Saturday, 10 June 2017

Writing - The beginning of the witch trials

About twenty years ago I visited the USA, part of the holiday was spent in Salem where, around 400 years ago, many women were killed because they were witches.

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Salem witch trials


"At this court," begins the 15 June 1648 entry in the journal of John Winthrop, governor of Massachusetts,
"one Margaret Jones, of Charlestown, was indicted and found guilty of witchcraft, and hanged for it."

According to Winthrop, Jones was a midwife whose 'malignant touch' caused a variety of illnesses in her patients. She had the gift of foresight; her body had rogue 'teats', one fresh and one withered. Even worse, when she was arrested, a strange child appeared in her arms, ran into another room and disappeared. All the evidence seemed irrefutable and she was found guilty and executed the same day. (If only justice was as swift these days.) At the very moment of her execution a great 'tempest' in Connecticut, which 'blew down many trees'.

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There is some evidence from a 12 year old boy who related that there had been 'trouble between Jones and her neighbours' which resulted in the accusation of witchcraft. What is significant about the story is that she was the first woman to suffer this fate. During the next century 80 more women suffered similar fates.

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Another source of inspiration perhaps. I'm sure a number of stories have been written round the subject and I have seen an old movie on the subject.

God Bless