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Descendant of Farmington Woman Seeks Pardon for Witchcraft Conviction

There's a new move afoot to pardon 11 people accused of witchcraft and hanged in the mid-1600s in Colonial Connecticut.

Years before the infamous Salem, MA, witch trials, and before Connecticut had even achieved statehood, Colonial leaders here tried, convicted and hanged several women — and one man — on accusations they were witches.

Today, one of the descendants of those executed, along with others who feel they were wrongly accused, are launching new efforts to overturn their convictions and get them pardoned.

Among them is an 82-year-old eighth-generation descendant of a Farmington woman hanged as a witch and a retired New Haven cop who believes the 11 Connecticut people put to death in the mid-1600s were wrongly accused of witchcraft.

Anthony Griego of Hamden is leading the current lobbying effort to get Gov. Dannel Malloy and the state legislature to pardon the 10 Connecticut people who were executed during a 15-year period in the mid-1600s, according to one published report.

Griego recently asked Malloy to pardon the accused witches, but the governor’s office has declined, saying he doesn’t have the power to do so under the state’s constitution.

In 2008 Bernice Mable Graham Telian, who is a descendant of a Farmington woman hanged as a witch and who’s written a book about the Connecticut witch trials, asked the legislature to pardon her ancestor and the other 10 people who were executed. That effort also failed.

Griego, according to an interview he gave ctnow.com, went so far as to write to the queen of England and asked her to pardon the accused witches. English law ruled Colonial Connecticut in the 1600s.

The queen’s representatives wrote back and said the cases of all those accused would have to be fully examined again, something that’s nearly impossible because the written record of the state’s witch trials is flimsy.

Other states that hanged Colonial witches, such as Virginia and Massachusetts, have since taken steps to pardon them.

karen robitaille October 19, 2012 at 07:34 PM
uhhhh ya think? yes witches should be pardoned. our good governor doesnt have the power to do that? did a witch cast a nasty spell on him or somethin'? weirdzies!!!
Robert Kalechman October 20, 2012 at 02:52 PM
This is fact and most Connecticut and Federal judges know very little about these cases and many of their Court decisions border on them the old Connecticut Courts sent many to their death by Hanging we had one in Wetherfields Connecticut and those Connecticut judges that lived there had no idea what had gone on in the past years and sent people to their death and put out on the street those that lost their homes the honest people keep their family together in the face of Connecticut justice this black mark that is still with Connecticuts judges should be SET A SIDE and the Connecticut Legislature pass laws directing all the Connecticut Courts to pardon these Saints who were destroyed by Connecticut Laws Think about Connecticut
virginia wolf October 20, 2012 at 03:35 PM
The Connecticut witch trials are a little known piece of Connecticut history. What we shouldn't forget is that back then people truly did believe in the devil, and in witchcraft, and they were often acting to keep their community safe. I explore all of this in my one woman show "Panic in Connecticut; Accused Witches Have Their Say", www.herstorytheater.com, Not that there weren't all sorts of motivations for some of the accusations...greed, jealousy, intolerance...but fear was a pervading factor. I am not descended from someone hanged as a witch, so I have no right to weigh in on the exoneration issue. But I do know that we cannot judge history by the standards of our own era. Instead, we need to look at that time in history and use it as a lesson to promote tolerance; what isolated the people accused of witchcraft was that they were different from the puritan norm at the time, and that difference, whether it was physical or intellectual, made them suspect. It certainly still happens today!
Nikki Sleath October 20, 2012 at 11:10 PM
I have many reasons for believing that the accused CT witches should be pardoned. I just attended a lecture on the history of witchcraft in CT by a Professor Kirkpatrick who mad a very good point. There is a major loophole in the logic that ruled the proceedings that led to the deaths of the accused. Despite the fact that our ancestors did believe in the devil, they never entertained the fact that any odd visions or occurrences (many of which were the evidence used for condemnation) could have been acts of God, and not the devil. In other words, anything that was considered uncanny or supernatural activity was blamed on consorting with the devil, especially if there were any negative repercussions involved. So it seems that despite the existence of the worldview that led to the unnecessary deaths, there was also poor and hasty logic to the proceedings. I also have a vested interest as I am a direct descendent of one of the Salem witches, and am a modern day practicing witch myself. The pardons would serve to clear the names of those wrongly killed, and to act as a reminder of religious tolerance as we evolve as a society.
Phil Dunn October 21, 2012 at 01:08 AM
If our Governor or General Assembly spends one second on such tripe it will be a colossal waste of time that should be spent trying to balance the budget and address issues facing us in the here and now. The acts of people who were British subjects operating under a Charter from the King of England is nothing that anyone in the United States can or should revisit. The fact that historians have studied the subject and reported on the injustices is more than adequate. Should we investigate crimes that were perpetrated in the name of the King of France in the Louisiana Territory? Or, perhaps the King of Spain when it ruled Mexico and parts of the present day United States? Anyone who claims that the Witch trials from the Colonial era is an important issue in their life needs to move on to more productive pursuits.
Dave October 21, 2012 at 01:29 AM
This post is a joke, right??

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