chapter  Chapter 1
15 Pages

Consorts of Satan

WithLawrence B. Goodheart

The first three chapters fully describe the extraordinary rise and fall of witchcraft allegations during the latter half of the seventeenth century. Remarkably, of the 18 females judicially executed in four centuries, half were condemned as witches. This chapter describes the cultural misogyny that led to the conviction of 14 defendants for the first-ranked capital crime of witchcraft. Twelve of these 14 people were women. Of the 11 convicted witches hanged, nine were females; the other two were the spouses of the executed—largely considered guilty through marriage. None were executed in the colony of Connecticut before 1647 or at all in its New Haven counterpart. Several detailed cases of women spared in New Haven are presented that foreshadowed the problematic nature of spectral evidence for the rule of law that undermined the jurisprudence of witchcraft.