Witchcraft Trials

The Ancient Burying Ground - Hartford's Oldest Historic Site

Nathaniel Willet, 1698

Nathaniel Willet was a member of the jury that in 1662 found a husband and wife guilty of charges of witchcraft and sent them to the gallows.

Witchcraft was a capital crime under Connecticut Colony law. Those accused were placed on trial conducted by colony officials. After presentation of testimony and evidence supporting or contradicting the charge, the verdict was rendered. 

The first person known to have been executed in North America on charges of witchcraft was Alice Young of Windsor, who was hanged in May of 1647 in Hartford. Another seven women – and men – would be convicted of witchcraft and sentenced to be hanged in the Connecticut Colony by 1663, when the trials and executions ended.

Nathaniel Willet is one of several men interred in the Ancient Burying Ground who were involved in prosecution of accused witches or had other connections to the cases. Where the bodies of individuals executed for witchcraft were buried is unknown. 

Headstone for Nathaniel Willet
Headstone for Nathaniel Willet, Map #874. Epitaph transcription: 1698 / HERE LYETH / THE BODY OF / NATHANEL / WILLET AGED / 80 YEARS AND / DIED IN JANUARY / 4

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Learn more about the stories of people buried at the Ancient Burying Ground: