In the 17th century, many people believed witchcraft was fact, not fiction. In those days witch was defined as a man or woman who made a pact with the devil. Sometimes the gender, station, or beliefs of the person had something to do with their accusation. There were tests that "proved" whether someone was a witch or not. A few of these tests were:1. A person would tie rocks to the feet of the supposed "witch." If the person sunk, they person was "proved" to be a witch.
2. The town would watch as the accused would recite the Lord's Prayer. If they were truly the devil's servant, they would not be able to say the prayer.
3. If any marks or scars were found on the "witch's" body they were said to be the marks of evil.
According to the English law, Witchcraft was punishable by hanging. Many people believed witches were burned at the steak, but in truth, they were hanged. The court tended to believe the afflicted. Most of the girls who claimed to have been tortured by witches have been lost to history. The young ones married, changed their names, and moved away. Some witches, remained after confessing to their "crimes." Over 40 witches in 1692 did confess. Their reputations, respect, and lives were torn apart by their descision. Many years later, there were a number of things that caused the hysteria to slow down. One of the main reasons was that "spectral" evidence was eventually not allowed in the court of law. By 1693, people realized that incorrect methods and procedures had been used to find a verdict. Most people still believed that witchcraft was a reality. After the trials, people believed that the devil had been among them, and that he had deluded them into believing that their kind had joined with him. By the 1700s, most educated people doubted the existence of witchcraft. Still, in the 1800s there were scattered reports of witchcraft. Few people continue to believe that witchcraft is real, but those who do are allowed to believe what they wish.