Important Persons in the Salem Court Records

People and TopicsBiographical Data

Samuel Willard

Samuel Willard played an important role in the halting of the Salem witch trials. Born in 1640 to a privileged family, Willard had a long simmering devotion to the Puritan church, a devotion he would later cultivate at Harvard College. Despite his religious fervor, Willard appears to be man of uncommon calm, as he urged caution in the accusing and trying of witches. Willard also denounced spectral evidence, claiming that the devil could impersonate even the innocent by appearing in their shape. After the trials ended, Willard was to push hard for reconciliation between the pro-Parris and anti-Parris factions of Salem Village.

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