Slay, Witch! Final Salem Witch Exonerated After 329 Years in Witch Jail

Hooray for the witch

Martha Corey and her prosecutors, Salem, Massachusetts, c1692 (c1880). Martha Corey (c1627-1692) was...
Print Collector/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
goodbye witch

“They're burning all the witches, even if you aren't one,” Taylor Swift said. “They got their pitchforks and proof. Their receipts and reasons,” and it’s so true. Or is it? The final outstanding woman convicted of witchcraft in the Salem Witch Trials has been exonerated due to the dogged pursuits of a Massachusetts eighth-grade teacher and her students. And Taylor Swift is in the news for her excessive carbon imprudence!

Andover resident Elizabeth Johnson Jr. was sentenced to death in 1693 for witchcraft. She was exonerated after Carrie LaPierre, a teacher at North Andover Middle School, spent three years lobbying for her acquittal with her students, who finally cleared the old non-witch’s name as part of a $53 billion state budget plan signed by Governor Charlie Baker on Thursday.

LaPierre spoke to the New York Times on Sunday about saving the victim of a witch hunt, saying she was “excited and relieved,” but also disappointed that she couldn’t share the moment with her students, who are currently on summer vacation. Must be nice. According to LaPierre, Elizabeth Johnson Jr. was 22 when she was accused and was likely targeted for having a mental disability, as well as being childless and unwed.

Why she was the only non-witch left in the books as a for-sure witch is likely because other exonerations came after descendents — of which Elizabeth Johnson Jr. had none — campaigned for them. Another theory is that it is because her mother, who was also accused of witchcraft, had the same name and had already been exonerated. Another theory from me is these guys (the guys in charge) suck, and are lazy. Why didn’t they just go … okay we’re gonna exonerate all these witches at once? Why did it take three years of students lobbying the governor and writing letters to get them to say, okay we give — she’s not a witch? Unclear to me.

Regardless, we are as ever the granddaughters of the witches you couldn’t burn, like Elizabeth Johnson Jr., who is today officially exonerated of her crime of being childless and possibly mentally disabled. Nevertheless she persisted in not being a witch officially. We have to take our wins where we can get them, mamas.