My family and the Salem Witch Trials: Wildes and Bishop family

My 8th great grandfather was John Wildes, Sr. who was born in Lanchashire, England in approx. 1620.  His 1st wife and my 8th great grandmother was Priscilla Gould.  She also had been born in England in approx. 1628.  They emigrated and settled in Massachusetts.

My 8th great grandfather, John Wildes, Sr. was married 3 times.  His first wife and my direct ancestor was Priscilla who died in 1663 at the age of 34.  In the year of Priscilla’s death, John married a second wife Sarah Averill.  This second wife would be wrongly accused of witchcraft and was hanged in 1692 along with other Salem citizens: Sarah Good, Rebecca Nurse, Elizabeth How, and Susannah North. (In the book The Salem Witch Trials: A day by day Chronicle of a Community Under Seige- page 186, this quote is made about John’s 2nd wife Sarah Averill: “…most evidence came from the family of her husband’s first wife, Priscilla Gould.  For their sister was not even seven months dead when John Wildes married Sarah, who, they knew, had once been whipped for fornication and yet had the brass to flaunt finery above her station…”

John’s 3rd wife was Mary Jacobs ( a widow) and he had no children with his 3rd wife.

John Bishop, Sr. would have to suffer terribly during the hysteria of the Salem Witch Trials. Not only had his second wife been accused of witchcraft and hung, but also his daughter (also a Sarah) and his son-in-law (Edward Bishop) were accused and imprisoned for witchcraft.

Sarah and Edward Bishop (my 7th great grandparents) were able to escape jail after 37 weeks! Once they escaped, they went to Rehoboth where Edward became an inn keeper. Later, they would be exonerated.  Why had Sarah Wilde and Edward Bishop, wife and husband, been accused?  Well, Sarah and Edward  ran an unlicensed tavern in their home.  In addition to serving drink, they also allowed the patrons to play games that included gambling at shovel board.  (See the book The Salem Witch Trials: A day by Day Chronicle of a Community Under Siege- April 1692, page 95)  Townsfolk were indignant and sought to have them called out as witches before their “loose ways” affected others.

Here is a photo of me (Linda Claire Hess) in the play the Crucible. Funny that at the time that I played the lead, I did not even know about my family connection to the story!

Linda Claire Hess with Jim Greiner in the Crucible

3 thoughts on “My family and the Salem Witch Trials: Wildes and Bishop family

  1. Jessica Katz

    I am also a descendant of John Wildes (and Sarah Averell). Thanks for sharing your story and research. I appreciated the colorful details about the family’s “loose ways.” I learned that John Wildes Sr. was a bailiff and was tasked with some responsibility in the church back in Chipping N. in England. Interesting mix of piety and….willfullness?

    Thanks again,


  2. James D'Amico

    i believe my family is a part of this lineage too, and am reaching out to possibly confirm/weed out misinformation. i am james david d’Amico. my mother whos maiden name i hold dear and am attempting to link is ashcraft, my mother being nancy, her sisters being gail and barbara. their mother being ruth. its been a long story of what i think is missing details in regards to how many edward bishops were present and the relationship/descendants of edward bishop the II and sarah wildes bishop. If i am putting this info together correctly. i think we may be related and i believe my family is confused about which bishop/sarah was executed. I am reading that it was sarah averill, and bridget who saw execution. And sarah wildes bishop who went to rehoboth with edward. So farm the only names i know that could be relevant are D’Amico and Ashcraft


  3. Benjamin Pyatt

    I am also a descendant of Sarah Wildes, my grandmother was Vera Wildes and Vera’s grandfather, grand uncle and great grandfather dug the Lang Lang river in Lang Lang Victoria Australia, at the start of that river there is a road called Wilde’s road which is named after the people who dug the river.
    I’m unsure how or when a Wildes family member settled in Australia



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