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Current Meeting

Vernon Historical Society (CT)



October 20, 2013 Program

"Panic in Connecticut:

Accused Witches Have Their Say"

Presented by Virginia Wolf

            Between 1642 and 1693, thirty-four people in the colony of Connecticut were tried as witches, and eleven of them were hanged.  Most of them were women.  The largest Connecticut Witchcraft Panic preceded the famous Salem Massachusetts Witch Trials by some thirty years.

            "Panic in Connecticut: Accused Witches Have Their Say" is a one-woman show that brings to life the stories of five of the women accused of being a witch in 17th century Connecticut.  Researched, written, and performed by Connecticut actress Virginia Wolf, the 40 minute performance spans a period of over 30 years, and by the end gives a full picture of the experience of being accused of witchcraft at a time when witchcraft was a capital crime, punishable by death.

            Ms. Wolf portrays Mary Staples, Lydia Gilbert, Judith Varlet, Mary Barnes and Mercy Disborough.  Lydia Gilbert and Mary Barnes were hanged while the other three were acquitted for various reasons.  Their experiences ranged from being jailed, to being searched for witch's marks, to being put to the water test.

            In writing the play, Ms. Wolf used as many primary resources as exist.  Many records are lost, damaged, or were never kept and they are stored in museums and historical societies throughout the state.  Where primary sources were not available, Ms. Wolf only took dramatic license in keeping with the stories and the times.

            The Rockville Public Library is joining with the Vernon Historical Society to sponsor this unique program.  The performance will take place on October 20, 2013 at 2 PM at the Historical Society's building at 734 Hartford Turnpike, Vernon.  The program is free to the public.

            For further information, please call the society at 860-875-4326 or send an e-mail to or visit our webpage at