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Witch Trial notebook published.
March 4, 2011
6:26 pm
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Anyanka
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At the Chelmsford trial in July 1645, Wallington wrote: “July the
XX111 there were at Least XXXV111 wiches imprisoned in the Town of
Ipswich…

Divers of them voluntarily and without any forcing or
compulsion freely declare that they have made a covenant with the
Devill, to forsake God and Christ ant to take him to be their Master and
Like wise do acknowledge that divers Cattell; and som Christians have
been killed by their meanes…

By this wee may see the grand delusions and impostures of Satan by which we works upon men & women in these

Latter times of the world What sins so hanious what crimes so grevious will not they run in to from whom God is gone.”(sic).

 

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-e…..d-12634095

 

Over 40 years after Tudor times but it shows how the fear of the supernatural and the unknown was a large part of those times.

It's always bunnies.

March 9, 2011
10:56 am
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MegC
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The Salem Witch Trials started in the 1690's here in the US, so clearly the fear of witchcraft and sorcery and possession and all that was alive and well until well into the late 1600s and later.  The scary thing is that these people in Salem were probably not Puritans who originally travelled here from Europe.  I mean, the Puritans settled Plymouth in the 1620's, so most of the people involved in the Salem Witch Trials were probably first generation Americans who had never seen England.  It was clearly superstition and fear that was being handed down from one generation to the next through parents/relatives and ministers.  Plus, our general lack of scientific understanding.

As sad as it was, I am glad that some people recorded the events so that we can remember.  

The Salem Witch Trials began when several little girls in the town fell ill and the town physician determined that they were bewitched.  Thank god that science has advanced to the point where no diagnosis like that can ever be made again!!   

 

ETA:  Along a different note, take a look at the handwriting on that original document!  How great is that!!  Most of the time the handwriting is so ornate that it's almost impossible to read.  At least that is one man who understood what I always tell my students:  You can have the greatest ideas in the world, but if no one can read your handwriting what difference does it make?

"We mustn't let our passions destroy our dreams…"

March 9, 2011
11:50 am
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Sharon
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I had the pleasure of going to Salem a few years ago.  I brought home all the info I could get my hands on.  The people that persecuted the “witches” may not have been the original Puritans, but their beliefs stem from that group.  They were religiously backwards. 

A bit from the first trial:  As far as I am concerned the “big Kahuna” who came to try the women (and a few men) of Salem, was definitely a woman-hater.  His name escapes me at the moment.  The girls…oh boy…these girls got angry at one woman and plotted to have her charged with witchcraft.  They pretended to become violently ill, and blamed this woman.  I don't know what is the matter with me today, but names are not coming to me.  And so began the trials.  When they saw the havoc they had caused they didn't know what to do and they decided to continue the farce.  They pretended to go into fits during the woman's trial.  It was horrible.  It took everything I had to continue reading this stuff.  I was getting angrier by the minute.  I would have tanned these girl's hides.

  Women were accused of making a cow's milk dry up.  Any farmer would know that a cow's milk sometimes dries up.  Most of them were farmers. This was pure hate.  Plain and simple.  If someone did not get along with another person, they could easily call them a witch and have done with them.  Once one person said another was a witch, the rest of the town would pile on the bandwagon.

There are people in this country today who believe witches roam the land cursing things.  They still count on the superstitious nature of people to come to the fore and damn the science.

Hi Meg!  Are you all moved in?

March 10, 2011
8:41 pm
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Bella44
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I've read a little about the Salem Witch Trials, mostly novels though.  In the book I'm reading at the moment (another novel – A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness) the main character is a witch descended from Bridget Bishop who was was actually executed as a witch in Salem.

It's a fascinating time in history – the tail end of the Renaissance but just before the eighteenth century when scientific discovery really began in earnest, yet the common people were still ruled by fear and superstition.  Witch trials (particularly in Salem) are also fascinating examples of mass hysteria and the destruction produced when we let ourselves be ruled by fear and are too scared to speak out against injustice lest we be picked on next.

I'd absolutely love to visit Salem and that part of the States – it looks such a beautiful part of the country!  It's definitely on my list of places to visit next time I make it to America – whenever that might be!!!!!!!!

And are there really people who still believe in witches (as in bad witches!) where you live Sharon?!!!! 

March 10, 2011
10:41 pm
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MegC
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@ Sharon:  Yes, we are all moved in–well, mostly…we still have some unboxing left to do, but we try to do a few a day and slowly the house is coming together.  Man, we have a lot of crap!

I have not read it, but when my mom was in college and was taking some early American lit class, she had to read the diary of a person who recorded a lot about the Salem Witch Trials.  I think it might have been the diary of Cotton Mather or something like that.  Anyway, my mom pointed out to me that many of the women accused of witchcraft were also landowners.  Chew on that a little bit.  Many were widows who had been left the land upon the death of their husbands and whatnot.  And if these women were found guilty of witchcraft and done away with, their property reverted to the town.

Just goes to show us that even good, Christian kids can and do lie lie lie.  Wish more parents of my students understood that…

"We mustn't let our passions destroy our dreams…"

March 11, 2011
1:51 am
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Impish_Impulse
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I saw an episode on Secrets of the Dead on PBS that addressed the Salem witchcraft hysteria. There may have been a physical cause that touched it off and then hysteria took over. The main cereal grain the settlers consumed was rye, and weather conditions that summer were damp and cool, perfect for the spread of a common rye fungus, ergotamine. Ergotamine can cause hallucinations, seizures, and muscle contractions that are very painful. The first people reporting things may have been suffering from ergotamine poisoning, but superstitions and ignorance made them think they were under demonic attack. And it snowballed from there.

I think that famous preacher/judge's name was Cotton Mather.

                        survivor ribbon                             

               "Don't knock at death's door. 

          Ring the bell and run. He hates that."    

March 11, 2011
9:51 am
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Sharon
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Bella44 said:

I've read a little about the Salem Witch Trials, mostly novels though.  In the book I'm reading at the moment (another novel – A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness) the main character is a witch descended from Bridget Bishop who was was actually executed as a witch in Salem.

It's a fascinating time in history – the tail end of the Renaissance but just before the eighteenth century when scientific discovery really began in earnest, yet the common people were still ruled by fear and superstition.  Witch trials (particularly in Salem) are also fascinating examples of mass hysteria and the destruction produced when we let ourselves be ruled by fear and are too scared to speak out against injustice lest we be picked on next.

I'd absolutely love to visit Salem and that part of the States – it looks such a beautiful part of the country!  It's definitely on my list of places to visit next time I make it to America – whenever that might be!!!!!!!!

And are there really people who still believe in witches (as in bad witches!) where you live Sharon?!!!! 


We have a whole host of beliefs in this country, and there are some who believe there is no such thing as a good witch. This is such a big country.  In my area, as in most of the country, there is no fear of witches.  Not that I know of anyway.  One of our politicians (and I won't name names) was blessed in their church before beginning their political career.  The blessing was to protect this person from witches. The reverend, or whatever he called himself had come to visit the church from Africa where he had just finished trying women there who were accused of witchcraft. He was returning to Africa to continue his work because according to him Africa is loaded with witches and the country must be cleansed of them.  Scary.

Yes, Cotton Mather.  That's the guy.  I have read his diary. 

Salem was lovely.  And there are many practicing witches there.  Many of them own little shops and they were more than willing to speak to their beliefs when asked.  They were also very informative when it came to the Salem witch trials.  We had such a wonderful time talking to as many natives of Salem as we could.  They did mention that many of the women were widows with land. Many were originally turned in because of jealousy from their peers. Many of them mentioned ergotamine.  They said that was the beginning and it snowballed into the hateful practice of turning in your neighbor for any minor infraction. 

March 11, 2011
11:10 am
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MegC
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Ergot poisoning was sooooo common back then, I'm surprised that it is mentioned so rarely.  They've even found traces of ergot-infested rye in the stomachs of some bog-bodies.  Some scientists speculate that the rye was fed to the people before they were sacrificed in order to induce hallucinations…not so sure about that, but an interesting theory nonetheless.

ETA:  Here in the southeast, I wouldn't say that we believe in witches per se, but we are a little more superstitious and more readily embrace the mystical I think than some other areas of the country.  Especially people of my grandmother's generation.  We do have some people who take the whole mysticism thing a little far and if you go farther back into the mountains far enough into the more rural communities, you can find churches that practice snake handling and things like that.  My guess is that if you're willing to handle snakes in the name of the Lord, then believing in witches can't be too far behind.

"We mustn't let our passions destroy our dreams…"

March 13, 2011
11:39 am
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Suzy Witten
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Hi Claire, and everyone on this thread,

Today I received a Google alert on the “Salem witch hunt” that brought me to this blog. So I signed up. I'm a historical novelist and reader of historical fiction (I read Tudor fiction among other periods). As there seems to be interest in my subject on Anne Boleyn's site, I wanted to share that my historical book: THE AFFLICTED GIRLS A Novel of Salem, sheds much light on what happened in Salem Village in 1692. It's adult fiction for ages 17 and older, and it won the 2010 IPPY Silver Medal for Historical Fiction. (Independent Publisher Book Award) I hope some here will take a look. I'm also always happy to answer questions about Salem's history. Thanks!

Suzy Witten (a new member)

March 13, 2011
11:44 am
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Suzy Witten
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MegC said:

Ergot poisoning was sooooo common back then, I'm surprised that it is mentioned so rarely.  They've even found traces of ergot-infested rye in the stomachs of some bog-bodies.  Some scientists speculate that the rye was fed to the people before they were sacrificed in order to induce hallucinations…not so sure about that, but an interesting theory nonetheless.

ETA:  Here in the southeast, I wouldn't say that we believe in witches per se, but we are a little more superstitious and more readily embrace the mystical I think than some other areas of the country.  Especially people of my grandmother's generation.  We do have some people who take the whole mysticism thing a little far and if you go farther back into the mountains far enough into the more rural communities, you can find churches that practice snake handling and things like that.  My guess is that if you're willing to handle snakes in the name of the Lord, then believing in witches can't be too far behind.

Ergot has been disproved by the Salem historians, Meg. I have also researched this issue, and I have proposed a new and plausible theory of what caused the afflictions that sparked the Salem Witch Hunt.

March 17, 2011
7:13 pm
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Bella44
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Your book sounds interesting Suzy – I think I may just have to add it to my far-too-long wishlist  Smile

March 17, 2011
7:22 pm
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Anyanka
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you too!

 

Since I joined here, my wish list is into the 100`s…it used to be around 10..

It's always bunnies.

August 18, 2011
2:30 pm
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Anyanka
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The witch trial that made legal history.

 

In recent years children
as young as three have given evidence in court cases, but in the past
children under 14 were seen as unreliable witnesses. A notorious 17th
Century witch trial changed that.

Nine-year-old Jennet Device was an illegitimate beggar and
would have been lost to history but for her role in one of the most
disturbing trials on record.

Jennet's evidence in the 1612 Pendle witch trial in
Lancashire led to the execution of 10 people, including all of her own
family.

 

It's always bunnies.

August 18, 2011
10:49 pm
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Catalina
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I just recorded a documentary the other night called the Pendle Witch Child about Jennet, I haven't watched it yet though.  I'm fascinated by the history of witchcraft and the fact that people genuinely believed that their cow dying was the result of a witch casting a spell on them. 

James VI & I had a mortal fear of witchcraft, he was returning from Denmark with his bride Anne, and had a rather rough journey decided withces at North Berwick had been casting spells against him and had them rounded up.  He even published a book in 1597 called Daemonologie, denouncing witches and encouraging citizens to turn in anyone suspected. He personally oversaw a lot of the trials, but apparently he was good at spotting inconsistencies in evidence (maybe not that difficult seeing as it would have been trumped up nonsense) and a lot of accused were acquitted by him.

Its amazing it was such a widespread belief and so real and feared that a king published a book encouraging witch hunts.

'If honour were profitable, everybody would be honourable'  Thomas More

December 8, 2011
8:30 pm
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Anyanka
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Witch's cottge found in Pendle

 


Engineers have said they were “stunned” to unearth a 17th Century cottage, complete with a cat skeleton, during a construction project in Lancashire.

The cottage was discovered near Lower Black Moss reservoir in the village of Barley, in the shadow of Pendle Hill.

Archaeologists brought in by United Utilities to survey the area found the building under a grass mound.

Historians are now speculating that the well-preserved cottage could have belonged to one of the Pendle witches.

It's always bunnies.

December 28, 2011
9:51 am
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Claire
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I'm rather overwhelmed with my Boleyn research at the moment but I'd love one day to research the history of witchcraft and Suzy I'd love to read your book sometime, sounds fascinating.

Debunking the myths about Anne Boleyn

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