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 Historical information doesn't really go out of date!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.

If you'd like to publish any interesting material about the history of East Anglia on the site, then please send an email to the Resident Historians at and we'll add it.

Family Historians have their own area on the site, so look there if your main interest is in tracing your family history.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

The Smoking Baby of Fressingfield and the Witch

I've been trying to increase the number of book reviews on the site. Whilst doing so I was reading Christina Hole's fascinating book 'Witchcraft in England', in which East Anglia features quite strongly. I came across the intriguing account of the Fressingfield Witchcraft case from 1890. All other accounts I've seen are based on The account in this book

'...The Sunday Times for April 13th, 1890, gives an account of an inquest held at Fressingfield on a baby girl who had died suddenly. The medical evidence showed that death was due to shock caused by the external use of some powerful irritant, though what this was, and why, or by whom it was applied, was not determined. The parents both swore that their child had been overlooked by her step-grandmother, Mrs. Corbyn, who had died on the same day and had told them on her deathbed that the baby would not long survive her. A few hours afterwards they took the child out in her perambulator and were suddenly startled by the sight of smoke issuing from it. As soon as they reached home again, she died. George Corbyn told the jury that he had always believed his late wife was a witch, and consequently he had always tried to do whatever she wanted and to avoid offending- her at all costs..'

Does anybody know more details of this strange case? Our resident Historian (GH) will, I am sure, soon be delving in the archives to find out more.


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