Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography/Parris, Samuel

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PARRIS, Samuel, clergyman, b. in London, England, in 1653; d. in Sudbury, Mass., 27 Feb., 1720. He studied at Harvard, but was not graduated, and after engaging in mercantile business in Boston was ordained, and became the first minister of Danvers, then a part of Salem, Mass. He held this charge from 19 Nov., 1689, till June, 1696. The Salem witchcraft delusion originated in his family in 1692. His daughter and his niece, Abigail Williams, girls about twelve years of age, accused Tituba, a South American slave, living in the house as a servant, of bewitching them. Mr. Parris beat Tituba until she was forced to confess herself a witch, and John, her husband, became, through fear, the accuser of others. The delusion spread, many were apprehended, most of whom were imprisoned, and others accused, among the latter being the wife of Gov. William Phips. During the sixteen months' prevalence of the delusion at Salem nineteen persons were hanged, and one, Gyles Cary, pressed to death. As Mr. Parris had been an active prosecutor in the witchcraft cases, his church, in April, 1693, brought charges against him. He confessed his error, and in 1696 was dismissed and left the place. After preaching two or three years at Stow, he removed to Concord, and he also preached six months in Dunstable in 1711. See “Life and Character of Rev. Samuel Parris, of Salem Village, and his Connection with the Witchcraft Delusion of 1692,” a sketch read before the Essex institute by Samuel Page Fowler (1857).