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Monday, February 29, 2016


Rev. Alexander Whitaker, one of the most accomplished men of that age, wrote a letter to Rev. William Crashaw in England touching on the anticks of the Indians.  "All these things make me think that there be great witches among them, and that they are very familiar with the Devill."  As the population grew, the so called "great witches" appeared among the settlers themselves. So it was that when a man or woman attributed to some neighbor the evil powers of a witch, the matter had to be inquired into.  In 1641, Jane Rookins, in a quarrel with the wife of George Busher, denounced her as a witch. Mrs. Busher, resenting the charge, feared that it should bring down on her head a wave of popular rage, complained to the court of the wrong done her. Mrs. Rookins then denied having used that expression and apologized.  The justices ordered her husband to reimburse George Busher for the expense he had been put to in prosecuting the case.

In 1665 a person by the name of Alice Stephens was brought before the General Court on a  charge of witchcraft and in that court later in the year a judgment was obtained against another woman who had made a similar charge against one of her neighbors.  During the same year, Rev. David Lindsay of Northumberland, a clergyman who had emigrated from Scotlland (where witchcraft flourished), accused William Harding of that county of sorcery.  The case went to a jury and Harding was found guility of the crime and sentenced to receive ten stripes on his bare shoulders and banished permanently from the county.

Sources: Brown's Genesis of the United States, vol. i, p. 499; General Court Orders, Robinson Transcripts, p. 28; Robinson Transcripts, p. 250, p. 256.

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