Connecticut Witch Trials 101, Part 2: Witchcraft Belief, the Founding of Connecticut, and Alice Young

Connecticut Witch Trials 101 Part 2: Witchcraft Belief, the Founding of Connecticut, and Alice Young Thou Shalt Not Suffer: The Witch Trial Podcast

This is Part 2 of Thou Shalt Not Suffer: The Witch Trial Podcast’s Connecticut Witch Trials 101 series. Part 2 covers witchcraft beliefs, the founding of Connecticut and Alice Young.  Your cohosts and accused witch descendants, writer and podcast producer, Joshua Hutchinson and End Witch Hunts President and people connector extraordinaire, Sarah Jack are back to delve into the history. The story of Connecticut's settlement, witchcraft belief and known witch trial victims is fact backed with trustworthy research and sources. Take advantage of the expansive bibliography, and do some educational reading. Dig into the research with us. This series has been created with thoughtful inquiry and consideration of historian expertise, historic record and available archived material. How do we know what we know? We connect past witch trials to today’s witchcraft fear with a discussion answering our advocacy questions: Why do we witch hunt? How do we witch hunt? How do we stop hunting witches? When writing both the South African Law Reform Commission, and the Department of Justice & Constitutional Development, use this reference:'Project 135: Review of the Witchcraft Suppression Act 3 of 1957'.SA Law Reform Commission contact: South African Law Reform Commission Secretary: Mr Nelson Matibe e-mail: South African Law Reform CommissionFor the Dept. Justice: Deputy Minister John Jeffery, MP. c/o Director: Legal Services: Mr Blendynn Williams E-mail: and Personal Assistant: Ms Jamela Mhlarhi E-mail: Us! Shop Our Book ShopConnecticut Witch Trials 101 BibliographyPan-African Parliament  “Guidelines on Accusations of witchcraft and ritual attacks: towards eliminating harmful practices and other human rights violations"March 29,, 2023 Discussion Panel with State Representative Jane Garibay on Bill HJ #34, A Resolution Concerning Certain Witchcraft Convictions in Colonial Connecticut.Press Conference on Legislative Bill H.J. No. 34, March 8, 2023Resolution Concerning Certain Witchcraft Convictions in Colonial ConnecticutWrite a Connecticut Legislator Purchase a Witch Trial White Rose Memorial ButtonSupport Us! Sign up as a Super Listener!End Witch Hunts Movement Support Us! Buy Witch Trial Merch!Support Us! Buy Podcast Merch!Join us on Discord to share your ideas and feedbackSupport the show

Show Notes

This is Part 2 of Thou Shalt Not Suffer: The Witch Trial Podcast’s Connecticut Witch Trials 101 series. Part 2 covers witchcraft beliefs, the founding of Connecticut and Alice Young.  Your cohosts and accused witch descendants, writer and podcast producer, Joshua Hutchinson and End Witch Hunts President and people connector extraordinaire, Sarah Jack are back to delve into the history. The story of Connecticut’s settlement, witchcraft belief and known witch trial victims is fact backed with trustworthy research and sources. Take advantage of the expansive bibliography, and do some educational reading. Dig into the research with us. This series has been created with thoughtful inquiry and consideration of historian expertise, historic record and available archived material. How do we know what we know? We connect past witch trials to today’s witchcraft fear with a discussion answering our advocacy questions: Why do we witch hunt? How do we witch hunt? How do we stop hunting witches?


[00:00:20] Josh Hutchinson: Welcome to Thou Shalt Not Suffer: The Witch Trial Podcast. I'm Josh Hutchinson.
[00:00:26] Sarah Jack: And I'm Sarah Jack.
[00:00:28] Josh Hutchinson: We hope you enjoy part two of our Connecticut Witch Trials 101 series.
[00:00:33] Sarah Jack: This week we'll discuss witchcraft belief in New England, give an overview of the founding of Connecticut and the founding of the town of Windsor, before we move on to the trial and execution of Alice Young, who is believed to be the first person hanged for witchcraft in New England.
[00:00:49] Josh Hutchinson: In this episode, we'll dispel some common misconceptions. First of all, every person executed for witchcraft in New England was hanged, not burned.
[00:01:00] Sarah Jack: Nobody was burned for witchcraft here, but they were in other places in Europe. Do people assume it because of the media they've seen? Do people just equate burning and witches?
[00:01:11] Josh Hutchinson: It would seem to have been influenced by transatlantic communication and immigrants with memories of the burning times in their countries.
[00:01:20] Sarah Jack: Do people visualize burning a witch is destroying a witch versus an execution? I feel like if you're thinking about witches being burned, then you're also thinking more of the murderous mob style.
[00:01:31] Josh Hutchinson: That's another part of the lore.
[00:01:32] Sarah Jack: I think the more people recognize New England was hanging, then they're thinking about, oh, it's an execution. There was a trial. What was that trial like?
[00:01:42] We are really excited for you to hear this episode.
[00:01:45] Josh Hutchinson: We sure are.
[00:01:46] Sarah Jack: Before we introduce Alice Young, we'd like to set the stage for you by providing a little background on witchcraft belief in early New England and the settling of Connecticut.
[00:01:58] Josh Hutchinson: In evaluating witchcraft belief in early modern New England, it is important to note that ministers and the educated elite held different views than most of the public. Many beliefs overlapped, but those who claimed to be victimized by witchcraft focused on human agency in magical practice, while the clergy largely focused on Satan as the source of the witch's power.
[00:02:22] Sarah Jack: In popular belief, a witch was a person who used magic for sinister purposes.
[00:02:28] Josh Hutchinson: A witch was a person who was believed to have the skill to manipulate occult forces in order to perform maleficium, which is the act of causing harm supernaturally.
[00:02:40] Sarah Jack: Women were believed to be more sinful and more evil than men and more vulnerable to becoming witches. The reasoning included the belief that women's bodies weren't as strong as men's, and, therefore, the devil could more readily access women's souls.
[00:02:53] Josh Hutchinson: Of the 49 people known to have been accused of witchcraft in Connecticut between 1647 and 1742, 36 were women, 11 were men, and two were unidentified. Further, seven of the men accused were married to women who were accused first. Only four of the 49 were men who were not married to female witchcraft suspects.
[00:03:19] Sarah Jack: Four. That's a small number.
[00:03:22] Witches were said to have teats, where imps or animal familiars suckled. These were often hidden in their secret parts.
[00:03:30] Josh Hutchinson: The witch was the embodiment of the corrupted woman. Rather than celebrate and encourage fertility, she actively worked against it. Rather than be the perfect helpmate to her husband, she chose to be a handmaiden to the devil himself.
[00:03:45] Sarah Jack: The witch attempted to invert the power structure, diverting authority from man to woman. She was not a housewife. She was a force of her own.
[00:03:53] Josh Hutchinson: Maleficium most commonly involved employing magic to injure, sicken, or kill a person or domestic animal. However, targets of maleficium also included ships, homes, and crops.
[00:04:06] Sarah Jack: Image magic involved the use of the likeness of a person to injure them. Poppets were commonly believed to be used for this purpose and could be made of common materials like cloth, rags, wax, or birch bark. These images would then be harmed by hand, needle, water, or fire.
[00:04:23] Josh Hutchinson: To recruit people, Satan and his devils often first appeared to targets in the guise of animals.
[00:04:31] Sarah Jack: Outside of Salem, most Witch trial witnesses did not mention the devil. However, as shown in those Salem cases and a handful of others, people believe that witches covenanted with him directly and signed his book in blood. 
[00:04:45] Josh Hutchinson: And signed his book. Sometimes in blood, sometimes in ink, sometimes in just, they would say it was red like blood. Sometimes they would say they actually cut their finger and signed it with their own blood. They actually put that detail in some of the Salem testimony. And his book was always changing color, shape, size, and material. You pay attention to those testimonies, they're always inconsistent. Sometimes his book was a piece of like just a sheet of birch bark that people had etched their names into.
[00:05:26] Sarah Jack: These women in the devil's book, you know they're putting their name in it and, of course the counterpart, the Book of Life, which you don't put your own name in, your name's put into it.
[00:05:37] I just think it's interesting that they are fantasizing that these women are signing their name into a book for the devil. Cause I was like, what is the significance of him having names in a book.
[00:05:51] Josh Hutchinson: It's inversion of the covenant, basically, and inversion of God's grace. You don't put your own name in the book of life, but you do put it in the devil's book. It's all about rebellion. Mid to late middle ages, they just were focused on witchcraft as an act of rebellion against God. And then they got into the Satan's Pact thing.
[00:06:22] Witches often gathered in groups, as seen in the Hartford Witch Panic and the Salem Witch Hunt. 
[00:06:29] Sarah Jack: How many people were meeting with Reverend Burroughs at the witch Sabbath described in the Salem Witch trials?
[00:06:34] Josh Hutchinson: Dozens?
[00:06:36] Sarah Jack: It was a huge amount. 
[00:06:39] Josh Hutchinson: They might have had hundreds at some of their things. There was definitely dozens, and they were coming from Connecticut. In Salem, they definitely were intimately aware of what had happened in Connecticut, and they were saying that whiches were coming from Connecticut to Salem Village.
[00:07:04] Sarah Jack: At Hartford, the supposed witch meeting may have been a harmless Christmas celebration, which was interpreted as a witches' Sabbath. During the Salem Witch hunt, these sabbaths were recounted in vivid detail by the afflicted persons and the confessors.
[00:07:19] Josh Hutchinson: In the early modern mind, two worlds coexisted on earth, the visible world and the invisible world. The boundaries between these worlds were porous, and creatures from the invisible world often visited the visible world. Likewise, people learned in magic could tap into powers from the invisible world to manipulate the visible.
[00:07:44] Sarah Jack: As Dr. Kathy Hermes explained, New England was viewed as the battleground between God and Satan, where the English attempted to establish Christ's church, and the devil attempted to pull it down. 
[00:07:55] Josh Hutchinson: While witchcraft was reviled, not all magic was frowned upon by the people at large. Acceptable occult practices included protective magic, countermagic, and healing magic.
[00:08:09] Sarah Jack: New Englanders commonly hid objects and symbols in their homes to ward off witches and evil spirits.
[00:08:16] Josh Hutchinson: As Dr. Emerson Baker explained in episode 25, garlands and wreaths were hung on doors and windows as barriers to evil.
[00:08:26] Sarah Jack: Not just decor. Horseshoes and other iron objects were also nailed over doorways or secreted in walls to prevent spirits from entering.
[00:08:35] Josh Hutchinson: Symbols were etched near entries and exits to catch demons. Chimneys and wells were protected in such fashion, because evil spirits frequently used those openings to gain access to homes.
[00:08:49] Sarah Jack: Countermagic involved various methods of detecting and harming witches. Bewitched objects and the hair, nails, and urine of bewitched persons were burned to destroy the evil magic or transfer it back to the witch. 
[00:09:03] Josh Hutchinson: When animals were believed to be victims of maleficium, body parts like ears and tails were burned. Ouch. Poor animals.
[00:09:13] Sarah Jack: Healing magic was a dangerous line of work. Those with the power to heal were believed to also have the power to harm.
[00:09:21] Josh Hutchinson: Contrary to popular belief, midwives were seldom targets of witchcraft accusations. However, there are recorded instances of women who provided healing services being accused.
[00:09:34] Sarah Jack: Other magical enterprises also put people at risk of accusation. Methods of divination are reported in several cases, and a few of those tried for witchcraft openly engaged in fortune telling.
[00:09:46] Josh Hutchinson: The fortune telling they were doing wasn't communing with spirits. It was palmistry, reading people. Marilynne told us Samuel Wardwell would look at somebody's hand and then tell their fortune, and other people were like, turning the sieve and scissors or doing the Bible and key thing to tell fortunes. There were these different divination methods and the Venus Glass, stuff like that were all divination, but there was an action involved and you're interpreting the results. 
[00:10:25] The fortune telling that's getting messages from the other side is through mediums, which are a more recent invention. That came out of the spiritualist movement of the 19th century. They had those kinds of visions, but that wasn't them accusing the witches of doing that. That was the afflicted people saying, "I have spectral vision, and these specters of deceased people appeared to me." It was the bewitched people who were the mediums, if you think about it. 
[00:11:04] While ministers and the educated elite believed in witches as much as the average layperson, the clergy emphasized the diabolical pact they believed was the source of the witch's power.
[00:11:17] Sarah Jack: For clergymen, all magic came from the devil. Countermagic was a form of going to the devil for help against the devil.
[00:11:25] Josh Hutchinson: However, the clergy accepted, or at least turned a blind eye to, certain occult practices performed by the educated elite, including alchemy and astrology.
[00:11:37] Sarah Jack: Witchcraft became a capital crime in England in 1542, and an enhanced Witchcraft Act was passed in 1604, which made it a felony to compact with the devil or have familiarity with evil spirits.
[00:11:49] And now Minute with Mary. Mary Bingham has more details on the standards of evidence for witchcraft trials.
[00:11:55] Mary Bingham: The earliest laws and orders of the General Court of Connecticut, the Code of 1650, and the Book of General Laws and Liberties Concerning the Inhabitants of Massachusetts, both state the following. Anyone convicted of witchcraft will be put to death. In criminal cases, the court was to rely on the testimony of two eye witnesses against the person who was accused. However, this was not always done in the cases of witchcraft, particularly in the colony of Connecticut. That is, until the case against Katherine Harrison of Wethersfield in 1669. Katherine was accused, tried. She was held in jail as she awaited a new trial. Governor John Winthrop, Jr. had Katherine released from jail and placed her under house arrest. Angry residents petitioned the court, ordering her immediate return to prison. Instead, Governor Winthrop and the magistrates drafted a letter to Gershom Bulkeley and other area ministers for advisement. Gershom on behalf of the ministers advised that spectral evidence was enough to indict, but not enough to convict a person.
[00:13:24] Furthermore, because the ministers believed that the devil could disguise himself as an innocent person, afflict harm to others and their environment, the two person testimony was now to be strictly enforced going forward. Two people would need to testify to the same event, at the same time, in the same place.
[00:13:48] Had this rule been enforced in the witchcraft cases between 1647 through 1663, the following people may not have been hanged: Alice Young, Mary Johnson, John Carrington, Joan Carrington, Goodwife Bassett, Goodwife Knapp, Lydia Gilbert, Mary Stanford, Rebecca Greensmith, Nathaniel Greensmith, and Mary Barnes.
[00:14:19] Sarah Jack: Thank you, Mary.
[00:14:21] Josh Hutchinson: Many factors contributed to witchcraft accusations.
[00:14:25] Sarah Jack: Economics.
[00:14:27] Josh Hutchinson: Psychology.
[00:14:28] Sarah Jack: Fear of warfare.
[00:14:30] Josh Hutchinson: Religious beliefs.
[00:14:31] Sarah Jack: Gender roles.
[00:14:33] Josh Hutchinson: Authorities interested in suppressing deviant behavior.
[00:14:37] Sarah Jack: And most importantly the social history which is revealed in the records.
[00:14:41] Josh Hutchinson: A history of neighborly quarrels was at the heart of many cases.
[00:14:45] The English Civil War produced the witchfinders Matthew Hopkins and John Stearns. They stepped in to fill a power vacuum when the central authority lost power over individual towns and districts. The local authorities were all too happy to step in and govern themselves. And Matthew Hopkins, the self-appointed Witchfinder General, and his assistant John Stearns, went through the countryside in East Anglia, exploiting that power vacuum by going from town to town to hunt witches and get paid by the town per witch that they found.
[00:15:21] And Matthew Hopkins and John Stearns developed witch-finding techniques, which at the least pushed the limits of the law in England against torture by employing techniques such as watching and walking, which kept people awake for sometimes days on end, in order to pressure them and put on psychological torture as well as physical deprivation to get confessions.
[00:15:44] Hopkins and Stearns both wrote books about their witch-finding methods and cases, and those books made it over from England to New England, which we know because they were cited in one of the early cases where the officials said they were employing the Witch finding techniques coming out of England, referencing the Matthew Hopkins techniques. Specifically, the officials in New England were watching, which is keeping an observation on a person you're keeping awake. You've got people rotating in around the clock, keeping this person from falling asleep, in order to watch 24 hours a day to see if imps or familiars come to suckle the witch's teats. 
[00:16:29] So that's what they have. They have these peeping toms, these little pervos sitting there keeping a woman on a three-legged stool or something all day and night, just watching for imps and familiars to come and give suck. And in some cases the watchers claim to actually see this. Sometimes they reference things like bugs that came into the room or mice that came into the room.
[00:16:52] But they assume that those are familiars because they're in Witch finding mode and they find witches. And so some of these methods were actually used in New England, and therefore Hopkins' Witch Hunt was influential. And you look at the timing of when Hopkins was active in the mid 1640s and the timing of the first witchcraft case in New England, which was 1647, the trial of Alice Young. Timing wise, you could see the transmission of this information from England. All these books are being written about the various English Witch trials, and they're coming over to America and letters. People coming over are spreading the word, "oh, there's all these Witch trials going on in England," and so New England thinks it's happening there, it's probably happening here because we are God's chosen ones. 
[00:17:52] As we know from talking to Mary W. Craig about Scotland, the holier you are, the more the devil's going to attack you. And that's a theory at the time that was also prevalent in England and New England. That's why New Englanders thought they were in the battleground between God and Satan. That's where Satan's gonna be the most active, and he is gonna employ the most witches because they were establishing a new, pure Christian church. 
[00:18:23] And now we'd like to talk to you about the settling of Connecticut. Following the establishment of the Colony of Massachusetts Bay, multiple nations and colonies vied for control of what is now the state of Connecticut, though indigenous peoples already held that area.
[00:18:39] Sarah Jack: The Dutch were the first Europeans to claim land in Connecticut when they established a trading post known as the House of Good Hope in what is now Hartford in 1633.
[00:18:52] Josh Hutchinson: Over that same year, a group of English from the Plymouth Colony followed and established a trading post of their own in the area which is now Windsor.
[00:19:03] Sarah Jack: It's of value to remember that through this claiming and establishing there was conflict happening, attacks, they were attacking each other.
[00:19:16] Josh Hutchinson: In the early 1630s, some of the Native American leaders went to John Winthrop in Massachusetts to try to get him to come and help them fight the Pequot Nation. And John Winthrop wasn't interested at the time in doing that, but they went to Edward Winslow in Plymouth and he was interested, so he sent, this guy, a military leader, Matthew Holmes over to form the trading post.
[00:19:56] And I think that's of value to know that there's all this conflict going on and this is the background of, which trials are suddenly happening in the 1640s, but there's always this conflict and tension there and threats and actual combat.
[00:20:17] Sarah Jack: In 1635, settlers from Dorchester in the Massachusetts Bay migrated to the vicinity of the Plymouth trading post.
[00:20:26] Josh Hutchinson: Around the same time, a group of English migrants came to the same spot, armed with a document called the Warwick Patent, which does not exist today.
[00:20:36] Sarah Jack: The document was reportedly issued by the Earl Warwick in 1631 and entitled the patentees to a 120-mile band of land, stretching all the way from the western border of Rhode Island to the Pacific Ocean.
[00:20:50] Josh Hutchinson: Which is why Connecticut had land in Ohio territory given as a Western Reserve. It was based off the Warwick patent. After America had become an independent nation and Connecticut was a state and the nation's expanding to the west they're still like, but the Warwick patent, and so they actually gave them this chunk of Ohio.
[00:21:18] Today we only have John Winthrop, Jr.'s 1662 copy of the patent, which he used in negotiating a charter for Connecticut from King Charles II. 
[00:21:29] Sarah Jack: The community these groups established was initially called Dorchester but soon renamed Windsor.
[00:21:35] Josh Hutchinson: Nearly simultaneously to the development of Windsor, communities were established in Wethersfield, Saybrook, and Hartford.
[00:21:43] Sarah Jack: In 1636, the settlements of Hartford, Windsor and Wethersfield came together to form the colony of Connecticut. Saybrook retained its independence as a separate colony.
[00:21:54] Josh Hutchinson: In 1637, a devastating war was waged by the English colonists against the Pequot Nation.
[00:22:02] Sarah Jack: The following year, more English colonists arrived creating the New Haven Colony.
[00:22:07] Josh Hutchinson: In 1639, Connecticut Colony adopted the fundamental orders, which framed its government.
[00:22:14] Sarah Jack: In 1642, Connecticut banned witchcraft. This law was based upon the laws of England and Massachusetts Bay, as well as biblical injunctions in Exodus 22:18, Leviticus 20:27, and Deuteronomy 18:10-11.
[00:22:30] Josh Hutchinson: Exodus 22:18. "Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live."
[00:22:35] Sarah Jack: Leviticus 20:27: "A man also or woman, that hath a familiar spirit or that is a wizard, shall surely be put to death. They shall stone them with stones. Their blood shall be upon them."
[00:22:46] Josh Hutchinson: Deuteronomy 18:10-11. "There shall not be found among you anyone that maketh his son or daughter to pass through the fire or that useth divination or an observer of times, or an enchanter or a witch, or a charmer or a consulter with familiar spirits or a wizard or a necromancer.
[00:23:10] Sarah Jack: The Massachusetts Body of Liberties of 1641 stated, "if any man or woman be a witch (that is hath or consulteth with a familiar spirit), they shall be put to death."
[00:23:21] Josh Hutchinson: In 1644, Connecticut and Saybrook united.
[00:23:25] Sarah Jack: In 1646, John Winthrop, Jr. founded the Pequot Colony, which was later renamed New London, intending it to be a center of alchemical study.
[00:23:34] Josh Hutchinson: In 1650 Connecticut codified its laws.
[00:23:38] Sarah Jack: The code is written by Roger Ludlow, the colony's only lawyer, and possible author of the Fundamental Orders, who was later sued for defamation by Thomas Staples, a husband of Mary Staples. In the Staples suit, it came out that Ludlow had pressured Goody Knapp to confess. As a result of the defamation action, Ludlow was ordered to pay the Staples' 15 pounds for calling Mary a witch.
[00:24:01] Josh Hutchinson: In 1662, John Winthrop, Jr. received a charter from King Charles II, which unified the New Haven and Connecticut colonies, and set the boundaries of Connecticut to include everything from the Narragansett Bay in the East west to the Pacific Ocean. North-south, the colony ran from the border with Massachusetts down to the Atlantic coast and included most of Long Island.
[00:24:27] Sarah Jack: However, Connecticut lost some of its territory in 1664 when the Duke of York was granted a patent, including what is now the state of New York.
[00:24:36] Josh Hutchinson: A 1664 agreement between John Winthrop Jr. and Governor Roger Williams of Rhode Island gave the latter colony control of all lands west of the Narragansett Bay and east of the Pawcatuck River.
[00:24:52] Sarah Jack: Additionally, the boundary of Massachusetts had been surveyed incorrectly in 1642, and was set seven to eight miles south of its proper place.
[00:25:01] Josh Hutchinson: Now that we've covered the background, let's get to the story of the first victim, Alice Young.
[00:25:10] Nothing is firmly known about Alice Young's life before her hanging.
[00:25:14] Sarah Jack: The first evidence of any Youngs in Connecticut are records showing that John Young had purchased land in Windsor by 1640.
[00:25:22] Josh Hutchinson: We know John was Alice's husband, because Thomas Thornton wrote to John Winthrop Jr. About John Young's illness, and Winthrop wrote on the back of the letter that "his wife was hanged for a witch at conecticut."
[00:25:36] Sarah Jack: John Young was a carpenter who lived in the Backer Row section of Windsor next door to the Thorntons.
[00:25:42] Josh Hutchinson: John and Alice had one known child.
[00:25:45] Sarah Jack: A daughter also named Alice.
[00:25:48] Josh Hutchinson: Not much is known of the Young's lives in Windsor, but we can give you some background on what Alice's life may have been like as a Puritan wife and mother. 
[00:25:57] Sarah Jack: Married women of non-elite status were known by the title Goodwife.
[00:26:01] Josh Hutchinson: A woman was a man's helpmate.
[00:26:04] Sarah Jack: Her daily work involved caring for children, tending livestock, gardening, brewing, making clothes, cooking, cleaning, washing, and having babies.
[00:26:13] Josh Hutchinson: As deputy husbands, women sometimes also shared in their husbands' work duties.
[00:26:18] Sarah Jack: We know some things about Alice Young's neighbors on Backer Row.
[00:26:22] Josh Hutchinson: Thomas Thornton was a tanner.
[00:26:24] Sarah Jack: He married Anne Tinker in London in 1633.
[00:26:27] Josh Hutchinson: They lived among Anne's siblings, as several Tinker families settled in Windsor, most living on Backer Row.
[00:26:36] Sarah Jack: John Young purchased his land from William Hubbard, husband of Anne's sister Ellen Tinker.
[00:26:42] Josh Hutchinson: Thomas and Anne Thornton had six children at the time of Alice Young's trial.
[00:26:48] Sarah Jack: Priscilla, Thomas, Anne, Samuel, Mary, and Timothy.
[00:26:52] Josh Hutchinson: An epidemic, perhaps influenza, ravaged the Connecticut River Valley in 1647, beginning in the spring.
[00:27:00] Sarah Jack: Thomas Thornton lost four children to the epidemic, Priscilla, Thomas, Anne, and Samuel.
[00:27:05] Josh Hutchinson: Priscilla died bravely, and her story was later preserved for posterity by Cotton Mather.
[00:27:11] Sarah Jack: Historians theorize that Alice Young was blamed for starting the epidemic through witchcraft.
[00:27:16] Josh Hutchinson: There are no records of Alice Young's trial, but a typical New England witch trial involved the following phases:
[00:27:25] 1.) misfortune.
[00:27:26] Sarah Jack: Number two, identification of the culprit.
[00:27:30] Josh Hutchinson: A complaint filed with the magistrates.
[00:27:33] Sarah Jack: A warrant for apprehension.
[00:27:36] Josh Hutchinson: The arrest of the suspect.
[00:27:38] Sarah Jack: And the examination with questions from the magistrate, intense physical examination by a jury of women, and possibly swim test to see if the suspect sank or floated. Sinking was a sign of innocence, while floating suggested guilt.
[00:27:58] Josh Hutchinson: Following the examination, the suspect was usually jailed, unless the magistrates thought there wasn't evidence to proceed with an investigation.
[00:28:11] Sarah Jack: Testimonies were gathered.
[00:28:14] Josh Hutchinson: An indictment was written.
[00:28:16] Sarah Jack: The grand jury reviewed the indictment. If they returned the verdict ignoramus, there is insufficient evidence, and the suspect is released. If they return the indictment billa vera, true bill, they find there is enough evidence for trial.
[00:28:31] Josh Hutchinson: Then the petty jury heard the evidence.
[00:28:35] Sarah Jack: They hear the evidence and deliver the verdict. If acquitted, the suspect is released only after paying jail fees. And we know of instances where some people perished, unable to pay those jail fees.
[00:28:47] Josh Hutchinson: Due to the terribly unsanitary conditions in the jails.
[00:28:53] Sarah Jack: If convicted. The sentence is announced.
[00:28:56] Josh Hutchinson: Following a guilty verdict, the justices either issue a death warrant or appeal to a higher court for a ruling on the case. 
[00:29:05] Sarah Jack: If there was no appeal or the appeal is rejected, the suspect is led from the jail to the place designated for hanging. In Connecticut's case, we do not know the site of the Hartford witchcraft executions.
[00:29:16] Josh Hutchinson: The bound prisoner is then carried up a ladder by the executioner, who places the rope about the neck and pushes the convict off the ladder.
[00:29:26] Sarah Jack: The prisoner, hung from either a tree or a gallows, chokes out slowly. This could take 10 minutes or more, but usually the convict passed out and didn't have to experience the agony of a slow, ignoble death.
[00:29:38] Josh Hutchinson: The whereabouts of the bodies of those hanged for witchcraft are unknown.
[00:29:44] Sarah Jack: Why is that?
[00:29:46] Josh Hutchinson: The bodies of witches as rebels against God could not be placed among the Elect, the saints in a church cemetery. No respect whatsoever was afforded a witch.
[00:30:08] Sarah Jack: And some of them were excommunicated from the church before their execution.
[00:30:14] Josh Hutchinson: The first execution took place somewhere in Hartford. We don't know where.
[00:30:20] Sarah Jack: The old meetinghouse was located where the Old State House stands today. The hangings may have taken place on Meetinghouse Green or at another location in Hartford.
[00:30:32] We do not know where Alice's body was laid to rest.
[00:30:35] Josh Hutchinson: Tradition tells us some of the Salem victims were secretly retrieved and buried by family. However, we do not have even this much to go on regarding Connecticut's witch trial victims.
[00:30:47] Sarah Jack: After the hanging, the residents of Backer Row dispersed to other communities in Connecticut and Massachusetts.
[00:30:54] Josh Hutchinson: John Young survived the epidemic and relocated to Stratford, where he acquired land in 1652.
[00:31:02] Sarah Jack: He suffered from an illness, which impacted his skin and also caused John to lose hair and nails.
[00:31:07] Josh Hutchinson: John Young died in April 1661, and nobody ever claimed his property.
[00:31:13] Sarah Jack: The first record of Alice Young Jr. after her mother's hanging was for her marriage to Simon Beamon in Windsor in 1654.
[00:31:21] Josh Hutchinson: Interestingly, Simon Beamon had testified against two people accused of witchcraft in Springfield, Mary Lewis Parsons and her husband, Hugh Parsons.
[00:31:33] Sarah Jack: Alice Young Beamon and Simon Beamon resided in Springfield, Massachusetts. They raised a sizable family there.
[00:31:41] Josh Hutchinson: In 1677, Thomas Beamon, son of Alice Young Beamon and Simon Beamon sued a man for defaming him and his mother.
[00:31:50] Sarah Jack: The man allegedly said, "his mother was a witch and he looked like one."
[00:31:55] Josh Hutchinson: There's a lot of speculation about who Alice Young may have been and where she may have been born, and where she may have married John, whether she was a healer. None of this has been confirmed.
[00:32:09] Alice, like the rest of Connecticut's witch trial victims, has not been exonerated and still remains guilty as charged on the books.
[00:32:22] Now, here's Sarah with End Witch Hunts News. 
[00:32:26] Sarah Jack: End Witch Hunt News. 
[00:32:29] Thou Shalt Not Suffer podcast is a project of End Witch Hunts movement. End Witch Hunts is a non-profit organization working to educate you about witch trial history and working to motivate you to advocate for modern alleged witches. You'll not find our message sensational or amusing, confusing, or muddied.
[00:32:45] Today, I want you to think about the phrase "additional efforts." Remember when the Connecticut witch trial history was minimized and overlooked, not widely known as a significant part of witch hunt history. Bringing Connecticut to the forefront of which trial conversation took additional efforts, efforts by dozens of individuals over several decades. But in the most recent years, the culmination of those efforts created a new wave of results, and now Connecticut witch trial victims are known. 
[00:33:10] Now, we must all work with additional efforts to include the modern witch hunt horror, and witchcraft misconceptions in the everyday witchcraft conversations. Only additional efforts will integrate the modern witch hunt crisis and witch phobia into social justice action. The communities clutched by this behavior need to be acknowledged and supported. 
[00:33:28] The United Nations Council for Human Rights is sending the message that we must all begin to address what is happening by making additional efforts. This last month, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights reported the severity of human rights violations and abuses rooted in harmful practices related to accusations of witchcraft and ritual attacks cause adverse human rights impacts on persons in vulnerable situations and the factors that affect their vulnerability. They have concluded that additional efforts, including more comprehensive data gathering and further research are needed to develop a greater understanding of the various aspects of this complex problem. It recommends a number of actions, such as developing comprehensive frameworks for prevention.
[00:34:11] The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights recommends that states undertake action. South Africa, a nation that has been working toward the elimination of witchcraft attacks with overall success is still working to completely eliminate attacks and stop pagan discrimination. Damon Leff, friend of the podcast from episode 14, has dedicated his professional and personal efforts to legal reform action to stop all witchcraft discrimination. He has recently published a response to the Pan-African Parliament's own Guidelines on Accusations of Witchcraft and Ritual Attacks Towards Eliminating Harmful Practices and Other Human Rights Violations.
[00:34:47] He writes:
[00:34:48] "In July 2021, the United Nations Human Rights Council draft Resolution 47, titled "Elimination of Harmful Practices Related to Accusations of Witchcraft and Ritual Attacks," called a Member States to condemn harmful practices related to accusations of witchcraft and ritual attacks that result in human rights violations to ensure effective protection of all persons in vulnerable situations likely to be subjected to accusations of witchcraft and ritual attacks, and to promote bilateral, regional, and international initiatives in collaboration with relevant regional and international organizations, aimed at achieving an end to witchcraft accusations and consequent human rights abuses." 
[00:35:25] He clarifies that: "The victims of witch-hunts are usually not Pagans, Witches, or practicing any spiritual practice typically considered Pagan."
[00:35:33] " Significantly, Resolution 47 emphasized that states "should carefully distinguish between harmful practices amounting to human rights violations related to accusations of witchcraft and ritual attacks and the lawful and legitimate exercise of different kinds of religion or beliefs, in order to preserve the right to freely manifest a religion or a belief, individually or in a community with others, including for persons belonging to religious minorities.'"
[00:35:58] " In March 2023, the Pan-African Parliament released its own Guidelines on Accusations of Witchcraft and Ritual Attacks: Towards Eliminating Harmful Practices and Other Human Rights Violations. The 2023 document defines witchcraft in context, identifies two broad classifications of harmful practices related to the manifestation of belief in witchcraft; witchcraft accusations and ritual attacks, and other recommendations on both legal and non-legal measures the Member States could adopt to combat ongoing human rights violations. The Pan-African Parliament also draws appropriate attention to the need to balance competing rights in order to avoid criminalizing freedom of thought, conscience, religion, and culture."
[00:36:35] The guidelines highlight concerns for legal enforcement against human rights abuses and non-lingual and community-based intervention. 
[00:36:43] " The Pan-African Parliament guidelines appear comprehensive in attempting to deal with the accusations of witchcraft and related harmful cultural practices on the African continent. The Pan-African Parliament concludes its report by encouraging the international community to continue to advocate for the victims and to advance the discourse on witchcraft, both generally and in relation to harmful religious and cultural practices." 
[00:37:04] Thank you, Damon Leff, for your initiatives, and we will continue to amplify your efforts and message. By listening to what I'm sharing here about South Africa, you are enlightening your mind on modern witchcraft nuances and currents in your world. Modern witch-hunt advocates are very pleased with drafts of both the UN HRC resolution and the African Union guidelines. It will be up to all nations and states to implement the guidelines. Every state is in its own stage of confronting their witch-hunt complexities and need our support.
[00:37:32] How can you be a part of these important additional efforts? Write our world leaders. Write your community leaders. Please see show notes for writing to the South African Minister of Justice and the South African Law Reform Commission to encourage robust action on their intentional guidelines.
[00:37:47] The Connecticut Witch Trial Exoneration Project, an organized collaboration of diverse collaborators, has been working for an official state exoneration of the 17th century accused and hanged witches of the Connecticut Colony. We support the Joint Committee on judiciary bills HJ Number 34, "Resolution Concerning Certain Witchcraft Convictions in Colonial Connecticut." We still need your additional efforts. Will you take time today to write a house representative and a senator asking them to recognize the relevance of exonerating Connecticut witch trial victims? You can do this whether you are a Connecticut resident or anywhere else in the world. You can do this as any political party member. This is a bipartisan effort. You should do it from right where you are. You can find the information you need to contact a legislator with a letter in the show links.
[00:38:29] Today, we got the update that the house has calendared the bill. We need the Senate to follow suit, and we need both floors to vote yes to bill HJ Number 34. Your message to them gets this done. You can follow our progress by joining our Discord community or Facebook groups. Links to all these informative opportunities are listed in the episode description.
[00:38:48] I would like information from on the ground in India. Advocates with information and education about which accusations in India, I want to hear from you. Please reach out through our websites or social media and tell me the nuances of what's happening and what can be done. 
[00:39:02] Please support End Witch Hunts with your donations or purchases of educational witch trial books and merchandise. You can shop our mech at or and shop our books at We want you as a super listener. You can support Thou Shalt Not Suffer podcast production by super listening with your monthly monetary support. See episode description for links to these support opportunities.
[00:39:31] We thank you for standing with us and helping us to create a world that is safe from witchcraft accusations.
[00:39:36] Josh Hutchinson: Thank you, Sarah. 
[00:39:39] Sarah Jack: You're welcome. 
[00:39:39] What did we learn today, Josh?
[00:39:43] Josh Hutchinson: We learned about witchcraft belief in early New England, the founding of Connecticut, the founding of the town of Windsor, and of course about Alice Young.
[00:39:54] Sarah Jack: I noticed there was a lot of conflict.
[00:39:57] Josh Hutchinson: Yes. Tons of it. And one observation I've made is that it only takes a few minutes to tell the whole story of Alice Young's life.
[00:40:09] Sarah Jack: But we're gonna spend more than a few minutes looking for more information on these victims.
[00:40:15] Josh Hutchinson: And thank you for listening to Thou Shalt Not Suffer: The Witch Trial Podcast.
[00:40:20] Sarah Jack: Join us next week.
[00:40:22] Josh Hutchinson: Subscribe wherever you get your podcasts.
[00:40:25] Sarah Jack: Visit
[00:40:27] Josh Hutchinson: Remember to tell your friends about the show.
[00:40:30] Sarah Jack: Please support our efforts to end witch hunts. Visit to learn more.
[00:40:35] Josh Hutchinson: Have a great today and a beautiful tomorrow. 

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