Famous Last Words · Graves · Massachusetts · Religion

“More weight!”

September 19, 1692
Salem, Massachusetts
Giles Corey dies after two days of crushed to death

Corey had refused to plea either guilty or not guilty at his trial during the Salem Witch Trials. At the time, those who did not enter a plea could not be tried. To prevent people from abusing this system, “peine forte et dure” (Law French for “hard and forceful punishment”) was implemented to force the accused to plea.

Corey, in accordance to this punishment, was stripped naked and laid in a pit. A heavy wooden board was placed on this body and 6 men took turns placing large rocks on the board one by one. He did not enter his plea or even cry out.

As more rocks were added and he was asked 3 times of his guilt or innocence, the sheriff even going so far as to stand on the boulders to look Corey in the face. The weight became so extreme his tongue was forced from his mouth at one point, which the sheriff pushed back in with his cane. One tradition claims Corey cursed the town and the sheriff, though it seems more legend than historical.

Corey’s final words, when asked again to plea, were “more weight!” utter shortly before the 81-year-old died.

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