The Foxearth and District Local History Society

The Hysterical Hystorian

For occasional articles, snippets and announcements by the Resident Historians.These articles are presented in date order, but if you explore the back-catalogue, you may find much of interest. Historical information doesn't really go out of date! Any member of the F&DLHS may add an entry or make a comment to an existing entry once they have got their userID and password from the Webmaster.

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Tuesday, May 03, 2005

The Witches of Borley

The story of the Borley witches can be traced ever so faintly in the court reports of the time. What I present here is like a flatpack self-assembly story. Some skills are required in piecing together what weas going on. As the following materials represent all we seem to know about the incidents, you are at liberty to speculate.

Michaelmas 1578 Session Rolls -Indictment

1 March 1578

The jurors present that Margaret Ganne alias Welles and Joan Norfolk of Borley, spinsters, are likewise witches and enchatresses, and that they bewitched John Furmyn at Borley aforesaid on the above date, so that he languished vehemently until 1 May then next following when he died; and so the jurors say that the said Margaret and Joan killed and murdered the said John by witcheraft, contrary to the peace, etc.

Assizes held at Brentwood 14th July 1578

26 May 1578

Recognizances of Roger Welles otherwise Gan, Thomas Ryce and John Clarke, all of BORLEY, yeoman, before Thomas Gentleman esq., for the appearance of Margaret Welles otherwise Gan; to answer.

MICHAELMAS 1578 General Sessions

2-3rd October 1578

John Bragge, Alice Fyrmyn and William fyrmyn to give evidence against Margaret Ganne [alias Welles] at the next Assizes

Henry Kente of Foxearth professes to be at the next Sessions for procuring certain [persons] to be on the Great Inquest

Warrant for good behaviour to be made against John Kent of FOXEARTH at the suit of Thomas Carter [deleted].

Assizes held at Chelmsford 6 August 1579

12 December 1578

Indictment of Joan Norfolke of Barley spinster at FOXEARTH bewitched a grey gelding worth £3, belonging to Geo.Bragg yeoman, whereupon it died. Pleads not guilty; not guilty.

Assizes held at Chelmsford 2 April 1579

2 April 1579

INQUISITION taken at Braintree 2 April 20 [sic] Eliz, before Robert Lord Ryche, Tho.Myldmaye and others The jurors say that Margaret Gannd alias Welles and Joan Norfolk both of Borley spinsters, 1 march 20 Elizabeth there bewitched John Furmyn where of he died 1 May following. Both plead not guilty.

Sessions Rolls Michaelmas 1579

6 September 1579

Indictments of Henry Kent the elder and Henry Kent the Younger of Foxearth, Yeomen, for an assault and battery on Margaret, wife of Roger Ganne alias wells, and richard Salmon, servant to the said roger, at the same.

Assizes held at Chelmsford 6 August 1579

15 April 1579

Indictment of Margt.Milles of Borely spinster at FOXEARTH bewitched five Pleads not guilty; not guilty.

Assizes held at Chelmsford 6 August 1579

28 August 1579

Indictment of Joan Norfolke of Borely spinster at FOXEARTH bewitched Hen.Kent of the same by which for 3 days after he was grievously vexed and disquiested (inquitat') in divers parts of his body. Pleads not guilty; not guilty


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