Tituba or the woman behind the Salem witch trials

The small town of Salem was the scene of the witch trials in the 17th century. Tituba, a slave woman, is at the origin of this famous trial. Explanations.

Who was Tituba?

Even today, the origins of Tituba remain uncertain. And, she was often mistaken for an African slave. According to several specialists, she was a member of the Arawak tribe in Venezuela. It was then that she would have been taken to the markets of Barbados and then sold.

Experts are sure, however, that Tituba was a native slave owned by the Reverend Samuel Parris. Captured as a child in South America, she was taken to Barbados and then sold as a slave. When she started working for Samuel Parris, she was only between 12 and 17 years old. He inherited it when his father died. He lived in Salem Village.

In addition, the Parris family owned a sugar cane plantation. Samuel Parris was married and had three children. Tituba took care of him a lot, especially the middle one, Betty, and his cousin, Abigail. To entertain them, she told them stories about her previous life in Barbados. She also told them stories of voodoo magic. These two young girls, but also other children in the town, then began to disappear for short periods of time and were supposed to play games and other adventures to see their future.

Panic Games

Unfortunately, these games started to get more and more disturbing. The Reverend has indeed started to see changes in the girls of the city. He reported seizures, writhing limbs, screams of pain and biting. After several examinations, the local doctor couldn’t even identify what they had. He only suggested one thing to Samuel Parris: the presence of the devil.

Over time, this phenomenon became more and more common: two friends of the Reverend’s daughters began to complain of similar ailments, leading to a general panic within the town. Many said witchcraft was involved.

Despite their closeness to Tituba, Betty and Abigail ended up accusing her of being solely responsible for these unexplained behaviors. Tituba initially denied these accusations. Then she was arrested along with two other women and finally confessed to practicing witchcraft.



Tituba confessed that the devil came to see her and ordered her to do witchcraft against the town’s youth. She also accused the others of practicing witchcraft. More than 200 people have been charged. 19 men and women were executed, or died in prison.

However, Tituba later retracted her confession: she denounced his interrogation, found it very harsh and explained that he had misled her. Although she was spared execution, she was imprisoned for 13 months and then abandoned by her landlord.

Finally, at the end of the Salem witches affair and following all these events, Tituba was finally bought by an unknown person: a weaver from Boston. But, it seems to have disappeared from the historical text known today and it remains a mystery of the Salem trials.

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Tituba or the woman behind the Salem witch trials

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