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Detestable and Wicked ArtsNew England and Witchcraft in the Early Modern Atlantic World$
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Paul B. Moyer

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781501751059

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9781501751059.001.0001

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“There Was Some Mischief in It”

“There Was Some Mischief in It”

The Social Context of Witchcraft

Chapter:
(p.116) Chapter 5 “There Was Some Mischief in It”
Source:
Detestable and Wicked Arts
Author(s):

Paul B. Moyer

Publisher:
Cornell University Press
DOI:10.7591/cornell/9781501751059.003.0006

This chapter delves into the dynamics of accusation and investigates what motivated people to denounce others as witches. It recounts how William Meaker of New Haven initiated a slander suit against his neighbor, Thomas Mullenner, for claiming that the defendant had called him a witch in 1657. It also explains how Meaker's case illustrates the important link between witchcraft and interpersonal conflict in early New England. The chapter explains the social context of witchcraft and examines the social situations that gave birth to fears of malefic attack as well as the motives that drove one person to accuse another of black magic. It examines how Puritan colonies closely match dynamics of witch-hunting across the early modern English Atlantic.

Keywords:   William Meaker, witchcraft, interpersonal conflict, Thomas Mullenner, malefic attack, black magic, witches, Puritan colonies, witch-hunting

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