Helen Duncan: The Last Witch of Britain

The Witchcraft Act of 1735 was a landmark act for Britain. Unlike the earlier Witchcraft Acts which legalized witch-hunting and the execution of witches, the 1735 act was a complete reversal of attitudes. It ruled that witches didn’t exist and it was a crime for a person to accuse another of possessing magical powers or practicing witchcraft. Furthermore, anybody who pretended to exercise witchcraft, sorcery, or conjuration, by claiming to call up spirits, foretell the future, or cast spells, was to be punished as a con artist and subject to fines and imprisonment. The criminalization of witchcraft brought to an end the gruesome practice of burning innocent victims on the stake, that had claimed the lives of tens of thousands of women since medieval times.

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Helen Duncan

Source: amusingplanet.com

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