Witches of Warboys

       In November 1589, Jane Throckmorton, the 10-year old daughter of the Squire of Warboys in the Fens, started suffering from fits and seizures.

       Initially treated by Dr. Barrow and Master Butler of Cambridge University, they first ignored her accusations against the 76-year-old Mrs. Alice Samuel. By the New Year, Jane's four sisters and some of the servants were exhibiting similar symptoms, all accusing Mother Samuel of bewitching them.

       In September 1590, Lady Cromwell, grandmother of Oliver Cromwell, came to Warboys and practically accused Mrs Samuel of being a witch. After this, Lady Cromwell had nightmares, became ill and died in 1592.

       The children continued with their behaviour through to December 1592 when Mrs Samuel begged them to stop their fits. Which they did. The local parson now made her confess to being a witch, but she recanted a day later.

       She was taken by the police to the Bishop of Lincoln, and terrified, she confessed again, adding that she had three familiars. These were her chickens, Pluck, Catch and White. she was brought back to Huntingdon and imprisoned with her daughter Agnes and her husband John Samuel.

       The three were tried on April 5th 1593 for the murder, by witchcraft, of Lady Cromwell. Alice confessed and added that she'd had sex with the devil. Agnes was urged to plead pregnancy to put off her execution, but replied "Nay, that I will not do. It shall never be said that I was both a witch and a whore."

       After the Samuel's were hung, Sir Henry Cromwell confiscated their meagre property to pay for an annual sermon against witchcraft in Huntingdon. By the time it ended in 1812, though, the sermons were against the belief in witchcraft.

The Belfry