Accused : British Witches Throughout History
The image of the witch - crook-nosed, unpleasant of disposition and with a penchant for harming her neighbours - is well established in the popular imagination. For hundreds of years the accusation of witchcraft has been levelled against women throughout the British Isles: such women were feared, persecuted, revered and reviled, with many ending their journeys at the stake or noose. Far from a mass of pitiable, faceless victims however, each case tells its own story, with a distinct woman at its heart, spanning the centuries down to the present.
What did it really mean to be accused as a witch? Why, and by whom, were such accusations made? Was it possible to survive, and what awaited those who did? Prepare to delve into the captivating history of witchcraft with an in-depth exploration of some of the most fascinating and notorious women accused of being witches from across the British Isles. On a journey from 14th century Ireland to 20th century Hampshire, Accused examines the why, the how, and, most importantly, the who of these tantalising and evocative cases.Using trial documents, contemporary pamphlets, church and census records and a wealth of other sources, eleven accused women are brought to life in a biographical approach that will take the reader back in time. Meticulously researched and skilfully and painstakingly woven, this book will be indispensable to anyone with an interest in the popular topic of the history of witchcraft and a love of fascinating and diverse individuals.
Setting each of the "accused" in their social and historical context, Willow Winsham delivers a fresh and revealing look at her subjects, bringing her unique style and passion for detail to this captivating read.
This book looks in depth and focuses on eleven cases of women who have been accused and tried of witchcraft from the 14th Century to the 20th Century. Each case appears to have been carefully selected by the author as they include cases from England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales, showing that accusations of witchcraft was not just focussed in one area of the country.
By selecting and researching different time periods the author highlights the different views and attitudes throughout the centuries. However, I did feel that there was a too large a focus on the 17th century and it could have possibly included a few more cases from across the centuries.
Each of the cases has clearly been thoroughly researched using original archive resources with a detailed bibliography and notes section. Each case builds up an image of how life was for each of the women and gives an important insight in to what their position was in the social structure and what was the catalyst to them being accused and tried for witchcraft. After going in to depth presenting the evidence the author allows the reader to make their own mind up as to whether there was any supernatural behaviour involved or whether each individual was a victim of circumstance.
The writer has gone an extra step whilst researching the cases and has followed up with what happened to each of the individuals in each instance. This is a nice way to complete each case so that the reader is not left thinking 'what happened next?' Throughout this book you can certainly see the author's passion for research, history and love of storytelling, combining the three elements makes it a must read for anyone with a fascination for the supernatural, history and of course witches.
Friends of The National Archives