During the witch hunt that took place in Salem, Massachusetts, those accused of witchcraft were quick to distance themselves from the practice. However, one of the first accused did not deny her involvement. In this article, you will learn more about Tituba, a woman who increased the hysteria concerning witches and the Devil in Salem.
Tituba lived in the Puritan Salem Village, where differences from the rest of the villagers were frowned upon and watched with a careful eye. Tituba came from a small village in South America and was captured when she was a child. After being taken to the Caribbean island of Barbados, she was sold as a slave to Samuel Parris , a local merchant that came from New England.
In 1689, Tituba and the Parris family moved to Salem Village, where Mr. Parris was to become a pastor. Mrs. Parris took on many duties as being the wife of a pastor and often became sick. As a result, Tituba became responsible for tending to the three Parris children: Thomas, Betty, and Susahanna.
During the evenings, Tituba kept the kids entertained by telling them stories and playing fortune-telling games. Many times, her tales mentioned magic and spirits from the Caribbean. At the time, these kinds of activities were forbidden by Puritan code. However, Tituba’s stories reached the ears of other neighborhood girls and they started to meet at the Parris house to listen. They were nicknamed the ‘circle girls.’
In 1692, Betty, Abigail, and Ann Putnam started to act strange , twitching, convulsing, staring into space, and babbling. They were given the diagnosis of being affected by witchcraft. The villagers wanted to know who was responsible for the witchcraft. The girls started to point fingers and chose three social outcasts as their victims. One of the women was Tituba herself.
At first, Tituba denied practicing any witchcraft and told the people that she loved Betty. However, Reverend Parris beat her and demanded that she confess to the magistrates. He promised her freedom if she obeyed his wish.
Tituba entered an examination that lasted three days. She did confess to practicing witchcraft and even claimed that there were other witches living in the village. During her confession, it is said that Tituba exclaimed that the Devil lived among the people of Salem. She spoke of black dogs, a yellow bird, red and black rats, and a wolf. She said that Sarah Osbourne (another one of the accused) owned a creature that had the head of a woman, two legs, and wings. Tituba was sent to prison, but because she had given a confession , she was spared being sent to trial.
Parris did not make sure that Tituba was freed from prison and he refused to pay any of the fees associated with her release. She stayed in prison until the next year until she was sold and taken out of Salem. Information about the slave stops here, but it is believed that she had a child with another Parris slave (named Violet), who resided with the Parris household until the Reverend died in 1720.