In Salem, Massachusetts, a cluster of accusations of witchcraft led to prosecution. Cotton Mather presided over the trials of those accused of being witches, and eventually eighteen men and women were found guilty and hanged.
Increase Mather (1639–1723) was an influential Puritan minister and leader of Massachusetts Bay Colony. Mather was a traditionalist who clashed with more liberal members of the church. With his son, Cotton, Mather is also remembered for his part in the Salem witch trials. The Mathers served as advisors to the trial judges, pressuring them not to rely on “spectral evidence,” and in 1693 Increase published his Case of Conscience Concerning Evil Spirits Personating Men, justifying the Mathers’ role in the trials.