Thursday, April 25, 2024

Goody Bassett Exonerated

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To Have Dedication in Stratford

Proclamation of the State of Connecticut

Resolved by this Assembly:

WHEREAS, the courts in the early colonies of Connecticut and New Haven indicted at least thirty-four women and men for the alleged crime of witchcraft and convicted twelve of them, executing eleven, and 4 it is now accepted by the historical profession and society as a whole that all the accused were innocent of such charges, and  WHEREAS, legal procedures differed at the time and many practices  of the court would no longer meet modern standards of proof, so that the miscarriage of justice was facilitated by such procedures, and

WHEREAS, the status of women was radically different than it is today, and misogyny played a large part in the trials and in denying defendants their rights and dignity,

WHEREAS, community strife and panic combined with 13 overwhelming fear and superstition led to these accusations of alleged witchcraft and the subsequent suffering of those accused. House Joint Resolution No. 34 LCO No. 3692 2 of 2 15

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that all of the formally 16 convicted, and executed are exonerated of all alleged crimes relating to the charges of witchcraft.

The legislature proclaims the innocence of the 18 following convicted and executed people: Alice Young in 1647, Mary Johnson in 1648, Joan Carrington in 1651, John Carrington in 1651, Goodwife Bassett in 1651, Goodwife Knapp in 1653, Lydia Gilbert in 1654, Mary Sanford in 1662, Nathaniel Greensmith in 1663, Rebecca Greensmith in 1663, and Mary Barnes in 1663; and one Elizabeth Seager convicted and reprieved in 1665.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that those who were indicted, forced to flee, banished or even acquitted continued to live with their reputations destroyed and their family names tarnished, will have their reputations restored and no longer have disgrace attached to their names, now, being in good standing in Connecticut.

The following 29 indicted who were not convicted but still suffered greatly after indictments were: Goodwife Bailey in 1655, Nicholas Bailey in 1655, Elizabeth Godman in 1655, Elizabeth Garlick in 1658, Unknown person in Saybrook in 1659, Margaret Jennings in 1661, Nicholas Jennings in 1661, Judith Varlet in 1662, Andrew Sanford in 1662, William Ayers in 1662, Judith Ayers in 1662, James Wakely in 1662, Katherine Harrison in 1668 and 1669, William Graves in 1667, Elizabeth Clawson in 1692, Hugh Crosia in 1692, Mercy Disborough in 1692, Mary Harvey in 1692, Hannah Harvey in 1692, Mary Staples in 1692, Winifred Benham in 1697, and Winifred Benham Jr. in 1697.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the State of Connecticut apologizes to the descendants of all those who were indicted, convicted and executed and for the harm done to the accused persons’ posterity to the present day, and acknowledges the trauma and shame that wrongfully continued to affect the families of the accused.

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