Samuel Sewall had gone to work on a printing press for the General Council in 1681. Ten years later, he was given a position on the Governor’s Council, where he remained until 1725. On May 27, 1692, the governor of Massachusetts gave Samuel the job that would lead to his involvement in the Salem Witch Trials. He was appointed to the Court of Oyer and Terminer. He also became a Justice of the Superior Court of Judicature.
Samuel Sewall began keeping a diary when he was at Harvard College. This diary would span more than 56 years of his life. In it, he describes some, but very little, of the Salem Witch Trials. He appears to be in agreement with the other men regarding the guilt of the accused people. However, his mind changed shortly after the trials. Samuel and Hannah had fourteen children together. Only five of these children were still alive when Hannah died in 1717. Three of the children who passed away died in a year’s time just before Samuel publicly apologized for his involvement in the Salem Witch Trials.
Samuel Sewall was a deeply religious man. He was a Puritan, like his peers, and believed that God’s wrath was great. He saw the deaths of those three children as his punishment for sending innocent people to their deaths. In 1696, he held a day of fasting and prayer in penance and continued to do so every year for the rest of his life. Apart from his involvement in the Salem Witch Trials, Samuel Sewall was a fair and just man.