More About Stephen Sewall Home, Site of

In his role as Court Clerk, Stephen Sewall was an eye-witness to the day-to-day activities of the trials. He received a letter from Cotton Mather in September of 1692, just two days before the last executions, requesting the trial records. Mather had been commissioned by Governor Phips to write a defense of the trials, which Mather would call Wonders of the Invisible World. Mather asked Sewall to include everything from the transcripts that could be used to persuade skeptics of the reality of witchcraft and specters. Both Sewall and Chief Justice William Stoughton gave their approval of Mather’s book when it was complete, stating in a note at the end, “We find the matters of fact and evidence truly reported.”


Stephen Sewall, who was born in Warwickshire, England in 1657, died in Salem Town in 1725 at the age of 68.


Additional note: In 1704, a dozen years after the witchcraft trials, Stephen Sewall, leading a group of 43 volunteers crammed into a fishing boat, captured the pirate John Quelch at the Isle of Shoals. Quelch was brought to Salem and then to Boston under heavy guard, where he and five of his crew were hanged on June 30.


Sewall Street connects Essex and Lynde Streets, next to the Y.M.C.A. building (at 1 Sewall Street). The home of Stephen Sewall was in this area, on Essex Street, between the YMCA and 274 Essex Street.