English Witch Trials

Salem wasn’t the only place to showcase hysteria against witches. Throughout England, there have been numerous recorded witch trials. Some of the towns that held a witchcraft trial, as well as more than one includes: Bury St Edmonds, Canewdon, as well as Clophill.


During the mid-1600’s, the town of Bury St Edmonds was the site of two witchcraft trials on the insistence of General Matthew Hopkins and Lord Chief Justice Sir Matthew Hale. The first trial was held in 1645, where about 200 accused individuals were gathered, including a well-known clergyman by the name of John Lowes. It is said that Lowes was pinpointed due to his political beliefs. Lowes suffered torture, including a method where the accused was walked until they confessed to their misdeeds. During this trial, a woman was burned to death for the murder of her husband. It was thought that she used witchcraft to carry out her plans. The second trial occurred in 1664, where two women named Amyu Duny and Rose Cullender were accused of bewitching numerous children using witchcraft. They were found guilty and hung for their crimes.


Some of the most powerful witchcraft reports hail from the village of Canewdon, which earned the nickname of Witch Country. This location was known for their witches to possess the power to influence machinery and cease wagons with one glance. Some believed that they were responsible for sending plagues of lice throughout the land, as well as other ghastly critters to irritate their enemies.


The town of Chelmsford saw many witchcraft outbreaks in its day. The first witch to be put to death in this area was during 1566. Agnes Waterhouse was put on trial along with her daughters and others for using witchcraft to cause sickness. Confessions saved one of the accused, while Agnes’s daughter was acquitted of charges. During 1589, a trial was held for nine women and one man. The end result produced the death of three women, who were hung only two hours after the verdict came in. In 1610, a woman by the name of Katherine Lawrett was accused of using witchcraft to cause the death of an expensive horse.


The list of locations throughout England that were touched by the witchcraft bug is long, including Clophill, which was the site of a supposed coven of witches. Coggeshall is where a widow was made to swim in the village pond until she confessed her ties with witchcraft. Months later, she passed away as a result of a chill that came with the torture she previously received. To add insult to injury, she was not allowed a Christian burial. Below you will find additional towns where witchcraft, supposed witchcraft, as well as witchcraft trials thrived:


Exeter: Temperance Lloyd , Susanna Edwards and Mary Trembles confessed to witchcraft; were sentenced to death by hanging.


Faversham: Location of Joan Williford’s trial, regarding her witchcraft practice. She named others, who in turn died along with her.


Fressingfield: Witchcraft hysteria spread due to the unexpected death of a baby.


Lancaster: Two large trials held; one in 1612 and another in 1633. Approximately 30 people lost their lives.


St. Osyth: 14 people charged with various acts of witchcraft.


Salmesbury: The trial of three women was held, including the claims of one woman eating the flesh of a child. Charges were later dismissed. 


Somerset: The site of two supposed witch covens during 1664.