Sarah Good Facts
Known for: among the first to be executed in the 1692 Salem witch trials; her newborn died during her confinement and her 4- or 5-year-old daughter, Dorcas, was also among the accused and imprisoned
Age at time of Salem witch trials: about 31
Dates: - July 19, 1692
Also known as: Sarah Goode, Goody Good, Sary Good, Sarah Solart, Sarah Poole, Sarah Solart Good
Before the Salem Witch Trials
Sarah's father was John Solart, an innkeeper who committed suicide in 1672 by drowning himself. His estate was divided among his widow and children, but his daughters' shares were to be in his widow's control until the daughters were of age. When Sarah's mother remarried, Sarah's stepfather had control of Sarah's inheritance.
Sarah's first husband was Daniel Poole, a former indentured servant. When he died in 1682, Sarah remarried, this time to William Good, a weaver. Sarah's stepfather testified later that he gave Sarah and William her inheritance in 1686; Sarah and William sold the property to settle debts that year; they were held responsible for the debts Daniel Poole had left.
Homeless and destitute, the Good family relied on charity for housing and food, and begged for food and work. When Sarah begged among her neighbors, she sometimes cursed those who did not respond; these curses were to be used against her in 1692.
Sarah Good and the Salem Witch Trials
On February 25, 1692, Sarah Good-along with Tituba and Sarah Osborne-was named by Abigail Williams and Elizabeth Parris as causing their strange fits and convulsions.
A warrant was filed on February 29 by Thomas Putnam, Edward Putnam, and Thomas Preston of Salem Village against Sarah Good. She was accused of injuring Elizabeth Parris, Abigail Williams, Ann Putnam Jr. and Elizabeth Hubbard over two months' time. The warrant was signed by John Hathorne and Jonathan Corwin. The constable was George Locker. The warrant demanded that Sarah Good appear "at the house of L't Nathaniell Ingersalls in Salem Village" by the next day at ten. In the examination, Joseph Hutchison was also mentioned as a complainant.
Brought to the hearing on March 1 by Constable George Locker, Sarah was examined that day by John Hathorne and Jonathan Corwin. She maintained her innocence. Ezekiel Cheevers was the clerk who recorded the examination. The accusing girls responded to her presence physically ("they were all tormented" according to the transcript), including more fits. One of the afflicted girls accused Sarah Good's specter of stabbing her with a knife. She produced a broken knife. But a man among the spectators said that it was his broken knife he had thrown away the day before within sight of the girls.
Tituba confessed to being a witch, and implicated Sarah Good and Sarah Osborne, saying they had forced her to sign the devil's book. Good declared that Tituba and Sarah Osborne were the true witches, and continued to assert her own innocence. An examination showed no witch's marks on any of the three.
Sarah Good was sent to Ipswich to be confined by a local constable who was her relative, where she escaped briefly and then voluntarily returned. Elizabeth Hubbard reported that during that time, Sarah Good's specter had visited her and tormented her. Sarah was taken to Ipswich jail, and by March 3 was in Salem's jail with Sarah Osborne and Tituba. All three were questioned again by Corwin and Hathorne.
On March 5, William Allen, John Hughes, William Good, and Samuel Braybrook testified against Sarah Good, Sarah Osborne, and Tituba. William testified to a mole on his wife's back, which was interpreted as a witch's mark. On March 11, Sarah Good was again examined.
Sarah Good and Tituba were ordered to be sent to the Boston jail on March 24. Dorcas Good, Sarah's 4- or 5-year-old daughter, was arrested on March 24, on complaints that she had bitten Mary Walcott and Ann Putnam Jr. Dorcas was examined by John Hathorne and Jonathan Corwin on March 24, 25, and 26. Her confession implicated her mother as a witch. She identified a small bite, likely from a flea, on her finger as being caused by a snake her mother had given her.
Sarah Good was examined again in court on March 29, maintaining her innocence, and the girls again were in fits. When she was asked who, if not her, had hurt the girls, she accused Sarah Osborne.
In jail, Sarah Good gave birth to Mercy Good, but the baby did not survive. The conditions at the jail and the lack of food for mother and child likely contributed to the death.
In June, with the Court of Oyer and Terminer charged with disposing of the cases of accused witches, Sarah Good was indicted and tried. One indictment lists witnesses Sarah Vibber (Bibber) and John Vibber (Bibber), Abigail Williams, Elizabeth Hubbard, and Ann Putnam Jr. A second indictment lists Elizabeth Hubbard, Ann Putnam (Jr.?), Mary Walcott, and Abigail Williams. A third lists Ann Putnam (Jr.?), Elizabeth Hubbard, and Abigail Williams.
Johanna Childin, Susannah Sheldon, Samuel and Mary Abbey, Sarah and Thomas Gadge, Joseph and Mary Herrick, Henry Herrick, Jonathan Batchelor, William Batten, and William Shaw all gave testimony against Sarah Good. Her own husband, William Good, testified that he had seen the devil's mark on her.
On June 29, Sarah Good-along with Elizabeth How, Susannah Martin, and Sarah Wildes-was tried and convicted by the jury. Rebecca Nurse was found not guilty by the jury; spectators hearing the verdict protested loudly and the court asked the jury to reconsider the evidence, and Rebecca Nurse was convicted on that second attempt. All five were thus condemned to hanging.
On July 19, 1692, Sarah Good was hanged near Gallows Hill in Salem. Also hanged that day were Elizabeth How, Susannah Martin, Rebecca Nurse, and Sarah Wildes who had also been condemned in June.
At her execution, when urged by Salem's Rev. Nicholas Noyes to confess, Sarah Good responded with the words "I am no more a witch than you are a wizard, and if you take away my life, God will give you blood to drink." Her statement was remembered widely when he collapsed and died later of a brain hemorrhage.
After the Trials
In September of 1710, William Good petitioned for compensation for his wife's execution and his daughter's imprisonment. He blamed the trials for "the destruction of my poor family" and described the situation with their daughter, Dorcas, this way:
a child of 4 or 5 years old was in prison 7 or 8 months and being chain'd in the dungeon was so hardly used and terrifyed that she hath ever since been very chargeable haveing little or no reason to govern herself.
Sarah Good was among those named by the Massachusetts Legislature in a 1711 act restoring all rights to those who had been convicted of witchcraft in 1692. William Good received one of the largest settlements for his wife and his daughter.
Sarah Good in The Crucible
In Arthur Miller's drama, The Crucible, Sarah Good is an easy target of the early accusations, as she is a homeless woman who behaves strangely.