In my post yesterday, I included a reference to a trial for witchcraft. Of course, the people who were executed on that occasion were not the only ones who were accused of such a crime and many people living today are descended from those who came to the attention of witch hunters. I have an alleged witch in my tree – a very long way back, you’ll find her in one of the sources linked below – if you think you also have a witchy ancestor here are a few resources you might find useful.
- About.com: Hunting for witches in the family tree – A list of resources covering both Europe and the US.
- Historical Witchcraft Trials in England, The Channel Islands, Ireland and Scotland – Details of trials held in the British Isles.
- Essex Witch Trials – Focuses mainly on Essex which was almost the epicentre of witch hunting, but there is also some information about trials elsewhere in England. Also a lot of fascinating background information.
- The Pendle Witches – Probably the most famous English witches, this site provides background and history as well as details of the witches confessions. I visited Pendle in the early 80s and while I don’t think it is in the grip of evil forces, it certainly has an atmosphere.
- The Witch Hunts – Lots of historical information about European witch hunts between 1400 and 1800.
- The Old Bailey Online – The online database of London’s central criminal court includes details of some witchcraft trials.
- Fortean Times: Witchfinders – Malcolm Gaskill takes a look at witch finders including the most infamous, Matthew Hopkins.
It is important to remember that those who were accused of witchcraft were unlikely to actually be witches and would not have described themselves as such. The reasons for the witch hunting phenomena are varied, but those accused tended to be people who for some reason were outside mainstream society, those who followed non-conformist religions or those who were perceived to be getting above their allotted station in life or who fell out with the wrong people.