David Balch - Involvement in the Salem Witch Hysteria (1692)

David Balch (July 9, 1671 - April 17, 1690) was the son of Benjamin and Sarah (Gardner) Balch. David died of unknown causes (at the age of 19) but official testimony, from the Salem Witch Trials, attributes his death to witchcraft.

David Balch became the subject of testimony during the trial of Dorcas Hoar who was believed to be a witch. Mary Gage was making testimony against Dorcas and after talking about a situation in which Dorcas was said to have predicted a child's death then launched into the happenings at the Balch house. Mary claimed to have been there when David was sick and said that David claimed to be tormented by several women who stood at the foot of his bed. No one else could see the women but David is said to have claimed there were four women. These women were said to be at the foot of his bed, whispering amongst each other as Mary Gage inquired about them. A Gabriell Hood was apparently also on the scene and as David and the others discussed what was going on David asked Mr. Hood to strike at a certain place where he said there were witches. Upon swinging at the place David specified Mr. Hood was told he had hit one and that the woman was now gone. David was seen praying earnestly for the Lord to save him from these tormentors on several other occasions.

Below is an excerpt from the original testimony as recorded in the official transcripts from the Salem Witch Trials:

Mary Gage v. Dorcas Hoar

"The deposition of Marie Gadge aged about 48 years this deponent testifieth & saith that about nine years agon s'd Deponent & her son Josiah Wood being at the house of John Giles in Beverly & Dorcas hoare being there alsoe; the s'd Hoare told her that her Child was not Long lived & s'd Deponent asked her how she knew: the Child being well then, s'd Hoare replied it would not live Long & bade her marke the end of it; & about a month after that time her s'd Child was taken sick & died sudenly and about halfe a year after s'd Deponent asked s'd Hoare how she could fortell the death of the Child her answer was she had acquaintance with a doctor that taught her to know & had a doctors booke by her And s'd Deponent saith farther that about 2 year agon s'd Deponent being often Concerned at the house of Benjamin Balch sen'r w'th his son David being then sick: she heard s'd David Balch often Complaine that he was tormented by witches: s'd Deponent asked him whether he knew who they were & s'd David Balch answered it was Goody wiles & her Daughter & Goody Hoare. & one of marblehead he knew not by name; saying alsoe there was a Confederacy of them & they were then whispering together at his beds feet, and desired Gabriell Hood to strike them: & when he did strike at the place where s'd. Balch said they sate: s'd Balch said that he had struck Goody wiles & she was Gone presently: and at severall other times s'd Balch Cried out of Good Hoares tormenting him & prayed earnestly to the Lord to bring them out & discover them & farther saith not

Jurat in Curia

Mary Gage"

( Essex County Archives, Salem — Witchcraft Vol. 1 Page 82 )

External Sources/Links:

Salem Witch Trials Documentary Archive

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