Skeptic News: Kin say 11 executed after trials for witchcraft deserve justice

From: Boston Globe

Descendants of some of the 11 people executed on charges of witchcraft in mid-1600s Connecticut are hoping that Governor Dannel P. Malloy will issue a proclamation clearing their distant relatives’ names and condemning the prosecutions and killings.

Over the past seven years, descendants and their supporters have been trying to get state officials to denounce the Connecticut witch trials, which began in 1647, three decades before the more infamous trials in Salem, and ended in 1697. About 45 people were prosecuted, according to a 2006 state report.

‘‘They were wrongly accused. It’s a justice issue,’’ said Debra Lynne of New Milford, who says her great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandmother, Mary Sanford, was hanged for witchcraft in Hartford in 1662.

The first person executed in the New World for witchcraft was Alice Young of Windsor, Conn., who was hanged in Hartford in 1647, according to several books on the trials. The last executions were in 1662.

Many historians believe fear was a major driver of Connecticut’s witch trials, according to the state report.

‘In the 1600s, most of these people didn’t have defense attorneys. I think they were wrongly convicted. I think they died for a ridiculous reason.’

Deeply religious colonists who endured years of hardships may have been looking for someone to blame, the report said.

Historians say laws against witchcraft stemmed from passages in the Bible.

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