Sarah Jessica Parker's ancestor was accused of being a witch in Salem Trials

Darcy Rafter September 30, 2022
Sarah Jessica Parker's ancestor was accused of being a witch in Salem Trials
Photo by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images for Disney

Hocus Pocus 2 star Sarah Jessica Parker plays a Salem witch in the spooky spectacular, but it turns out she has a deeper connection to her role. The actress actually descended from one of the real-life accused witches from the Salem Witch Trials.

Halloween season is just not the same without the annual viewing of Disney’s Hocus Pocus. The cult Halloween classic follows the Sanderson sisters causing havoc around Salem, Massachusetts.

Decades after Hocus Pocus debuted in theaters, Disney is bringing the Halloween extravaganza back with a sequel, premiering today, September 30. The highly anticipated movie will see the original Hocus Pocus cast reprising their famous roles, as Bette Midler and Kathy Najimy join Parker.

Parker plays one of the fictional witches called Sarah in the film, but many devoted viewers have no idea that she has a real-life link to an accused witch…

Photo by James Devaney/GC Images

Sarah Jessica’s ancestor was accused of being a witch in Salem trials

Parker descends from a real woman who was accused of being a witch during the Salem Witch Trials of 1692. Sarah Jessica is the 10th great-granddaughter of Esther Elwell, who was a woman accused of witchcraft in the trials, as per Hollywood Ancestory.

Historical records revealed a coincidence between Parker and her beloved character, Sarah Sanderson. A court deposition record on Ancestry revealed Parker’s connection with Elwell that she didn’t know before playing a Salem witch in Hocus Pocus more than 300 years later.

The actress learned about her past on an episode of the American version of Who Do You Think You Are. Parker becomes visibly emotional after finding out about her ancestry. After learning about the connection Parker says in the episode, “When you read these charges, it’s so absolutely crazy…it’s madness.” She even traveled all the way to Salem in person to learn of the historic story that haunts America to this day.

Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for Disney

What were the Salem Witch Trials?

In 1692, there was mass hysteria over witchcraft which took hold of Salem and surrounding towns. More than 200 people would be accused of witchcraft in the trials, and 20 were executed, 19 by hanging, and one person was pressed to death by rocks. Five more died in jail from the awful conditions.

As the witch trials went on, more people began accusing people of witchcraft, and soon hundreds were accused, including Esther Elwell, the 10th great-grandmother of Sarah Jessica Parker.

What happened to Esther Elwell in the Salem Witch Trials?

Esther Dutch was born in September 1639 in Bridport, Dorset, England. Her family traveled across the Atlantic Ocean to settle in Massachusetts as they resided in the Gloucester area, in a place known as Dutch’s Slough. Esther married Samuel Elwell, on 7 June 1658 in Salem with whom she shared many children.

On 5 November 1692, an arrest warrant was issued for Esther Elwell and two others for committing “wickedly and feloniously sundry acts of witchcraft upon the body of Mrs. Mary Fiche of Gloucester.”

According to WickedLocal,  Esther was then taken to Ipswich where she was jailed whilst the charges against her were investigated. A girl named Elizabeth Hubbard who was 17 years old at the time accused Esther and two others of witchcraft against Mary Fitch.

Thankfully, Esther Elwell escaped the witch trial courts as they were dissolved before her hearing. Esther was released from jail on 7 November 1692 and passed away in 1721 in Gloucester, Massachusetts Colony.

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Darcy is an experienced journalist passionate about celebrity culture and entertainment. After gaining a degree in Media and Communications at Goldsmiths University she has also become a social media specialist, always keeping informed on the latest trends. With almost five years of experience in media, her expertise is analysing platforms such as Instagram, Twitter and TikTok. When she's not tracking the latest trending content, she’s watching films and eating lots of chocolate.