Tag Archives: JoanVaughn

The Witches of Northampton-shire

Brief summary
Theoretical discussion of witches, Mistris Belcher fell sick and cried out against Ioane Uaughn, whose daughter was Anges Browne, Belcher’s brother went to their house in anger but was unable to approach their house, when he returned home he also fell into fits, the women pled not guilty to bewitching the siblings but were executed; an Arthur Bill was accused of bewitching a mother and daughter to death along with cattle, born of witch parents also condemned in court, his mother slit her throat, he pleaded innocent but was condemned to death; a Hellen Iekenson bewitched a child to death and was executed; a Mary Barber bewitched a man to death an was also executed,

Fuller summary
This pamphlet recounts the events that led to the eventual executions of five witches in Northampton-shire on the 22 of July, 1612. The pamphlet begins with a theoretical discussion on witches and witchcraft. This discussion includes the condemnation of all those involved this “Devilish sin” and makes witchcraft seem like a practice void of any good and only associated with malice. The author, an anonymous writer, provides the definition of a witch as, “…one that worketh by the Devil, or by the same Devilish or Curious Art, either hurting or healing,revealing things secret, or foretelling things to come, which the devil hath devised to entangle,and snare men’s souls withall, unto damnation.” The author then proclaims that witches are not to be trusted.
The author first recounts the story of Agnes Browne and her daughter, Ioane Vaughan. One day, Ioane experienced an encounter with Mistris Belcher. In a fit of rage, seemingly caused by her angry nature, Mistris Belcher “strooke” Ioane, causing her to leave her company, promising revenge on Belcher. Ioane goes home to her mother, Agnes, and informs her of the events which had transpired. Moved by the devil, Agnes advised her daughter on how to proceed; with anger and destruction. Four nights later, while Mistris Belcher slept, she experienced a “gripping and gnawing in her body,” causing her to cry out in pain, immediately blaming Ioane Vaughan. Somehow, her face became disfigured by some disease. Belcher’s brother heard of his sister’s ordeal and paid her a visit. In defense of Belcher, her brother went to the house of Agnes Browne with the intention of drawing blood. After an intense series of events, Agnes and Ioane are both apprehended and indicted for their crimes. At the trial, they plead not guilty to the bewitchment of Mistris Belcher. They were subsequently found guilty and executed on July 22, 1612.
The second account is of Arthur Bill, a poor man and a son of two witches from the town of Raunds. Already with the suspicion of Arthur being a witch, people gave him a reputation of being associated with evil activities. On one particular occasion, the body of Martha Aspine was found dead, brutally bewitched and murdered. Because Arthur, and his two witch parents, was rumored to be seen floating on water, he was accused of bewitching the woman. In the trial, his father defected and became the principal witness against Arthur. His mother, in fear of being hanged, slit her own throat. He adamantly pleaded his innocence, yet he was still found guilty. The court even gave the three spirits which Arthur called upon names; Grissill, Ball, and Iacke. He asserted his innocence up until the moment he was executed.
The last two accounts of witches are much shorter than the other two. One is of Hellen Ienkenson, who was previously suspected of bewitching cattle. This time, she was accused of bewitching a child to death. She was ultimately found guilty and executed. The second short account is of Mary Barber. Mary came from extremely poor backgrounds, both lacking in education and characterized by violence and barbarism. Accused of bewitching a man to death, she was sentenced to the same fate.