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Articles from the old Newspapers mentioning witchcraft

The Exile

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From the old Newspaper Articles ....

I had a bunch of credits left at the website "The British Newspaper Archives" so I just started extracting some articles where people being accused of witchcraft.


Most are like people being charged with assaulting another person who he/she claims that was a witch.


Interesting that some of them have the simular belief that if you scratch a witch and draw blood you ended the witch's power over you.






Sheffield Daily Telegraph - Saturday 08 November 1856



A woman named Bathe preferred a charge against Ruth Mashman, a reputed witch, for extorting money, at the petty sessions, Shepton-Mallet, on Wednesday last.


It seems that Mrs. Bathe applied to the witch to have her assistance in breaking the spell of another witch upon her husband, who lately has been very unfortunate in his undertakings.


Mashman agreed to charm away the spell, and as a remuneration she obtained a coup of onions, a great portion of the woman's clothes, and a large sum of money; indeed, she was in the habit of paying the credulous Mrs. Bathe a visit whenever she wanted any of the above articles, which was pretty frequently.


Mrs. Bathe one day, needing the witch's advice on some point, paid her a visit, and at the end of the conversation had a small box given her, with strict injunctions not to open or show it to any one but her husband. Shortly after her coming into possession of the box she became very ill, and believed herself under the influence of the witch's craft, and the little box was considered the cause of illness.


At this point two "wis acres," respectable farmers, were consulted about the box, but on being told that the witch had averred the house would be blown up on its being opened, they declined doing it; and a man named Rood was sent for, who declared his readiness to open the enchanted box though the devil himself was there.


The box was opened, and sure enough the devil's portrait, by Mashman, in colours, was found inside, together with a verse of scripture written backwards, and some toads' legs.


The discovery led to the taking up of Mrs. Mashman, and it being proved she had obtained money, &c., by unlawful means, she was committed to the Shepton-Mallet house of correction for six weeks.


In the same woman's house, on it being searched a few weeks ago, Police-Constable Emery stepped on a loose stone, and on its removal discovered a crock containing several toads.


It is probable the practice has been handed down from the days of Shakespere of preserving under a stone, as in Macbeth: -


Toad that, under coldest stone, Days and nights hath thirty-one Sweltering venom sleeping got.


- Bristol Advertiser.







Taunton Courier, and Western Advertiser - Wednesday 18 July 1860



At the Woodbury Petty Sessions on Monday, the 9th inst., Susannah Sullock, a respectable dressed woman, and healthy, complained that Virginia Hebden, a lacemaker, had maliciously assaulted her at Colpton Raleigh, on the 8th of June.


The complainant said: - I was turning out my little cow in the brake, when I felt something touch me. I turned my head, and seeing the defendant, said "How you frightened me." She answered, "You want to be frightened for what you ha' done me."


I said, "I have'nt a doo'd nothing to you," and she began to scratch me over my face and hands with something sharp. I was afraid she was going to kill me. She draw'd blood both on my face and hands; (to Mr Holmes) you saw it, sir, bleeding.


I did not know what she scratched me for, that's best known to she. I saw her grandfather after, in the next brake. I did not run after her; but you would not wish me to stand there all day. I did not hold a stick over her, though I had a little umbrella stick, I driv'd my cow with.


Mr. Toby, who appeared for the defendant, said he was instructed that she went to look after her grandfather's donkey; the old woman called her bad names, and ran after her with the stick till they got to the adjoining brake where the grandfather was standing.


There was some tradition about drawing of a witch's blood being a cure for witchcraft, but there was nothing to shew that it had anything to do with the case.


John Hebden, the grandfather, aged 75, said he saw the old woman running after his daughher with a stick, of which his daughter had hold; neither made any complaint to him.


The Bench considered the offence proved, and fined the defendant 14s., to cover costs.


We noticed that witchcraft is very prevalent amongst the illiterate in the neighborough of Colyton, Salterton, and Woodbury.






Royal Cornwall Gazette - Thursday 22 August 1867



The Somersetshire magistrates have had to deal with a witchcraft case. At the last Axbridge petty sessions Ann Davis was summoned by Elizabeth Williams for cutting her arm with a knife. Complainant stated that in passing Davis's cottage on the 22nd of June she offered to sell her a flower.


They entered into conversation and on her leaving Davis flew at her with a knife she had concealed, and cut her in three places on the arm.


In her defence Davis said that Williams was always "hagging her to death;" and in reply to a question from the Bench said that Williams was a witch, that she could keep nothing from her, that on more than one occasion she caused her to be thrown from a cart, that she had killed her donkey and had also killed her cat.


She acknowledged that she scratched Williams with a pin, believing that if she drew blood Williams would have no further power over her.


The Bench thought that probably the lunatic asylum was the best place for a person entertaining such dangerous notions, but ordered her to find a surety to keep the peace for three months. Her husband, who evidently shared some of the old lady's ideas, reluctantly consented to be bound for her.


Pall Mall Gazette.








Portsmouth Evening News - Tuesday 04 January 1881



A witchcraft case recently came before the police-court at the Baltic town of Elping. A shoemaker accused a woman of having bewitched the daughter of a certain workman. No efforts could ease the devils out of the girl, and as the accused declared she had not bewitched her the shoemaker thought fit to compel her, by beating, to drive them out.


He was sentenced to a month's imprisonment.







Western Daily Press - Tuesday 09 December 1924



Devonshire Superstition.


An extraordinary defence was set up by Alfred John Matthews (43), smallholder, of Clyst St. Lawrence, who was summoned at Cullompton, near Tiverton, yesterday, by Ellen Garnsworthy, his neighbour, for assaulting her.


Complainant told the Bench that, for no reason known to her, defendant attacked her and severely scratched her arm with a pin, causing blood to flow profusely. He also threatened to shoot her.


Defendant, admitted the offence, declared that the woman had ill-wished him and bewitched his pig. He considered that the police should raid her house and confiscate a crystal she possessed.


The Magistrates tried to persuade defendant that there was no such thing as witchcraft, but he persisted in his belief.


Defendant was sentenced to one month's imprisonment.










Exeter and Plymouth Gazette - Wednesday 06 January 1926.



In an apparent belief that he had been guilty of witchcraft, the parish priest of Bom bon, near Melun, France, was set upon by 12 members of the Order of Our Lady of Tears of Bordeaux, stripped of his shoes and stockings, and bastinadoed till he bled.


He was rescued by police.







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Scratching a witch and ending his/her power over you is something I am familiar with. For the longest time, I didn't have any fingernails (bit them), and it was considered a vulnerability of sorts. I was actively encouraged for years to grow them out or put on some fake ones (to use as weapons, I assume :twisted_witch: ). Anyway, I have since grown them and for some reason feel a bit more powerful. Coincidence? Probably, but who knows.


Thank you for the interesting information.



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Facinating ! What comes to mind for me, Exile. Maybe I'm reeeeeaaaaccchhhinnngg... here, but as powerful as some of these accused were,


wouldn't the accused have powers set in place, not to be discovered. Like the police officer snooping around that womans house, and stepped


wrong on a stone, and uncovered a crock of toads ? But then again, maybe I'm reaching.... lol !


Interesting read, thank you.






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Lol,you would think so wouldn't you. I do think of all those poor people, who were persecuted tho,that were not witch,just had superstitious beliefs and those that were just used for a means. Still makes me so sad

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Wow. It's very interesting, thank you for sharing these! :thankyou:



Thanks Apryl !


I will be adding a few more on the next post


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From the Old Newspaper Articles - Group II


Here is some more articles that I found and transcribed here.



Part II:


From The British Newspaper Archive






Luton Times and Advertiser - Saturday 27 February 1869



A witchcraft case is reported from South Devon.


Two or three young women living at Dittisham fell ill. Their mothers, thinking they had been "ill-wished" - that is, looked upon with an "evil eye" - consulted a wizard at Teignmouth, who said the young woman were "deeply wounded," but promised a cure for a certain amount of money.


The money was paid, but the girls still remained unwell, and at last the wizard said nothing could be done for them, and he gave the affair up as hopeless after receiving a good round sum.


A "witch" was then consulted at Dartmouth, and many pounds, it is said, were expended on her - the money being sent by "some secret friend" to ensure success. Subsequently the young women got well, and the cure was attributed to the witch, who demanded £4 in one sum.


The mothers, however were unable to raise the amount, and got a friend to interpose with a person known as the "white witch" at Dartmouth and he so alarmed the woman by threatening to bring the case before the magistrates that she not only relinquished her claim to the [£]4., but returned part of the money she had previously received.








Shields Daily Gazette - Saturday 03 November 1888



The following little incident which has happened in an agricultural village in Germany shows that the belief in witchcraft is still deeply rooted among the lower classes even of civilized countries.


A farmer at this village lost several head of cattle within a few months, and the whole family agreed that this could only be the result of witchcraft. A miller from the vicinity, far famed for his power over evil spirits, was consulted, and ordered the doors to be painted with a certain ointment, after which the first person entering the house would be the evil-doer, and could only be kept from further mischief by having his or her nose squeezed between the door till it was utterly crushed.


The first person who entered was the neighbour's wife, who was duly captured, and who, though the attempt at crushing her nose was unsuccessful, receiving some serious wounds on the head.









Gloucester Citizen - Saturday 15 June 1895




A case of assaulting arising out of alleged witchcraft was investigated by the magistrates at Long Sutton, Lincolnshire, on Friday.


The complainant was an old widow named Perkins, who was supposed by one of her neighbours, Mrs. Hicks, the wife of a farmer, to have bewitched her poultry and cows, and thus stopped the egg and milk supplies.


The complainant was knocked down, and had her wrist broken, also sustaining other injuries, it being thought at one time she would not recover.


The defendant offered four pounds compensation, and complainant agree to withdraw the summons.









Evening Telegraph - Monday 18 April 1904




A curious discovery has been made in Lynn, in Lincolnshire. In an old house a heart-shaped piece of cloth, pierced with needles and pins, has been found in a "greybeard" bottle.


This is undoubtedly a relic of witchcraft. According to the Rev. H. J. Dukinfield Astley, M.A., F.R.S.L., Editorial Secretary of the British Archaeological Association, the memento was designed for someone's harm. "It is part of the paraphernalia of witchcraft.


The most interesting thing about the discovery is that it should have occurred in Lynn, i.e., in a part of the world where the superstitions belonging to magic and witchcraft might be supposed to have long disappeared.


The house is said to be 'old', and the fact that the cloth was contained in a 'greybeard' or 'bellarmine' bottle would seem to show that the time of its deposit belongs most probable to the sixteenth or early seventeenth century, at which period, of course, a belief in witchcraft was universal."







Tamworth Herald - Saturday 05 August 1916



An inquest was held at Edithmead, near Highbridge, Somerset, on Wednesday, on the body of Daniel Lawrence, eighty-two, who died on Monday as the result, it is alleged, of a gunshot wound inflicted on Saturday last by a local farmer named Philip George Hill, forty eight.


A son of Lawrence stated that Hill believed in witchcraft and refused to speak to certain people in the district as he thought they were concerned in bewitching him. In a statement made before he died Lawrence stated that Hill said to him: "I have been waiting for you for a long time; now I will do for you." He then fired.


The police said that on being arrested Hill remarked: "All the lot about here have been bewitching my child and pony."


The police found in Hill's possession thirty cartridges from which the shot had been extracted and bullets substituted. A verdict of willful murder was returned.







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From the Old Newspaper Articles - Group III


I finally used up the extra credits that I had left on the website (was to expire tomorrow).


So here is what I found for this group






Part III:


From The British Newspaper Archive






Western Times - Saturday 27 October 1860



A certain farmer residing at the western side of the above parish has of late had the misfortune to lose, by old age, two of his horses. He and his workman Williams, being more superstitious than wise, attributed the deaths to witchcraft.


They consulted their intelligent neighbours on the matter, and all agreed that some fiendish witch had caused the animals' death.


The demise of Tuckett and Thomas, late whitewitches, was bewailed, but there was one left at Crediton whose fame had reached the ear of the farmer, and he instantly saddled his nag and speedily reached the abode of Professor S., where the old incantations were put in practice. The professor quickly showed the unfortunate farmer the features of his bewitching enemy. Twenty-five shillings was paid for that and for the advice given to break the infernal spell.


The farmer overjoyed, retraced his steps, and within the space of an hour and half was seen in the act of exhuming the dead bodies of his bewitched horse; the heart of each animal was taken out, was stuck all over with pins and blackthorns, and was then enclosed in brown paper.


When night arrived both hearts were consigned to a tremendous fire made from green ashen wood, and to augment the heat, one cwt. Of coal was used for fuel. The hearts were soon consumed and "the spell wa broken."







Gloucester Citizen - Tuesday 19 August 1879




A Plymouth correspondent reports a remarkable case of West country superstition which has occurred in the North Devon parish of Charles. A small farmer, believing he was bewitched by a relative, journeyed to Exeter and brought home a "white witch," who is also a quack doctress.


During the burning of some compound resembling incense the witch repeated an incantation; but, notwithstanding her injunction that strict silence should be observed, the farmer's wife interpolated some contemptuous observations, and the only result of the evening's séance was that the witch prescribed to the farmer a beef diet for a week, during which time he was to stop at home.







Sunderland Daily Echo and Shipping Gazette - Tuesday 12 November 1901





An extraordinary story of supposed "witchcraft," says the Leeds Mercury, comes from Grimsby.


For six years a deal-carrier named Andrew Norton had lived peacefully with his wife and family at 49, Freshney Street, Grimsby, when, suddenly, about two months ago, stones began coming through the windows, thrown, apparently, by an unseen hand.


This continued day after day, night after night, until most of the windows and furniture had been smashed. Driven to desperation, the family removed their furniture to 25, Adam Smith Street, where the same thing soon began again, and is going on now.


As at Freshney Street, the stones apparently came from nowhere. Norton, his friends, some policemen, and members of religious bodies have watched closely, but they cannot discover their source, though they see them come.


"It's no human hand," declared Mrs. Norton to our representative last night, her scared look testifying to her great fright.


"And it's me they want," she added. "The stones followed me from room to room." Mrs Norton tells about a quarrel she had just before those happenings with a neighbour, who presaged troublesome times for her.








Western Times - Tuesday 23 April 1907

"Witchcraft" at Ilfracombe.


The "Ilfracombe Gazette" gives currency to a remarkable story of a farmer, who journeyed to Exeter to see "the White Witch," respecting the death of three horses. The animals died in a mysterious manner, in the first place sitting on their haunches, and then lying on their sides.


Two veterinary surgeons were unable to say what ailed the animals, and, after the death of the third, the farmer, whose farm is within three miles of Ilfracombe, journeyed to Exeter, as stated, and consulted "the White Witch."


This woman visited the farm, and told the man he had undoubtedly been witched. The farmer firmly believes such was the case. In answer to the interrogation as to whether he really believed in the superstition, he replied, definitely, that he was sure it was right, adding: "And 'twas a good job I went, or else I should lost everything. I lost all my horses, and 'twas awful! Awful!"







Western Times - Tuesday 29 June 1909



Strange Stories of West Country Superstition


Strange stories of superstition and of alleged witchcraft in West Somerset were told at Bury on Saturday at a meeting of the West Somerset branch of Church School teachers.


Reading a paper on the superstitions of the district from a medical point of view, Dr. Sydenham, of Dulverton, said belief in superstition was widespread, and was by no means confined to the lower order of society.


Herbalist and white witches were living among them to-day, carrying on their practices not infrequently to the exclusion of medical men.


The belief was widely held among superstitious people that whooping-cough could be cured by lying a child down in a sheep fold.


Epilepsy was supposed to be able to be cured by procuring silver coins from friends and making them into a necklace or bracelet for the sufferer to wear.


There were also many strange wart "cures." It was actually believe by some that if a piece of meat were stolen by a sufferer and buried, the warts would disappear as soon as the meat decayed. Rubbing a bean pod on the wart, accompanied by prayer, was another alleged remedy. Some warts he had when he was a boy were so treated by his nurse, and got well.


Inflammation and wounds caused by thorns were supposed to be able to be subdued by specified strangely worded prayers.


He knew a man who did a large practice in such "cures," but patients often felt his (the speaker's) lance afterwards.


A seventh son, especially if he were a seventh son of a seventh son, was as much sought after as if he were a Harley-street specialist. He was familiarly known as "The Doctor," and his cures for King's Evil were said to be miraculous. His patients were attended on a Sunday morning, after a night of fasting, the cure being by touch and prayer.


He knew a seventh son well, who had declared to him that when growing up he seldom tasted food on a Sunday, his parents keeping watch over him and deriving a harvest from his efforts.


Epilepsy and phthisis had often been attributed to the power of the Evil Eye, when the sufferer would be taken off to a white witch to see who had wrought the harm.


Persons possessed of a squint, commonly called a "north eye," were avoided by some, and there was an old saying in the district that to ward off ill-luck when passing such a person the best thing was to spit - (laughter).


Mr. J. Bedwell, of Brushford, said he had heard it suggested that thrush or white throat in infants could be cured by taking them to a river bank and drawing three rushed through their mouths.


Another extraordinary proceeding he had heard of was to take infants into the first fall of snow and rub their feet in it to prevent their becoming subject to chillblains in after life.


Mr. Bunston, of Kingston, said he had heard of a white witch who professed to cure persons as well as animals. It was the custom to send a white handkerchief to the witch, and after he had touched it, it was applied to the sufferer.


Mr. Stevens, of Kingsbrompton, said there used to be a lot of white witching at Dunster.


Mr. Greenhalgh, of Bury, said an educated man in that parish believed till his dying day that a certain woman had witched him.


Mr. Lilley, of Combe Florey, said he knew of a man who had an altercation with a witch, who told him he would be sorry for what he had said. The man almost immediately afterwards took to his bed and remained there 15 months, when someone visited him and said: "Old Mary is dead."


Her's dead, is her?" remarked the sufferer, "Then I shall soon get well." Within 48 hours he was back at his work again.







Hull Daily Mail - Monday 06 January 1941



The defence that his elderly neighbour, Mrs. Melvena Spinks, of East Dereham, Norfolk, had practiced "withcraft" was put forward by an Army pensioner, Gordon Sutton, summoned at Dereham for assaulting Mrs Spinks on Christmas Eve.


Sutton pleaded not guilty, and declared: "A witch has been in the witness box. Many a time she has tied a bunch of flowers on my front gate, and I have thrown them away.


"You know that is going back to the witchcraft of the Dark Ages. I dare not tell you half the terrible things she has done to me. I have been tortured for five years."


Mrs Spinks denied that she had "practiced witchcraft," She said Sutton rushed at her in her garden and hit her twice.


Both were bound over for six months.







Western Morning News - Friday 17 January 1947



"Love Potion" Curios At Launceston Talk


At a meeting of Launceston Old Cornwall Society, Mr. W. H. Paynter, of Liskeard, gave a talk on "Cornish Witchcraft." He brought with him some curios, including piece of the original bottle used by Tamsin Blight for her love potions.


In the discussion several members told of personal experiences of "charming" and the casting of spells. All agreed that there was a great deal more in the subject than mere superstition.









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  • 1 month later...



From the old Newspaper Articles - Group IV


I short while ago I copied some newspaper articles from the British Newspaper Archives.


In this batch I typed in Necromancy and I came up with a few






Westmorland Gazette - Saturday 09 August 1823



[Anecdote extracted from an Arabic MS. In the Royal Library at Paris.]


In an Arabic manuscript in the Royal Library at Paris, containing a description of Egypt, by Macrizy, a singular fact is mentioned in these terms: -


"The remains of ancient magic are still to be found in the said country. The following circumstance was related on this subject by the Emir [T?]acktabag, who had been Governor of [?]oas, under the reign of Mahomed Ben Kalaoun. Having arrested a sorceress, I ordered her to shew me a specimen of her art.


She replied, my greatest secret consists in charming a scorpion by pronouncing the name of a person whom he is sure to sting, and put to death. Well, said I to her, I desire you to make the experiment on me.


Accordingly she took a scorpion, and after having done what she deemed necessary, she let loose the animal which began to pursue me eagerly, notwithstanding all my endeavours to avoid it. -


Having placed myself in a seat in the midst of a reservoir filled with water, the scorpion came to the edge and endeavoured to reach me.


Finding he could not succeed, he crawled up the wall of the saloon and advanced along the ceiling, until having arrived at the spot immediately over me, he dropped, and began to run towards me. -


As I had never lost sight of him, as soon as I perceived him at a short distance, I gave him a blow which stretched him dead.


After which I ordered the sorceress to be put to death."






Evening Telegraph - Saturday 25 April 1903



The origin of most popular superstitions is about as hard to trace as the genealogy of obscure people, but many of the most common signs and portents are traced by Mr John Barker in some interesting notes to the remotest time.


Among the oldest and most interesting of superstitions are those relating to lucky coins, which are coins having holes through them. In order for the charm to be operative, it is said, the owner of the coin must not know who made the hole, but must receive the money in the ordinary way, or find it.


These coin superstitions have their root in necromancy or ancestor worship, and they can be traced back to the earliest times, but always in connection with witchcraft. The lucky coin and the lucky stone with a hole through it had the same origin.


In various parts of this country these stones are treasured as being a defence against witches and the nightmare, which is supposed to be caused by a witch sitting on the stomach of the sleeper.






Derbyshire Times and Chesterfield Herald - Saturday 25 May 1867





Grand Demonstration at Chesterfield, at Whit Monday, June 10, 1867.


(further down in the article)




The Midland Wizard, will give his Wonders of Necromancy and Modern Magic. He will not only deceive the eyes but the ears.







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From the old Newspaper Articles - Group V


Another group of newspaper articles found on the British Newspaper Archives.


~ Warning the last two are gruesome maybe not for the weak heart. ~




Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser - Saturday 22 December 1883


Witchcraft in the North.


A curious instance of the survival of superstition, in spite of school boards and Education Acts, was revealed on Monday at Inverness Police-court. An elderly Highland woman named Isabella Macrae or Stewart, residing at Muirtown-street, Inverness, was charged with assaulting a little girl.


She pleaded not guilty and the evidence showed that the little girl had used insulting language to the prisoner, while the prisoner, on the other hand, alluded to the little girl's grandmother as a witch. Towards the close of the case great amusement was caused in court by the accused producing a clay image, or corn creagh, which she believed was made by the so-called witch.


The legs had been broken off the image, and since then the prisoner believed that her own legs were losing their strength. A gentleman who wished to purchase the image after the accused had left the court was promptly told that on account would she part with it, for if anything happened to it in this gentleman's possession she might die, and she was not prepared to die yet.


She therefore wished to keep the image in safety so long as it would hold together, for so long as the image lasted she believed its baneful influences upon her would be ineffectual. Her husband had died some time ago, and also three horses, and she grieved to think that all these calamities were attributable to witchcraft.


The image was about four inches in length; green worsted threads containing the diabolic charm were wound around, while pins were pierced through the part where the heart should be. Bailie MacKay, notwithstanding the illustration of demonology which he witnessed, found the accused guilty, and passed sentence of fine or imprisonment.


- Glasgow Herald.






Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser - Saturday 07 January 1893

Execution of a Sorcerer


A Port Louis correspondent reports the execution, on December 12th, of a man named Diane, for a remarkable crime.


The culprit was 35 years of age, and was born in Mauritius of African and Hindoo parents. Being a so-called sorcerer he had a superstition that if he succeeded in slaying a young girl, and in devouring her heart and drinking her blood whilst still warm, he would be gifted with superhuman powers.


He therefore selected and waylaid his victim, a Mauritian, seven years of age. He afterwards related the circumstances of the diabolical crime to a friend, adding that he severed the head from the body, cleaned the skull out, and used it as a calabash to collect his victim's blood, from which he drank it.


This being the first execution in this colony for upwards of 15 years, the authorities were somewhat puzzled to fix upon a hangman, but finding the late occupant of that unenviable office was undergoing a short term of imprisonment, his services were secured, and a conditional pardon granted him, namely, that he leaves the colony at once.






Manchester Evening News - Wednesday 27 March 1895

The Witchcraft Case.


Horrible Story.


A special court was held at Clonmel yesterday by Colonel Evanson and Mr. Cambridge Grubb, magistrates, to hear the charges brought against ten persons of having murdered, by burning to death, a woman named Cleary, because she was supposed to be possessed of an evil spirit.


The prisoners include the husband and father of the deceased and a local herbalist. The evidence of a woman named Burke was to the effect that she was nursing the deceased, who suffered from nervous excitement and bronchitis. Her husband believed she was a witch, and obtained some herbs from a herbalist. While the prisoners held the sick woman her husband force her to take the herbs, and caused her to be held over a fire until, in the name of God, she declared that she was not his wife.


The following night the proceedings were repeated, but the deceased refused to conform to her husband's requests, whereupon he knocked her down, stripped her, poured paraffin over her, and then set fire to her body with a lighted stick from the fire. She burned to death in the presence of six male and two female relatives, who did nothing to save her.


They, however remonstrated with the husband, who declared that he was not burning his wife but a witch, and that she would disappear up the chimney. He collected the charred remains in a sheet, and buried them in a dyke near his house, where they were found a week later by the police.


The prisoners, who were remanded, were hissed and groaned at by an excited crowd.


Another account says: - The witnesses deposed that they saw Cleary and the others forcibly administered a herb medicine to Mrs. Cleary on the night of the 14th inst., heard Cleary call upon her in the name of God to answer to her name.


Cleary and the others held the woman over the fire "to frighten the answer out of her." She was not burned then, however, and they put her back to bed. The next evening the witnesses saw Mrs. Cleary taken out of bed and dressed, and she refused to take the last of three bits of bread which Cleary offered her.


The man threw her on the ground and forced it into her mouth. She still refused to swallow the bread, and then Cleary took up a burning stick and said he would burn her if she did not take it. Then Cleary stripped his wife and put her on the fire, and she was soon in a blaze.


Cleary threw oil upon her, and the more she blazed the more oil he cast upon her, so that the room was soon in flames. Some of the spectators getting afraid, entreated Cleary to desist, but he replied that he did not want a witch for his wife, that is was not his wife, but a witch he was burning, and that he would get his wife back.


He also said, "She will soon go up the chimney." When Mrs. Cleary had been burned to death, Cleary put her on a sheet, and with the help of Pat Kennedy carried the corpse out of the house.


Cleary threatened the spectators with violence if they dared say anything, and said he would himself pretend to be mad.


The prisoner Kennedy from the dock declared that the statements of the witnesses were correct.







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From the old Newspaper Articles - Group VI


a couple more found today




Blackburn Standard - Saturday 21 November 1891

Scottish Superstitions.


The entrance of the thrush, any of the family of finches, or of the little oxeye tit into the open window or door of a house is an omen that anyone ill within will regain health; and, if all are in good health, that some pleasant good fortune is in store for the household.


When the starling ceases to follow the grazing cattle, some witch spell is being wrought upon them; and if the raven hover near cattle or sheep, "elf-shooting" is likely to occur.


When the robin will not sing in graveyard trees, the place is held in unusual dread; and if you keep the white hair you will find under your foot when you bear the first notes of the cuckoo, in the spring time, the next name you hear spoken is that of the one you will happily wed.


Death tokens and funeral tokens are very numerous. When abroad at night one should not turn about on hearing footsteps. They are very likely to be those of the dead, who are seeking human companionship. The howling of a dog with his head toward the house for a near, and away from the house for a distant relative, or beneath the window of one lying ill; the croaking of ravens on the thatch; March roosters crowing before midnight; the sound of a spirit-bell in the night ; circles of flame in the air; a hen bringing off a brood which are all hen-birds; magpies preceding you on your way to church - are few of the countless Scottish presages of death.


If at a funeral a shaft of sunlight shines with special brightness on some one person, that one will be the next of those present to be buried. In the border shires any person who meets a funeral cortege is expected to bare his head, turn about, accompany the procession, and if the corpse be borne by bearers, "gie a lift," and then, after bowing to the attendants, he can resume his way without harm. Otherwise it is believed that he will be the next one buried.







Tamworth Herald - Saturday 26 October 1901


Horse-Shoe and Luck.


A horse-shoe is not, as a matter of fact, a bit luckier than anything else. But it used to be thought a very lucky object, and, indeed, the idea still exists. If one were discovered lying cast off on the roadway the finder was counted very fortunate, and the article would be taken home and nailed up either on the inside or outside of a door.


In former times people believed in witchcraft. They had a notion that certain human beings had control over unseen power, and were able to do very much as they pleased either for good or evil, but chiefly for evil. Amongst other things that were supposed to break a witch's spell, as it was called, or to give protection against a witch's power, was the horseshoe.


Why a horse-shoe was thought to have this effect more than anything else is not made very clear by writers on the subject. There is, however, a curious Scandinavian legend which may help to explain the mystery.


The story is that there was once a strong man, a farm servant, who all at once began to lose his strength. Day by day he got weaker and weaker, and there seemed to be no cause for the change. In his troubles he consulted a certain "wise man," and from this wise man he got an ointment with instructions to rub it on his head on retiring for the night, and never to mind, although it made his hair stick to the skin.


These instructions were followed, and the man went to sleep. But suddenly in the middle of the night he found himself standing in a Market-place in Norway, with a bridle in his hand. Where did the bridle come from? It had been thrown around his neck, and he had torn it off by scratching his head.


At his side stood the mistress for whom he had worked; and "by this and by that" - by the appearance of the woman and what he held in his hand - he knew that he had been bewitched as he lay asleep, and been changed into a horse and ridden up and down the country, and as this had been going on night and night he saw now the secret of his loss of strength.


Turning to the woman he quickly threw the bridle over her head, when, presto ! she was changed into a fine mare. Leaping on her back, the man rode furiously to the nearest blacksmith, and had the mare shod. He then removed the bridle, and the mare became a woman again; but on her hands and feet were the iron shoes of the mare, and there they remained. The man took care to keep the bridle, and the spell of the witch was broken for ever.


It is easy to see after a story like this that superstitious people would believe that the sight of a horse-shoe would frighten any witch away; and so on the doors of barns, stables, and dwelling-houses they began to nail up such things as a protection against evil visits.


At one time horse-shoes were nailed on many of the doors in London. This was done originally to secure the houses against plague. Ever since then the horse-shoe has been regarded as the symbol of luck and safety.


Even Lord Nelson had one nailed on the mast of his flagship. Where the horse-shoe is now seen on doorways, it may be said to be there simply "for old sake's sake." And of course, when we get the symbol in jewellry it is simply one way friends have of sending us their good wishes.


So far as the horse-shoe itself is concerned, the custom of nailing it cannot be a very ancient one, for horse-shoes belong to what we call civilized times.






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There are a few newspaper articles here http://www.thewica.co.uk/Others.htm

In an uncertain world nice its to see that British newspaper journalism doesn't change ;)



Thanks Spinney for the link to this site. I see on the page on Gerald Gardner some articles too.


I will copy this link on that thread on Gerald Gardner that I recently created.





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The link that Spinney provided also connects to the "Pentagram" newspaper/journal from the Witchcraft Research Association. Was pleased to see the issues presented as PDF's since I hadn't actually been able to read these journals before.

On a side note, there was another independent occult newspaper/journal also named the "Pentagram" that was published in the American mid-west (St. Louis, Missouri) during the early 1970's of which I still have a copy of one issue.



Thank you so much for posting these clippings; I thoroughly enjoy reading these snippets of history and customs as depicted from those who lived through it. They are examples of a direct perspective rather than that of a modern academic's interpretation.

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Thank you so much for posting these clippings; I thoroughly enjoy reading these snippets of history and customs as depicted from those who lived through it. They are examples of a direct perspective rather than that of a modern academic's interpretation.


Thank you for the comment Oneironaut.


Will add more from time to time. It is interesting that in some of the cases it is the people who claim someone is a witch is the real monster.



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