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The Connecticut Witch Trials

29 Oct 2020 11:05 AM | Anonymous

The Halloween season is perhaps the best time to reflect upon the injustices suffered by our ancestors. For instance, take the witchcraft hysteria of Hartford, in what is now called Connecticut.

Yes, this was in 1642, 45 years before the infamous witch trials a bit further north in Salem, Massachusetts. According to, the Connecticut Witch Trials, also sometimes referred to as the Hartford witch trials, occurred from 1647 to 1663. The exact number of witchcraft trials is unknown but a total of 37 total cases have been documented, 11 of which resulted in executions. The execution of Alse Young of Windsor in the spring of 1647 was the beginning of the witch panic in the area, which would not come to an end until 1670 with the release of Katherine Harrison.

Some of the better-known victims included:

Alse Young probably was the first person executed for witchcraft not only in Connecticut, but likely in the whole of the American colonies. On May 26, 1647, she was executed in Hartford.

Mary Johnson was the first recorded confession of witchcraft. She worked as a house servant and was accused of theft in 1648. After extensive torture and interrogation, Johnson confessed to "familiarity with the devil". She also confessed to having sexual relations with "men and devils" and to murdering a child. Her execution was delayed as she was pregnant during her imprisonment in Hartford. Johnson was executed June 6, 1650.

Katherine Harrison was a former maidservant of Captain John Cullick and the widow of Wethersfield's town crier.She became a wealthy citizen of Wethersfield, Connecticut after she inherited her husband's estate, worth one thousand pounds. Between 1668 and 1669, Harrison was accused of witchcraft. The accusations against her included breaking the Sabbath, fortune telling and using black magic, as well as appearing in spectral form to people. Harrison's trial faced many complications: the first jury never reached a decision, and the second found her guilty, but the magistrates disagreed as most of the evidence was spectral, which relied solely on the accuser.In May of 1670, Harrison was released from prison, and banished from the Connecticut colony; she and her family relocated to New York.

You can read a lot more about the Connecticut Witch Trials online, including in Wikipedia at If you are interested in the details of these witch trials, start with the lengthy list of citations at the end of the Wikipedia article.


  • 30 Oct 2020 12:35 PM | Anonymous
    I recently found one on my own tree, Mary Brockett Adams, last witch hanged in Connecticut. Same story, hard to believe.
    On another note, just found a book at Barnes & Noble on the 400 year anniversary of the Mayflower. 1620-2020, well done.
    Link  •  Reply

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