Just south and around the corner from the site of the Salem Courthouse, on present-day Essex Street, is the site of Stephen Sewall’s home. He owned a large L-shaped lot, which ran north to present-day Federal Street, west to North Street (Weld’s Lane in 1692), and fronted present-day Essex Street, which was called Main Street in 1692. Sewell was the Court Clerk during the Oyer and Terminer Court trials; his brother Samuel was one of the judges.
When Betty Parris and her cousin Abigail Williams started having fits in the Salem Village parsonage, they sparked the frenzy to come. Once Dr. Griggs had declared them “under an evil hand” and in the sway of the Devil, Reverend Parris was, of course, concerned about his daughter’s welfare. By March, thinking it would be better for her to be removed from the situation, the reverend asked his friend Stephen Sewell to look after Betty in the Sewall home in Salem Town. Betty’s affliction stopped, and it is believed she spent the duration of the witchcraft period here on Essex Street. In later life, she appeared to have no scars from guilt, as some of her fellow accusers did. She married at 27, had five children with her husband in Sudbury, MA, and lived to the age of 77.
Betty Parris recovered from her “afflicted” behavior when removed from the parsonage. One wonders why more adults didn’t note this and separate the afflicted girls from each other. Furthermore, it is interesting to note that while Betty Parris was removed from Salem Village, the house she stayed in for the duration of the trials was in the center of the turmoil in Salem Town. Her host was the Court Clerk, who lived near two of the principle judges, Corwin and Hathorne, around the corner from Reverend Noyes, and minutes away from the Salem Courthouse. Betty Parris went from one disturbing environment to another, yet she was clearly better off in Salem Town, away from the other accusers.