John Stearne (c. 1610–1670) was an associate of self-styled "Witchfinder General" Matthew Hopkins, who was active during the English Civil War. The duo's activities were portrayed unreliably in the 1968 cult classic Witchfinder-General (U.S. title: The Conqueror Worm). Stearne was known at various times as the witch-hunter, and "witch pricker".
Raised in Long Melford, Suffolk, Stearne later became a land owner at Lawshall near Bury St Edmunds. He met Hopkins, who was 10 years' his junior, in Manningtree and appointed him as his assistant. As a result of Stearne's accusations, a trial was held in Chelmsford in July 1645 for 29 people accused of witchcraft and sorcery. Of these, four had died in prison prior to the trial and 15 or 16 were subsequently hanged. Nine who had been convicted of conjuring spirits were reprieved.
Within a year of the death of Matthew Hopkins, John Stearne retired to his farm and wrote A Confirmation and Discovery of Witchcraft.
- ^ Davies, S.F (2007). The Discovery of Witches and Witchcraft: The Writings of the Witchfinders. Puckrel. ISBN 9780955635014.
- ^ A detailed account of the two men's activities can be found in Malcolm Gaskill's Witchfinders: A Seventeenth Century English Tragedy (Harvard, 2005).
- ^ St Edmundsbury, Borough Council. "Reformation and Civil War 1539-1699". Retrieved 15 December 2007.
- ^ Notestein 1911: p. 166
- ^ Notestein 1911: p. 248
- ^ Gaskill, Malcolm (October 2007). Witchfinders: A Seventeenth-Century English Tragedy. ISBN 9780674025424.
- ^ Gaskill 2005: p. 13
- ^ a b Gaskill 2005: p. 123
- ^ Notestein 1911: pp. 173, 403
- ^ Gaskill 2005: p. 129
- Gaskill, Malcolm (2005), Witchfinders: A Seventeenth Century English Tragedy, London: John Murray, ISBN 0-7195-6120-5
- Notestein, Wallace (1965) , A History of Witchcraft in England from 1558 to 1718, New York: American Historical Association, ISBN 978-1169793521, OCLC 223043