Formed due to the lack of any form of wizarding governance and law enforcement in the New World, the Scourers began as a combination vigilante group and bounty-hunting service, tracking down both wanted criminals and anyone for whom a reward was offered. With time, they became increasingly corrupt and brutal, resorting to torture and murder. Eventually, they engaged in outright wizard-trafficking, and even turned innocent No-Majs over to witch-hunting Puritans in exchange for gold.
Some Scourers managed to evade being brought to justice by marrying No-Majs and integrating into No-Maj society. Their descendants had a profound impact on No-Maj-wizard relations in the centuries that followed.
Formation and rise to power
During the 17th century, when North America was just starting to be settled by both non-magic and magic emigrants from Europe, the continent's wizarding community was small and fragmented. The absence of a centralised wizarding government meant that the North American wizarding community had no effective law enforcement mechanism. To fill this void, wizards and witches of many different nationalities banded together to form the Scourers, a mercenary group which acted as both vigilantes and bounty hunters, tracking down not only wanted criminals, but any person for whom a sufficient reward was offered.
Over time, the Scourers became more and more corrupt, the lack of any form of governmental oversight allowing them to abuse their power and indulge in acts of cruelty, including torture and murder. By the late 17th century, the Scourers' ranks had grown substantially, and they were spread across America. They engaged in trafficking their fellow wizards, and even resorted to capturing innocent No-Majs and passing them off as wizards, so as to collect bounties from credulous No-Maj witch hunters. Wizarding historians concur that at least two of the judges who presided over the Salem Witch Trials of 1692-1693 were in fact Scourers seeking to settle personal vendettas. News of the Scourers' activities, and of persecution by Puritans, largely dissuaded pure-blood families on other continents from emigrating to North America.
In 1693, the prototypical incarnation of the Magical Congress of the United States of America was founded, establishing North America's first wizarding government. The first task the newly-minted MACUSA set itself to was rounding up the Scourers and bringing them to justice. Many Scourers were put on trial and convicted of crimes such as murder, torture, and wizard-trafficking, for which they were ultimately executed.
However, a number of the most notorious Scourers managed to evade capture despite the international warrants out for their arrest, renouncing the wizarding world and integrating into No-Maj society. Some of them married No-Majs, "winnowing out" any magical children born of these unions, so as to maintain their cover. Now outcast from the wizarding world, these surviving Scourers sought vengeance by instilling an abiding conviction in their descendants that magic actually exists and that wizards and witches ought to be wiped out.
Theophilus Abbot, an American wizarding historian, identified several Scourer-founded families, each of them marked by a profound belief in the existence of magic and an equally deep hatred of it. The anti-magic beliefs and activism of the Scourer descendants have been credited as the reason North American No-Majs are often apparently "harder to fool and hoodwink on the subject of magic" than other non-magic populations.
In the 18th century, Bartholomew Barebone, an American No-Maj of Scourer descent, managed to ply details about the wizarding world from the witch Dorcus Twelvetrees when he met her at a picnic. Stealing her wand, he showed it to as many newspaper reporters as he could, some of whom published stories describing it. He also printed and distributed leaflets listing wizarding addresses that Dorcus had revealed to him. This was the largest and most damaging breach of the International Statute of Wizarding Secrecy in history and lead to the passage of Rappaport's Law in 1790.
The 6 December 1926 morning edition of The New York Ghost featured a story about Scourer descendants in Salem, Massachusetts facing a "magical identity crisis," including one who considered their family's Scourer heritage to be a "blight," and was striving to achieve freedom from "magical shackles."
Notes and references
- ↑ 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 1.12 1.13 1.14 1.15 1.16 1.17 1.18 1.19 "History of Magic in North America: Seventeenth Century and Beyond" on Pottermore
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 "History of Magic in North America: Rappaport's Law" on Pottermore
- ↑ Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (film) (see this image)