Tag Archives: Fascination

“Pressed” to Death–Giles Corey and Fascination

Halloween is my favorite holiday; always has been.  And I’m pretty interested in Colonial American history, so you can imagine how excited I was to go to Salem, Massachusetts.  That was six or seven years ago, but I’m still intrigued by everything that transpired there.

I was recently reminded of the Giles Corey character from Arthur Miller‘s play The Crucible, which dramatizes the Salem Witchcraft Trials (but really sends-up McCarthyism).  As I so often do, I went on a wild Wikipedia chase starting with Giles Corey and ending up 45 minutes later in some dark corner of the Internet that I didn’t know existed.  But the story of ol’ Giles is pretty interesting on its own.

  • Giles Corey, a successful farmer and member of the church, was accused of “fascination” by three Salem residents
  • He didn’t plead either way, so by law at the time he couldn’t be tried
  • He was laid prone with a board atop his body to hold heavy stones as they were placed one at a time until he confessed (a judicial coercion technique called “pressing”)
  • He never confessed, and died asking for more stones

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