Marilynne K. Roach

Suburbs of Hell: Jail Conditions During the 1692 Salem Witch Trials

Fiction has portrayed witch-suspects jailed in buildings ranging from castle-like prisons of dressed stone to flimsy chicken coops, but what was the reality for over 160 people accused of witchcraft and crowded into four jails in three counties during 1692? While conditions were obviously primitive in that era (jails weren’t called “suburbs of Hell” for nothing), what were the actual buildings like? In addition to scant references in court documents and other contemporary records, two early jails still exist that give clues to the reality experienced by the alleged “witches.”

[Recorded August 12, 2023]

Marilynne K. Roach

Marilynne K. Roach ( is an independent researcher, writer, and illustrator, has delved into the 1692 trials for nearly half a century and still finds new information cropping up in unexpected places. Author of The Salem Witch Trials: a Day-by-Day Chronicle of a Community Under SiegeSix Women of Salem: the Untold Story of the Accused and Their Accusers in the Salem Witch Trials, Roach was also one of the sub-editors contributing to the Records of the Salem Witch-Hunt.

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