Elizabeth Johnson Sr.

Salem Witch Trials: Accused Witch, Mother, Sister and Aunt of Accused Witches

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

Elizabeth Johnson Sr. Facts

Known for: accused witch in the 1692 Salem witch trials 
Occupation: “goodwife” - homemaker
Age at time of Salem witch trials: about 50
Dates: about 1642 – April 15, 1722
Also known as:  Elizabeth Dane Johnson, Dane was also spelled Dean or Deane

Family, Background:

Father: Rev. Francis Dane (1615 – 1697)

Mother: Elizabeth Ingalls

Siblings: Hannah Dane (1636 – 1642), Albert Dane (1636 – 1642), Mary Clark Dane Chandler (1638 – 1679, 7 children, 5 alive in 1692), Francis Dane (1642 – before 1656), Nathaniel Dane (1645 – 1725, married to Deliverance Dane), Albert Dane (1645 - ?), Hannah Dane Goodhue (1648 – 1712), Phebe Dane Robinson (1650 – 1726), Abigail Dane Faulkner (1652 – 1730)

Husband: Stephen Johnson (1640 – 1690), known as Ensign.  His death had left her a single mother.

Children (according to various sources):

  • Elizabeth (1662 – 1669)
  • Ann (1666 – 1669)
  • Francis (1667 – 1738), married Sarah Hawkes (1655 – 1698), Hannah Clarke
  • Elizabeth Jr. (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)
  • Abigail Johnson (1681 – 1720), married James Black (1669 – 1722)

Elizabeth Johnson Sr. Before the Salem Witch Trials

Some sources refer to some trouble before 1692, either a charge of witchcraft or fornication.  Her status as a single mother, an unmarried widow, would have made her an easy target of accusations, anyway.  Also, four to six (records are not consistent) of her children had died in infancy, which might have led some to suspect evil-doing.

Her father, Rev. Francis Dane, was known for skepticism about witchcraft, and early in the 1692 events expressed that skepticism. This may have led to members of his family being targeted.

Elizabeth Johnson Sr. and the Salem Witch Trials

On January 12, a deposition by Mercy Lewis mentions an Elizabeth Johnson in accusations of witchcraft.

It’s not certain if this is the mother or daughter, or someone else.  Nothing came of that accusation.

But on August 10, Elizabeth’s namesake daughter was arrested and examined. She confessed to working with Goody Carrier and said she’d seen George Burroughs at the “Mock Sacrement” and Martha Toothaker and Daniel Eames another time. She confessed as well to afflicting Sarah Phelps, Mary Wolcott, Ann Putnam and several others.

The next day she continued her confession. She said that she had seen not only Martha Carrier and Martha Toothaker but two Toothaker children. She described how she had used poppets for afflicting harm.

That same day, Elizabeth Johnson Sr.’s youngest sister, Abigail Faulkner Sr., was arrested, accused by several neighbors. She was examined by Jonathan Corwin, John Hathorne and John Higginson. Accusers included Ann Putnam, Mary Warren and William Barker, Sr. Sarah Carrier, age 7 and the daughter of Martha Carrier (convicted August 5) and Thomas Carrier, was examined.

Elizabeth Johnson Sr. Arrested and Examined

An arrest warrant was issued for Elizabeth Johnson Sr. and her daughter Abigail Johnson (11) on August 29, charging them with afflicting Martha Sprague of Boxford and Abigail Martin of Andover.

  Stephen Johnson (14) may also have been arrested at this time or the next day.

Both sisters, Abigail Faulkner Sr. and Elizabeth Johnson Sr., were examined in court the next day.  Both confessed.  Elizabeth said that her sister, also in court at the time, was threatening to tear her in pieces if she confessed.  She accused several others, including saying that she was afraid that her son Stephen was also a witch. She admitted signing the devil’s book.

Rebecca Eames was also re-examined and implicated several including Abigail Faulkner, and repeated the charges on August 31.

On September 1, Elizabeth’s 14-year-old son, Stephen, was examined; he confessed, saying he had afflicted Martha Sprague, Mary Lacy and Rose Foster.

A group of women in Andover were arrested together after several afflicted girls from Salem Village traveled there to “diagnose” an illness.

  Deliverance Dane, wife of Elizabeth’s brother Nathaniel, was among them. She confessed under examining. She said that she had been working with Mrs. Osgood. She implicated her father-in-law, Elizabeth’s father Rev. Francis Dane, but he was never arrested.  Most of the records of her arrest and examinations have been lost.  Pressured to confess, these women implicated each other, and later were afraid to renounce their confessions when they saw that Samuel Wardwell was condemned and executed when he had renounced his.

On September 17, Samuel Wardwell and Abigail Faulkner were among those convicted and condemned to hanging.  Abigail Faulkner’s pregnancy meant that the sentence could not be carried out until she delivered, so she escaped execution.

Elizabeth Johnson Sr. After the Trials

The records are not clear about when Elizabeth Johnson Sr. was released from jail and under what circumstances.

In October, Elizabeth’s brother Nathaniel Dane and a neighbor, John Osgood, pledged 500 pounds and got Dorothy Faulkner and Abigail Faulkner Jr. released.  On the same day, Elizabeth’s two children, Stephen Johnson and Abigail Johnson, plus neighbor Sarah Carrier were released on payment of 500 pounds, to be cared for by Walter Wright (a weaver), Francis Johnson and Thomas Carrier.

In December, Elizabeth’s sister Abigail Faulkner was released after she petitioned the governor for clemency.

In January, the Superior Court met to clean up many of the cases left incomplete.  Elizabeth Johnson Jr. was among those tried; she was found not guilty on January 3.

Of her three children who were accused:  Elizabeth Johnson Jr., already married at the time of the trials, lived until about 1732.  Stephen married Ruth Eaton in 1716, and lived until 1769.  Abigail Johnson, the youngest child, married in 1703, and had six children with her husband James Black, the youngest born in 1718; Abigail died in 1720.

Civil records show that Elizabeth Dane Johnson lived until 1722.

Motives

Elizabeth Johnson Jr.

was a widow, making her a somewhat easier target.  She had previously had some sort of trouble – sources differ on whether she was charged with fornication or witchcraft, so she may have had a reputation.

Elizabeth Johnson Sr. in The Crucible

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

Elizabeth Johnson Sr. in Salem, 2014 series

Elizabeth and the rest of the Andover Dane extended family are not characters in the Salem TV series.