Bewitched from the Start

A 1919 journal article on witchcraft in North CarolinaOn December 3, 1679, a North Carolina law was passed directing local juries to investigate “felonies, witchcraft, enchantments, sorceries, and magick arts, among other crimes.”

Throughout history, witchcraft was often blamed for bad luck, illnesses, crop failures and infidelity. Unlike the infamous witch trials in Salem, Mass., many cases in North Carolina were dropped, not prosecuted. In most of the cases that were brought to trial, the accused were found innocent. Those accused of witchcraft also often successfully countersued their accusers.

As early as 1768, royal Governor William Tryon issued commissions to the Justices of the Peace to hear cases involving charges of enchantment, sorceries and art magick, and as late as 1951, a law was written and passed by the General Assembly against witchcraft in North Carolina. A case was considered in Morganton against a potential witch as late as 1976. The law was finally repealed in 2004.

For more about North Carolina’s history, arts and culture, visit Cultural Resources online. To receive these updates automatically each day subscribe by email using the box on the right and follow us on FacebookTwitter and Pinterest.