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Tituba of the Salem Witch Trials


Known only as Tituba, she was among the first of many women to be accused of witchcraft during the Salem witch craze that left a shameful mark on colonial New England history. She was accused of bringing her magic from Barbados -- where she was purchased as a slave by the Reverend Samuel Parris -- and teaching it to the girls of Salem. According to the story that's been told and retold for hundreds of years, Tituba confessed to witchcraft under interrogation. Unlike many of those who were accused during this time, Tituba wasn't executed --and it's believed that she actually survived her time in jail until the very end of the Salem Witch Trials. While this much may be known of Tituba, far more remains unknown. She seemingly disappeared from history upon leaving her mark and becoming a notorious name in the history of witchcraft. However, she did leave behind descendants, and that makes it entirely possible (theoretically) to be related to or descended from this mysterious victim of colonial racism and persecution. 

Tituba, according to records, had one daughter named Violet. Little is known about Violet, just as little is known about Tituba.  It feels like there has been very little interest in actually searching for Violet -- daughter of Tituba. But records do (somewhat) exist of her. Is it possible to trace her to any person living today?

The will of Reverend Samuel Parris & Other Documents

Samuel Parris died quite a long time after the Salem Witch Trials -- in the year 1720. He was, after all, a rather young man during the time of the trials. When he died, he left behind a will bequeathing his belongings to his children. Among these possessions, was an Indian slave girl named Violet -- to whom he gave his son, also named Samuel. By this time in history, Tituba has already seemingly disappeared from records, but Violet remains as late as 1720 in the will of the elder Samuel Parris. What about beyond the aforementioned document?

Upon some research, a 1790 census of East Sudbury, Mass. implies that Samuel Parris III (son of the Reverend Samuel Parris of Salem) was head of a household inhabited by himself (free white male head of home), and two other people. One "free white female," and "free other female." At this time, Samuel Parris was elderly, and died just three years later. It is very likely that the "free other female" could be Violet, daughter of Tituba. Violate (also spelled "Violate" in some documents) was born approximately a decade prior to the birth of Samuel Parris Jr. This means that she most definitely grew up alongside the boy, and may have even taken part in caring for him. He was the youngest child of the Salem Parris family, and so this theory is supported by the act of his father bequeathing Violet to him in 1720. Furthermore, slavery was abolished in Mass. in 1783 -- approximately seven years prior to the aforementioned census record. It's is probably that this "free other female" could be an elderly Violet. Since no names or other details are mentioned on this census, it is impossible to tell for certain if this person is indeed Violet, but I believe it is. 

Around the same time as the 1790 census, Samuel Parris produced a will and testament, through which he bequeathed all of his belongings to his wife and adult children. At no point in his will, which can be read in its entirety here, did he make mention of Violet. This makes sense for at least one reason. Since slavery was abolished at this point in Mass., Samuel would have no reason to bequeath Violet as she had been to him by his father. However, had Violet stayed in the Parris home beyond the abolishment of slavery, as I suspect, it's disheartening to not see her in the will. Of course, this could be because she died prior to the writing of Samuel's will (keeping in mind she was a little bit older than he). 

Conclusion

Unfortunately, no other records mentioning Violet -- or any allusions to Violet -- could be found in my research. That doesn't mean that the woman never "married" or produced offspring. It just means that there are no records of her on paper to make any definitive statements about her genealogy -- or her existence beyond being willed to the younger Samuel Parris.

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