First Witches Executed in the Country Are Exonerated, and They’re Not From Massachusetts
Editor's note: This article was written by a Townsquare Media Northern New England contributor and may contain the individual's views, opinions, or personal experiences.
The Salem Witch Trials happened in 1692 in Massachusetts, and are forever in our history through movies, television shows, books, and museums. However, even though Salem has the notoriety for being the witch capital of the world because or those trials, Connecticut's witch trials were 45 years earlier in 1647 in the town square outside the old state house in downtown Hartford. Did you know this? I literally had no idea, so this is such interesting history to learn.
As a matter of fact, back then, Governor John Winthrop of the Connecticut colony happened to be a son of the founding governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. John stopped some of the executions and prosecutions of witchcraft cases in Connecticut 30 years before the Salem trials. Clearly, saying this exoneration is long over due is beyond an understatement.
Now, those suspected witches hanged or burned at the stake in Connecticut are being exonerated From that first hanging in Connecticut, 11 were hanged in the gallows over a 15-year period, according to the Hartford Courant, and 23 people were indicted for witchcraft. In Massachusetts, there were 19 executed for the crime of witchcraft.
Now, they've all been exonerated thanks to descendants and others who went to the Connecticut legislature’s Judiciary Committee. Those descendants, according to the Hartford Courant, found out about these relatives through genealogy and DNA testing. A nine-year-old boy even testified as one of many witnesses during the exoneration hearing.
In case you're wondering about the Salem witch trials, the majority of them were exonerated by lawmakers way back in 1711, with others eventually being cleared as well. Finally, the last exoneration happened in July of 2022, according to the NPR.