Tradewinds Time Capsule: Witchcraft in Currituck,1703
On July 25, 1703, Thomas Bouthier filed a legal complaint against Susannah Evans of Currituck, alleging that she had bewitched his wife Deborah and caused her death. The case went to trial, with Cornelius Jones, a well-known sea captain, serving as foreman of the grand jury.
Captain Jones, who had been well informed of the witchcraft trials in Salem, Massachusetts, in 1692, was determined to avoid a similar outcome in this case. He convinced the jurors to dismiss the charges of witchcraft against Susannah, likely motivated by a desire to avoid the hysteria and turmoil that had characterized the Salem trials.
Despite being found not guilty, it seems that Susannah was not fully exonerated in the eyes of the community. According to reports, the townsfolk kept their distance from her, suggesting that the stigma of being accused of witchcraft persisted even after the trial.
This case illustrates the enduring belief in the power of witchcraft in early colonial America, as well as some individuals’ willingness to use witchcraft accusations to settle personal grievances. It also highlights the role of influential figures, like Captain Jones, in shaping the outcome of such cases and the importance of due process in ensuring justice is served.