Witchcraft Aug 27, 2020 13:02:26 GMT
Post by basildonhistory on Aug 27, 2020 13:02:26 GMT
The Witchcraft Act of 1542 made Witchcraft an offence punishable by death. This act was repealed five years later.
A new act was created in 1563 and demanded the death penalty for anyone found guilty for using witchcraft to commit murder.
Matthew Hopkins, the Witchfinder General began his career in 1644, tracking witches before torturing them to obtain a confession. He had been influenced by a book called ‘Daemonologie’ written by the future King James I. The book described demonology and reasons for prosecuting anyone associated with it.
Another book, ‘Malleus Maleficarum’ (Hammer of Witches) was written by clergyman Heinrich Kramer and was printed in 1486. This publication laid out reasons for why witches should be exterminated within theological and legal terms.
Hopkins was responsible for many deaths, including 19 in one day in Chelmsford, with another 4 dying in prison.
The area we now think of as Basildon Borough was not immune from the witch craze that swept across Europe.
During 1574 Dunton resident Anne Brewer was accused of witchcraft. Unfortunately, there are no details of what the accusation was made for or what the outcome was.
In 1582 Agnes Bryant, of Great Burstead, was accused of witchcraft. She was found guilty of bewitching 20 'brewinges of beere'.
In 1589 Thomas Corde of Langdon Hills was also accused.
Joan Bell of Fobbing was accused in 1592.
Margaret Prentize of Little Burstead was accused in 1605.
In 1610 John Skaife was also accused of Witchcraft. This could be John Skates who was a weaver in Billericay and went before the assizes in 1616.
During April 1616 accusations of Witchcraft were made by Richard Tarling against John Scates, a weaver in Billericay. His case was heard before the Assizes but it is not known what the outcome was. It is thought that Scates died in prison.
Mary Hurst, a spinster of Nevendon, was accused of bewitching William Hodge on 24 May 1653. She was found guilty, 'convicted of felony by witchcraft' and remanded in gaol until 'she shallbe delivered by due course of lawe'.
The last person executed for witchcraft in England was Mary Hurst in 1716, when she was hanged along with her daughter. Scotland executed its last witch 20 years later. Law was passed in 1735 making it illegal for anyone in Great Britain to accuse another of witchcraft.
Matthew Hopkins died at his home in Manningtree in 1647. It is likely that he died of pleural tuberculosis.
You can find out more about the 760+ people of Essex accused of witchcraft between 1560 and 1675 on www.witchtrials.co.uk.