Witchcraft was declared a crime in English law in 1542, at the beginning of the Protestant era; trials there peaked in the 1580s and 1640s but fell sharply after 1660. The last, in 1717, ended in acquittal. The Witchcraft Act was repealed 1736. Lecky ("Rationalism in Europe," 1866) examines Hutchinson and Buckle and concludes that belief in witchcraft and sorcery had been common in England even among the most educated at the time of the Restoration in 1660. By 1688, the majority disbelieved it; by 1718 the minority was reduced to the ignorant and an insignificant section of the clergy.
updated on June 28, 2022