A writer at the Huffington Post argues unconvincingly that witchcraft trials are a byproduct of exceptionally cold periods in climatic history. Read it at your intellectual peril.
Appropriate to such a cloudy subject there is a silver lining. Mr. John King Tarpinian, who sent me the link, surprised me by revealing that one of Ray Bradbury’s ancestors is a woman tried for witchcraft at Salem in 1692 — Mary Bradbury.
Transcriptions of documents from the trial of Mary Bradbury are available on a University of Virginia website. She was indicted for —
Certaine Detestable arts called Witchcraft & Sorceries Wickedly Mallitiously and felloniously hath used practiced and Exercised At and in the Township of Andivor in the County of Essex aforesaid in upon & against one Timothy Swann of Andivor In the County aforesaid Husbandman — by which said Wicked Acts the said Timothy Swann upon the 26th day of July Aforesaid and divers other days & times both before and after was and is Tortured Afflicted Consumed Pined Wasted and Tormented…
An outpouring of community support, reflected in a petition with numerous signatures, did not keep her from being convicted though it may be the reason she avoided execution. Nevertheless, she served time in jail and sources conflict over whether she died behind bars or was allowed to escape and died afterwards.
Her descendants are a diverse group – Ray Bradbury isn’t even the most famous writer among them, that claim belonging to Ralph Waldo Emerson. There is even a famous athlete — 19th-century football player, Bradbury Robinson, who threw the game’s first legal forward pass.
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian for the story.]