The Putnam Influence
A lot of accusations occurred in 1692, but this will focus on the Known First Accusations. The 77 undetermined accusations and 19 unknown likely follow a similar pattern as the known 81 accusations, but as the trials went on, less documents were written and depositions have been lost over time. In looking at the pie chart, one thing is obvious, Ann Putnam Jr. made a lot more accusation first. At least 15 accusations originate from her. Note- of the 77 undetermined accusations, Ann Putnam Jr. was include in the list of afflicted girls on 45 of them. Of those 45, her father Thomas Putnam Jr. filed the complaint for 19 accusations, so it is possible, and likely, that Ann Putnam Jr. was the point of origin for even more accusations.
Given the number of accusations made, there is too much information to cover all of them, so this will focus on the Known First Accusations of the suspects in the Newton Network. Bridget Bishop and Alice Parker are undetermined.
Sarah Good- first accused by Ann Putnam Jr.* on February 25. The next date was Elizabeth Hubbard* on February 26. Although it should be noted that Abigail Williams much later reported Good began to afflicted her in February. As a result of William's claim, Good is not included in Putnam's 15 Known First Accusations.
Susannah Martin- first accused by Ann Putnam Jr.* in April. Mercy Lewis* and Mary Walcott* both claimed afflictions by Martin in late April.
Rebecca Nurse- first accused by Ann Putnam Jr.* on March 13. Abigail Williams followed on March 15. Ann Putnam Sr.* then saw Nurse on March 19.
Elizabeth Procter- first accused by Ann Putnam Jr.* on March 3. Mercy Lewis* followed on March 26*. Elizabeth Hubbard* did not report Procter until the beginning of April.
John Procter- undetermined but Ann Putnam Jr.* reported she saw him often but was not afflicted by him until the April 11 examination. Abigail Williams reported that she saw him on April 4. It is unclear if Ann Putnam Jr.'s claim means she saw him before April 4.
John Willard- first accused by Ann Putnam Jr.* on April 23. Susannah Sheldon accused him next on May 10. On May 11 Mercy Lewis* and Elizabeth Hubbard* were afflicted by him.
Five of the eight cases have a clear first witness. For those with doubts about Sarah Good's first sighting, four case have a clear first witness. However, each name here with an * next to it indicates that the date came from a document written by Thomas Putnam Jr. In many cases, these depositions where written later and not too far apart from each other, yet the dates range in each case. Some of the dates may range from different authors, but Elizabeth Procter's accusations span three weeks. Thomas Putnam Jr. wrote this timeline of accusations, and these accusations were the ones used by Thomas Newton to start the trials. Thomas Putnam Jr. wrote a timeline and created a narrative of when witches appeared and afflicted his daughter and the other girls. This narrative encouraged Thomas Newton to pick specific case files to start the trials. At least 4, if not 6, of those cases began with accusations from Ann Putnam Jr. Her accusations advanced the trials under the influence of her father.
Notice the group that is missing from the Known First Accusations. Only a few confessors appear as accusers who originate a name. Even then, it could be questioned if it is just the document that survives. Unlike the early cases like those above, proving who first accused a suspect in July is more challenging since accusations began spreading at fast rates on the trials started. In March and April 1692, not as many people made accusations, so a more accurate timeline can be constructed. However, Mary Warren, Samuel Wardwell, and Elizabeth Johnson Sr. appear on this list of first accusations. Mary Warren is most significant since she also accused people. This blurs the line on her confession vs her accusation. Her six Known First Accusations come after her arrest, but she also gave testimony and depositions with the other afflicted girls too. Confessed suspects named people in examinations, not depositions. It makes Warren's accusations against suspects like Abigail Soames and Elizabeth Cary a combination of accuser and confessor accusations.
However, notice the confessors not represented. Richard Carrier, Mary Lacey Sr., Mary Lacey Jr., Tituba, Mary Toothaker, William Barker Jr., and many more. Given that almost fifty of the accused confessed, there should be more confessors naming suspects. The judges required those who confessed to name other suspects, and people did, just not new suspects. Once the accusations began from the afflicted girls, confessors named other accused suspects to stop naming even more innocent neighbors. The spread of the trials was controlled by the afflicted.