Killing a Man Twice... in the 17th Century and the 20th
Edward Wightman sometimes engages in debate with the local Puritan ministers. He has also written books from which he is glad to recite at length in the public square. Edward came to the attention of the Bishop of Litchfield probably because Edward offered an opinion on the the disposition of the soul of a recently departed official. Edward gave testimony to the Bishop and sent a written defense of his religious position to everyone he could think of, including King James the 1st of Great Britain. King James takes his title of "Defender of the Faith" seriously... really, really seriously. Edward's fate is sealed. Now he has been tied to the stake in the public square and is being burned to death... a second time. The first time, he felt the flames and witnesses thought they heard him recanting, so they pulled him out of the fire. They wrote up a formal retraction letter but he refused to sign it. That is how Edward ended up burning at the stake... twice. Nothing remains of him today except for a small plaque in the public square acknowledging him as the last man to be burned for heresy. 17th century England is done killing men and women for religious dissent.       
Witches Are All Wet and Lights are Magical *
This year a new test is used to find suspected witches. They are dunked in the water. If they float, they are witches. If they sink, they are not. (There is a modern notion that this test caused death in either case but a rope was tied to the subject so that they could be pulled out if they sank.) The Witches of Northamptonshire were tried for various bewitchings. Their crimes were not sensational but this new method of testing witches began with them. A few weeks later the Pendle Hill Witch Trials got started. Out of the ten accused, only one was found not guilty. One woman openly confessed that she had bewitched a man. She was hanged along with all the others found guilty. While it looks bad in England, it's a whole lot worse in Europe... especially Germany. Lots of people are going to die, many of them professing their guilt and grateful for being caught.  
This Year on Wikipedia
Year 1612, Wikipedia.
- * The asterisk in the section header indicates that it was read on the podcast.
- The Age of Reason Begins: A History of European Civilization in the Period of Shakespeare, Bacon, Montaigne, Rembrandt, Galileo, and Descartes: 1558-1648, The Story Of Civilization. Simon and Schuster. “James disgraced himself by having two Unitarians burned for doubting the divinity of Christ despite the proofs which he offered them (1612), but he distinguished himself by never thereafter allowing an execution for religious dissent; these were the last men to die for heresy in England.”
- Edward Wightman - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 26 July 2015. “But what finally spelled his end was his public rejection of Trinitarianism.”
- Burnings and Persecutions. churches-of-christ.ws (2010). Retrieved on 24 July 2015. “Edward Wightman (1566 - April 11, 1612), who was burned alive at Lichfield, he the last to suffer in this way in England, future 'heretics' would be starved to death in prison.”
- 1612 Last Heretic - Edward Wightman. Burton on Trent Local History (2015). Retrieved on 26 July 2015. “A written retraction was hurriedly prepared and Edward, in pain and weakness, orally agreement as it was read to him. Later, however, no longer fearing the flames, he refused to sign the retraction and blasphemed louder than before.”
- Edward Wightman -- Martyr. rootcellar.us (1990). Retrieved on 26 July 2015. “While the flames started to burn his flesh, Edward shouted out unintelligible words that seemed to infer that he had changed his mind and was ready to accept the religion of the Established Church. The crowd rushed forward and assisted the sheriff in releasing him from the stake. Later, however, as he refused to made a formal retraction in writing and continued to preach his heresies, he was again tied to the stake and his body reduced to ashes on April 11th, 1612.”
- King James I (1990). Wightman Family - Written order issued by the King for the death of Edward Wightman. rootcellar.us. Retrieved on 26 July 2015. “Whereas, the holy mother church hath not further in this part what it ought more to do and prosecute, the same reverend father hath left to our secular power the same Edward Wightman as a blasphemous and condemned heretick to be punished with the condign punishment as by the letters patent of the aforesaid reverend father, the bishop of Coventry and Litchfield, in this behalf thereupon made, as certified unto us in our Chancery.”
- Burnings and Persecutions. churches-of-christ.ws (2010). Retrieved on 26 July 2015. “Below, plaque on the side of St. Mary's Church, Market Place, Lichfield, remembering the execution of Edward Wightman.”
- Alex Shrugged notes: I am reciting "Those who will be kind..." proverb from memory so it may not be exact. When I looked for an attribution on the Internet I see it is attributed to the Talmud. Yet, the actual citation is from the Midrash Qohelet Raba, 7:16. So... wherever it comes from, I remember it.
- Debate Rages Over Delays in Harris Execution : Forum: Appellate judge calls it a 'disgraceful performance.' Others counter that 14-year case was hardly a rush to judgment. Los Angeles Times (October 24, 1992). Retrieved on 26 July 2015. “Weisberg raised concerns that Pregerson's last-minute stay was essentially a futile act and perhaps even cruel to Harris when there was little realistic possibility that the execution would be delayed more than a few hours.”
- Here are the 13 men executed by California since 1978. Los Angeles Times (July 16, 2014). Retrieved on 26 July 2015. “Robert Alton Harris, and his brother abducted two teenage boys from a fast-food restaurant in San Diego in 1978. Harris shot John Mayeski and Michael Baker, both 16, in the head, killing them. He then stole their car. His brother, Daniel Marcus Harris, served six years in prison for his part in the murders.”
- Amendment VIII: Thomas Jefferson, A Bill for Proportioning Crimes and Punishments. press-pubs.uchicago.edu (1778). Retrieved on 26 July 2015. “Whenever sentence of death shall have been pronounced against any person for treason or murder, execution shall be done on the next day but one after such sentence, unless it be Sunday, and then on the Monday following.”
- Pendle witches - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 26 July 2015. “The twelve accused lived in the area around Pendle Hill in Lancashire, and were charged with the murders of ten people by the use of witchcraft.”
- Northamptonshire witch trials - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 26 July 2015. “This was the first recorded use of water-ordeal in England in order to test witches.”