16. Dreams as Evidence
Five more innocents were convicted of witchcraft and hanged in July, 1692, another five in August, and eight more that September. The trials were marked by a lack of due process, and the use of “spectral evidence”. It was basically testimony by witnesses that they dreamt or had a vision that the spirit or “spectre” of the accused witch did them harm. An accuser’s dream or vision that “Jane Doe bit, hit, and punched me“, was admissible evidence in court that Jane Doe had actually bit, hit, and punched the accuser. It made no difference if the unfortunate Doe was nowhere near the accuser that day: her spectre was. Respected theologian and reverend Cotton Mather wrote the court to caution against the use of spectral evidence, but he was ignored.