Accused Witches May Have Their Names Cleared 375 Years After Execution

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More than 375 years after Connecticut oversaw the execution of 11 people accused of witchcraft in the colony, the state is considering to clear the names of those who were condemned.

Historians, researchers and family members of both the accused and the accusers have reached out to Connecticut lawmakers in the hopes that their efforts might right the wrongs of the past, according to The Associated Press (AP).

“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,” Connecticut state Rep. Jane Garibay told the outlet. Garibay put forth the exoneration resolution to the state after receiving letters from the descendants of accused witches.

Though the Connecticut witch-trials are lesser known than the infamous Salem Witch trials, they took place decades before. Between 1647 and 1697, approximately 40 people were accused of witchcraft and 11 were hanged, nine of them women, according to Time.

The earliest laws in the New England colonies classified witchcraft as a capital offense or one that would carry with it the punishment of death. In 1647, Connecticut oversaw its first execution for the crime, when Alse Young was sent to the gallows on May 26.

After years of torture and detainment, Mary Johnson provided the first recorded confession to witchcraft in the American colonies by admitting to “familiarity with the Devil” and “uncleanness with men and devils.” She became Connecticut’s second victim executed for witchcraft in 1648, Time reported.

“It’s important to right the wrongs of the past so we learn from them and move on and not repeat those mistakes,” podcast host of “Thou Shalt Not Suffer: The Witch Trial Podcast” Joshua Hutchinson stated per The AP.

Connecticut state Sen. Saud Anwar, who co-sponsored the exoneration bill with Garibay stated that while some people may not take this seriously or consider it a waste of the Legislature’s time there are descendants who are feeling some “serious stuff” citing a particular descendant who requested the resolution. (RELATED: Man Released From Jail 32 Years For Murder He Didn’t Commit)

“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,” Anwar stated per The AP.