Q:

What happened to Giles Corey?

A:

Giles Corey was killed during the Salem Witch Trials. Because he refused to make a plea when he was accused of witchcraft, the court subjected him to pressing, which killed him.

Pressing is a method of torture or execution in which large stones are placed on a person's body, limiting organ function and eventually resulting in death. This was the typical treatment for people who refused to enter a plea. On Sept. 17, 1692, the officers stripped Corey naked, placed him under a wooden board and began loading stones onto it. However, the torture did not move Corey acknowledge his guilt or proclaim his innocence. Instead, he endured the pain, answering requests for a plea with only two defiant words: "More weight!" On September 19, he died. His refusal to stand trial may have been related to thoughts about his family's future. The property of people executed after a trial was subject to state seizure, but those who died without a trial could pass their property to their heirs. By refusing to plead, Corey maintained his family's rich possessions. His death also helped the larger community, for it showed an image of integrity that inspired people who, though they may have opposed the trials privately, had been unwilling to make their opposition public.


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