Matthew Harrison – The Witch-Finder General


All of us have at times wished that we lived in an earlier period of history, avoiding the pressures and complexities of modern life. Well, the story of the Witch-Finder-General should help to squash that particular fantasy. During the English Civil Wars, in 1645, Matthew Harrison travelled throughout East Anglia identifying those women (and some men) whom he declared to be witches. It was an age when faith and superstition were dangerously close together and communities readily turned against those who were in any way different or troublesome. Harrison caused the deaths of over a hundred people – all of them innocent – and destroyed the lives of hundreds more. And to this day there are no accurate records to even give us the names of these victims of ignorance and bitterness. Incredibly, he wreaked his misery in the space of just two years. This is a sad and distressing story but it deserves to be told. To live in the 21st century suddenly seems to be a piece of good fortune!