The Conjuring and Salem witches

I saw “The Conjuring” recently and thought it was a solid horror movie.  It’s the story of a “true” haunting in Harrisville, RI, in the early 1970’s that was investigated by Ed and Lorraine Warren, of Amityville Horror fame.  The movie was suspenseful and actually scary – something not all modern horror movies can achieve.  However, I did have an issue with one part of the story:  the central theme of the demon, who was the descendent of a witch who was hung at Salem.

Perron Family

The story is that of the Perron family, who had moved into a 14-room farmhouse.  The family, parents with five daughters, experienced doors slamming, blood oozing, demonic voices and bodily possession.  The mother was psychically attacked and only a non-church sanctioned exorcism stopped this possession.  (The family claims that was the end of the Warren’s investigation but hauntings still continued.)  Shortly after the family moved into the house, the Warrens heard about the haunting from a local paranormal society.  They showed up at the door one day and Lorraine immediately sensed a demon named Bathsheba who was entrenched in the home.  Through research, it was discovered that a Bathsheba Sherman had lived in the house in the early 1800’s.  This Ms. Sherman was a Satanist who had killed her daughter as a sacrifice to the Devil.  She eventually hanged herself.  This placed a curse on any future tenants of the property.  As a result, there were more suicides, a drowning and many accidents.  One of the real daughters in this terrorized family, Andrea Perron, wrote a trilogy of her time living in the house, called “House of Darkness House of Light.”

Salem witches

We are led to understand “The Conjuring” is a true story based on real events.  It has been stated that the film is based on the Warren’s files and not the family’s experience.  The movie explains that the demon was a devil-worshipping witch in Salem and dialogue suggests all witches are demonic.  In my investigations of the Salem witchcraft deaths, I’ve concluded that the Salem witches were (1) teenagers who craved attention, (2) neighbors who pitted themselves against one another (one example is the case of Rebecca Nurse:  After she admonished neighbor Benjamin Houlton for allowing his pig in her garden, he died, so she was put on trial as a witch), and (3) there was a fungus, ergot, which grew on rye, wheat and other grains at that time that was consumed in Salem and is now proven to cause muscle spasms, vomiting, delusions and hallucinations.

The movie proposes that the demon was a Salem witch, Bathsheba, who escaped the witch trials but ended up sacrificing a child to the devil.  There was no one named Bathsheba who was accused of witchcraft in Salem.  However, the Bathsheba the Warrens refer to was a real person.  She was born Bathsheba Thayer in 1812 and married Judson Sherman in Connecticut in 1844.  The Salem witch trials occurred between 1692 and 1693.  Therefore, this Bathsheba could not have been a Salem witch.  I could not find evidence if she was descendent from an accused Salem witch.  Of course, I understand creative license is taken in writing a movie and this may be the case.

Nance with Lorraine Warren at a Halloween celebration in Connecticut

Nance with Lorraine Warren at a Halloween celebration in Connecticut

Lorraine Warren

A couple of years ago I met Lorraine Warren at a Halloween dinner held at a catering hall in Connecticut.  She had done this dinner for a few years and it was very entertaining.  She spoke about her and her husband’s most famous and confounding cases, showed films of possessions, pictures of ghosts caught on tape, objects moving by themselves, etc.  She signed books and took pictures with everyone and was very informative, enthusiastic and gracious.  It was hard to believe, looking at her, that this elegant woman went head to head with demons and possessions.

The real Annabelle doll

Nowadays, Lorraine Warren hosts an evening held partly at her home in Connecticut several times a month.  The event consists of her entertaining the intimate crowd with true, ghostly tales, a walk through the local cemetery (and visit to Ed’s grave), tour of the famous haunted room in her home that houses demonic and haunted objects from their many cases around the world (the Annabelle doll is there) and dinner at an Italian restaurant.  This event is always sold out, so if you’d like to go, keep checking her website, for additional dates.  This year there will also be a Halloween lecture at a local high school, to be held on October 18.  See the website above for info.

Toward the end of “The Conjuring” a telephone call and future case on Long Island is alluded to, and that likely means that if “The Conjuring” does well in the box office (and as of yesterday it has made $136,002,840), there may be a second Warren movie about The Amityville Horror.  I look forward to it.

  • But it is of course quite true that just as those who understand basic chemistry can use that knowledge to cause both harm and good, those who are proficient in Magick possess the power to cause harm, as well as benefit, through Magick.

  • I agree with Sharon and Andrea. It was only stated that Bathsheba was a direct descendant of Mary Towne Esty, not a runaway witch from Salem. I have watched this movie several times and don’t see where anyone could miss hear the information, it was very plain. I just found this website so, sorry this is a few years late.

  • Nance,thnx a lot for providng this much information.i am glad. 🙂
    i have a doubt, in the movie it says that bathsheba ws related to mary towne esty that’s ok but aftrwrds its mentioned that she was hung during the trials.I didnt get it? what was that part all about?
    “the demonologist” i heard that this book is writnd by lorrain family !! is it true? then where can i find this book.

    • Honestly, about the movie, I’m not sure. I watched it twice and found parts about the so-called Salem witch confusing, so if someone can explain that part of the storyline, I’d appreciate it. Duh… Anyway, The Demonologist was written by Gerald Brittle about Ed and Lorraine Warren. I actually have a signed copy; I bought it and got it signed by Lorraine at a Halloween event where she was the guest of honor. Amazon also sells it: If you’d like to meet Lorraine, read my most recent article “I met Annabelle and you can too.” It explains the event Lorraine holds at her home every month for fans.

      • In the film, Lorraine did research and found out that Bathsheba was related to Mary Towne Estye (Mary Eastey), a woman accused of witchcraft in Salem. She was later hanged for the accusation of doing witchcraft. She was an actual woman during that time; her death is recorded in the Salem Witch Trial Victims List.

    • I’m happy you found The Trip Witch! Keep watching for more info – Mabon is coming soon, and I’m working on an article on my favorite witch store. Autumn is almost here and there’s lots to do to get ready for Samhain. Thanks for reading. 🙂

  • I am also a descendant of Mary towne Easty directly and therefore also related to her two sisters Rebecca and Sarah any information on them would be greatly appreciated. Apparently there’s quite a few of us out there.

  • Judson Sherman and Bathsheba Thayer are my relatives. Mary Towne Esty is also my ancestor. The Shermans lived in the 1800s, almost 250 yrs AFTER the Salem Witch Trials. Both Judson Sherman and I are descended from Thomas Butter of Essex, England. THomas’s daughter Agnes was married to Henry Sherman. My 11th Great Grandmother, Anne Butter was Thomas’s Great Granddaughter. We are both also descendants of Edward Sturgis of Sandwich, MA.

    • You need to watch the movie again. They NEVER EVER suggest that Bathsheba is an “escaped Salem witch”. Don’t know where you came up w/that. They said that she was RELATED to accused Salem witch Mary Towne Esty which means she was also related to Rebecca Nurse (as am I ) because Mary and Rebecca were sisters.

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  • You really need to watch the movie more closely and listen to what they are saying. They never say or suggest that she was a salem witch that escaped. They very clearly state that Bathsheba was a decendent of mary towne esty. And since it is a movie possibly based on true events doesn’t mean everything in the movie is accurate.

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