The youngest victim of the
Salem Witches hysteria of 1692–93.
Dorcas Good was the daughter of Sarah Good, one
of the first persons to be accused of witchcraft in Salem,
Massachusetts, in 1692. Only four years old, Dorcas
was also accused of being a witch. In childlike fashion,
she readily confessed to witchcraft, which she said she
learned from her mother.
Dorcas was arrested about a month after her mother, in
March 1692. She was cried out against by the afflicted girls
along with Rebecca Nurse and Elizabeth Procter. The
girls accused Dorcas of tormenting them, saying she was
taking supernatural revenge for the arrest of her mother.
When brought up for examination, Dorcas was confronted
by three of the afflicted girls, Ann Putnam, Mary
Walcott and Mercy Lewis. Putnam and Walcott fell into
their fits, claiming Dorcas had bitten, pinched and choked
them. They showed the marks of pinpricks and little teeth
on their arms. The evidence was convincing to the magistrates
and the onlookers.
Little Dorcas was an easy mark and became the second
person after the slave Tituba to confess to witchcraft.
Asked if she had a familiar, Dorcas said yes, it was
a small snake that sucked at the lowest joint of her forefinger.
Dorcas showed the examiners a red mark at the
spot, about the size of a flea bite. In all likelihood, it was a
flea bite, but it was accepted as a witch’s mark or Devil’s
mark by the examiners. Asked who gave her the familiar,
the child replied that it was not the “Black Man,” the
Devil, but her mother.
Dorcas continued to give evidence against her mother,
testifying at her trial that Sarah had three familiars in the
shapes of birds that hurt the afflicted children and others.
One was black and one was yellow.
Because of her confession, Dorcas was not tried for
witchcraft. She was sent to prison in Boston, along with
her mother, for about seven to eight months. There she
was treated abominably, as were the other prisoners, and
was confined in chains. They were too poor to pay for
their upkeep, and “the country” was billed for their food
and blankets.
Her father, William Good—who testified against his
own wife—wrote a letter to the General Court in 1710 in
which he protested the damage done to his family, including
Dorcas. The child, he said, “hath ever since been very
chargable, having little or no reason to govern herself.”