Sea captain saved defendant in 1703 witchcraft case

“On July 25, 1703, Thomas Bouthier filed a legal complaint… that Susannah Evans of Currituck, not having the fear of God before her eyes, but being led by the instigation of the devil, did devilishly and maliciously bewitch, with the assistance of the devil, afflict the body of [his wife] Deborah Bouthier with mortal pains that caused her death….

“Cornelius Jones, a well-known sea captain, served as foreman of the grand jury. Captain Jones had been well informed of the atrocities in Salem, Mass., during his travels to the New England colonies. He convinced the jurors to dismiss the charges of witchcraft. His political motive was to avoid the hysteria that had occurred in Salem [in 1692]. Even though Susannah was found not guilty, it was reported the townsfolk continued to keep their distance from her….”

— From “The Magic of Words: North Carolina’s First Witch Trial” by Hope Thompson at Candid Slice (Oct. 20, 2013)

Kevin Cherry points out John Lawson’s mention of another early — earlier? — witchcraft prosecution.

 

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