Overview of the Title "Goody" During the Salem Witch Trials

Bridget Bishop Hanged at Salem

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"Goody" was a form of address for women, paired with the woman's surname. The title "Goody" is used in some of the court records, for example, in the Salem witch trials of 1692.

"Goody" is an informal and shortened version of "Goodwife." It was used of married women. It was more often used for older women in late 17th century Massachusetts.

A woman of higher social status would be addressed as "Mistress" and one of lower social status as "Goody."

The male version of Goodwife (or Goody) was Goodman.

The first known use in print of "Goody" as a title for a married woman was in 1559, according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary.

In Easthampton, New York, witch accusations in 1658 were directed at "Goody Garlick." In 1688 in Boston, "Goody Glover" was accused by the children of the Goodwin family of witchcraft; this case was still a recent memory in the culture in Salem in 1692. (She was executed.) The Boston minister, Increase Mather, wrote of witchcraft in 1684 and may have influenced the Goody Glover case. He then recorded what he could find out in that case as a follow up to his earlier interest.

In the testimony at the Salem Witch Trials, many of the women were called "Goody." Goody Osborne - Sarah Osborne - was one of the first accused.

On March 26, 1692, when the accusers heard that Elizabeth Proctor would be questioned the following day, one of them shouted "There's Goody Proctor! Old Witch! I'll have her hung!" She was convicted but escaped execution because, at 40, she was pregnant. When the remaining prisoners were released, she was freed, though her husband had been executed.

Rebecca Nurse, one of those hanged as a result of the Salem Witch trials, was called Goody Nurse. She was a well-respected member of the church community and she and her husband had a large farm, so the "lowly status" was only in comparison to wealthy Bostonians. She was 71 years old at the time of her hanging.

Goody Two Shoes

This phrase, which is often used to describe a person (especially a female person) who is ostentatiously virtuous and even judgmental, supposedly came from a 1765 children's story by John Newberry. Margery Meanwell is an orphan who has only one shoe and is given a second by a wealthy man. She then goes about telling people she has two shoes. She's nicknamed "Goody Two Shoes," borrowing from the meaning of Goody as a title of an older woman to mock her as, essentially, "Mrs. Two Shoes." She becomes a teacher then marries a rich man, and the lesson of the children's story is that virtue leads to material rewards.

However, the nickname "Goody Two-shoes" appears in a 1670 book by Charles Cotton, with a meaning of a mayor's wife, mocking her for criticizing her porridge for being cold -- essentially, comparing her privileged life to those who have no shoes or one shoe.

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Lewis, Jone Johnson. "Overview of the Title "Goody" During the Salem Witch Trials." ThoughtCo, Aug. 26, 2020, thoughtco.com/goody-title-used-for-women-salem-witch-trials-3528199. Lewis, Jone Johnson. (2020, August 26). Overview of the Title "Goody" During the Salem Witch Trials. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/goody-title-used-for-women-salem-witch-trials-3528199 Lewis, Jone Johnson. "Overview of the Title "Goody" During the Salem Witch Trials." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/goody-title-used-for-women-salem-witch-trials-3528199 (accessed April 1, 2023).