Wednesday, 3 January 2018

New Year's Witchcraft

Wishing everyone a very happy start to 2018, and hoping that the festive period was a positive one, however you chose to spend it! I'm back blogging with tales of witches and everything weird and wonderful, and what better way to start than with some new year's accusations of witchcraft? 

Agnes and her husband John Godfrey were married 25th January, 1578 at St. Andrew's, Enfield, and had at least six children in the years that followed. There is no evidence one way or another as to how their marriage fared, but relations within the local community were certainly less than harmonious as Agnes was accused of bewitching Thomas Phillippes, a one-year old infant, on 1st January, 1596/7, and another child, William Harvey, on 1st January 1597/98. Both died. In November 1609, Agnes was indicted for both crimes. She was also charged with bewitching a 'steer' (castrated cow), a pig, a 'little pig' and a mare belonging to local gentleman William Durrant, bewitching Frances Baker and causing her illness and wasting, and causing the death of Jasper Tappes. Agnes pleaded 'not guilty' to all charges, but was found guilty of killing William Durrant's animals and also murdering Thomas Phillippes in 1596/7. 

The sentence passed against Agnes is unknown, but she clearly escaped the noose as she was indicted again several years later in 1621 on more charges of witchcraft. The previous enmity between Agnes and William Durrant had not been resolved, as this time she was accused of harming the man himself, causing his body to be wasted. Agnes was also accused of using witchcraft to murder William and Robert Coxe and Henry Butterfield in the years since her previous indictments.

Agnes pleaded 'not guilty' again and was this time acquitted on all counts. This was hopefully the end of at least official accusations for witchcraft for Agnes, as she does not appear in the court records again for any reason. 

(As I can't let these things lie, I am currently pursuing research to find out how long Agnes lived after her acquittal. Watch this space!)