Elizabeth Woodbury Balch - Involvement in the Salem Witch Trials (1692)

Elizabeth (Woodbury) Balch (August 15, 1654 - c. 1698) was born in Salem, Essex County, Massachusetts to John and Elizabeth Woodbury. Little is known about Elizabeth's life prior to her marriage to Benjamin Balch on October 11, 1674. Eighteen years later, in the midst of the Salem Witch Trials (1692), Elizabeth would be instrumental in the conviction of Sarah Bishop. Testimony, provided by Elizabeth, would cost Sarah Bishop her life.

Note: Please be advised that The Salem Witchcraft Papers' site states that "Bridget Bishop" was executed not "Sarah Bishop." Apparently, Sarah Bishop and her husband Edward Bishop, Jr. escaped from prison in Boston according to Wikipedia. It would seem that their final fate is unknown.

Original Text:

It's been difficult but I've seemingly confirmed several of the stories I have heard about the Balch family and their involvement in the Salem witch trials. Thanks to a web site called The Salem Witchcraft Papers I have found verbatim testimony taken from the original trials in 1692 which recounts the testimony of Elizabeth Balch against Sarah Bishop. Elizabeth Balch, according to the trial transcripts, was the wife of Benjamin Balch at the time. Thanks to a helpful tip, left in my guestbook, I believe I have now figured out the identity of Elizabeth Balch. Benjamin Balch, son of John Balch immigrant from England, had a son he named Benjamin. This Benjamin married a woman by the name of Elizabeth Woodbury. It would seem that this was probably the Elizabeth Balch who gave testimony during the Salem Witch Trials.

Elizabeth Balch, along with her sister Abigail Walden, made testimony against Sarah Bishop and both signed their testimonies with the first letter of their first names. The basic gist of her testimony is that Elizabeth and her sister came across Edward Bishop and his wife Sarah as they were riding on horseback. Edward and his wife were involved in an argument about how fast they were going on their horse when Edward addressed Elizabeth and her sister. Edward accused his wife of entertaining Satan in her kitchen at night and various other allegations. Elizabeth at first scolded Edward Bishop for saying these things about his wife but Edward asserted that these allegations were indeed true. Sarah Bishop apparently made no effort to defend herself against these allegations and Elizabeth evidently took this as an indication that the allegations were correct. When the trial for Sarah Bishop came along Elizabeth Balch testified against her.

Below I have included a link to the original testimony given by Elizabeth Balch and also an additional link to the original source.

Genealogy of Elizabeth (Woodbury):

Father: John Woodbury
Mother: Elizabeth Woodbury

Husband: Benjamin Balch
Married: October 11, 1674


1. Ann
2. Joseph
3. Ebenezer
4. Abigail
5. Elizabeth
6. Ruth

Primary Sources/Links:

Ancestry.com - Elizabeth Woodbury

Elizabeth Balch's Testimony against Sarah Bishop

Genealogy of the Balch Families in America - By: Galusha Burchard Balch

Geni.com - Elizabeth Woodbury Balch

Salem Witch Trials Documentary Archive

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