Bridget Playfer Weselby Oliver Bishop was born 1632 in England to John Playford (1595-1639) and Jane Cubitt (1598-1639) and died 10 June 1692 Salem witch trials of execution by hanging. She married Samuel Weselby (1639-1665) 13 April 1660 in Norwich, Norfolk, England. She married Thomas Oliver (1605-1679) 26 July 1666 in Salem, Essex County, Massachusetts. She married Edward Bishop (1620-1705) 1687 in Essex County, Massachusetts.

Bridget Bishop was one of the first women to be accused of witchcraft in the Salem witch trials, which occurred in 1692 in colonial Massachusetts.

Salem witch trials

1876 illustration of the courtroom; the central figure is usually identified as being Mary Walcott

The Salem witch trials were a series of hearings and prosecutions of people accused of witchcraft in colonial Massachusetts between February 1692 and May 1693. More than 200 people were accused, nineteen of whom were found guilty and executed by hanging (fourteen women and five men). One other man, Giles Corey, was pressed to death for refusing to plead, and at least five people died in jail. It was the deadliest witch hunt in the history of the United States.

Bishop was accused of bewitching five young women, Abigail Williams, Ann Putnam, Jr., Mercy Lewis, Mary Walcott, and Elizabeth Hubbard, on the date of her examination by the authorities, April 19 1692.

A record was given of her trial by Cotton Mather in "The Wonders of the Invisible World." In his book, Mather recorded that several people testified against Bishop, stating that the shape of Bishop would pinch, choke or bite them. The shape also threatened to drown one victim if she did not write her name in a certain book. During the trial, anytime Bishop would look upon one of those supposed to be tortured by her, they would be immediately struck down and only her touch would revive them. More allegations were made during the trial including that of a woman saying that the apparition of Bishop tore her coat, upon further examination her coat was found to be torn in the exact spot. Mather mentions that the truth of these many accusations carried too much suspicion, however.[12]

Marriage and Family

Bridget's maiden name appears to have been Mangus or Playfer. She was married three or possibly four times.

She married her first husband Captain Samuel Wesselby on 13 April 1660, at St. Mary-in-the-Marsh, Norwich, Norfolk, England.[6] She had two sons and one daughter from her first marriage: John, Benjamin[7] and Mary.[8]

Her second marriage, on 26 July 1666,[9] was to Thomas Oliver, a widower and prominent businessman. She had another daughter from her marriage to Thomas Oliver, Christian Oliver (sometimes spelled Chrestian), born 8 May 1667.[10] She was earlier accused of bewitching Thomas Oliver to death, but was acquitted for lack of evidence.

Her third marriage c. 1687 was to Edward Bishop, a prosperous sawyer, whose family lived in Beverly.[11]


Offspring of Samuel Weselby and Bridget Playfer (1632-1692)
Name Birth Death Joined with
Benjamin Weselby (1663-1664)
Mary Weselby (1665-1665)


Offspring of Thomas Oliver and Bridget Playfer (1632-1692)
Name Birth Death Joined with
Christian Oliver (1667-1693)



See Also



Footnotes (including sources)