Abigail Johnson

Accused Child Witch at the Salem Witch Trials

Salem Witch Trial
Salem Witch Trial - Trial of George Jacobs. Douglas Grundy / Three Lions / Getty Images

Abigail Johnson Facts

Known for: child accused of witchcraft in the 1692 Salem witch trials 
Age at time of Salem witch trials: 11
Dates: March 16, 1681 – November 24, 1720

Family, Background:

Mother: Elizabeth Dane Johnson, known as Elizabeth Johnson Sr. (1641 – 1722) – an accused witch in the Salem witch trials

Father: Ensign Stephen Johnson (1640 – 1690)

Siblings (according to various sources):

  • Elizabeth (1662 – 1669)
  • Ann (1666 – 1669)
  • Francis (1667 – 1738), married Sarah Hawkes (1655 – 1698), Hannah Clarke
  • Elizabeth (1670 – about 1732)
  • Stephen Johnson (1672 – 1672)
  • Mary Johnson (1673 – 1673)
  • Benjamin Johnson (1677 – after 1726), married Sarah Foster (1677 – 1760)
  • Stephen Johnson (1679 – 1769), married Sarah Whittaker (1687 – 1716), Ruth Eaton (1684 – 1750)

Husband: James Black (1669 – 1722), married 1703. Reportedly had six children.

Abigail Johnson Before the Salem Witch Trials

Her grandfather was an outspoken critic of an earlier witchcraft trial, and criticized the Salem events early in their progress.

Her father had died just a few years before the accusations broke out.  Her mother had been in trouble for another reason, either (according to different sources) charges of witchcraft or fornication.

Abigail Johnson and the Salem Witch Trials

Her sister or mother, Elizabeth Johnson, was mentioned in a deposition by Mercy Lewis in January.

  No action was taken against family members at that time.

But in August, Abigail’s sister, Elizabeth Johnson Jr. was examined, and confessed.  The examination and confession continued the next day.  Abigail’s aunt, Abigail Faulkner, Sr., was arrested and examined on August 11 as well.

An arrest warrant was issued for Abigail Johnson and her mother, Elizabeth Johnson Sr., on August 29.

  They were accused of afflicting Martha Sprague of Boxford and Abigail Martin of Andover.  Her brother Stephen Johnson (14) may also have been arrested at this time.

Abigail Faulkner Sr. and Elizabeth Johnson Sr., sisters, were examined on the 30th and 31st of August.  Elizabeth Johnson Sr. implicated her sister and her son Stephen.  Rebecca Eames also implicated Abigail Faulkner Sr.

On September 1, Abigail’s brother Stephen confessed.

Around September 8, Deliverance Dane, wife of Abigail’s uncle Nathaniel Dane, was arrested with a group of women from Andover.  They confessed under pressure, and several implicated Rev. Francis Dane, but he was never arrested or prosecuted.

On September 16, Abigail Johnson’s cousins, Abigail Faulkner Jr. (9) and Dorothy Faulkner (12) were accused, arrested, and examined.  They confessed, implicating their mother.

Abigail Faulkner Sr. was one of those convicted on September 17, and condemned to be executed. Because she was pregnant, the sentence had to be delayed until delivery, and though she remained in jail for some time, she escaped execution.

Abigail Johnson After the Trials

Abigail Johnson and her brother Stephen, along with Sarah Carrier, were released on October 6, on payment of 500 pounds bond to ensure that they’d appear if their cases were continued.

  They were released to the custody of Walter Wright (a weaver), Francis Johnson and Thomas Carrier.  Abigail’s cousins Dorothy Faulkner and Abigail Faulkner Jr. were also released the same day, also on payment of 600 pounds, to the care of John Osgood Sr. and Nathaniel Dane, brother to both Abigail Faulkner Sr. and Elizabeth Johnson Sr.

Citizens, often led by Rev.Francis Dane, petitioned and condemned the trials.  In December, Abigail Faulkner Sr. was released from prison.  It’s not clear when Elizabeth Johnson Sr. was released, or when Deliverance Dane was released.

An undated petition to the Salem court of Assize, probably from January, is on record from more than 50 Andover “neighbors” on behalf of Mary Osgood, Eunice Fry, Deliverance Dane, Sarah Wilson Sr. and Abigail Barker, stating faith in their integrity and piety, and making clear that they were innocent.

The petition protested the way that many had been persuaded to confess under pressure what they were charged with, and stated that no neighbors had any reason to suspect that the charges might be true.

In 1700, Abigail Faulkner, Jr. asked the Massachusetts General Court to reverse her conviction.  In 1703, the Faulkners joined a petition for exoneration of Rebecca Nurse, Mary Easty, Abigail Faulkner, Mary Parker, John and Elizabeth Proctor, Elizabeth Howe and Samuel and Sarah Wardwell – all but Abigail Faulkner, Elizabeth Proctor and Sarah Wardwell had been executed.  This was signed by several of Abigail Johnson’s relatives.

In May of 1709, Francis Faulkner joined with Philip English and others to submit yet another petition on behalf of themselves and their relatives, to the Governor and the General Assembly of Massachusetts Bay Province, asking for reconsideration and remuneration.

In 1711, the legislature of the Province of Massachusetts Bay restored all rights to many of those who had been accused in the 1692 witch trials. Included were George Burroughs, John Proctor, George Jacob, John Willard, Giles and Martha CoreyRebecca NurseSarah Good, Elizabeth How, Mary Easty, Sarah Wilds, Abigail Hobbs, Samuel Wardell, Mary Parker, Martha Carrier, Abigail Faulkner, Anne Foster, Rebecca Eames, Mary Post, Mary Lacey, Mary Bradbury and Dorcas Hoar.

In 1703, Abigail Johnson married James Black (1669 – 1722) of Boxford.  They reportedly had about six children.  Abigail lived until November 24, 1720, dying in Boxford, Massachusetts.

Motives

Abigail Johnson and her family may have been targeted because of her grandfather’s criticism of the witchcraft trials, because of the wealth and property in the control of her aunt Abigail Faulkner Jr., or because of Abigail’s mother, Elizabeth Johnson Sr., who had something of a reputation, and also controlled her husband’s estate until she remarried (which she never did).

Abigail Johnson in The Crucible

The Andover Dane extended family are not characters in Arthur Miller’s play about the Salem witch trials, The Crucible.

Abigail Johnson in Salem, 2014 series

The Andover Dane extended family are not characters in Arthur Miller’s play about the Salem witch trials, The Crucible.

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Lewis, Jone Johnson. "Abigail Johnson." ThoughtCo, Mar. 26, 2017, thoughtco.com/abigail-johnson-3528110. Lewis, Jone Johnson. (2017, March 26). Abigail Johnson. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/abigail-johnson-3528110 Lewis, Jone Johnson. "Abigail Johnson." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/abigail-johnson-3528110 (accessed November 23, 2017).