Witchfinder General

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Witchfinder General

(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

The unofficial title adopted by Matthew Hopkins, the son of James Hopkins, minister of Wenham in Suffolk, England. Matthew made a career out of "discovering" witches for a fee. One of his earliest trials took place in 1645 at Chelmsford, Essex before the justices of the peace and Robert Rich, Earl of Warwick. On Hopkins's first foray into witch hunting, he brought a total of nineteen people to the gallows.

Hopkins took on assistants: a man named John Stearne and a woman named Mary Phillipps. They were sometimes helped by Edward Parsley and Frances Mills. Together they set out to "discover" witches at twenty shillings apiece, plus a further twenty shillings for a conviction. They visited Suffolk, Norfolk, Cambridgeshire, Huntingdonshire, Bedfordshire and other areas. In the space of two years, they caused at least two hundred people to be executed. Hopkins described himself as a "Witchfinder" and as "Witchfinder General" on the frontispiece of his book The

Discovery of Witches: in answer to severall Queries, lately Delivered to the Judges of Assize for the County of Norfolk. And now published by Matthew Hopkins, Witchfinder (London, 1647).

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