The Chesapeake region is known for blue crabs, sailing, and the U.S. Naval Academy. However, Maryland’s past is cloaked in a dark secret–an intriguing and rarely mentioned history of witches.
In 1635, the state adopted the Witchcraft Act of 1604 that declared witchcraft a felony, punishable by death. Rebecca Fowler suffered the worst fate due to this law. She was accused by a fellow indentured servant of hexing him prior to an injury. She was arrested, tried by a jury, and hung at the gallows. Hannah Edwards faced similar charges, but luckily escaped the noose.
In 1665, Elizabeth Bennett (not that Elizabeth Bennet!) was caught making charms, casting enchantments, and delving into general sorcery. Philip Calvert, the fifth Governor of Maryland and the son of the first Lord Baltimore, charged her with witchcraft, but her neck was spared from the gallows by an acquittal. What’s ironic is that the Calverts were descended from the royal Grey bloodline (Queen Jane Grey’s family) who were known for delving into magic and alchemy. Also, another famous Maryland family, the Arundells (Anne Arundell married into the Calverts) were related to the Irish Wizard Earl, Gerald Fitzgerald, a famous magician and alchemist.
Around 1697, the Chesapeake witch, Moll Dyer of Leonardtown, was driven from her home when locals set it on fire. She raced into the winter’s night and died from exposure with her hand frozen to a boulder. According to witchlore, her handprint remains frozen in time and can be seen on the boulder as a reminder of darker days. The land where she lived is known to be cursed and reports of a woman’s ghost haunting the area abound.
In 1712, Virtue Violl starred in the very last state trial for practicing her craft. William Bladen, Maryland’s first Attorney General, oversaw the trial where she was charged with harming an elderly neighbor by striking her tongue lame, however, a lack of proof forced the jury to acquit her. Interesting fact–William Bladen is buried at St. Anne’s Episcopal Church in Annapolis on Church Circle. Sounds like a cool setting for a scene in a witch novel…hint, hint.
Ever heard of Witch’s Grave? Not many Annapolitans even know the place or the legend. A gnarled, slanted tree overhanging the bank of Spa Creek marks Witch’s Grave. At the base of the tree lies a crypt where three unnamed witches were buried. Local lore has it that two of them were hung and one was burned. Their tortured ghosts are known to haunt the area and anyone who summons them from their final resting place.
The Chesapeake area’s dark witch history inspires questions. Were these women deeply connected to nature or was there magic in their blood? Does Moll Dyer’s tortured spirit still search for the men who chased her out of her home? And is it possible the Chesapeake witches’ descendants quietly carry on the practice of their ancestors’ craft today, including the casting of spells and the breaking of curses? What I can tell you is this–I’m descended from a seventeenth century Chesapeake witch, Elizabeth Duncan of Virginia, and I love the idea of casting these kinds of powerful females into my enchanting ever-afters.
My upcoming novel, Bewitching Hannah (Fall 2017), is set in present-day Annapolis and will answer some of these unsettling questions.
Witch’s Grave, Annapolis, Maryland
Image of Annapolis from: http://www.tourist-destinations.com/2015/03/annapolis-md.html
Image of Witch Moll Dyer from: https://historywitch.files.wordpress.com/2012/09/moll3.jpg
Pictures of Witch’s Grave from: http://tobaccoland.blogspot.com/2011/03/witchs-grave-in-truxton-park-annapolis.html
For Immediate Release
June 1, 2015: The print release for Disenchanted, based on the Wethersfield Witches, is June 1, 2015.
A forbidden love. A dark curse. An impossible choice…Suspenseful, dark, romantic, and brimming with old magic, Disenchanted captures the intrigue of New England’s witchlore.
Descended from a powerful Wethersfield witch, sixteen-year-old Sophie is struggling to hide her awkwardly emerging magic, but that’s the least of her worries. When a dangerous thief tries to steal her mysterious heirloom necklace, she is rescued by the one person she’s forbidden to fall for—a descendant of the man who condemned her ancestor to hang. He carries a dark secret that could destroy them both unless Sophie learns how to tap into the mysterious power of her diamond bloodcharm. She will have to uncover dark secrets from both of their families’ wicked pasts and risk everything, including her soul to save them from a witch’s true love curse, but it will take much more than that.
Author Name: Leigh Goff
Genre(s): Young Adult, Fantasy Romance
Publisher: Mirror World Publishing
ISBNs: Print Book~ 978-0-9920490-9-6
Number of Pages: 264
Amazon Link: http://amzn.to/1FeknM1
Permission to Forward Granted
About the Author:
Leigh Goff writes young adult fiction with elements of magic and romance. Born and raised on the East Coast, she now lives in Annapolis, Maryland where she is inspired by the city’s great history.
She graduated from the University of Maryland, University College and is a member of the Severna Park YA Writers’ Group, Maryland Writers’ Association, and Romance Writers of America. She is also an approved artist with the Maryland State Arts Council.
For review copies or to arrange an interview, blog visit, or event with the author please visit her website.
Leigh Goff is a young adult author from Annapolis, Maryland. She is a graduate from the University of Maryland and a member of SCBWI.
Her second young adult novel, Bewitching Hannah, released from Mirror World Publishing on September 17, 2017. The story is set in present-day Annapolis. Her debut novel, Disenchanted, released in June 2015 and reimagines the legacy of a historic wicked Wethersfield witch in the present-day life of her sixteen-year-old descendant
The first American witch trials took place in Wethersfield, Connecticut, a historic Puritan town near Hartford, in the sixteen hundreds. During this time, the Puritan population of Wethersfield was suffering from bouts of sickness and mental fits, for which they blamed the devil, whom they believed was surely acting through powerful female vessels.
Neighbors began spying on one another and casting blame on women like Rebecca Greensmith. In 1662, several witnesses spied her dancing, drinking, and making merry in the woods with other accused witches. Then a neighbor who was afflicted with fits of blasphemy accused Rebecca of bewitching her. The Wethersfield witch hunts were followed by trials that were presided over by the Reverend Increase Mather (his son, Cotton, grew up to be just like dad and, a few decades later, had his own hands bloodied with the Salem Witch Trials). Rebecca, who was not afraid to hide what she was, admitted to having conversations with the devil, claiming to form a pact with him, as well as colluding with other witches in the woods. Her shocking confession along with, in the Reverend Mather’s judgment, her lack of fear for God, her familiarity with the devil, and her involvement in unnatural events, was enough for him to condemn her to death by hanging.
The historical event left me to wonder…what if Rebecca’s story did not end there? After all, she admitted to having an alliance with a powerful figure and she had a reputation for hexing neighbors. Who is to say she did not have time to take her vengeance on the Mather bloodline before the noose slipped over her neck?
This question along with the Wethersfield history inspired my debut novel, Disenchanted, where Sophie Goodchild, my curious and impetuous sixteen-year-old half-witch protagonist, is a modern-day descendant of the aforementioned Rebecca Greensmith.
As Sophie struggles with her emerging magic and deals with a group of full-blooded witch frenemies, her impatience and curiosity lead her into trouble. She meets the mysterious Alexavier Mather, a descendant of Increase Mather who had a hand in hanging Sophie’s ancestor at Gallows Hill. When he reveals his name, she immediately hates him, but senses he is hiding a dark secret and there’s nothing Sophie loves more than uncovering a good secret.
Danger finds her as she delves into the mysteries from both their family’s pasts. Then she begins to fall for the forbidden Alexavier who reveals that his bloodline is hexed with a true love curse that could destroy them. But there is hope. If Sophie can learn how to tap into the mysterious power of her diamond bloodcharm and find an ancient book of dark spells, she might be able to disenchant the Mather bloodline and save them both.
However, she must first deal with the deadly threat that is Alexavier’s father, Judge Mather, and he has a nasty secret of his own that will drive Sophie to make an impossible choice, one from which she may never return.
In my upcoming novel, Disenchanted, Sophie Goodchild is my sixteen-year-old half-witch main character, living with her eccentric aunt, struggling with her erratic magic, and bullied by a group of full-blooded witches she humorously refers to as the glitterati because of an illegal glitter charm they use.
She is a natural beauty with long, untamable waves of sable-colored hair, eyes the color of dark blue sapphires, and heart-shaped pillowy lips. More importantly, she is beautiful on the inside, although she hides it well behind her impatience and impetuousness, which only makes the reader love her more.
It is those heart-strong characteristics that lead her into trouble and, since she is ruled by her emotions, she’s all in once she finds trouble. She is fiercely loyal, determined, and fearless and there is nothing she wouldn’t do or sacrifice for the ones she loves, especially when she learns of the true love curse and the deadly threat that is Judge Mather, a wicked descendent of Increase Mather who had a hand in hanging Sophie’s ancestor at Gallows Hill, Connecticut in the 1600s. Wait until he finds out his rebel-hearted son has fallen hard for the forbidden half-witch.
I have been asked before which actress would portray her if a movie were ever made and, after searching through some familiar on-screen faces, I think Danielle Campbell, pictured above from the Disney movie, Starstruck, would be a nice choice to play Sophie.
*photo found at http://www.imdb.com/media/rm2822341120/nm2836740?ref_=nmmi_mi_all_pbl_48
Ever heard of a familiar or a familiar spirit? It is a witch’s mascot, her supernatural spirit companion that takes the form of an animal, but an animal with its own magical powers. This special creature is a guardian, lending support to its witch when needed and, if she is young, guiding her as she comes into her powers. In witch lore, the creature is usually represented by the oh-so-clever black cat, but the familiar takes a form that best represents the individual nature of the witch and, in my next book, the young witch is going to discover hers, once she discovers she’s a witch that is. This majestic creature with eyes of blue and feathers the color of freshly fallen snow is Rasool, an Arabic name that means messenger, and I can’t wait for everyone to meet him in my next bewitching novel.