Before Salem, There Was the Delco Witch Trial

Carla Welsh of Springfield discovered the story of a Delaware County woman accused of being a witch.
Image via Kimberly Paynter,WHYY.
Carla Welsh discovered Pennsylvania’s only witch trial. Her Facebook post on the trial went viral.

Nine years before the infamous Salem Witch Trials took place, a Delaware County woman faced her own witch trial in Philadelphia, writes Kenny Cooper for WHYY.

It was Pennsylvania’s only witch trial.

Known as “The Witch of Ridley Creek“, the “witch” in question was a Swedish settler named Margaret Mattson.

She lived with her husband, Neels, on a farm and in 1683 was accused of bewitching farm animals and “saying strange incantations while boiling meat in a great cauldron,” according to an April 15, 1902 article in the Chester Times.

A second Swedish woman, Yeshro Hendrickson, was also accused.

Mattson lived in what is now an industrial park in present-day Eddystone,

Gov. William Penn himself attended her trial. Mattson pleaded not guilty.

She was accused of multiple transgressions. One woman told the jury Mattson boiled a calf’s heart that was removed through witchcraft.

Mattson offered a strong defense saying the “witnesses speake only by hearsay.”

The jury found Mattson guilty of “having the common fame of a witch, but not guilty in manner and form of which she stands indicted.”

Mattson and Hendrickson were ordered to pay a fine of 50 pounds and to “practice good behavior for six months.”

The trial story was unearthed by Springfield resident Carla Welsh.

Read more at WHYY about a pre-Salem witch trial involving a Delaware County woman.

Stay Connected, Stay Informed

Subscribe for great stories in your community!

"*" indicates required fields

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.