Table 5 Hatfield Peverel witches

Table 5 Hatfield Peverel witches

- 5.78% of the total number of people indicted for witchcraft between 1560 and 1603. Two Essex pamphlets (156655 and 157956) have been used in conjunction with the data from the Assizes to construct a family of four (possibly six) witches that spanned four generations living within Hatfield Peverel - Figure 4 shows their relationships. From these pamphlets we have a small insight into prevailing attitudes both towards religion and the possible heredity nature of witchcraft (or at least that witchcraft was something that could be learnt from other family members).

Looking first at witchcraft being perceived as hereditary: Thomas comments: "The idea that witchcraft went in families and might be hereditary was often put forward".57 A 1652 pamphlet stated: "Some there were that wished rather then they might be burnt to ashes, alleging, that it was a received opinion amongst many that, the body of a witch being burnt, her blood is prevented thereby from becoming hereditary to her progeny in the same evil, which by hanging was not.'"58 There is further evidence that witchcraft was not seen to be heredity in that women who pleaded pregnancy were examined by a jury of matrons and, if found pregnant, had a stay of execution until their baby was born. This opinion that babies were innocent of their mother's crime had been proved early on in Elizabeth's reign when a court case was brought against a "Sheriff in Guernsey who, when Perotine Massey59 gave birth to a baby when she was burning at the stake, had ordered that the baby be thrown back onto the fire. The court held that as the baby had not been condemned as a heretic, the Sheriff was guilty of murder, but Elizabeth pardoned him"60. Using the pamphlet of 1566, it can be argued that the writer(s) also did not believe witchcraft was heredity but rather a taught "art". The pamphlet makes the comment

Phillips, J; The Examination and confession of certaine wytches at Chensforde

Anon (1579) A detection of damnable driftes, practized by three vvitches arraigned at Chelmifforde

Thomas, K; Religion and the Decline of Magic; p 552 and his footnote number 102 regarding Ewen's Witchcraft and Demonism index "heredity in witchcraft".

E. G; (1652) A prodigious & tragicall history of the arraignment, tryall, confession, and condemnation of six witches at Maidstone, in Kent

A Protestant Marian martyr

Ridley, J; (2002) Bloody Mary's Martyrs; p215

that Elizabeth Frances "learnt this arte of witchcraft at the age of xii. yeres of hyr grandmother whose nam was mother Eue of Hatfyelde Peuerell disseased'. Agnes Waterhouse wanted to teach witchcraft to her daughter, Joan, "her mother this laste wynter would haue learned her this arte, but she lerned it not, nether yet the name of the thinge."61 These statements by the two women surely gives weight to the argument that witchcraft was considered to be a form of female power that grandmothers and/or mothers could teach to their (usually female) children.

Mutiler Eve

Unnamed woman

(Mother to Agnes & Elizabeth)

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