Christine de Pizan

Christine de Pizan
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Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Alse Young, Executed for Witchcraft

Alse Young (executed 26 May 1647)

Alse Young, of Windsor, Connecticut, was the first person known to have been executed for witchcraft in colonial America. There are not many details: Massachusetts Bay Colony's governor, John Winthrop, noted in his journal that “One of Windsor arraigned and executed at Harford as [for being] a witch,” while Matthew Grant, the town clerk of Windsor, recorded in his diary that “Alse Young was hanged.” 

An English woodcut of a witch, 
from A Most Certain, Strange, and True Discovery of a Witch,  
printed by John Hammond (London), 1643
What she did, exactly, isn't known. She was married, perhaps to a man named John Young, a carpenter, and she had a daughter, Alice. 

Alice Young Beamon, Alse Young's daughter, would also be accused of witchcraft, some thirty years after her mother's death, about 1677 . . . (She seems to have survived the accusation and lived until 1708.)

Update, 14 November 2021: Although it contains only a brief reference to Alse Young, you may be interested in the 9-episode series, Salem: Investigating the Witchtrials, now available as part of the BBC History Extra podcast. The various episodes place the Salem witchcraft scare and trials in a larger historical, social, political, legal, and, of course, religious context. If you'd like to listen, click here.