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George JACOBS

Male Abt 1620 - 1692  (~ 72 years)


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  • Name George JACOBS 
    Born Abt 1620  Massachusetts, USA Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Gender Male 
    Died 19 Aug 1692  Salem, Essex, Massachusetts, USA Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Buried Nurse Homestead Cemetery, Danvers, Essex, Massachusetts, USA Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Notes 
    • “George Jacobs was born in 1620. He died on 19 August 1692 at Salem, Essex, MA, USA; Executed during Salem Witch Trials.
           George Jacobs ...was farming near Salem, Mass by the 1640's. He came to Salem in or before 1674 and settled in the portion of the town which is now Danvers, northwesterly of Great Cove. He and his wife attended church infrequently, and he was known for his 'salty tongue' and quick temper. He was in court in 1677 for striking a man while in a rage. He, his son George Jr, George Jr's wife Rebecca and their daughter Margaret, were accused of witchcraft. George was accused of practicing witchcraft by his own granddaughter, Margaret. George Sr was tried and examined May 10th 1692. The accusing girls were present in full force. His examination was as follows: Jacobs: I am as innocent as the child born tonight. I have lived thirty-three years here in Salem. Court: What then? Jacobs: If you can prove that I am guilty I will lie under it. Sarah: Last night I was afflicted at Deacon Ingersoll's and Mary Walcott said it was a man with two staves. It was my master... Jacobs: Pray so not accuse me. I am as clear as your worships. You must right judgements. Court: What book did he bring you, Sarah? Sarah: The same book that the other woman brought. Jacobs: The devil can go in any shape. Court: Did he not appear on the other side of the river and hurt you? Did not you see him? Sarah: Yes he did. Court: Look there, she accuseth you to your face, she chargeth you that you hurt her twice. Is it not true? What would you have me say? I never wronged no man in word or deed. Court: Here are three evidences. Jacobs: You tax me for a wizard. You may as well tax me for a buzzard. I have done no harm. Court: Is it not harm to afflict these? Jacobs: I never did it. Court: But how comes it to be in your appearance? Jacobs: The devil can take any license. Court: Not without their consent. Jacobs: Please your worships, it is untrue, I never showed the book. I am silly about these things as the child born last night. Court: That is your saying. You argugue you have lived so long, but what then, Cain might live so long before he killed Abel and you might live long before the devil had so prevailed on you. Jacobs: Christ hath suffered three times for me... Court: What three times? He suffered the cross and gal... Sarah: You had as good confess if you are guilty. Jacobs: Have you heard that I have any witchcraft? Sarah: I know that you lead a wicked life. Jacobs: Let her make it out. Court: Doth he ever pray in his family? Jacobs: Not uunless by himself. Court: Why do you not pray in your family? Jacobs: I cannot read. Court: Well you may pray for all that. Can you say the Lord's prayer? Let us hear you. Record; (He might [missed] in several parts of it and could not repeat it right after many trials.) Court: Sarah Churchill, when you wrote in the book you showed your master's name you said. Sarah: Yes sir. Jacobs: Well, burn me or hang me I will stand in the truth of Christ. I know nothing of it. Sarah Churchill gave positive evidence against Mr. Jacobs, and subsequently Sarah Ingersoll deposed that Sarah Churchill came to her, crying and wringing her hands, seemingly much troubled in spirit. She asked her what the matter was. She answered that she had unundone herself. Miss Ingersoll asked what was it about, and she answered, that it was in belying herself and others in sayingthat she believed that she had set her hand to the book. She answered, and said, 'No, no, no; I never did.' She was asked then what made her say she did. She answered that it was because they threatened her, and told her they would put her into the dungeon along ,with Mr. Burroughs, and thus at several times she followed Miss Ingersoll, telling her that she had undone herself. Miss Ingersoll asked her why she did not deny she wrote it, and she said it was because she had stood so long in it that now she did not dare to. She said, also, that if she told Mr. Noyes but once she had set her hand to the book, he would believe her, but if she told the truth and said she had not set her hand to the book a hundred times he would not believe her. May 14th, warrants were issued for the arrest of George Jacobs, Jr., and his wife Rebecca. Mr. Jacobs escaped, but his wife was arrested, and as she was taken away by the officers, her four little children followed her, but they could not go far, as the youngest was but two years old. They were left behind, and were cared for by neighbors. She was kept in irons eight months, then indicted, and set to trial Jan. 3, 1692/93, being promptly acquitted. Many features of the witchcraft regime equaled in cruelty and a spirit ofpersecution similar to that shown to the Quakers. Burroughs, Procter, George Jacobs, Sr., Willard and Carrier, were executed on Friday, August 19th. A procession formed at the jail on St. Peter's Street on that day, and with the victims in a cart, proceeded to the place of the former hangings. All of them protested their innocence; but Cotton Mather, who was there told them that they all died by a righteous sentence. When Mr.Burroughs was upon the ladder, he made a statement of his innocence so solemnly and seriously that the people, who were present in large numbers, admired him for it; and it seemed to some that the spectators would hinder the execution. He closed his prayer by repeating the Lord's prayer so composedly and fervently that it was very affecting and drew tears from many. The accusers, who were there to see the culmination of their work, said .that the 'black man' stood and dictated to him. It seemed to make no difference whether the accused could repeat the Lord's prayer or not, to them it was evidence of guilt of witchcraft either way, as they pleased. As soon as the hangings ceased, Cotton Mather, who was on horseback, spoke to the people,and declared that Mr. Burroughs was not an ordained minister and that Devil was often transformed into an angel of light. This somewhat appeased the people. When Mr. Burroughs was cut down, he was dragged by the halter to a hole or grave between the rocks, about two feet deep, his shirt and breeches being pulled off, and an old pair of trousers of one of the other men who was executed, put on. He was put into the hole with the bodies of Willard and Mrs. Carrier. One of his hands and his chin and a foot of one of the others were left uncovered. After dark, Mr. Buffum went to the crevice and covered the exposed parts of their bodies. Some of the bodies of the executed were carried away, at least, that is true of the Salem victims. Under the ridge where the execution occurred was the North River, between which and the ridge was the ancient higghway. It was easy to pass the bodies to a boat in the stream, and from 'thence up North and Danvers rivers to the Great Cove, near George Jacob's home, up North River to John Procter's home, and up North, Danvers, and Crane rivers to the home of Mrs. Nurse. Those bodies which had not been taken away were buried near the line of the fence, northwesterly from the crevice. About 1750, some locust trees were set out to mark the place of their burial. One tree stood in the crevice and anotother about forty feet northwesterly on the line of the present fence. About 1850, the crevice as cleared of the loam and dirt within it by scraping it down to improve the garden of Mr. Stephens. The writer has a piece of the stump of one of tile trees which were dug up at that time. Margaret Jacobs, daughter of George Jr., and Rebecca Jacobs also testified against her grandfather, and the day following his execution, she wrote from Salem jail a letter to her father, as follows: Honored father--After my humble duty remembered to you, hoping in the Lord of your good health, as blessed be God I enjoy, though in abundance of affliction being close confined here in a loathsome dungeon, the Lord look down in mercy upon me, not knoowing how soon I shall be put to death, by means of the afflicted persons. My grandfather having suffered already and all his estate seized for the king. The reason of my confinement is this, I having, through the magistrates threatenings, and mmy own vile and wretched heart, confessed several things contrary to my own conscience and knowledge, though to the wounding of my own soul, the Lord pardon me for it. But O, the terrors of a wounded conscience, who can bear ? But blessed be the Lord, he would not let me go on in my sins, but in mercy, I hope, to my soul, would not suffer me to keep it in any longer, but t was forced to confess the truth of all before the magistrates who would not believe me, but 'tis their pleasure tto put me here, and God knows how soon I shall be put to death. Dear father, let me beg your prayers to the Lord on my behalf, and send me a joyful and happy meeting in Heaven. My mother, poor woman, is very crazy, and remembers her kind love to you and to uncle, viz. d--A--, so leaving you to the protection of the Lord, I rest your dutiful daughter. MARGARET JACOBS From the dungeon in Salem prison, Aug. 20, 1692 Margaret Jacobs was then only sixteen. At the next session of the court, she confessed that she had done wrong, as follows: 'The Lord above knows I know nothing in the least measure, how or who afflicted them, they told me without doubt I did,or else they would not fall down at me, they told me if I would not confess I should be put down into the dungeon and would be hanged, but if I would confess I should have my life. The which did so affright me with my own vile heart, to save my life made me make the like confession I did, which confession, may it please the honored court is altogether false and untrue . . . Whatever I said was altogether false against my grandfather and Mr. Burroughs, which I did to save my life and to have my liberty, but the Lord, charging it to my conscience, made me in so much horror that I could not contain myself before I had denied the confession; which I did, though I saw nothing but death before me, choosing rather death with a quiet conscience than to live in such horror, which I could not suffer. Whereupon my denying my confession I was committed to close prison.' When she was brought to trial, she was troubled with 'a disorder in her head,' and her case was continued. She remained in confinement after the jail delivery because she could not pay the fees and charges of the jailer. One hundred and twenty-five persons were accused in all. In 1703, the general court repaid to the heirs of persons executed and condemned and not executed the pecuniary damages they severally sustained. In Salem, on account of George Jacobs, seventy-nine pounds, George Burroughs, fifty pounds, Giles Corey and his wife, twenty-one pounds, Rebecca Nurse, twenty-five pounds, John Willard, twenty pounds, Sarah Good, thirty pounds, John Procter and his wife, one hundred and fifty pounds. Some six hundred pounds were thus paid out to the estates of the several persons. Several of the executed were members of the church, and were excommunicated as they were about to suffer. This made the eexecutions doubly terrible, as many believed that the church membership was almost the very key to heaven. Of the after life of the accusing girls, nothing is known. Ann Putnam is said to have died in 1716, at the age of thirty-seven. They seemed to have vanished. George and four others met their ends on Gallows Hill two weeks later. His last words were 'I am falsely accused. I never did it.' In 1693 George's widow, Mary married a man who had been widowed by the witch trials, and in 1711 the General Court of Mass. made reparations of 79 pounds to the heirs of George Jacobs. George's family buried his body on his farm, and some of his descendants, still living on the site, unearthed his remains in 1864, and found a tall arthritic toothless skeleton. His remains were taken to Salem in 1992, and reburied as part of the ceremony marking the 300th anniversary of the trials.”

      From website “Salem Witch Trials: Documentary Archive” at www.salem.lib.virginia.edu, c.2002 by Benjamin Ray and the University of Virginia: “The remains of a man believed to be George Jacobs, Sr. were recovered from the Jacobs property in the 1950s and finally laid to rest Sunday, August 2, 1992, 300 years after he was hanged on Gallows Hill.”


      From: Salem Witch Trials: Documentary Archive and Transcription Project:
      “George Jacobs, Sr.
      Written By Kristin Buckstad
      Salem Witch Trials in History and Literature
      An Undergraduate Course, University of Virginia
      Spring Semester 2001

      George Jacobs, Sr. was born ca. 1620. Not much is known about when he came to Massachusetts Bay Colony, or about his first wife. He had three children from his first marriage, all born in Salem. George Jr. (b. ca. 1649), Mary (b. ca. 1650), and Ann (b. ca. 1655). He bought land in Salem around 1658 and married his second wife, Mary, about 1673. He had lived in Salem for a little over thirty years when he was accused of witchcraft.

      George Jacobs, Sr. was arrested on May 10, 1692, along with his granddaughter Margaret Jacobs. He was examined twice, on the day of his arrest and on the following day. His trial took place in early August, and he remained in prison from the time of his arrest until his execution on August 19.

      His primary accuser was Sarah Churchill, who was a servant in his home. She came from a wealthy family of English gentry in Maine but was most likely orphaned in Indian Wars. She, like Margaret, had been accused of witchcraft and, in her confession, accused others. George Jacobs granddaughter Margaret herself confessed to witchcraft and accused her grandfather among others who had already been accused in order, she wrote, "to save my life and to have my liberty." The list of accusers against Jacobs did not end there. It swelled to include Abigail Williams, Ann Putnam, Mercy Lewis, Elizabeth Hubbard, Mary Walcott, Sarah Bibber, Mary Warren, Joseph Flint, Thomas Putnam, John Putnam, Jr., and John DeRich.

      The women accused his Jacobs' specter of beating them with his walking stick and other physical abuses. Not only did the women testify that Jacobs afflicted them, they also testified to witnessing the afflictions of the others. During his testimony, John DeRich, a sixteen-year old boy, was the only person to claim that Jacobs afflicted him. The Putnam men testified that they witnessed the afflictions that Mary Walcott and the other women suffered on May 11 at the hands of Jacobs' specter.

      The Puritans believed that witches and wizards had proof of their covenants with the Devil on their bodies. Doctor George Herrick was sent to examine Jacobs' body for the witch's "teat," and found one on his right shoulder. This slight protuberance on his skin combined with the spectral evidence made the case strong enough for indictment.

      George Jacobs, Sr. emerges as an interesting person from the records of his examinations on May 10 and 11. He was incredulous from the moment the first accuser, Abigail Williams, cried out against him. He laughed in court, always a risky response and said: "Because I am falsely accused.-Your worships all of you do think this is true?" One of his most famous protest was the defiant assertion, "You tax me for a wizard, you may as well tax me for a buzzard I have done no harm." Emphaticallly portraying his unwavering Christian faith, he declared, "Well: burn me, or hang me, I will stand in the truth of Christ, I know nothing of it." Several times he argued that "The Devill can go in any shape" or "can take any likeness." This was sound theological doctrine at the time, warning the court that it was doing the Devil's work by accusing innocent people. The judges, however, believed that the Devil cannot take a person's form "without [his] consent."

      George Jacobs, Sr. was then indicted, tried, and found guilty of witchcraft. He was hanged on August 19, 1692 with George Burroughs, John Proctor, John Willard, and Martha Carrier. This was the first time men were executed as witches in Salem. Meanwhile, Jacobs' granddaughter Margaret Jacobs was free from danger after confessing and accusing her grandfather but remained in jail. Her father, George Jacobs, Jr., was also accused but fled from Salem Town. When he did so, he left behind his wife, Rebecca, in jail facing witchcraft charges. She became severely emotionally disturbed and was most likely ruled mentally incompetent and escaped conviction. George Sr.'s second wife, Mary, survived him and remarried on June 23, 1693 to John Wilds whose wife had been hanged as a witch on July 19, 1692. Jacobs body was retrieved from Gallows Hill by his family and buried on his land. In the 1980's his body had to be moved quickly, due to the sale of the Jacobs family property,. His bones were kept in storage in the Danvers Archive until 1992 when he was finally put to rest in the Rebecca Nurse Cemetery.

      George Jacobs, Sr.'s role in the witch trials has been interpreted in several ways. Bernard Rosenthal views him as the victim of fabrication. For example, Ann Putnam and Abigail Williams knowingly put pins in their hands and accused his specter of putting them there to add to evidence against him (Salem Story). He was also a victim of the life-saving strategy that the accused learned during the early course of the trials: confess and your life will be spared. Two of his primary accusers were among the accused who confessed to save themselves..

      Paul Boyer and Stephen Nissenbaum interpret the trials in socio-economic and political terms. They argue that many members of the more rural and agricultural Salem Village (e.g. the Putnam family) were threatened by those with economic and political connections to Salem Town (e.g. the Porter family), the seaport and center of emerging capitalism. Salem Village had been trying to assert its independence from the Town by establishing its own church, and inhabitants of the Village with ties to the Town were seen as threats to the cause of Village independence. As such, the majority of accusers was from the Village and the majority of the accused who lived on the western side of the Village nearer to the Town. George Jacobs, Sr.'s son, George, was good friend of the Porters, making the family vulnerable to accusations, particularly from the Putnams. The phenomenon of the accused becoming accusers was due, they argue, to the swarm of accusations made in the heat of politics and economics. Eventually the confusion had to fall back on itself.

      Carol Karlsen offers a more gender-oriented analysis. The "possessed accusers" were usually subordinate members of society such as servants. Many of them, like Sarah Churchill, were orphans. Their prospects for improving their social standings were virtually nonexistent since they had no families and no dowries to support them. Totally dependent upon the will of others, their discontent and anxiety would have been quite marked. Puritan society, however, did not tolerate socially aggressive and assertive women. Their fears were then converted, psychologically, into the belief that they were either witches or were possessed. After all, Carol Karlsen argues, a society that teaches the existence of possession will invariably contain persons who think they are possessed and are believed to be so by others. As for the specific reason that Sarah Churchill accused George Jacobs, he may have been seen as a tormentor or harsh master since most of the accusations contained charges of physical abuse.

      All of these explanations fall short, however. None of them explains why Jacobs own granddaughter would accuse him of all people or why such a large number of accusations flew at Jacobs, except for the fact that he publicly denounced the circle of "afflicted" girls, thus opening them to charges of fraud and compliance with the Devil. If modern students and scholars find it hard to explain why so many people would spend their time accusing a 70 year-old man, it is quite easy to see why George Jacobs, Sr. laughed and told the judges that he could not believe this was happening.

      Bibliography

      Boyer, Paul and Stephen Nissenbaum. Salem Possessed: The Social Origins of Witchcraft, 1974.
      Jacobs family. Home page. March 2001.
      Karlson, Carol. F. The Devil in the Shape of a Woman: Witchcraft in Colonial New England, 1998.
      Rosenthal, Bernard. Salem Story: Reading the Witch Trials of 1692, 1993.
      Paul Boyer and Stephen Nissenbaum, eds., The Salem Witchcraft Papers, 1977.” [1]
    Person ID I6415  Lowell&Block
    Last Modified 21 Jun 2018 

    Family 1 Mary ? 
    Married 12 Jan 1672  Salem, Essex, Massachusetts, USA Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Last Modified 19 Aug 2019 
    Family ID F270  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family 2 ? ?,   b. Abt 1622, Massachusetts, USA Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Children 
    +1. George JACOBS,   b. 1649, Salem, Essex, Massachusetts, USA Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 1717, Salem, Essex, Massachusetts, USA Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 68 years)
     2. Mary JACOBS,   b. Abt 1650, Salem, Essex, Massachusetts, USA Find all individuals with events at this location
     3. Ann JACOBS,   b. Abt 1655, Salem, Essex, Massachusetts, USA Find all individuals with events at this location
    Last Modified 19 Aug 2019 
    Family ID F2407  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Event Map
    Link to Google MapsBorn - Abt 1620 - Massachusetts, USA Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsMarried - 12 Jan 1672 - Salem, Essex, Massachusetts, USA Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsDied - 19 Aug 1692 - Salem, Essex, Massachusetts, USA Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsBuried - - Nurse Homestead Cemetery, Danvers, Essex, Massachusetts, USA Link to Google Earth
     = Link to Google Earth 

  • Sources 
    1. [S26] Kates Family Genealogy.