Who Was Abigail Williams?

abigail-williams Credit: Erin Paul Donovan/age fotostock/Getty Images

Abigail Williams was an accuser during the Salem witch trials in 1692. Her accusations resulted in the arrests of many people in the community. She was never mentioned in historical records after the trial, and she was featured as a prominent character in Arthur Miller's play, The Crucible.

Abigail Williams may have been a servant or relative of Reverend Samuel Parris, and she lived in his home. Little is known about her family background. She and Elizabeth Paris, who was the daughter of Reverend Paris, were the primary accusers. The motives behind Williams' claims remain unknown, but some suggest that she desired attention, or she wanted to wield power and influence in the community. Linnda R. Caporael claimed in 1976 that rye infected with fungus could have triggered hallucinations in Williams and the other girls.