It is difficult to pinpoint an exact cause for the witch trials of 1692 because there are numerous factors and events that helped create and influence the trials. Some of the main reasons that sparked the uproar of witchcraft in Salem were, politics, religion, family disputes, economics, and the fears of those in the society. .
In 1689, a congregation was formed under the Reverend Samuel Parris. The Rev. Samuel Parris had a small family consisting of his wife, his nine-year-old daughter, Betty, and a twelve-year-old niece, Abigail Williams, who was an orphan. Abigail was expected to earn her keep by doing most of the household chores, and also care for her invalid aunt. Betty's poor health prevented her from helping with the household chores, so much of them became Abigail's responsibility. After chores were done, there was little entertainment for Betty and Abigail. Salem Town was eight miles away, and Boston was a twenty-mile journey. During the winter months many of the villagers read to pass the time. There was an interest in books about prophecy and fortune telling throughout New England during the winter of 1691-92 (Zeinert, 14). .
A lot of these books appealed to the younger generation of Salem. In Essex County girls formed close gatherings to practice the divinations and fortune telling they learned from their reading (Fremon, 22). Abigail, and two other girls joined together to meet and discuss the interesting books they read. Tituba, Rev. Parris' slave whom he bought while on a trip to Barbados, would often participate in the circle. She would entertain the others with stories of witchcraft, demons, and mystic animals. Other girls soon joined their circle in the evenings to listen to Tituba's tales and participate in fortune telling experiments (Zeinert, 16).
Betty Parris and Abigail Williams began to become upset and frightened with the results of their fortunes. It is speculated that their fear, mixed with the family financial and social difficulties, caused the girls to express themselves through interesting behavior.