John Stearne (witch-hunter)
John Stearne (c. 1610–1670) was an associate of the Witchfinder General, Matthew Hopkins, a witch-hunter active during the English Civil War. Stearne was known at various times as the witch–hunter, and "witch pricker". A family man and land owner from Lawshall near Bury St Edmunds, Stearne was 10 years older than Hopkins. He met Hopkins 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 4 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.
- A detailed account of the duo's activities can be found in Malcolm Gaskill's Witchfinders: A Seventeenth Century English Tragedy (Harvard, 2005). The duo's activities were portrayed unreliably, but entertainingly, in the 1968 cult classic Witchfinder-General (US: Conqueror Worm).
- St Edmundsbury, Borough Council. "Reformation and Civil War 1539-1699". Retrieved 2007-12-15.
- Notestein 1911: p166
- Notestein 1911: p248
- Gaskill 2005: p13
- Gaskill 2005: p123
- Notestein 1911: p173; 403
- Gaskill 2005: p129
- Gaskill, Malcolm (2005), Witchfinders –A Seventeenth Century English Tragedy, London: John Murray, ISBN 0-7195-6120-5
- Notestein, Wallace (1911), A History of Witchcraft In England from 1558 to 1718, New York: American Historical Association 1911 (reissued 1965) New York Russell & Russell, ISBN 978-1169793521, OCLC 223043