"His son, too, inherited the persecuting spirit, and made himself so conspicuous in the martyrdom of the witches, that their blood may fairly be said to have left a stain upon him"
John Hathorne and the Rev. Cotton Mather interrogating supposed witch Martha Corey (1902)
Public DomainJohn Hathorne and the Rev. Cotton Mather interrogating supposed witch Martha Corey (1902) - Credit: John W. Ehninger

John Hathorne (1641-1717) followed in his father’s footsteps in every way. Having built upon William’s mercantile business, he was then appointed magistrate of Essex County. During 1692, hysterical accusations of witchcraft abounded in Salem and it was he, along with fellow magistrate Jonathan Corwin, who was responsible for interrogating both the accused and the accusers. Impartial he was not, and his questionings frequently assumed guilt in advance. He also put pressure on defendants to incriminate others, something many were happy to do since it gave them the opportunity to transfer their otherwise inevitable death sentence onto another victim. All in all, nineteen people were hung, one was pressed to death and several others died in prison. Of everyone involved in the persecution of alleged witches, John Hathorne was the only one not to repent of his actions. His cruelty has earned him the sobriquet “the hanging judge.” Arthur Miller resuscitated him in this guise for his 1952 play The Crucible, in which the magistrate's inquisitionary zeal serves as an analogy for the anti-Communist witch-hunts of the McCarthy era.

Below is a collection of transcripts of Hathorne’s interrogations.  

The Salem Martyr (1869), a painting of an accused witch
Public DomainThe Salem Martyr (1869), a painting of an accused witch - Credit: Thomas Slatterwhite Noble