Edward Bishop and Sarah Bishop

Key figures in the Salem witch trials

Bridget Bishop being Hanged at Salem standing on a cart with towns people around her

Briggs. Co./George Eastman House/Getty Images

Edward Bishop and Sarah Bishop were tavern keepers that were arrested, examined, and imprisoned as part of the Salem witch trials of 1692. At the time, Edward was about 44 years old and Sarah Wildes Bishop was about 41 years old. There were three or four Edward Bishops living in the area at that time. This Edward Bishop seems to be the one who was born on April 23, 1648. However, Sarah Bishop's year of birth is not known.

Note: Bishop is sometimes spelled Bushop or Besop in the records. Edward is sometimes identified as Edward Bishop Jr.

Sarah Wildes Bishop was the stepdaughter of Sarah Averill Wildes who was named as a witch by Deliverance Hobbs and executed on July 19, 1692.

Bridget Bishop is usually credited with running a tavern that was something of a town scandal, but it was more likely Sarah and Edward Bishop who ran it out of their home.

The Background of Edward and Sarah

Edward Bishop may have been the son of Edward Bishop, the husband of Bridget Bishop. Sarah and Edward Bishop were the parents of twelve children. At the time of the Salem witch trials, an older Edward Bishop also lived in Salem. He and his wife Hannah signed a petition protesting the accusations against Rebecca Nurse. This Edward Bishop seems to have been the father of the Edward Bishop married to Bridget Bishop, and thus the grandfather of the Edward Bishop married to Sarah Wildes Bishop.

Victims of the Salem Witch Trials

Edward Bishop and Sarah Bishop were arrested on April 21 of 1692 with Sarah's stepmother Sarah Wildes, William and Deliverance Hobbs, Nehemiah Abbott Jr., Mary Easty, Mary Black and Mary English.

Edward and Sarah Bishop were examined on April 22 by magistrates Jonathan Corwin and John Hathorne, on the same day as Sarah Wildes, Mary Easty, Nehemiah Abbott Jr., William and Deliverance Hobbs, Mary Black, and Mary English.

Among those who testified against Sarah Bishop was the Rev. John Hale of Beverly. He outlined accusations from a neighbor of the Bishops that she "did entertain people in her house at unseasonable hours in the night to keep drinking and playing at shovel-board whereby discord did arise in other families and young people were in danger to be corrupted." The neighbor, Christian Trask, wife of John Trask, had attempted to reprove Sarah Bishop but "received no satisfaction from her about it." Hale stated that "Edward Bishop's would have been a house if great profaneness and iniquity" if the behavior had not been stopped.

Edward and Sarah Bishop were found to have committed witchcraft against Ann Putnam Jr., Mercy Lewis, and Abigail Williams. Elizabeth Balch, wife of Benjamin Balch Jr., and her sister, Abigail Walden, also testified against Sarah Bishop, claiming they heard Edward accuse Elizabeth of entertaining Satan at night.

Edward and Sarah were jailed in Salem and then in Boston, and their property was seized. They escaped from the Boston jail for a short time.

After the Trials

After their trial their son, Samuel Bishop recovered their property. In a 1710 affidavit attempting to gain recompense for the damages they'd suffered and to clear their names, Edward Bishop said they were "prisnors for thirtiey seven wekes" and required to pay "ten shillings pur weeake for our bord" plus five pounds.

The son of Sarah and Edward Bishop Jr., Edward Bishop III, married Susannah Putnam, part of the family who had leveled many of the accusations of witchcraft in 1692.

In 1975 David Greene suggested that the Edward Bishop accused — with his wife Sarah — was not related to Bridget Bishop and her husband, Edward Bishop "the sawyer," but was the son of another Edward Bishop in town.

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Lewis, Jone Johnson. "Edward Bishop and Sarah Bishop." ThoughtCo, Aug. 26, 2020, thoughtco.com/edward-and-sarah-bishop-biography-3530317. Lewis, Jone Johnson. (2020, August 26). Edward Bishop and Sarah Bishop. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/edward-and-sarah-bishop-biography-3530317 Lewis, Jone Johnson. "Edward Bishop and Sarah Bishop." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/edward-and-sarah-bishop-biography-3530317 (accessed March 20, 2023).