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History of Massachucetts
Menu Example 8
Menu Example 8

Pennsylvania's First and Only Witch Trial:
The Trial of Margaret Mattson

Clerk:  Henry Drystreet, Charles Ashcomb, and others claim that Margaret Mattson is a witch and therefore a danger to the community.  She is Swedish and does not always understand what is being said to her.  Lasse Cock has agreed to act as an interpreter for her if he is needed. Margaret Mattson, come forward and respond to these charges.  (Mattson comes forward)

Margaret Mattson, do you affirm that you will speak the truth?

Margaret Mattson:  I swear.

William Penn: Your neighbors say you are practicing witchcraft.  How do you answer these charges?

Margaret Mattson:  I am not guilty.  My neighbors speak lies.

William Penn:  Call Margaret Mattson's neighbors and have them describe their complaints.

Clerk:  Henry Drystreet, come forward.  Do you affirm that you will speak the truth?

Henry Drystreet:  I do swear.

Clerk:  What is your complaint?

Henry Drystreet:  Twenty years ago, Margaret Mattson put a spell on several of my cows. 

William Penn:  How did you know that your cows were under a spell?

Henry Drystreet:  The cows stopped producing milk.  Therefore, Margaret Mattson must have put a spell on them.

William Penn: You may step down.  Call the next witness.

Clerk:  Charles Ashcomb, come forward.  Do you affirm that you will speak the truth?

Charles Ashcomb:  I heard that Margaret Mattson's daughter sold her cattle.  She sold them because her mother put a spell on them.  When Margaret Mattson found out that the cattle were sold, she put a curse on her daughter.  The curse was that her daughter would not own cattle again.  Later, after the sale, the daughter bought more cattle from John Symcock, a neighbor.  One night, the daughter awoke to find her mother at the foot of her bed with a knife in her hand.  She told her daughter to give the cattle back or something terrible would happen.

Margaret Mattson:  Such lies!  My daughter would not say such a thing.  Bring her to the court so that she can speak for herself.

William Penn:  Wait until it is your turn to speak.  Friend Ashcomb, who told you this story?

Charles Ashcomb:  It was a neighbor.

William Penn:  You may step down.  Call the next witness.

Clerk:  I have a document written and signed by John Vanculin.  He is not here but his wife is.  Anna Vanculin, come forward.  Do you affirm that you will speak the truth?

Anna Vanculin:  I swear.  Margaret Mattson put a spell on one of our cows.   The cow died.  In addition to using other parts of the animal, we took the heart and boiled it.  As we were cooking the heart, Margaret Mattson came by and asked us what we were doing.  When my husband and I said that we were boiling the heart, she said that we might boil the bones as well.  Then she put several curses on us.  Using magic, she made a flock of geese appear.  These geese were very nasty.  Then she produced a broom made of bone and hair.  She flew off on the broom with the geese flapping behind her.

William Penn:  Are there any more witnesses?

Clerk:  No, Governor, there are not.

William Penn:  Anna Vanculin, you may step down.  Margaret Mattson, stand before me.

Margaret Mattson:  Listen to me.  I am a peaceful woman and tend to my own business.  None of my neighbors speak the truth.

William Penn:  Are you a witch? Do you ride through the air on a broomstick?

Margaret Mattson:  [confused - or defiant] Yes

William Penn:  There is no law in the province that makes it a crime to ride a broomstick. There is no crime to answer.

Attorney General : Sir, it is against English law and the law of the Commonwealth to be a witch.

William Penn:  Very well. The jury must decide whether Margaret Mattson is guilty or innocent of the charges of witchcraft against her.  Members of the jury, choose a foreman among you and make your decision.

[Jury consult.]

Foreman: We find her guilty of having the common fame of a witch but not guilty in manner and form as she stands indicted.

William Penn:  Hmm! You are discharged - but you will have to pay a fine of £100 and you must promise to be of good behavior for a period of six months. Is there anyone who will pay this fine?

Neil Mattson:  I will pay £50 on my wife's behalf.

Anthony Mattson: I will also pay £50.

William Penn: You may go - but remember.… No riding that broomstick!

Margaret Mattson:  Thank you.
William Penn wrote,. NO CROSS NO CROWN
Thats ThaT,. no need to enter into
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ANY of the,. sKiTs.
Trial of William Penn and William Mead
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