The Salem Witch Hysteria was horrific time in New England's history that affected many people, including Sarah Cloyce. The documentary Three Sovereigns for Sarah explores the causes and effects of the Salem Witch Hysteria of 1692. The documentary focus on Sarah Cloyce, who was accused of being a witch. Although Sarah survived, her sisters Rebecca Nurse and Mary Esty were hanged. After the witch hysteria ended Sarah Cloyce was pardoned. She later appeared before the Court of Inquiry with hopes of clearing her sisters names.
This essay will discuss what Sarah believed to be the cause of the panic, the proof she provided to the magistrates, and whether it helped to clear her sisters names. Sarah Cloyce felt that superstitions, church politics, and bad blood stirred by ancient quarrels were the cause of the Salem Witch Hysteria of 1692. The primary reason for witch hysteria was due the boredom of the girls involved and superstitions of the times. What started off as innocent games between children changed when girls, such as Ann Putnam and Abigail Williams, enjoyed the attention they were given too much. Perhaps the greatest reason for the accusations of witchcraft was the long standing feuds between families like the Putnam's and the Porters. Another reason was the appointing of Reverend Samuel Parris as minister of Salem Village.
There were those towns people that opposed his appointing and those that supported him. Sarah believed all these factors contributed to the accusations of witchcraft. The magistrates asked Sarah Cloyce for evidence to substantiate her claims. One of the documents she presented as proof was map of Salem Village in 1692. On the map was a line that clearly divided the accusers and the accused. Sarah believed that those who had opposed the appointing of Reverend Parris were also targeted.
In addition, she gave the council a list of names of those who supported Samuel Parris and those that opposed him. Of the twenty people who did not support Parris, seventeen were hanged or accused of witchcraft. Sarah hoped that the map and list of names would help collaborate her story. Overall Sarah and her nephew, Samuel Nurse, accomplished what they had set out to do in Boston. Due to the evidence Sarah Cloyce presented to the Court of Inquiry, she successful in clearing her sisters' names. As repentance for wrongly accusing Sarah as a witch and hanging her sisters for witchcraft, she was given three sovereigns: one for herself and one for each sister.
The awarding of the payment is the significance behind the title Three Sovereigns for Sarah.