Families seek exoneration of relatives convicted of witchcraft centuries later

US politicians are considering exonerating 11 alleged witches who were executed and dozens more who were accused of having ties to Satan more than 375 years ago.
Decades before the infamous Salem witch trials in Massachusetts, Alse Young on 26 May 1647 became the first person on record to be executed in the American colonies for witchcraft.

She was the first of nine women and two men executed in Connecticut for witchcraft over a 15-year period, during which more than 40 people faced trial for having ties to Satan.
The Windsor town clerk registered her death in a diary entry that read: “Alse Young was hanged.”
Now, activists including amateur historians, researchers and descendants of the accused witches and their accusers hope state legislators will finally offer posthumous exonerations.

Connecticut state senator Saud Anwar and state representative Jane Garibay have proposed resolutions to officially exonerate the state’s witch trial victims.
Ms Garibay, who received letters from eighth and ninth-generation relatives of accused witches, said: “They’re talking about how this has followed their families from generation to generation, and that they would love for someone just to say, ‘Hey, this was wrong’. And to me, that’s an easy thing to do if it gives people peace.”
Mr Anwar said he expects some people might laugh or scoff at the campaign, but added families are feeling some “serious stuff”, including a constituent who urged him to take action.
“His wish was that if there was a way to give some kind of a closure to the families… That would be one way for him to be able to say that he has done his share, even though his ancestors may have not done the right thing,” said Mr Anwar.


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Other states and countries have attempted to atone for a history of persecuting people as witches.
Last year, Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon issued a formal apology to around 4,000 Scots, mostly women, who were accused of witchcraft up until 1736.
Politicians in Massachusetts in 2022 formally exonerated Elizabeth Johnson Jr who was convicted of witchcraft in 1693 and sentenced to death.
In 2006, former Virginia governor Tim Kaine gave an informal pardon to Grace Sherwood. The widowed midwife was blamed by neighbours for ruining crops, killing livestock and creating storms and subsequently accused of being a witch.
She was thrown into a river to see if she floated, which was purported to indicate guilt. She managed to set herself free and spent seven years in prison.

Source : Sky News