Witch Hunting in Kildwick

Don’t worry – this isn’t a modern witch hunt!

WitchcraftA conversation on Facebook (on the Glusburn and Crosshills Chit Chat page) has led me to a book, published in 1676 and called, “The Displaying of Supposed Witchcraft
Wherein it is affirmed that there are many sorts of Deceivers and Imposters”
They went for really snappy titles in those days.

This comes as a sort of postscript to the famous Pendle Witches trials of 1612.  On page 276, in which John Webster, a “Practicioner in Physick” (and also a priest, I assume, as he tells of being the Curate at Kildwick) tells of an event that finally reached London and “his Majesty and the Council”.

The full account runs to two pages (full of those funny ‘f’s that are really ‘s’) and you can download the original here or a transcript here.  The transcript is an easier read – I think it’s fairly accurate!

The story is of a boy, around 10 or 11 years old, who was being toted around churches with his supposed ability to spot witches.  He rolled up to Kildwick where John Webster was preaching – and was clearly suspicious.  He was not allowed to interview the boy.  The case was brought to the Lancaster Assizes and seventeen people were found guilty.  The judge, however, was unconvinced and they were then reprieved.

The judge brought the whole matter to the King and Council and the Bishop of Chester was brought in.  Four of them were sent up to London – where no cause for guilt was found.

Focus moved to the boy and his father.  It was established that the lad was off, scrumping plums when he was supposed to have been spotting witches.  The story does not relate what happened to the boy and his father.  Nothing good, I suspect.

Best to read it yourself, really.

This entry was posted in Uncategorised. Bookmark the permalink.