Alse Young – First Witch in America

 

Witch Hanged

Witch Hanged

The first to be convicted of being a witch during the Connecticut Witch Hunts was a woman named Alse Young (also called Alice Young or Achsah Young) of Windsor, Connecticut.

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.

Also See:

Puritans of New England

Salem, Massachusetts Witchcraft Hysteria

Witchcraft in America 

Witch Hunts in Connecticut

Sources:

Damned Connecticut

Geni.com

Wikipedia

2 thoughts on “Alse Young – First Witch in America”

  1. This information is largely incorrect. There is zero proof that Alice Young was from Kent and that her names was Stokes. There is also no proof that she was over forty when she died. She was likely much younger because of her daughters age based on her marriage date of 1654. Her accusation was not based on inheritance of her husband’s land because he was still living at the time. He did not die until April 7th and was buried April 8th of 1661. Other reasons were much more likely for her accusation.

    1. Hi Beth, knowing how little information there is “proof” of for Alse Young, we appreciate your feedback. Can you point us to a better source? Better yet, I see that you have authored a book on the subject, would you like to present a replacement article for this one (doesn’t have to be long, minimum 700 characters) that would serve to also promote your book? We could include links back to your website or place of purchase along with author bio? Let me know, send email to orders @ legendsofamerica.com

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