1648: The First “Witch” is Executed in Massachusetts

May 19, 2017 in General

On June 15 1648, former midwife Margaret Jones was hung in colonial era Massachusetts. After a nasty argument with her neighbours, misfortunes and livestock deaths befell them and they blamed Jones for them. Jones was said to have a ‘malignant touch’ that caused deafness and sickness, precognitive abilities and ‘telltale’ bodily anomalies such as two ‘teats’ where ‘witches’ were said to ‘suckle’ either their animal ‘familiars’ or ‘demons.’ In addition, there were also alleged meteorological disturbances, such as a storm in neighbouring Connecticut, when she was taken into custody. Puritan minister John Hales was a child when he saw Jones’ sad end and later accepted that the malice and superstition of her neighbours due to unrelated but later events summarised above were responsible for her unjust death. While Jones had been a petty thief earlier in her life, she protested before her execution that she was an honourable woman now and insisted on her innocence insofar as charges of witchcraft were concerned. She became the first victim of New England’s local version of the witchcraze, which claimed the lives of eighty colonial citizens during the next century.

Source: “15 June 1648: Margaret Jones is Executed in Massachusetts” BBC History: June 2017:8

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