William Stoughton

Salem witch trial magistrate, Massachusetts colonial official

William Stoughton (30 September 16317 July 1701) was a colonial magistrate and administrator in the Province of Massachusetts Bay. He was in charge of what have come to be known as the Salem Witch Trials, first as the Chief Justice of the Special Court of Oyer and Terminer in 1692, and then as the Chief Justice of the Superior Court of Judicature in 1693. In these trials he controversially accepted spectral evidence (based on supposed demonic visions). Unlike some of the other magistrates, he never admitted to the possibility that his acceptance of such evidence was in error.

William Stoughton

Quotes edit

  • God sifted a whole nation that he might send choice grain over into this wilderness.
    • Election Sermon at Boston, April 29, 1669. Compare: "God had sifted three kingdoms to find the wheat for this planting", Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Courtship of Miles Standish, iv.

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