Georgian Witchcraft

This is a late incidence of alleged witchcraft reported in Felix Farley’s Bristol Journal 13 March 1773 and shows the importance of authorities intervening. Stories of witchcraft tend to be in wild places where there were few gentry to provide charity and law enforcement.

A woman was reportedly very ill with putrid fever in the village of Seend, Wilts. She was visited by many neighbours believing she was bewitched. In delerium she often cried out “she is pinching me to death!” An old woman long considered to be a witch was thus suspect.

A mob of about 100 ‘wise’ people tied a rope around her middle and ducked her in the nearby millpond. She failed to sink after being thrown in 2 or 3 times so they were convinced of her guilt. But they believed this punishment would prevent any further witchcraft so let her return home.

But the woman’s fever increased so the mob returned next day to the alleged witch’s house intent on ducking her again. But a magistrate heard of their plans and intervened, probably saved her life.