Activists Seek Pardon For Connecticut Witches

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


Years before the infamous Salem, Mass., 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.

G October 20, 2012 at 03:21 AM
Where in the article does it state that someone is asking for money? I've read it twice but I'm just a stupid, dumb, elitist, liberal, socialist, communist a-hole that doesn't deserve to live in your world. Nor would I want to. Burn me at the stake, please!
CuriousOrange October 20, 2012 at 02:54 PM
So envious that he was never actually victimized because of his race, class or gender, Ed is still steaming about proposals to give freed slaves '40 acres and a mule.' LOL
LAM October 20, 2012 at 03:31 PM
Actually 40 acres and a mule was a concept of General Sherman, and since the military does NOT dictate social policy it never did and never will be considered as official Government policy. Whoever claims that this is a broken promise to ex slaves or their descendents is either willfully or woefully ignorant how the Government works, and why we don't let the miltary dictate civilian policies.
LAM October 20, 2012 at 03:36 PM
When the witch trials occured Connecticut was a British Colony not a member of the United States. Neither Governor Malloy nor the legislature have any legal standing to pardon or apologize for an injustice committed by another countries legal system.
Richard Platt October 21, 2012 at 01:21 AM
Both my wife and I descend from Andrew Sanford. Andrew and his wife, Mary, were tried for witchcraft. Andrew was acquitted but Mary was found guilty. Historians presume that she was executed but there is no record of it. Andrew then moved to Milford where his brother Thomas had settled. He married a second wife whose name is not known. I descend from Andrew and Mary; my wife from Andrew and his unnamed second wife. This has led to some good-natured kidding between us, that I had the witch and she did not. This has never bothered me because if you don't believe in witchcraft, what's the big deal? A few years ago a Sanford researcher sent me a page from a Colonial History of Hartford which said that Mary Sanford "was not long detained in jail. Like some weird spectre of the spirit world, she disappeared." It is known that there already was growing skepticism about witchcraft in Hartford, In fact, another couple accused of witchcraft fled the colony and no effort was made to stop them. This has led me to think that she was allowed to escape and fled to Milford with her husband where she was the "unnamed second wife." No proof, of course, but possible.


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