The self proclaimed Witchfinder General worked alongside his partner John Stearn on a crusade to rid East Anglia of those who were believed to be working with the devil. Upon the death of his father, Hopkins purchased a pub called The Thorn Inn in Mistley. From this establishment, he socialised with important members of the community and caught wind of the social change occuring.
Hopkins’ first case was an old one legged woman called Elizabeth Clarke. Her mother had previously been hung as a witch, and soon accusations were pointed in her direction too. The magistrate offered a warrant to gather information about her connection to witchcraft, and it was Matthew Hopkins and John Stearn who accepted the role.
In order to obtain a confession from the witch, Hopkins inflicted methods of torture such as walking, sleep deprivation, starvation, and swimming. Swimming was a method whereby the suspected witch had their hands and feet tied together and would be thrown into a river. If they sank they were innocent, yet drowned, if they floated, it meant they were guilty. They outlawed this method following the trial of the Suffolk Witches in Bury St Edmunds in 1645.