The Witchcraft Delusion In Colonial Connecticut (1647-1697) by John M. Taylor - HTML preview

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The Witchcraft Delusion In Colonial Connecticut (1647-1697) John M. Taylor

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[Illustration: A Grand Jury Presentment for Witchcraft Reproduced from the original in the Connecticut Historical Society, Hartford May it please yr Honble Court, we the Grand inquest now setting for the County of Fairefeild, being made sensable, not only by Common fame (but by testamonies duly billed to us) that the widow Mary Staple, Mary Harvey ye wife of Josiah Harvey & Hannah Harvey the daughter of the saide Josiah, all of Fairefeild, remain under the susspition of useing witchecraft, which is abomanable both in ye sight of God & man and ought to be witnessed against. we doe therefore (in complyance to our duty, the discharge of our oathes and that trust reposed in us) presente the above mentioned pssons to the Honble Court of Assistants now setting in Fairefeild, that they may be taken in to Custody & proceeded against according to their demerits.

Fairefeild, Fby, 1692

in behalfe of the Grnd Jury







Author of "Maximilian and Carlotta, a Story of Imperialism," and

"Roger Ludlow, the Colonial Lawmaker"


"Connecticut can wel afford to

let her records go to the world."

_Blue Laws: True and False_ (p. 47).



The true story of witchcraft in old Connecticut has never been told. It has been hidden in the ancient records and in manuscripts in private collections, and those most conversant with the facts have not made them known, for one reason or another. It is herein written from authoritative sources, and should prove of interest and value as a present-day interpretation of that strange delusion, which for a half century darkened the lives of the forefathers and foremothers of the colonial days.


Hartford, Connecticut.


"John Carrington thou art indited by the name of John Carrington of Wethersfield--carpenter--, that not hauing the feare of God before thine eyes thou hast interteined ffamilliarity with Sattan the great enemye of God and mankinde and by his helpe hast done workes aboue the course of nature for wch both according to the lawe of God and the established lawe of this Commonwealth thou deseruest to dye."

Record Particular Court, 2: 17, 1650-51.

"Hugh Crotia, Thou Standest here presented by the name of Hugh Crotia of Stratford in the Colony of Connecticut in New England; for that not haueing the fear of God before thine Eyes, through the Instigation of the Devill, thou hast forsaken thy God & covenanted with the Devill, and by his help hast in a preternatural way afflicted the bodys of Sundry of his Majesties good Subjects, for which according to the Law of God, and the Law of this Colony, thou deseruest to dye."

Record Court of Assistants, 2: 16, 1693.



To George Corwin Gentlm high Sheriff of the County of Essex Greeting Whereas Bridgett Bishop als Ol iver the wife of Edward Bishop of Salem in the County of Essex Sawyer at a special Court of Oyer and Terminer ---- (held at?)[B] Salem this second Day of this instant month of June for the Countyes of Essex Middlesex and Suffolk before William Stoughton Esqe. and his Associates Justices of the said Court was Indicted and arraigned upon five several Indictments for useing practising & exercising on the ----[B] last past and divers others days ----[B] witchcraft in and upon the bodyes of Abigail Williams Ann puttnam Jr Mercy Lewis Mary Walcott and Elizabeth Hubbard of Salem Village single women; whereby their bodyes were hurt afflicted pined consumed wasted & tormented contrary to the forme of the statute in that case made and provided To which Indictmts the said Bridgett Bishop pleaded not guilty and for Tryall thereof put herselfe upon God and her Country ----[B] she was found guilty of the ffelonyes and Witchcrafts whereof she stood Indicted and sentence of death accordingly passed agt her as the Law directs execution whereof yet remaines to be done These are therefore in the name of their Majties William & Mary now King & Queen over England & to will and command you that upon Fryday next being the fourth day of this instant month of June between the hours of Eight and twelve in the aforenoon of the same day you safely conduct the sd Bridgett Bishop als Ol iver from their Majties Goale in Salem aforesd to the place of execution and there cause her to be hanged by the neck until she be dead and of your doings herein make returne to the Clerk of the sd Court and precept And hereof you are not to faile at your peril And this shal be sufficient warrant Given under my hand & seal at Boston the Eighth of June in the ffourth year of the reigne of our Sovereigne Lords William & Mary now King & Queen over England Annoque Dm 1692

Wm. Stoughton

[Footnote A: Original in office of Clerk of the Courts at Salem, Massachusetts. Said to be the only one extant in American archives.]

[Footnote B: Some of the words in the warrant are illegible.]

June 16 1692

According to the within written precept I have taken the Bodye of the within named Bridgett Bishop out of their Majties Goale in Salem & Safely Conueighd her to the place provided for her Execution & Caused ye sd Bridgett to be hanged by the neck till Shee was dead al which was according to the time within Required & So I make returne by me George Corwin