Deliverance Hobbs

Deliverance Hobbs, about 50 years old at the time of the trials, was the wife of William Hobbs and the mother of Abigail Hobbs. All three members of the Hobbs family were accused of witchcraft. Abigail had a reputation for being a wild, irreverent and disrespectful young girl. She would brag that she was not afraid of anything. She was also known to mock the holy sacrament of baptism by sprinkling water on her mother's head and reciting the appropriate words. Abigail was one of the first arrested, and acted as a witness against both of her parents. She also enthusiastically contributed to efforts to accuse and convict other supposed witches.

A warrant was issued for Deliverance on April 21. She was arrested two days later and committed to prison. For a while Hobbs professed her innocence. After a time her resistance and her will were broken by the harshness of the proceedings. Hobbs was the fourth Salem resident to confess to practicing witchcraft, preceded only by her daughter, Abigail, and Mary Warren. She then readily confessed to anything the magistrates, afflicted girls, or the crowds would suggest. She even acted as a witness against her husband, who never swayed from his claims of innocence.

Despite the circle of accusations in the family, all three Hobbs managed to avoid the noose. Confession became seen as one option open to accused witches for avoiding the gallows, but of course confessions also had the effect of confirming suspicions of witchcraft and widening the circle of accusations.

Deliverance's breakdown and confessions was gradual, and can be followed through her confessions. Her first confession, given before George Burroughs had been brought back to Salem and accused, made no mention of Burroughs, although it was a lengthy and detailed confession. However, once it had become publicly known that Burroughs had been charged, she confessed again, this time freely implicating Burroughs in the circle of witchcraft in Salem, and claiming that he was the leader of the meetings.  Hobbs also claimed that her mother-in-law served the refreshments of red wine and red bread at the witch meetings.

Despite his wife's and daughter's confessions, William Hobbs steadfastly denied all accusations of witchcraft. He remained in prison until December 1692, then left town.