Matthew Hopkins and The Discovery of Witches

Matthew Hopkins, Witch Finder General. From Hopkins’ published broadside. Public domain

England’s largest and deadliest set of witch trials were largely influenced by one man – Matthew Hopkins, who was known as the Witchfinder General, even though that doesn’t seem to have been an official title given to him in any sort of formal way.

Tracy's Research:

  • Sharpe, James. “Hopkins, Matthew.” Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. 9/23/2004.
  • O’Brien, Sheilagh Ilona. “The discovery of witches: Matthew Hopkins’s Defense of his Witch-Hunting Methods.” Preternature: Critical and Historical Studies on the Preternatural. Volume 5, Number 1, 2016. Via Project MUSE
  • Gaskill, Malcolm. “Witchcraft and Evidence in Early Modern England.” Past & Present, No. 198 (Feb., 2008).
  • Gaskill, Malcolm. “The Pursuit of Reality: Recent Research into the History of Witchcraft.” The Historical Journal, Vol. 51, No. 4 (Dec., 2008). Via JSTOR.
  • Simpson, Jacqueline. “Witches and Witchbusters.” Folklore, Vol. 107 (1996). Via JSTOR.
  • Hopkins, Matthew. “The Discovery of Witches.” London. 1647.
  • BBC. “Witch-finder witch?” Legacies: Essex.
  • BBC News. “Puritan's witch trial notebook from Tatton Park online.” 3/3/2011.
  • Clark, Charles. “A true and exact relation, of the severall informations, examinations, and confessions of the late witches, arraigned and executed in the county of Essex.” London. 1645, reprinted 1837. Via
  • O’Brien, Sheilagh. “A ‘Divellish’ Woman Discovered: The Witch of Newbury, 1643.” Ceræ: An Australasian Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies. Vol. 2, 2015.
  • Gaule, John. “SELECT Cases of Conscience TOUCHING VVitches and VVitchcrafts.” 1646.;view=fulltext

Topics in this Podcast: 17th century, trials, Halloween episodes, witch trials, witches, European history