Irish Witch Trials with Andrew Sneddon – Thou Shalt Not Suffer: The Witch Trial Podcast
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This episode on Irish witch trial history takes a close look at the 1711 mass witch trial in Islandmagee through an illuminating conversation with Dr. Andrew Sneddon of Ulster University. We discuss what took place and learn about why there may have been fewer witch trials in Ireland than in other countries during the early modern period. We cover critical aspects of the witchcraft accusations, like Demonic obsession and possession, and address the similarities between Islandmagee and witchcraft accusations in Salem, and other New England witch trials. Dr Sneddon and his colleagues have launched a historic multimedia Islandmagee witch trial history commemoration project that opens September 9 in Northern Ireland. Find out what you can experience in person and what is available to experience online.
[00:00:20] Josh Hutchinson: Hi, and welcome to Thou Shalt Not Suffer: The Witch Trial Podcast. I'm Josh Hutchinson. [00:00:26] Sarah Jack: I'm Sarah Jack. [00:00:28] Josh Hutchinson: In this episode, we speak with Dr. Andrew Sneddon about witch hunts in Ireland. [00:00:34] Sarah Jack: This episode is full of Irish witch trial information. [00:00:40] Josh Hutchinson: We'll learn about the Islandmagee Witch Trials, Ireland's largest witch-hunt. [00:00:48] Sarah Jack: There were eight women imprisoned and one man, a father and husband, likely executed. [00:00:57] Josh Hutchinson: The victims were Janet Carson, Janet Latimer, Janet Main, Janet Miller, Margaret Mitchell, Catherine McCalmond, Janet Liston, and Elizabeth Sellor. And the man who likely was executed was William Sellor. [00:01:17] Sarah Jack: Dr. Sneddon and his colleagues have rolled out an exceptional exhibit with the Carrickfergus Museum that is hosting it September 9th through November 16th. [00:01:33] Josh Hutchinson: This exhibit's got it all. It's got images, video, virtual reality, a video game, a graphic novel, an animation, and a play? It's got it all. [00:01:52] Sarah Jack: A historic play from 1948, couple years before The Crucible. [00:02:00] Josh Hutchinson: Before the Crucible, there was this play. [00:02:03] Sarah Jack: Witches in Eden, [00:02:05] Josh Hutchinson: Witches in Eden. Check it out. [00:02:09] Sarah Jack: The Ulster University Research Project was led by Dr. Helen Jackson, Dr. Victoria McCollum, and Dr. Andrew Sneddon. There's also a range of objects from the Carrickfergus Museum's own collection, plus loaned items from the National Museums Northern Ireland and the National Library of Ireland and Belfast Central Library. [00:02:30] Josh Hutchinson: Sounds exciting. Count me in. [00:02:32] Sarah Jack: It's amazing what is available on the website to be able to look at and learn and enjoy. But, getting to go in person. It's a historic presentation of witch trial history, so what an incredible opportunity. If you can go, you need to go. [00:02:52] Josh Hutchinson: You do. And for those of you who can't, w 1 7 1 1 .org, w1711.org, is the place to go to check that out. They've got videos you can watch and images to look at and history to read up on, including all of the transcripts of the trial records from the Islandmagee Witch-Hunt. [00:03:19] Sarah Jack: So spread the word. Let your people know that this is going on. Get them online looking. If they're in the area, send them over to go experience what's available. [00:03:31] Josh Hutchinson: Be there. One thing you'll notice at the exhibit and in this episode is how similar the Islandmagee witch trials were to many of the other witch trials that we've heard about, including those at places like Salem. And there's this element of a possible diabolical possession, and we talk about how there's a fine, flexible line basically between possession and bewitchment, basically comes down to who the victim blames. Does the victim say that the devil is affecting them directly, or do they blame it on a witch? [00:04:24] Sarah Jack: And there's some great comparisons in the dialogue today, right out of the Salem history. [00:04:32] Josh Hutchinson: Out of Salem, out of Connecticut, out of so many places, there are these cases with afflicted persons behaving very similar to how people behave when they're possessed by the devil, according to the set down traditions that we have from this time period. [00:04:58] Sarah Jack: We are so happy to have Dr. Andrew Sneddon here today. He's the leading expert on the history of the Islandmagee Witch Trial of 1711 and has published widely on Irish witchcraft and magic. He has spent the last decade taking the untold story of the Islandmagee Witches and Irish witchcraft to a new, diverse, international audience. He has worked with numerous libraries, archives, museums, community, educational, and women's groups. He's the president of Ireland's oldest professional historical Society, Ulster Society for Irish Historical Studies. [00:05:34] Josh Hutchinson: What sets the Irish Witch trials apart from others? [00:05:38] Andrew Sneddon: I think the lack of them, probably, you start with a negative, Irish witchcraft. There was only a handful of trials now in the early modern period. Now there's a lot more trials after, ironically, the witch legislation is repealed. And they're involving witch accusation at some level, but they're not witch trials per se. But during the early modern witch hunts there, there's very few of them. [00:06:07] Sarah Jack: The Witchcraft Act was enacted in 1586, but not repealed until 1821. [00:06:14] Andrew Sneddon: Absolutely. So it's actually a copy of the Elizabethan Act of 1563, which I know that you've covered before, in other programs. This is part of the Elizabethan colonial rollout of legislation to, Uh, Ireland and did the roll out the Witchcraft Act as well. You're right, it's there right until the early 19th century. And it's almost, by that point, it rolls out of the imagination of the elites and it is just an administrative cleanup, I think Ian Bostridge said it was at one point, but that doesn't mean that popular witchcraft belief isn't everywhere, or that all elites don't believe in witchcraft anymore. But definitely of that legislative level after the Irish Parliament is away it's repealed. [00:07:05] Josh Hutchinson: Can you quantify how many witch trials there were in Ireland? [00:07:11] Andrew Sneddon: There was many accusations and formal accusations, but there were usually coming from Presbyterians and Presbyterians coming from Scotland with their own witchcraft place where, as you know, it was really bad. So they're coming after 1660, so most of them are not going to trial. So there's loads of accusations that we know of, and some of them get to court, but don't go anywhere. So there's actually only two trials, two main trials. There's some trials before the 1586 Act and obviously ones after it, but there's only two main, one of Florence Newton in Youghal in Cork in 1661 and Islandmagee Witches in County Antrim in what is now Northern Ireland in Ulster in 1711, and this is nine people. We don't really know what happened to Florence Newton, if she was executed or not. Some people think there are, but the, I've transcribed the, all the documents. It doesn't tell you what happened to her. And we know that the eight Islandmagee witches were not executed and, the, they missed out that, just, a legal nicety and on the day of the trial, and they were imprisoned under the 1586 Irish Witchcraft Act for four times in the pillory on Market Day, as well. And the one male witch we think might have been executed [00:08:28] Sarah Jack: How do you think he would've been executed? [00:08:32] Andrew Sneddon: Well, do you remember what we were talking about, the rolling out of the Irish witchcraft legislation was just a rolling out of the English witchcraft legislation? Again, by 1600 the older Gaelic systems of law, the Brehon law and systems of legal prosecution are being replaced at a county level in the 32 counties, at least with the English system. So what you know about the English witch trials and how they were actually like governed, just put that in Ireland. So you've got justice of the peace, you've got magistrates, you've got the grand jury of 23 men. You've got the assize court. So all the things that are keeping witchcraft prosecution low in England, which it was quite hard to get somebody prosecuted for witchcraft in England, are operating in Ireland. So same legal administration, same courts, same law. And it's coming from Scottish Presbyterians. That's where the accusations are coming from. So it's very weird. It's a Catholic country with Presbyterians making the accusations, mainly that we know, and an English court system [00:09:45] Josh Hutchinson: So it's a jumble of three different sets of beliefs and rules and traditions. Four. [00:09:54] Andrew Sneddon: Four 'cause what we haven't talked about is a mass of the population. So you start getting Protestants coming in after the Reformation. Even before that Ireland has a colonial past from the 12th century, but they're in increasingly coming in after the 16th century and the plantation, and the people who are bringing them with them strong belief in witchcraft are usually coming from England. So if you go back to Youghal, that is a puritan settler English place. It's in Cork. And so you will see familiars, and you'll see swimming. You'll see tropes that are in English witchcraft there. And then if you go up north, if you go to Islandmagee, you will see more Presbyterian and tropes. But the fourth one is the mass of the population. The kind of, at this period, 80% of the population, they still Irish speaking, Irish Catholics, population and they are not making formal accusations. Now, in the past we would argue that it was because they didn't want to go to Protestant courts, but we found out that they did for other things, so they might have for witchcraft, it's still a permanent argument perhaps, but we've looked at, Ronald Hutton and myself, and we've looked at belief more, and we would suggest that they just, it's not that they didn't believe in witches. They just believed in a witch that was less threatening, that attacked agricultural produce, stole milk and butter. Now, you get this in Poland and places where they do execute witches, but the threat level is higher there, because they have a higher demonic input to them. There is no demonic input to these beliefs. These witches are women. They shapeshift into hares to steal milk, and you get that more in the folklore, or they use a sympathetic magic to transfer the goodness from their own crops to elsewhere. Now you will see this in Isle of Man, you'll see it in Wales, and you'll, as I said, you'll see in other countries. But when it starts to become a wee bit demonic or it becomes more of a problem, then that's when you start getting, I think, the prosecutions of witches. And you don't get that in Ireland, in this period, anyway. So the mass of the population have a low threat level of witchcraft. They have a witch figure, or it's nothing. [00:12:16] Josh Hutchinson: So the people accused of witchcraft, generally, they weren't killing children and causing people to be sick, that kind of thing? [00:12:26] Andrew Sneddon: Yeah, I, and they weren't actually formally accusing them. They might have been doing it, probably don't know, because we just don't have their records. They're, they were an Irish speaking population, and we don't have, we don't know quite frankly. We know very little, we know about the beliefs usually transmitted through English, unfortunately, rather than, there is very little in Irish and it's mainly legal and political, and that has survived in manuscript form and nothing about witchcraft. It's usually transmitted through, as some people would say, the colonial gaze through English. But let's go back to Islandmagee and let's get back to Youghal. What they're shared is, they're very similar, in fact, to Salem, the start of Salem. They're very similar to what you're getting in Lowland Scotland in the 1590s and the early 1700s. They are witchcraft trials involving demonic possession, where the main is demonic possession. Now, I know that there's controversy over whether there was demonic possession in Salem at the beginning, but definitely like the tropes are all there, the similarities, the fits, and the young people and blaming other people for that, blaming witches rather than blaming the devil himself, which would, indicate some sort of, sinfulness in their own parts. So they blame witches for their symptoms, so you get spectral evidence, although unlike Salem, it's not kicked out, it's the main one in Islandmagee, and it's the main one that's used in Youghal, as well, although witness testimony, as well. And they actually in Islandmagee bring forth the vomited objects. That's why, we'll talk about it later, but that's why we've represented them in the VR. There's a material culture there. Yeah. [00:14:27] Josh Hutchinson: But the demonic was unusual for Ireland, even the type of possession that was occurring was that unusual? [00:14:36] Andrew Sneddon: It wasn't unusual given who it's happening to, so you're getting demonic possessions in the late 16th century and early 17th century in England. And then lo and behold, you'll see it in Cork in 1661 among the same people, the settler populations. And then you're seeing it increasingly in the north of Ireland in Ulster from the people who are coming from Scotland. I know that Brian Levack in a great book on witch-hunting in Scotland argued it was the Calvinist Network, the British Calvinist Network. [00:15:09] Josh Hutchinson: Sarah and I were talking about demonic possession yesterday, and there was really like a fine line between what's demonic possession and what's bewitchment. So yeah, so sometimes hard to say. [00:15:27] Andrew Sneddon: It is hard to say in some circumstances, but you can see when they're talking about the devil made me roll about or the devil will not get me, and when they're in their fits or their convulsions, as well, when, you know, the witches are visiting them, is it that's what's causing the convulsion or is it the devil or? It's much more clear cut when you go to certain places in Europe, when you're getting whole convents are demonically possessed. But it is direct demonic possession, rather demonic possession via witchcraft. It starts to get a bit gray when you, when it's involving witchcraft, but I think in some clear cases that is clearly not your normal witch trial. [00:16:09] Josh Hutchinson: It's easy for things to get out of hand. You mentioned Salem and Islandmagee starts with this possession or affliction, and then you bring in the spectral evidence. It's really easy for things to start getting outta hand. [00:16:25] Andrew Sneddon: What I argue in my book, Possessed by the Devil, it was 2013, it was a long time ago I wrote. I'm writing a second edition as we speak, but what I suggested was what was key here. And especially when you're looking at 1711, within the grand scheme of things, it's a period of decline, perhaps not in belief, that's a tricky one, but definitely judicial skepticism and a drop in trials, different times, different places, different reasons, different rates of decline. We know that. But there definitely is trailing off. And what you need, a committed central actor. And again, Levack would argue they're following a cultural script here that's easy to learn. You need a central actor who's keeping it going all the way through that you can focus your attention on. Now she is Mary Dunbar, she's 18. She's educated, she is visiting a family where there has been demonic obsession and the matriarch has died in suspicious circumstances. Now, she is as I said, educated, biblically sound. The male authors of the sources tell you that, at pains, that she's good looking and she's trustworthy and all this stuff, and they're always demoniacs, demonically-possessed people are always showing themselves to be paragons of virtue, and I think she does that. Contrast against the eight women that she accuses, first of all, who are tried at 31st of March, 1711. They are visually different. They're disabled. Two of them have lost an eye, one has fell on a fire and is burnt down one side, she has a crooked hand, one has, in the parlance of the time, a club foot. They're a small pox scarred. And the idea that everybody was small pox scarred, , I don't think is true when you read diaries at how people are affected by their visual change. So they'll look different, but they're also act different. They challenge patriarchal norms, they drink strong alcohol, wine, they smoke, they resist arrest. They don't follow the prosecution process. They try to evade it at every turn. And even when they have no idea what's going on at the trial, they still plead guilty and deny their innocence, right to, so there, there is resistance and there's agency, but these are marginal women. They're poor. They have dubious reputations. Some of them could have been practicing at some level popular magic. The contrast is really palpable between believable witches, marginalized people, and the believable accused. So they're believable witches and she's a believable witness. And it's a heady combination. Then Mary Dunbar dies three weeks after the first trial. We don't know why. And it took me going through every newspaper in 1711 in Ireland, and I found it. And basically, yeah she died and, but she'd already been accusing a final witch, William Sellor. Janet Liston was his wife, and his daughter was Elizabeth Sellor. Basically, it went from a misdemeanor to a felony, because she had died in the time that she had accused him. And he went to trial in 1711. Like we do a lot of the time in Scottish trials, we are assuming that he was executed. [00:19:58] Josh Hutchinson: So the eight women, they're tried first, and then Mary Dunbar dies, and then William Sellor is tried with the enhanced charges? [00:20:08] Andrew Sneddon: Yes. And that's it. There is no more under the 1586 Irish Witchcraft Act. There's one, an interesting one, in 1807 where the person could have been prosecuted for witchcraft. Mary Butters, she's a cunning person. She's a magical practitioner or a service magician, if you want to use that parlance, and she tries to cure a bewitched cow, just like we were talking about there, and ends up killing everybody in the house. Her magic goes wrong and she kills them by carbon monoxide poisoning by burning sulfur in a house to where everything has been sealed up. She could be done under the 1586 Irish Witchcraft Act, but isn't. And it just shows you there's no, at a judicial level, anyway, by that time to try people for witchcraft under the witchcraft act, so it's a dead letter in that sense. Doesn't mean belief has went anywhere. [00:21:06] Sarah Jack: Yeah. Can you tell us a little bit about what that means, that she was a cunning woman? [00:21:12] Andrew Sneddon: If you look at the main historians, but the parlance, maybe it's changing. Some people don't like cunning folk because it's, it is anglophone. But and I want to widen the, the parameters of it, but there are among many magical practitioners, and I'll no go through them all, there's so many different ones and the borders between them are very different. But a fortune teller, for example. But a cunning person, I would say, is a multifarious magical practitioner. That is somebody who's commercial who usually charges money or goods in kind and usually perform more than one magical service. Now, this can be thief detection. This can be a counter magic, which is bread and butter a lot of the time. And that means detecting, thwarting, or bringing witches to the authorities. But they also can do some magical healing using herbs or spells or whatever that is not caused by supernatural means, that are natural means. And there's some divination in there, as well, as I said, lost or stolen goods, but also thief detection and that sort of thing. So they're remarkably consistent, cunning folk, that particular type, I think, from the early modern period, right through in the modern period. And you get 'em all over Europe, and you get them in America as well, right up to the late 19th century, possibly beyond. [00:22:35] Josh Hutchinson: When people were accused of witchcraft in these few cases in Ireland, how were they tested? [00:22:45] Andrew Sneddon: Yeah, this is the thing, spectral evidence, by this time, they haven't used it after, I think, is it 1655 in England? And obviously, it's overturned in Salem and this is 1711 we're talking about. So they know there is ultimately question, so they, they do blind tests, almost pseudoscientific the, because a demonic possessed person will get worse when the person approaches them or touches them. And they actually did that in some trials. I think they did that in the Bury St. Edmonds, one in 1645 in England. And they get the person to touch them. That could be said, oh, they're just seeing the person that they want to get executed and acting up. So they get them and bring them in silently and get them to come in behind them so they can't see it. They also get a lineup. They bring 30 people, from everywhere, 30 women from everywhere and line them up. And she has to pick out the witch. She says she's never met them before. She only has met them when they attack her spectrally. [00:23:48] Josh Hutchinson: A lot of that sounds so familiar with Salem and other witch trials that we've talked about on the show before. In Salem, they did the touch test, the exact same thing. I wish they would've done a lineup, because that could have eliminated some of them who, the witnesses who were accusing didn't, like you said, they'd never met a lot of these people that they were naming beforehand, and so they would name somebody in some far off town and have no idea who they were when they saw them, except that they were the only one that was brought in. So by process of elimination, they're like, oh, that's Goody Sandwich or whoever it was. [00:24:39] Andrew Sneddon: The problem there is that Mary Dunbar says she had never met them before, but she's able to pick them out every single time. Every single time. [00:24:47] Josh Hutchinson: So she knew them somehow? [00:24:49] Andrew Sneddon: Yeah. I argue in the book that she's got an accomplice. [00:24:51] Josh Hutchinson: Yeah. We know in some of the testimony in Salem, there's accounts given by like defense witnesses that say we heard that afflicted accuser ask somebody, "who is that lady who's up there, who's the prisoner at the bar?" And they would get information from the crowd. But yeah, she must have known somehow. You don't get a hundred percent right. [00:25:19] Andrew Sneddon: No, and you, the public spectacles. The house was absolutely full, and you could argue if it's demon possession case. It's a chance to see the devil in action. You are basically touching the other world through this person. And yeah, there's no tv, This is something that's happening in a community in a peninsula that is eight miles long with 300 people in it. You can see why everybody's interested in it. And you're right, there could be all sorts of things that, that are happening that are culturally transmitting this to her. The idea that is a cultural script, that she's actually following a script, but she's also reacting like every good actor to the audience. This is why I think their symptoms change in demonic possession cases. Now not all of symptoms are simulated. They can start off simulated and then become unsimulated. They can be suffering from some illness. Now, I couldn't, I went through all the types and I couldn't see, and they usually would bring this up at some point. And they did before in other occasions in Ireland, but they didn't, here. I think it was simulated to some extent in Mary Dunbar's case. [00:26:40] Josh Hutchinson: Yeah, I have some theories about that too, about how in Salem, at least, the afflicted persons, there might've been some illness, there might've been just a genuine fear that they were bewitched and like you alluded to, with the touch test, they get near the person that they think is afflicting them, they're gonna act out somehow just because the fear is gonna overwhelm them. [00:27:08] Andrew Sneddon: They know what's expected culturally, there's a cultural script. They know how to react in a demonic possession case. They know where it is and that's when, we've always tried to, I've tried to do is that the idea of these people live in a magical moral universe where spiritual essences are constantly interfering in your world, everybody believes that some sense, not everybody, but a lot of people, the accused and accusers would believe in witches and witchcraft and the possibility of demonic possession. But then again, you've got quite a lot to gain. We've talked about the forces, the patriarchal forces, that brought the eight women to the fore, those patriarchal forces were also constraining Mary Dunbar. She's in a tight, clerical family. She's not considered in Ireland an adult. Doesn't matter if she's 40 until she's married. Even then, I understand the agency, I understand resistance, and understand the ways that you can overturn patriarchy and the forces that cut through patriarchy, but it still limits your options. And so you could see it in that sense as well. It's a reaction against are very strict, gendered, patriarchal upbringing. You are able to swear in the minister, punch 'em, spit on them, rip up bibles, cavort, and roll about in beds with young men without any damage to your reputation. You can move from the margins of adult attention to the center stage of a drama of your own creation. Now, this is James Sharpe who put words to this and Philip Almond, when he was studying mainly English demonic possessions. But I think it's, I think it's a good explanation. I don't think it's total explanation in all demonic possessions, but I think it works here. [00:29:00] Josh Hutchinson: It works in so many cases that we've heard about of this kind of thing it's these young women who have the pressures to get married and be good Christians and good mothers and wives, and they're acting out against the system that's squeezed them into that role. [00:29:24] Andrew Sneddon: Absolutely. And so that's why, accuser and accused, and putting pejorative spins on both, I think is a mistake. I think you have to understand the situation they're in. A community itself is under pressure because the Presbyterians are being basically turned against, they, they help to defeat the the Catholic uprising and they help bring William of orange to power and then they're abandoned by the Church of Ireland. They're trying to shut down their schools. They're trying to enforce old laws. After 1704, they force 'em out of local government. So they feel that they're their whole raison d'etre is under threat. Their whole religion and religious freedom are under threat. And that's the Presbyterians in 1711. Now, you get economic downturn and then you get famine, and then they all go, like whole communities from where I'm sitting, just go to America. Just, we're talking a minister and 300 families, they just go to America. There's pressures there and communities under crisis. All these things make whatever problems you've got worse. We've all lived through covid. If you were having anything, any problems in Covid, the wider situation made them worse, and I definitely think you've gotta look at that when you're looking at Islandmagee, as well. [00:30:51] Josh Hutchinson: We've heard about this almost formula of this confluence of all these tensions that has to occur to put the pressure on the community so that they start seeing witches, things like the warfare and the crop failure and religious conflict. [00:31:13] Andrew Sneddon: Absolutely. Yeah. It's a whole load of things. Not all the time, but it's a whole load of things going wrong at the same time when you get a mass trial. And this is a mass trial, nine people. So it is. [00:31:26] Josh Hutchinson: Out of a community of 300, that's a lot of people. We've talked about the demonic possession. In Islandmagee, there's also a talk about a demonic boy. What can you tell us about that character? [00:31:42] Andrew Sneddon: He is part of the demonic obsession. It's like it's a precursor, it's where the demon, and you'll see it quite a lot of the time in Presbyterian Ulster, where they get the elders from the Presbyterian church and they get a minister to come and investigate instances of this, where a demon is basically wrecking the house. Fast forward 150 years and it's a poltergeist, but at this point it's demonic obsession, and the demonic boy seems to be at the core of this. And he a appears to old Mrs. Haltridge. Now old Mrs. Haltridge owns the house. She's the widow of a Presbyterian minister and that's where Mary Dunbar visits, 'cause she is the niece of Anne Haltridge. After that, she's died in mysterious circumstances and that's when it all kicks off. The demonic boy visits old Mrs. Haltridge and threatens her and grabs a Turkey cock and tries to kill it with a sword and smashes windows. But do you remember I was talking an accomplice? One of the persons who see this is the servant, Margaret Spear, and she is around a lot when this happens before me comes and then she's around that when a lot it happens, 'cause this behavior continues. They only, I think, Mary Dunbar only sees the demonic boy, once or twice. Now the demonic boy is obviously, a demon and it's recognized sometimes it's called a spirit. And this is the popular imagination. Sometimes specters and demons, there's a porous boundary between them, they're always coming up against it. You've mentioned it already, the unstable meanings all the time when you're dealing with witchcraft. And I think that is definitely one of them. The demonic boy. He is dressed in black. He's got everything that tells you he's a demon. [00:33:43] Josh Hutchinson: It sounds like he was a little prankster or something to me. [00:33:48] Andrew Sneddon: Or it's fantasy. [00:33:50] Josh Hutchinson: Either one. [00:33:51] Andrew Sneddon: The demonic body wasn't seen by many, but a lot of the witnesses saw the other stuff, right? So they saw a big bolster pillow about two foot high walk across the floor of the kitchen. They saw a petticoat just twirling. This is like horror movie stuff, twirling in the middle of the floor. You've got lithobolia everywhere, getting pelted with stones and other classic demonic obsession possession thing. Cats, there's some demonic cats in there. If you wanna see something similar, look at the trial of Jane Wenham in 1712, a year later in Hertfordshire loads of people have written loads of good stuff on it. But you can see some of the politicization happens in 1711 in Islandmagee, as well. You see it becoming a party political tool between whig and Torries, only it's reversed in Ireland. The Torries want to let the Islandmagee witches off, and the Presbyterians want to get her prosecuted. [00:34:50] Josh Hutchinson: Yeah, we have a couple of these stone throwing demon cases in New England, also. There's one we're looking at in Massachusetts right now, the Elizabeth Morse case, with her grandson that comes to live with her and then all the weird stuff starts happening with the bed moving in the night and stones coming in the chimney and all these things. So that sounds like it was the demonic obsession playbook. If you want to talk about the 19th century, what happens then as far as witchcraft accusations? [00:35:27] Andrew Sneddon: They don't end. I have argued elsewhere that witchcraft belief, there is people who publicly deny it and then what they do actually suggests that they do believe in it, right? So they say they don't believe in witches, but they will put up witch stones to protect their houses or they will maybe accuse somebody of witchcraft or they will not go somewhere or something, it'll affect their behavior. And then there's people who say they believe in witchcraft and this and accuse people of witchcraft and follow through it even to the court, and you're getting this in the 19th century in Ireland. So by the late 19th century we were talking about kinda polarization between Gaelic Irish Catholic belief and Protestant settler belief. I think they come together in a kinda perfect storm. So the Protestant belief, you get more of this kind of dairy stealing seeping into that. And you can see it even when it goes to some, go to the church courts, the Presbyterian church courts. You can see it by the late 1700s and again, I think on the other side, Gaelic Irish communities, what you'll see is by the 19th century definitely is witches can harm human beings more. And itself, the act of, especially after the famine in the 1640s that stealing produce and in rural areas becomes a bigger problem and something, especially among the communities where these accusations are happening. So people are accusing, again, accusing their neighbors, usually co-religionists. There's usually not Catholic v Protestant, it's usually Catholic against Catholic, and they're accusing them of killing cows, stealing butter, stealing, even transforming into hare, sometimes, but usually just stealing butter, using the evil eye on their cows, using charms, buried on their land, things like that, and they're accusing each other, but they can't really take them to court because after 1821, there's no act to do it by, and whether they want to anyway, but what they take things into their own hands, so you'll get accusers just like in England and just like in 19th century America accusers grabbing them and swimming them and, you know, beating them up. But in Ireland, it's usually rather than mobs doing it as an England, in some places in America in the 19th century, in Ireland, it's usually individuals. So what you'll do is you'll think somebody has been stealing the milk produce from your cows using sympathetic magic. And you'll get cases where they shoot them, they hit them with shovels, they hit them with reaping hooks. There's one murder. And Will Pooley again is doing some brilliant work in France showing that this is happening in France as well. And so you're getting accusers taking it out that way, but they're also using the lower courts that are rolled out after 1840s, the petty sessions. And so what they're doing is they can't prosecute somebody for magically stealing their milk or their butter or killing the cow, but what they can do is they can do them for theft. They're, you know what they think they've magically stole their milk, but they're just doing them for theft. The people who are accused are also using the law to accuse their accusers of slander. And sometimes they're finding themselves in hot water, because what they're doing is reacting to the accusation by beating up the accuser. So they're doing the same thing and or slander in the accuser, so you're getting flooded after 1840s up to the end of the 19th century of these accusations, usually in lower courts, but sometimes they go to the higher courts, like the quarter sessions or the assizes when some serious, when they're slashing people, and it's not just like a factional violence, this is violence it targeted to, against something you think has bewitched you or the other way around. And so you're getting that right up until the end of the 19th century. I think that the last one that I came across, it tails off in the 20th century, and the last one's in 1946. The last big one is 1927, so it's tailing off definitely in the 20th century. Courts are just turning their backs, especially when the island of Ireland separates into Northern Ireland and the Republic in 1921, but the belief's still there and you're still getting it in rural areas right up to the end of the 20th century, belief, especially in witches who can harm cattle or steal produce and occasionally harm humans. [00:40:15] Josh Hutchinson: 1927, huh? [00:40:18] Andrew Sneddon: Yeah. And you'll see as well, if you look at the material culture, if you look at some of the objects that survive, and this is a real one, a witch stone, hag stone. You'll see these in museums in Northern Ireland and they're hung in buyers or sometimes wee ones around the necks of the cows to protect them. So they, they do take it seriously. They're used against fairies sometimes, as well, and also, yeah, I think it's important to look at doubt and to look at saying one thing and doing another. But I think it's very important to understand as well, in the Irish context, at least, people are believing in witches, they're frightened of them, and they're doing something about it for a good party in the 19th century. [00:41:00] Sarah Jack: I don't understand, like that's less than a hundred years ago. How did so many of us forget and we don't understand what these protective things are just a century later? How did that happen? [00:41:17] Andrew Sneddon: Just like cultural memory and social memory, there is a great book by Guy Beiner called Social Forgetting. And I've argued in a book in 2022 called Representing Magic that you've got all this kind of popular belief, right? But the books and sermons written by male elites are saying they're using enlightenment rhetoric. They're in the 19th century. But the idea that we are enlightened elites. We are enlightened. This land's enlightened. We are moved beyond the ignorance and the bigotry of the witch hunts. Look how great we are, and they use it as an example to place distance between them and themselves. And it's easier in, in Ireland 'cause there's so few of them anyway, it's the same rhetoric you'll see in England and you'll see in North America as well. The historians will talk about historic witch trials in the 19th century and the antiquarians, and completely ignore the fact that all this is happening around them. And you'll see it in the cultural representations, as well. Ian Bostridge and Owen Davies were saying that witchcraft is history, basically. And it's the same thing. It's, it is when you deal with witchcraft, you deal with the historic example. So when the 19th century, they love talking about Islandmagee, they love talking about Youghal. They don't discuss the fact it's happening all around them. And what they also do, they, and invest it with gender ed language as well. By the 19th century, the end of the 19th century, is weaponized by the newspapers. And so what they start talking about, again, some of the same newspapers as reporting the crimes at another part of the newspaper are saying, "oh, there is some belief, but we're past that." But still, it is still there. And the historians, as well. And the newspapers are gendering it just as female. Now as we, we saw 1711, there was a male witch, but also in the 19th century, a lot of these people who are accused are actually male, as well. I think it's something like 40%. I can't remember the figures off top of my head, but I think Will Pooley's finding this in France as well, that there's a far greater proportion of men, so their gendering it as female. They're just saying it is something that's passed and that has been reproduced in newspapers and then it's been reproduced in culture and poetry and paintings and drama. And I think that's where it is, and you'll find that in Ireland. And you know what they'll say why are you doing witchcraft? And I was told by hundreds of people, even historians, what are you doing, because there wasn't any in Ireland. I think part of that is a problem that it was remembered at a local level 'cause people in Islandmagee for two centuries after it remembered it, but there's a discursive silence around it as well. When we are saying about this kind of, almost discursive silence, that's, if you're looking at kinda official sources, you're looking at sermons, you're looking at male elites. But if you take on board folklore and material culture, if you go beyond the kind of, you don't know, almost the official to the vernacular, whether it is in Irish or English, if you go to the folklore, then you will find, I think this more and more, and that's where I have went as well to learn about witchcraft. And it's something that Guy Beiner argues as well, that when he was talking about the 1798 rebellion it's forgotten in certain spheres, but kept alive in others in different ways, in, in different contexts. And I think it, it works for the Islandmagee trial as well. [00:45:00] Josh Hutchinson: Talking about the material culture, what were some other forms of protective magic that might have been employed? [00:45:08] Andrew Sneddon: The big thing you know, would be, especially, and in Ireland would be protecting the churn. So you would put hot embers into the churn when you're churning. You would maybe have something roundabout the churn. You would make sure that people didn't say things or do things, you wouldn't have anybody looking at the churn. With children as well you have a lot of, especially when they were young, a lot of rituals and sometimes objects used to protect against witchcraft. But just like in everywhere else, you get written charms are held close to the body, especially in soldiers. You get personal amulets all those sorts of protective magic. And you get, it's used in Islandmagee, as well. She first goes to a Catholic priest who, she's a Presbyterian, but it just shows you the cross boundaries of popular magic, because he's meant to have the best charm. So she goes to him, it doesn't work, and then she goes to a Scottish man, and he has one that works, but it makes her worse. So they cut it off, and it's a magical string that she uses , but they also use herbs as well. Especially this is something that's probably argued more by Ronald Hutton. He would say that witchcraft belief wasn't taken up as much because the Gaelic Irish believed in fairies and a lot of the things that fairies did were blamed on witches but use a lot of vervain and other plants were used, foxglove, all the kind of stuff, and mountain ash as well. You all the ones you see elsewhere would be used either to cure or as protection, but they're limitless. I could go all day on the different types. [00:46:50] Josh Hutchinson: The commemorative project and exhibition, can you just explain that in a nutshell to begin with? [00:46:57] Andrew Sneddon: This is a commemorative an a memorialization. The first plaque to Islandmagee Witches was erected this year. That was something outside the project, something we were involved in, but something that was outside this project. No. And we have taken it forward with this exhibition. It's the first exhibition of an Irish witchcraft trial. And it's happening here. As far as I know, it's the first one. And it comes out of a project called the Islandmagee Witches a creative and digital project. The website is, and I'm sure you can put it up in yours, w1711.org, and all the outputs are there. And what we wanted to do was to take this to another level. I have a practitioner of public history. I've done TV and podcast, but it mainly radio and TV and talks. And I took it all after it broke in 2013. I took this everywhere. I was talking about it a lot. This is creative collaboration of public history where the historian is actually helping to create a history as well. So the outputs are that, so we are wrote with a local graphic artist from Derry, Londonderry, a graphic novel about the trial. We also wrote with it, the project I'll say is led by me and Dr. Victoria McCollum, but it involves a whole load of people from Ulster University as well, and a lot of funding from Connected and AHRC and things like that. But the VR was with Dr. Helen Jackson. And that makes you become demonically possessed. And we're trying to get across what it's like to be demonically possessed, but also what it's like to be accused in a kind of way to deal with intangible cultural heritage in a very immediate and immersive environment and let people engage with the story that might not otherwise engage with it. So the VR there, but we've also got a prototype of a video game. Again, it's a kind of serious video game where you go into the shoes of the accuser. And it's just trying understand the moral choices and why people accused, not just to understand the accused, but understand the accuser and why these things happen. So that's the video game. And then there's a bespoke animation. We got a local all women animation studio in Belfast to create a 14 minute animation, which I scripted on it. And that is actually in the VR app, but I think you can access that through the website, as well. And the graphic novel, as well. And we got local people, and we got staff and students Adam Melvin and Brian Coyle and Sabrina Minter. They were working on the computer game. And Adam was working on the score, so he has come up with an original score for the VR. Lastly no, we're doing a lot of workshops as well. So we're doing creative writing workshops, we're doing printing workshops, but we're also putting on a play called Witches in Eden. And this is produced by Dr. Lisa Fitzpatrick, Ulster University, Victoria and myself. And it's involving staff and students, and Witches in Eden was written in 1948, just before The Crucible, and it actually contains a lot of the tropes of The Crucible, by Olga Fielden, who was a Belfast based playwright. And it's never been put on since I think 1951. And I wrote about that in Representing Magic, the 22 book, as a kind of idea of exploring the cultural representations and the afterlife of the Islandmagee trial. But, Victoria had a great idea. Why don't we put it on and, so it'll be on, in the Riverside Theatre at the end of October in Coleraine in Northern Ireland. The exhibition is in Carrickfergus, and that is on the ninth, and it runs to the 16th of November, 2023. There's a big launch in the 16th. The great thing about it, so the exhibition space right, is across the road from where the trial happened. Touching distance. [00:51:10] Josh Hutchinson: Wow. Wow. [00:51:13] Andrew Sneddon: So, yeah. And you can see more about it on the website. We're working with other people who work in memorialization, as well, the University of Highland and Island working with RAGI and other people who, who have worked on, how to memorialize in different ways, not just through plaques, but through digital and creative technologies and storytelling. [00:51:34] Josh Hutchinson: It's such a creative way to present the story to this generation of people. Use all the technology that's available and it's like you've covered every form of media that you can, basically. [00:51:53] Andrew Sneddon: It is been quite thorough, but it was organic. We didn't go right. We're doing everything right, [00:51:57] Josh Hutchinson: yeah, [00:51:58] Andrew Sneddon: but, but we work in a university with such talented people like Brian and Adam and Sabrina and Victoria and Helen and Shannon Devlin and the history department, as well, and Lisa Fitzpatrick, all these people who are so good at what they do. And if they come together and we work as a team, it's amazing what you can achieve. [00:52:18] Josh Hutchinson: Yeah. I'm hoping it serves as an example for other locations where there were witch trials. [00:52:25] Andrew Sneddon: Yeah. And so you don't go down the Disney World of war, aspect, you know that some places are, over commercialization, certain that with respect, and the historical aspects we respect as well, that there were real people with descendants that are still around. [00:52:44] Josh Hutchinson: Yeah. Speaking of the commercialization, you were recently in Salem actually, weren't you? [00:52:51] Andrew Sneddon: Yeah. I've been before and to be honest, the first time I went I was more kinda whoa than the second time, yeah, I was doing a kind of tour, so we went, Victoria and I went Steilneset Monument, monument in Vardo in Norway in winter, which was mad at the Arctic in winter. [00:53:12] Josh Hutchinson: Wow. [00:53:13] Andrew Sneddon: and that was absolutely beautiful and, in the snow and in it, so well done, just look it up if you don't know about it, is to 91 people executed in that region, Finnmark in the 17th century, mostly women, some indigenous people as well, and then going to Salem as well, where the history, you've got the kinda big set pieces of the memorialization, but the history otherwise is fighting to get out. [00:53:45] Sarah Jack: Yeah. [00:53:46] Andrew Sneddon: So you're, you are looking for the history, and I love them in memorials. And I and I like the most recent one, is it 2016? That was erected. I didn't see that the first time I went, but I've seen that and I think the all got their, the all get their they're good points. I do think the memorialization is very good and I do like them, and they're very important, especially in that context, you've got a statue to Samantha from Bewitched. [00:54:13] Josh Hutchinson: Oh yes. There's a statue of her, just like a block or two away from the first memorial to the witch trial victims. Yeah, it's interesting juxtaposition there, the history and the modern. [00:54:31] Andrew Sneddon: Yeah. That's why I haven't tried, a disentangle, and we just discussed it there, the kind of, what happened and the way it's been represented and the way it's used, and I think that you can be creative with it. And I think you can, I don't think you, you can, you have to say the historians just know the the story because we've read the documents, now on the website, I've put every document for the Islandmagee trial. I've digitized them. They're all there for you. But it's more than that. And we've included them in the exhibition as well. But it's more than that, and that's why we've got the workshops, the storytelling, and the printmaking. People can make their own histories, and we shouldn't try to have ownership completely as historians of these stories. So that is not what I'm saying. I'm just saying sometimes the representations that you know are not all positive, and and the commercialization aspect that are not all positive. [00:55:27] Josh Hutchinson: Yeah, but a lot of those attractions, they do get people's attention. It's just somebody has to come in and say, set the record straight at some point. [00:55:40] Andrew Sneddon: The thing is as well, what happens is what, 2,500 executing Scottish history and 38 in American history, but most popular consciousness would say, what's the big witch trial? What do they think of Salem And that, I was talking to somebody the other day when we were actually launching something and yeah, they were absolutely gobsmacked. And I says, yeah, there was more people executed in one car park in Perth in Scotland than the whole of Salem. And that has only been righted now in the last two years with this new kind of campaign. And for the, I didn't, I'm Scottish I'm from Glasgow. I did not hear of any of this growing up. I didn't know there was any witches in Scotland. But I think that's changing as well. That kind of, and then that's the power of representation. That's the power of cultural representation and what a leaves out and what puts in. [00:56:32] Josh Hutchinson: It's remarkable that you can grow up and not hear about these things. And there were just so many in Scotland. We hear that from people in places like Connecticut in the US where there were witch trials and people just don't know that they happened. You grow up, you go to school there, and they never talk about it. But for a whole nation like Scotland to just turn its back on the memory. That's really something. [00:57:03] Andrew Sneddon: Yeah. Again, forgetting, so it's we're putting it behind us. It was a bad time. We were one of the first enlightened countries in Europe. We were the home of moral philosophers and Adam Smith, Glasgow University, and Edinburgh University, and St. Andrews. We're not all about witches. The people who were writing history in the 20th century perhaps, no interest in that either, 'cause it's ordinary people. [00:57:30] Josh Hutchinson: Yeah, we saw that with Connecticut. A lot of the antiquarians in the 19th century wanted to show the state in a good light, and so they would poke fun at Massachusetts and say that we never had anything like that here. They did. [00:57:47] Andrew Sneddon: That's exactly what was happening in Ireland, yeah. Putting distance between I, Owen and Davis does it brilliantly in America Bewitched, is putting distance between, the past and ourselves, and using it as an oppositional tool regionally, as well. look at. [00:58:00] Josh Hutchinson: Yeah. They did that in the States with Salem before the American Civil War. The southern states were poking fun at the northern states for having witch trials. And yeah, you just use it as this political thing later on, and then today, of course witch-hunt has become just a real political metaphor that's used, I would say way too often. [00:58:30] Andrew Sneddon: You've had Marion Gibson on talking, and she brilliantly showed the kind of misogynistic aspects of The Crucible. And arguably, the Crucible brought forth that idea of the witch-hunt as politic, getting rid of your rivals, and it's used a lot of the times, I think, misogynistically today by men who you know are accused, of all sorts, but accusing his accusers using that, which is doubly insulting, I, I don't like modern appropriation of the word witch-hunt, because as your whole podcast shows, it's so complex even to appropriate it at all. It's so reductive. But to appropriate it in that way is particularly bad, I think. [00:59:14] Josh Hutchinson: Yeah. And there's still people dying in literal witch hunts. And then you're gonna use that as a political thing and say, no, I'm a victim here. You're not. [00:59:26] Andrew Sneddon: Yeah. And it's usually the worst type of people who are using it. [00:59:30] Josh Hutchinson: Yes, [00:59:30] Andrew Sneddon: I'm. [00:59:31] Josh Hutchinson: Yeah. The ones who are guilty as sin. Yeah. So I definitely encourage everybody to go check out that exhibit. I really wish that I could be there to see it myself. It sounds amazing. So many different aspects coming together to really immerse people in this. [00:59:56] Andrew Sneddon: Absolutely. [00:59:57] Sarah Jack: And now for a Minute with Mary. [01:00:07] Mary Bingham: For me, the most important reason to memorialize is to remember. We memorialize a loved one or an event through the preservation of memories, perhaps sharing stories, looking at a scrapbook, listening to a compilation of that person's favorite music, erecting a burial monument. Creating a celebration of life ceremony. No matter what we do to memorialize a person, group, or people and or event, we keep their legacy alive. When I first started to roam Essex County in search of my ancestors, I looked for their burial sites to visit their graves, to pay my respects, and to thank them for their decisions which caused me to be alive today. I still do that from time to time. Then they wanted to find where they lived, how they lived, where they walked, discover their experiences, funny, odd, different, wonderful, and sad. It was during this part of my journey, which led me to stand where some of my ancestors were hanged to death in the area of Proctor's ledge at Salem Mass in British America, 1692. A simple, beautiful, and important memorial was built and dedicated at that site on July 19th, 2017, so that the area would no longer be lost to history. Now, descendants can visit from time to time to pay their respects. Another beautiful memorial was dedicated 25 years prior to Proctor's ledge in 1992, and is located in Salem abutting the Charter Street Cemetery. 20 beautiful stone benches are attached to a stone wall lined with beautiful trees and historic homes for descendants and many visitors to sit and contemplate the lives of those whose names are engraved on each of those benches who were executed in 1692. However, my favorite memorial to the victims at Salem is the monument that was also erected in 1992 and is located on Hobart Street in current day Danvers, Mass. The beautiful life-sized stone monument is in two parts. The front displays the Book of Life with a replica of the iron shackles that accused would have worn while in prison. The back displays the Puritan Minister. The one thing that stands out is that this is the only monument that lists the 25 names of the people who died as a result of the Salem Witch Hunts that year, the 20 that were executed and the five who died in jail. Not only that, but also engraved are the powerful statements that the accused said during their pretrial examinations. It is a wonderful way to contemplate their lives, offer a glimpse into their horrifying experience, and share lessons on how we can learn from history. And here are all their names. Infant daughter of Sarah Good died in prison before June. Sarah Osborne died in the Boston Prison May 10th, Bridget Bishop hanged June 10th, Roger Toothaker died in the Boston Prison June 16th, Sarah Good hanged July 19th, Susanna Martin hanged july 19th. Elizabeth Howe hanged July 19th. Sarah Wildes hanged july 19th. Rebecca Nurse hanged July 19th. George Burroughs hanged August 19th. George Jacobs, Sr. hanged August 19th. Martha Carrier hanged August 19th. John Proctor hanged August 19th. John Willard hanged August 19th. Giles Corey died under torture September 19th. Martha Corey hanged september 22nd. Mary Esty hanged September 22nd, Mary Parker hanged September 22nd, Alice Parker hanged September 22nd, Ann Pudeator hanged September 22nd, Wilmot Redd hanged September 22nd, Margaret Scott hanged september 22nd, Samuel Wardwell hanged September 22nd, Ann Foster died in prison December 3rd. Lydia Dustin died in prison March 10th, 1693. Rest in peace. You'll never be forgotten. May those who suffered a similar fate at Ireland in 1711 also rest in peace. Thank you. [01:05:08] Sarah Jack: Thank you, Mary. [01:05:10] Josh Hutchinson: Now here's Sarah with End Witch Hunts News. [01:05:20] Sarah Jack: End Witch Hunts, a nonprofit 501(c)(3), Weekly News Update. Witch-hunt memorials and commemorations serve as enduring tangible reminders. They provide comfort and solace and education. We can touch the cool, solid surface of a monument like we are reaching out and connecting with witch trial victims of the past, even though they're no longer physically present. Tributes like historical fiction, coffees named in honor of a witch trial victim, stone and metal monuments, and arts that teach and commemorate, like Salem by Ballet Des Moines, the play Prick, the play The Last Night, the play Saltonstall's Trial, the play Witches in Eden, the Echoes of the Witch photographic documentary, and multimedia museum and online exhibits like w1711.org, are a lasting witness of the impact these lives had on the world. You can listen to previous episodes to learn more about each of these projects. I hope the w1711.org project brings you to reflection, contemplation, and advocacy action. September brings cooler temperatures, crisp, warm colors in nature, and a season of anticipated festivities, like fall festivals that hold meaningful rituals, well-planned get togethers and individual and group celebrations across the earth. We are moving into the final quarter of the year and considering and planning for what lies ahead after December. What lies ahead for thousands of vulnerable world citizens is experiencing unjust violence due to excited sorcery accusations inside their communities. When individuals are branded as a witch and blamed for causing harm with witchcraft, their actual safety and life is in danger, and it often comes at the hand of their own families and neighbors. Please learn more about the advocacy that is happening around the world by going to our show notes and finding links to advocacy groups. Thank you for being a part of the Thou Shalt Not Suffer podcast community. We appreciate your listening and support. Keep sharing our episodes with your friends. This podcast is a project of our nonprofit called End Witch Hunts. It is dedicated to global collaboration to end witch hunting in all forms. We collaborate and create projects that build awareness, education, exoneration, justice, memorialization, and research of the phenomenon of witch hunting behavior. End Witch Hunts employs a three-pronged approach to the problem, focusing on knowledge, memory, and advocacy through our various projects. Get involved. Visit endwitchhunts.org to learn about the projects. To support us, make a tax deductible donation, purchase books from our bookshop, or merch from our Zazzle shop. Have you considered supporting the production of the podcast by joining us as a Super Listener? Your Super Listener donation is tax deductible. Thank you for being a part of our work. [01:08:07] Josh Hutchinson: Thank you, Sarah. [01:08:09] Sarah Jack: You're welcome. [01:08:11] Josh Hutchinson: Thank you for listening to Thou Shalt Not Suffer: The Witch Trial Podcast. [01:08:15] Sarah Jack: Join us next week. [01:08:17] Josh Hutchinson: Subscribe wherever you get your podcasts. [01:08:20] Sarah Jack: See what's going on at thoushaltnotsuffer.com. [01:08:23] Josh Hutchinson: Remember to tell your friends and family and everyone that you meet about Thou Shalt Not Suffer. [01:08:31] Sarah Jack: Support the global efforts to End Witch Hunts. Visit endwitchhunts.org to learn more. [01:08:38] Josh Hutchinson: Have a great today and a beautiful tomorrow.