witch trials of 1692, but also has ties to the maritime trade, the Revolutionary War, Black history, the Civil War, and more. Today, St. Peter’s-San Pedro is a growing, bilingual, multicultural church that still worships in the 1833 building with 1733 pews.  The oldest church bell in the country, cast especially for St. Peter’s in England in 1740, still hangs in the bell tower alongside the 1885 ten-chime carillon.