Margaret Mattson, the Swedish wife of a Delaware County farmer, was the infamous subject of the first and only witchcraft trial in Pennsylvania, writes William Kashatus for The Wilkes-Barre Citizens’ Voice.
Mattson, who lived on a farm near Ridley Creek in present-day Eddystone, was put on trial in 1683, a decade before the renowned witchcraft trials in Salem, Mass., that cost 19 women their lives. But she escaped with just a fine.
Mattson was accused by her neighbors of bewitching livestock. Her trial was before William Penn, the attorney general, and a grand jury.
The first two witnesses testified based on hearsay. One said that he had been told 20 years prior that Mattson was a witch who had bewitched several cows. The other said that Mattson’s daughter sold her cattle bewitched by her mother.
Following their testimony, Penn turned to the accused and asked her if she was a witch. Mattson denied.
“Hast thou ever ridden through the air on a broomstick?” Penn asked. But seeing Mattson’s confusion, he dismissed the query.
The jury quickly returned with a verdict that found Mattson not guilty of bewitching animals.
She was fined five pounds, with the stipulation that it would be returned if she “acted in good behavior.”
Read more about Margaret Mattson in The Wilkes-Barre Citizens’ Voice by clicking here.