Years before the infamous Salem, Mass., witch trials, and before Connecticut had even achieved statehood, Colonial leaders here tried, convicted and hanged several women – and one man – on accusations they were witches.
Today, one of the descendants of those executed, along with others who feel they were wrongly accused, are launching new efforts to overturn their convictions and get them pardoned.
Among them is an 82-year-old eighth-generation descendant of a Farmington woman hanged as a witch and a retired New Haven cop who believes the 11 Connecticut people put to death in the mid-1600s were wrongly accused of witchcraft.
Anthony Griego of Hamden is leading the current lobbying effort to get Gov. Dannel Malloy and the state legislature to pardon the 10 Connecticut people who were executed during a 15-year period in the mid-1600s, according to one published report.
Griego recently asked Malloy to pardon the accused witches, but the governor’s office has declined, saying he doesn’t have the power to do so under the state’s constitution.
In 2008 Bernice Mable Graham Telian, who is a descendant of a Farmington woman hanged as a witch and who’s written a book about the Connecticut witch trials, asked the legislature to pardon her ancestor and the other 10 people who were executed. That effort also failed.
Griego, according to an interview he gave ctnow.com, went so far as to write to the queen of England and asked her to pardon the accused witches. English law ruled colonial Connecticut in the 1600s.
The queen’s representatives wrote back and said the cases of all those accused would have to be fully examined again, something that’s nearly impossible because the written record of the state’s witch trials is flimsy.
Other states that hanged Colonial witches, such as Virginia and Massachusetts, have since taken steps to pardon them.