Thursday, May 10, 2007

Sarah Warren Prince Osborne

Today is the 315th anniversary of Sarah Osborne's death. She died in Boston Prison, May 10, 1692, waiting to be hung for witchcraft. Sarah was my many-greats grandmother, on my mother's side of the family. She was also one of the first three women to be accused in the Salem witch trials of 1692. Sarah was a sick woman without power who came to grief over a disagreement with powerful in-laws of her first husband* about land. She hadn't been to church in two or three years, because of an illness which kept her bedridden. Additionally, she had married her indentured servant, Alexander Osborne, an action which was not approved of. Some sources say that there were questions about the propriety of their relationship before their marriage. She was one of the few accused who neither confessed nor accused anyone else. She was the first to assert in her defense the claim that the devil could take the shape of any person without their knowledge or agreement.

Historians Paul Boyer and Stephen Nissenbaum state that Sarah's refusal to comply with customary "patterns of land tenure and inheritance" and her relationship with Alexander Osborne were a threat to the social ideal, which was considered to be devinely sanctioned.

Meghan Carroll, in her paper "Sarah Osborne" for her University of Virginia class, Salem Witch Trials in History and Literature, has stated that "Ultimately, it was her refusal to compromise her integrity that cost Sarah Osborne her life." What more could any of us want to be said about us?

Rest in peace, Grandma Sarah.

* The Putnams, also ancestors of mine.

Post Script Julie has posted about Sarah as well at A Witch!


J at said...

Rest in peace, indeed. I wonder if she's still mad at her sons for the whole thing? Or if they're still mad at her? Or if they were even involved in it? One of them was our ancestor, too...

Well, since I don't believe in an afterlife, I'll forget about the speculation of who's mad at whom.

Ron Southern said...

Yikes, what a bad trip! But your grandma sure had nerve.

Uncivil said...

Love your family history. I wish I had some integrity!

I think I compromised it many witch hunts ago?

Anvilcloud said...

That's quite a link with history that you have there. Poor Sarah and many others, however.

Shannen said...

Sarah is my 8th great grandmother. I just found that out today. My great grandmother is Ella May Wiggins. I am thrilled to find out that I am related to such strong women who never backed down and stood up for what they believed and thought.