Samuel's wife, Sarah, controlled a one hundred and eighty-eight-acre estate, which she had inherited from her first husband, Adam Hawkes, upon his death. The Province of Massachusetts Bay passed a law which provided attainder for "conjuration, witchcraft, and dealing with evil and wicked spirits", which meant the loss of civil, inheritance, and property rights of those accused.
William Baker, Jr., 14 years old, accused Samuel, Sarah, and their 19-year-old daughter Mercy Wardwell of witchcraft. All three confessed the very day they were interrogated.
Samuel was executed at Proctor's Ledge in Salem after retracting a "forced" confession. Eventually, his widow, Sarah Wardwell was reprieved and released. In 1712, after Sarah died, their son, Samuel Wardwell Jr., was left destitute and later sued the Colony and won some compensation for the family's ordeals.
Samuel Wardwell is the eight-times great-grandfather to American actor Scott Foley and to American author Anne Greenwood Brown as well as Heather, Holly, and Matthew. He is one of the 19 innocents who were executed by hanging during the trials.