memorial for accused witch alse young
Alse Young is one of several women executed for 'witchcraft' in colonial Connecticut.

Ever heard of the Connecticut Witch Trials? They're decidedly less famous than Salem's, but no less real. 

"Alse Young was hanged," is all that is recorded in history regarding the first recorded execution for witchcraft in the American colonies.

Little is known about Alse Young. She was born in 1615 and was believed to be the wife of a man named John Young, a landowner in Windsor, Connecticut. She was hanged on May 26, 1647. She was 32 years old.

No records exist of the charges against her, but historians believe that she may have been accused of using witchcraft to cause an influenza outbreak in the Windsor community – an outbreak which caused the deaths of wealthy nobility.

In 2017, the Windsor City Council formally exonerated Alse Young by unanimous vote.

Now, descendants, genealogists, and historians of the state of Connecticut are pushing the state to exonerate the rest of the state’s accused witches.

State officials are considering a formal apology and an official exoneration of the men and women executed for witchcraft nearly 400 years ago. 

The Connecticut Witch Trials

After hearing from descendants of accused witches, some Connecticut legislators hope to right the wrongs of the past.

Proposed Senate Joint Resolution No. 5 would exonerate the women and men convicted of witchcraft in colonial Connecticut. The resolution reads, in part:

“[the victims] were falsely accused of practicing witchcraft in the seventeenth century and that such persons were tried, convicted and sometimes sentenced to death for such offense, and declares that, although these accusations, prosecutions, trials and executions cannot be undone or changed, no disgrace or cause for distress should attach to the heirs of those persons.”

Should Connecticut approve the resolution, they wouldn’t be the first to formally exonerate witches hundreds of years later.

Last year, Elizabeth Johnson Jr., a woman convicted of witchcraft during the Salem Witch Trials of the 1690s, was formally exonerated courtesy of the efforts of an eighth-grade civics class in Andover, Massachusetts.

She was one of if not the last person convicted of witchcraft during the Salem Witch Trials to be exonerated.

At the time, State Sen. Diana DiZoglio claimed that the legislation to clear Johnson Jr.’s name was important work. “We will never be able to change what happened to these victims,” she explained, “but at the very least, we can set the record straight.”

Righting Historical Wrongs

Now Connecticut is trying to atone for their lesser-known witch trials. Witch hunts are almost as old as Connecticut itself: one of the colony’s earliest laws reads, "any man or women (to) bee a Witch, that is, hath or consulteth with a familiar spirit, they shall bee put to death."

Connecticut state Sen. Saud Anwar, who introduced the resolution, says he was encouraged not only by descendants of wrongfully convicted witches, but by the descendants of some of those who led the charge on the witch hunts.

"His wish was that if there was a way to give some kind of a closure to the families," Anwar said of one of his constituents. "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."

Descendents of the victims are also speaking out in support.

Among them is Joshua Hutchinson, an Arizona native who traced his ancestry back to accused witches in Salem. "It's important to right the wrongs of the past so we learn from them and move on and not repeat those mistakes," he says. Hutchinson also hosts a podcast on the subject, titled "Thou Shalt Not Suffer: The Witch Trial Podcast."

But will they succeed? Past efforts to exonerate the 40-some accused individuals, 11 of which were executed, have failed, including a 2008 proclamation and numerous appeals to the governor.

Critics have called the efforts a waste of time. What's the point in exonerating people who have been dead for over 400 years? They ask.

But supporters argue that for the victims' descendants – and even descendants of those doing the accusing – formal exonerations would bring major peace of mind.

What do you think?


  1. Douglas Robert Spindler's Avatar Douglas Robert Spindler

    Nice that we finally recognizing the wrong Christians did nearly 400 years ago. What's sad is we are not dealing what's happening today. Ministers, bishops and priests are still rapping women, and molesting children and getting away with it. Christian have not learned from the past and continue to attack women and brainwash children.

    1. Rev. Miche'al Yosef Dixon's Avatar Rev. Miche'al Yosef Dixon

      400 years? Try a little closer. The last person that was executed as a witch in the United States of America was a man in 1917. In 2017, the New York Historical Society, New York Folklore Society, and William G. Pomeroy Foundation erected a historical road marker dedicated to the "Witch of Pomerance." The story is also memorialized in an exhibit at the Esperance Historical Museum

  1. Colleen McAllister's Avatar Colleen McAllister

    It makes a difference to the descendents of those killed. It makes a difference to the psyche of the towns and territories involved. It makes a difference to the memories of those murdered. Doing the right thing always matters.

    1. SueW's Avatar SueW

      You said it better and more succinctly than I could.

  1. Joe Stutler's Avatar Joe Stutler

    The gullible god-botherers have a rich history of murder, rape, genocide, pedophilia, and the like. They blame their invisible magical sky fairies for their abhorrent behaviors, and claim all is forgiven if they merely say "sorry" - not to their victims but to the voices in their heads. And they wonder why sane, intelligent people don't that them seriously as anything other than a threat to civilized society.....

  1. William Sadler's Avatar William Sadler

    When I was a student at Hobart William Smith Colleges in Geneva, NY in the early 1980s, I created a course called "Magick in Theory and Practice" after Aliester Crowley's text of the same name which I dutifully purloined from the school library where I had a work study job. The practicum was a Wiccan Candlemas Ritual of Healing for my advisor. My High Priestess was K Putnam, one of the last survivors of the Salem Witch Trial accusers.

    I specifically chose her, Ms Putnam, for that role after reading Salem Possessed: The Social Origins of Witchcraft (Stephen Nissenbaum, Paul Boyer), an economic analyses of the conflict over taxation and real estate boundaries between Salem Towne and New Salem Village. It was perfect. 400 years later an accuser's descendent became the High Priestess #1 Witch. I got an A+ for the course.

  1. Robert Gagnon's Avatar Robert Gagnon

    A cute endeavor with no relevance to anyone originally involved. Usually someone didn't like the accused because of no sexual interest or jealousy from other women. These women won't be un-hung or now get to pass into heaven. Probably not buried on hollowed ground. Now moving their bodies to rest with family would be nice. Their spirits have long left their bodies, but resting with family is something significant.

  1. Clay Serenbetz's Avatar Clay Serenbetz

    Justice Alito still cites rulings in 16th Century cases decided by judges who convicted some of witchcraft. As a society it seems that we have made little progress from medieval times, especially for women and minorities.
    It's nice of Connecticut to acknowledge past wrongs in some cases, but what about the wrongs of racism that led to harms to Blacks, Native Americans, Asians, etc. These other wrongs continue today in many situations.

    1. Paul Edward Nunis's Avatar Paul Edward Nunis

      Matthew Hale... witch burner, monarchist, and marital rape defender. Cited as 'an eminent jurist' with binding precedence today.🤢

  1. Alexander Arends's Avatar Alexander Arends

    Society has wronged hundred of thousands of victims of false accusations. Some of the accusations can be identified, many cannot. People were not only accused or punished for witchcraft, but also for standing up for their faith, conviction or truth. I think we need to move on. Acknowledging the sins of the past and recognizing the evil that mankind is capable of is far more important than any special declaration.

  1. Nicholas J H Baldwin's Avatar Nicholas J H Baldwin

    I feel that for the sake of the departed souls, they would rest in a more peaceful state if the wrong was righted by the Church issuing an edit stating that - the wrong was done in the name of the Church and that the Church by this edit ,completely and absolutely declared that - great wrong was committed and that the people so wronged were NOT Guilty of the crimes stated, and the Chuch ABSOLVED them.

  1. Susan Christine Giganti's Avatar Susan Christine Giganti

    It would be nice to exonerate these falsely accused people. The first convicted witch in Massachusetts was a man. Those who succeeded in getting witch killed back then could also take their property or business , I can’t remember if they also took in the children of widows. That give the accuser more farm or house labor , or a girl who refused to court someone in the accusers family. I don’t know how their descendants feel. I’d want my my ancestor cleared. Women got the most death sentences as healers , midwives and widows, fighters of rapists, family abusers, or any thing people thought was too independent in that community.

  1. Taylor X Zaragoza's Avatar Taylor X Zaragoza

    Witchcraft never should have been outlawed in the first place!! Since it was predominantly Christians who did the MURDERING make all the local churches pay the reparations!!

  1. Mary's Avatar Mary

    Please read the Malleus Maleficarum. Most of the people executed were not even witches. Anyone and everyone who went against the catholic church was considered. People with moles were believed to be possessed. If your neighbors cow died they could accuse you of witchcraft. There were millions of innocent human beings that were killed all for christianity.

  1. Deborah Jean Howard's Avatar Deborah Jean Howard

    People are afraid, of everything. Witches is basically were just people who enjoyed nature and used herbs for healing. It is fear and misunderstanding. I consider myself a white witch. Which I believe in good and believe it or not I really do believe in Jesus. I believe in the holy Bible. I was told I cannot do that if I consider myself a witch. I feel that’s wrong.

    1. Lionheart's Avatar Lionheart

      Yes, I know the Bible is real, I've seen it in all of its many forms. As for Mr Jesus....there still seems to be a lot of doubt as to what he ever really said, and as for his dad/god/him, 🤷🏼, there is still no demonstrable evidence he's real.


    2. Paul Edward Nunis's Avatar Paul Edward Nunis

      The 'witches' in the KJ Bible were accused as 'poisoners'... not as modern Garderian Wiccans.

  1. Matthew Mastrogiovanni's Avatar Matthew Mastrogiovanni

    They need change their status from executed for witchcraft to, "Murdered by Christian hate group".
    Then we need to charge all those involved in murdering those "witches", with conspiracy to commit murder and murder one.

  1. Canadian Yankee's Avatar Canadian Yankee

    Hate and Fear are a combination that always ends bad.

  1. Bishop William Dusenberry, DD's Avatar Bishop William Dusenberry, DD

    This ULC bishop, whose earned two DD's, and's been sainted twice, by the ULC, finally as the opportunity to share with his fellow ULC ministers, bishops, and DD'ers, a personal encounter which can shed some light on this issue.

    While traveling on my frequent trips to Europe, I was taken on several tours of, what 500 years ago, were town squared.

    In these town squares, the local Christian clergy used to publicly burn to death (while still alive) the witches that the Christian God had created, in order that they be publicly burned to death.

    I asked the tour directors, in ten of these town squares, -- if -- 500 years ago -- they had identified all of these witches -- and got rid of all of them, during these public displays of what happens to witches.

    I was assured, that about 500 years ago, the Christian clergy had gotten every Christian witch executed -- so that there aren't any Christian witches left any more.

    Hopefully the non-Christian ULC clergy members, of the Hebrew, Islamic, LDS, or Hindu persuasion, (and any else) will bring us up to date as to their efforts to eliminate all the rest of the witches that the Christian clergy successfully exterminated amongst the Christian portion of the population..

  1. Dorothy Anne Howard's Avatar Dorothy Anne Howard

    If our country can prepare for reparations for descendants of slavery then this too should be squared away!

    1. Lionheart's Avatar Lionheart

      Yes, I want reparations for the Romans invading Britain 2000 years ago. I’m sure my ancestors at that time were not very happy with it all. 🤭


  1. Taylor X Zaragoza's Avatar Taylor X Zaragoza

    Witchcraft should have NEVER BEEN OUTLAWED in the first place. Freedom of religion!’

  1. Jacci Van Alder's Avatar Jacci Van Alder

    It is never too late to feel remorse and apologize for bad behavior! Ask any descendent of the Baker-Fancher emigrant wagon train of The Mountain Meadows Massacre ( 1857) that resulted in the slaughter of mostly unarmed women and children, if they appreciated finally receiving an apology from the Mormons (who blamed the massacre on local Native Americans for 150 years.) You're damned right CT needs to set the record right! Puritan fear mongers only remind us of current affairs...

  1. Kaylin Elise Somavia's Avatar Kaylin Elise Somavia

    Absolutely they should move forward and complete the pardons or exonerations. While the trials in Salem and Conneticut were a travesty they pale in comparison to those in Europe. While there are the polititians who believe there is no merit in these actions, ask the family members. Perhaps they also might note the family members are among the voters and Pagans and Witchcraft are among the fastest growing faiths worldwide. Pardon them, allow them their peace and give their decendants closure.

  1. Rev. Kev's Avatar Rev. Kev

    If lawmakers want to do this, I have no issues with it. The only thing I wonder out of pure, idle curiosity is how many people's lives today are negatively impacted -- emotionally or otherwise -- by these centuries-old convictions?

    If I found out one of my ancestors was convicted and executed for witchcraft, I'd see it as a sad, but also interesting, piece of family history. I wouldn't think for a second they were cavorting with Satan and making devilish pacts to cause havoc and mayhem upon the innocent citizens of some town. I'd accept it as a part of a time when people were highly superstitious and too often committed atrocities upon others in the name of their God (and hope we never go back in that direction). I'd automatically consider my ancestor so convicted as wrongly accused and killed without the need of any modern, legislative edict of innocence. I'd consider the matter closed and far in the past before any such legislation was even proposed. My life would be the same. But, then again, that may just be me.

    1. Lynne Killenbeck's Avatar Lynne Killenbeck

      If we start with Connecticut and Massachusetts, absolving the witch trials, then we need to go back in history and exonerate every time in history that men have slaughtered innocence, in the name of God

  1. Ann's Avatar Ann

    We haven't learned, look how the unvaxxed have been treated. Their lives were threatened, they were beaten and bullied.😥

    1. Mary's Avatar Mary

      COVID spreads faster than AIDS! If anyone dies around you then you should be charged with murder because you should NOT be allowed to turn your body into a biological weapon that kills and spreads disease. They locked up people with AIDS for doing that and you all are no different.

      1. Ann's Avatar Ann

        You are more dangerous then any unvaxxed person.

        1. Bond Wright's Avatar Bond Wright

          Why? Could you please explain your reasoning why Ann is "more dangerous than any unvaxxed person?" Thank you.

      2. Ann's Avatar Ann

        Thank you for proving my point.

    2. Mary's Avatar Mary

      You are threatening our lives by your neglagence and ignorance spreading death. It is a Miracle we are living through a pandemic thank you all who Vaccinate, Mask Up and care about human life!

  1. Rev. MichaelRS's Avatar Rev. MichaelRS

    This has me LMAO. 😄

    These "descendants" want closure over something that happened to one of 120,000 odd tanentle "relatives" from over 400 years ago.

    Taking averages there are about 4 generations every 100 years. You, your parents, your grandparents and your great grandparents.

    Your great grandparents number some 16 people contributing their DNA to what would eventually become you.

    By the time you go back 400 years you would be carrying the VERY diffused DNA of over 120,000 people.

    And that's assuming the current "descendants" of those hund as witches we're in a direct grandparent type line of those people. Maybe the person that was hung was a sister of one of the grandparents.

    Yeah the governor of Connecticut, or whomever, could do something. But as far as I'm concerned it would be just like the president pardoning the turkeys at Thanksgiving. A nice human interest that but that's about all it is.

    And actually, It really should not be the responsibility of any governor of any US territory or state because all of this happened before there was a United States of America.

    The witch trials happened when Connecticut was a colony of Great Britain under 5 British monarchs, from king Charles I to William & Mary, and Parliament. Although the executions stopped c. 1962, early in the reign of king Charles II.

    So really what these descendants should do to get some sort of legal relief for their wrongly convicted ancestors is petition the current king Charles, the 3rd, To exercise the Royal prerogative of mercy. Commonly known as a Royal pardon.

  1. Nicholas J Page's Avatar Nicholas J Page

    I don't believe in withes and at that time with no evidence she was a witch counts as murder.Simple witches do not exist.How can you cast spells on people especially in the 21st century?

    1. Mary's Avatar Mary

      A spell is just like a prayer this isn't science or a harry potter movie. Anyone can wish or pray. To be a witch is not just about casting spells. You don't appear to know much about the subject if your just basing it on spells. If you are Clergy it is your job to be educated, tolerant and educate yourself.

  1. Richard Lee Cornell's Avatar Richard Lee Cornell

    Silly. But to get back at those descendants who might have survive every such plague in the last 400 years and still suffering from early stages of cancer. Revenge is our and not your Christian Lord. So it seems!

  1. Patricia G. James's Avatar Patricia G. James

    Righting the wrong done to those excused of being witches with no evidence is wrong. Taking someone’s life is wrong. Building up a case against someone based upon lies and false accusations is wrong. These things should be rectified. NOW IF THIS IS BEING DONE FOR WITCHES, THEN IT SHOULD BE DONE FOR BLACK PEOPLE. For those that were bright over here on slaver ships, packed like sardines in a can, separated from their loved ones, and the sea was some of their graves, rapped, beaten, stripped of our true heritage and dignity. Black people still suffer to this very day. Since they are going back in history over 400 years ago for witches, likewise should be done for BLACK people. I know this article is about witches but it opened the door also for me to comment about my people that have experienced being wronged. Healing needs to take place through ancestry lines. I can say much more regarding this whole matter of both witches and black people. LET’S RIGHT THE WRONG DONE TO THOSE OVER 400 yrs ago.

  1. Rev. Bugzy Malone's Avatar Rev. Bugzy Malone

    Good reading.

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