16.4.17

From Eastern England to New England


Richard S. Ross. Before Salem: Witch Hunting in the Connecticut River Valley, 1647-1663. McFarland. (30 Apr 2017)

Michael Howard. East Anglian Witches and Wizards (Witchcraft of the British Isles) Three Hands Press (April 2017)
From 1647-1663 eleven people were hanged as witches on the New England frontier, in the Connecticut River Valley. The outbreak of witch hunting in New England was directly influenced by the English Civil War and the witchcraft trials begun in 1644 led by the witch-hunter Matthew Hopkins in East Anglia, England. The authorities in New England were armed with a legal manual influenced by recent English demonological writings for identifying a witch and new techniques pioneered by Hopkins for examining witches. This book examines why the witch hysteria first erupted in the Connecticut River Valley. The accounts from this first outbreak of witch hunting included information on the devil's role, demonic possession, bewitchment, apotropaic magic, witch accusations, legal issues, and the role of the clergy in these trials. These early witch hunting accounts later influenced contemporary writers on the Salem witch trials in 1692.

In his fourth book in the Witchcraft of the British Isles series, Michael Howard examines the Craft of East Anglia, one of the richest areas of historical witchcraft and folk magic in England. From the private witch of William the Conqueror to the cunning men and women of the marshes and fens, to the Toad-witches and the appalling deeds of the witch-finders, the book is a trove of historical information on the actual folk magical practices of East Anglia. Also examined are the spirits of locality, such as Old Shuck, the spectral black dog known to haunt country lanes, and a special chapter on Imps and Familiars.