She was born in about 1600 in Kent, England to a man named Robert Stokes. When she grew up she married John Young and they had a daughter named Alice born in 1640. In 1641, John Young bought a small parcel of land in Windsor, Connecticut.
Though there are no records of an accusation or a trial, she was hanged in Hartford, Connecticut for the crime of witchcraft on May 26, 1647. She was the first person executed for witchcraft in the 13 American colonies. She was most likely executed at a site formerly known as Gallows Hill where Trinity College now stands or, she may have been hanged at Meeting House Square, which is the current location of the Old State House.
Many have speculated as to why she may have been accused.
She was over 40 and had no son when the accusation was lodged, which implied that she would be eligible to receive an inheritance if her husband preceded her in death. There was also an influenza epidemic, with a high mortality rate in Windsor, Connecticut early in 1647 which she may have been blamed for. Or, it could have been something as simple as making herbal folk remedies for her fellow settlers.
But, the truth will never be known as the only records of her execution were two short sentences. One was in a journal of then Massachusetts Governor John Winthrop, who stated that “One of Windsor was hanged.” The second was from Windsor town clerk, Matthew Grant, who recorded in his journal on May 26, 1647: “Alse Young was hanged.”
Land records indicate that John Young sold his land in 1649 and left the community.
Their daughter, Alice Young Beamon, would also be accused some 30 years later in Springfield, Massachusetts, though she wasn’t executed.
© Kathy Weiser-Alexander, June 2018.