John Hale (minister)

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John Hale
Title page of A Modest Enquiry Into the Nature of Witchcraft by John Hale (Boston, 1697)
John Hale

June 3, 1636 (1636-06-03)
DiedMay 15, 1700(1700-05-15) (aged 63)
Known forMinister associated with the Salem witch trials
  • Rebecca Byles (December 15, 1664 – April 13, 1683; her death)
  • Sarah ( Noyes) Hale (March 21, 1656 - May 20, 1697)
  • Elizabeth (Somersby) Hale
  • Robert Hale (father)

John Hale (June 3, 1636 – May 15, 1700), commonly referred to as "Reverend Hale", was the Puritan pastor of Beverly, Massachusetts, during the Salem witch trials in 1692. He was one of the most prominent and influential ministers associated with the witch trials, being noted as having initially supported the trials and then changing his mind and publishing a critique of them.

Pastor ordained leader of a Christian congregation

A pastor is an ordained leader of a Christian congregation. A pastor also gives advice and counsel to people from the community or congregation.

Beverly, Massachusetts City in Massachusetts, United States

Beverly is a city in Essex County, Massachusetts, and a suburb of Boston. The population was 39,502 at the 2010 census. A resort, residential, and manufacturing community on the Massachusetts North Shore, Beverly includes Ryal Side, Beverly Farms and Prides Crossing. Beverly is a rival of Marblehead for the title of being the birthplace of the U.S. Navy.

Salem witch trials series of hearings and prosecutions of people accused of witchcraft in colonial Massachusetts

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, 19 of whom were found guilty and executed by hanging. One other man, Giles Corey, was crushed 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.



John Hale was born on June 3, 1636, in Charlestown, Massachusetts. The oldest child of Robert Hale, a blacksmith, he was educated at Harvard College in Cambridge, Massachusetts, graduating in 1657. He began preaching in Bass-river-side, later called Beverly, about 1664, and was ordained as the first minister of the parish church there on September 20, 1667, when the congregation formally separated from Salem, and he remained until his death in 1700. [1] He married his first wife, Rebecca Byly, on December 15, 1664, and she died April 13, 1683, at the age of forty-five. [2]

Harvard College main undergraduate school of Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts

Harvard College is the undergraduate liberal arts college of Harvard University. Founded in 1636 in Cambridge, Massachusetts, it is the oldest institution of higher learning in the United States and one of the most prestigious in the world.

Cambridge, Massachusetts City in Massachusetts, United States

Cambridge is a city in Middlesex County, Massachusetts, and part of the Boston metropolitan area.

Rev. John Hale Farm Rev. John Hale Farm.jpg
Rev. John Hale Farm

As a child, Hale had witnessed the execution of Margaret Jones, the first of 15 people to be executed for witchcraft in New England, between 1648–1663. [3] He was present at the examinations and trials of various people who were accused of witchcraft in the Salem witch trials of 1692, and supported the work of the court. However, on November 14, 1692, 17-year-old Mary Herrick accused his second wife, Sarah Noyes Hale, and the ghost of executed Mary Eastey of afflicting her, but his wife was never formally charged or arrested. [4] A later commentator on the trials, Charles Upham suggests that this accusation was one that helped turn public opinion to end the prosecutions, and spurred Hale's willingness to reconsider his support of the trials. [5]

Margaret Jones was the first person to be executed for witchcraft in Massachusetts Bay Colony during a witch-hunt that lasted from 1648 to 1693. About eighty people throughout New England were accused of practicing witchcraft during that period. Thirteen women and two men were executed.

New England Region of the United States

New England is a region composed of six states of the northeastern United States: Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut. It is bordered by the state of New York to the west and by the Canadian provinces of New Brunswick and Quebec to the northeast and north, respectively. The Atlantic Ocean is to the east and southeast, and Long Island Sound is to the south. Boston is New England's largest city as well as the capital of Massachusetts. The largest metropolitan area is Greater Boston with nearly a third of the entire region's population, which also includes Worcester, Massachusetts, Manchester, New Hampshire, and Providence, Rhode Island.

Witchcraft Practice of and belief in magical skills and abilities either alone or in groups

Witchcraft or witchery broadly means the practice of and belief in magical skills and abilities exercised by solitary practitioners and groups. Witchcraft is a broad term that varies culturally and societally, and thus can be difficult to define with precision, and cross-cultural assumptions about the meaning or significance of the term should be applied with caution. Witchcraft often occupies a religious divinatory or medicinal role, and is often present within societies and groups whose cultural framework includes a magical world view.


In Arthur Miller's 1953 play The Crucible , a fictional portrayal of Hale appears in Act I in a request from Samuel Parris that he examine his daughter, Betty Parris. Hale's quick visit to help with Betty actually causes him to become one of the main characters in the play.

Arthur Miller American playwright

Arthur Asher Miller was an American playwright, essayist, and a controversial figure in the twentieth-century American theater. Among his most popular plays are All My Sons (1947), Death of a Salesman (1949), The Crucible (1953) and A View from the Bridge. He wrote several screenplays and was most noted for his work on The Misfits (1961). The drama Death of a Salesman has been numbered on the short list of finest American plays in the 20th century.

<i>The Crucible</i> 1953 play by Arthur Miller

The Crucible is a 1953 play by American playwright Arthur Miller. It is a dramatized and partially fictionalized story of the Salem witch trials that took place in the Massachusetts Bay Colony during 1692/93. Miller wrote the play as an allegory for McCarthyism, when the United States government persecuted people accused of being communists. Miller himself was questioned by the House of Representatives' Committee on Un-American Activities in 1956 and convicted of contempt of Congress for refusing to identify others present at meetings he had attended.

Hale is depicted as a young minister who has devoted most of his life to the study of witchcraft and other demonic arts in the hope of being able to destroy them in the name of God. He has found a 'witch' in his home town of Beverly, Massachusetts, where he preaches. Hale is the minister in charge of discovering who has marks of the Devil for the witch trials and later is the advocate against them. As a devout Christian, Hale sees it as his duty to seek out the witches, and to 'save their souls'. Hale, after seeing the horrors of the witch trials and watching the loss of both civil and human rights, has a conversion of heart and speaks out against them, telling Judge Danforth that they are morally wrong. Hale leaves the court when Mary Warren accuses John Proctor of witchcraft, famously declaring, "I denounce these proceedings. I quit this court!" to which Danforth replies, running after him, "Mr. Hale, Mr. Hale!" [6]

Mary Ann Warren was the oldest accuser during the 1692 Salem witch trials, being 18 years old, when the trials began. She was a servant for John and Elizabeth Proctor. Renouncing her claims after being threatened to be hanged, she was later arrested for allegedly practicing witchcraft herself, but did not confess. Her life after the trials is unknown.

In the 1957 screen adaptation of Miller's piece, he was depicted by Yves Brainville. In the 1996 film version of the play, he was portrayed by Rob Campbell, as a much younger man than would have been historically accurate, as Hale was fifty-six at the time of the trials; however, the play itself isn't entirely historically accurate, particularly with ages. For instance, Diane E Foulds (along with many others) affirm that Abigail Williams would have been closer to 12 than 17, and that John Proctor would have been near 60, so this change in age for the film version is not entirely out of line with the source material of the play.

<i>The Crucible</i> (1957 film) 1957 film by Raymond Rouleau

The Crucible is a 1957 joint Franco-East German film production directed by Raymond Rouleau with a screenplay adapted by Jean-Paul Sartre from the 1953 play The Crucible, by Arthur Miller.

<i>The Crucible</i> (1996 film) 1996 film by Nicholas Hytner

The Crucible is a 1996 American historical drama film written by Arthur Miller adapting his play of the same title, inspired by the Salem witchcraft trials. It was directed by Nicholas Hytner and stars Daniel Day-Lewis as John Proctor, Winona Ryder as Abigail Williams, Paul Scofield as Judge Thomas Danforth, Bruce Davison as Reverend Parris, and Joan Allen as Elizabeth Proctor. Much of the filming took place on Hog Island in Ipswich, Massachusetts.

Rob Campbell is an actor in stage, television and films.

In the movie, Hale's wife is accused by Abigail Williams once she begins to suspect him of doubting her claims. This is quickly dismissed by Danforth, leading to Abigail escaping from the village. He then later sadly witnessed the hanging of Rebecca Nurse, Martha Corey and John Proctor.

John Hale is played by Xander Berkeley (as Magistrate Hale) in the 2014 TV series Salem .


  1. Sibley's Harvard graduates, Volume 1, pp. 509–12.
  2. Sibley's Harvard graduates, Volume 1, p. 517.
  3. Jewett, Clarence F. The memorial history of Boston: including Suffolk County, Massachusetts. 1630–1880. Ticknor and Company, 1881, pp. 133–37.
  4. No. 709: Statement of John Hale & Joseph Gerrish v. Mary Herrick, Records of the Salem Witch-Hunt, p. 703, Bernard Rosenthal, Ed. (Cambridge Univ. Press, 2009).
  5. Charles W. Upham, Salem Witchcraft , 1969 (1867), Vol. II, pp. 345–46.
  6. Cliff's Notes Archived 2007-04-10 at the Wayback Machine .

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