(c. 1650 – August 19
), American Congregational pastor
, graduated from Harvard University
in 1670, and became the minister of Salem Village (now Danvers, Massachusetts
) in 1680, a charge which he held until 1683. He lived at Falmouth (now Portland, Maine
) until the Indians destroyed it in 1690. Burroughs then moved to Wells, Maine
. In May 1692, during the Salem witch trials
, based on the accusation of some of his personal enemies from his former congregation who had sued him for debt, Burroughs was arrested and charged, among other offenses, with extraordinary weight lifting and such feats of strength as could not be done without diabolical assistance.
Execution and aftermath
Though the jury found no witches' marks
on his body he was convicted of witchcraft and conspiracy with the Devil. While standing before the crowd at the gallows, he successfully recited the Lord's Prayer
, something that was determined by the Court of Oyer and Terminer
to be impossible for a witch (or wizard) to do.
The stunned crowd became restless until Cotton Mather, a minister from Boston, reminding the crowd from atop his horse that Burroughs had been convicted in a court of law. George Burroughs was executed on Gallows Hill, Salem, on the 19th of August, the only minister who suffered this extreme fate.
But the death of George Burroughs brought about a change in attitudes amongst the citizens of Essex County and was a contributing factor to the end of the hysteria.