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Friday, 17 December 2010

The Lowestoft Witches

In 1662 Bury St. Edmunds became another backdrop to the Witch Trials that were sweeping Europe. However, this story does not start in Bury St. Edmunds, it starts in Lowestoft, a thriving fishing town on the east coast of England. It was also the home of Amy Denny and Rose Cullender, know today as ‘The Lowestoft Witches’.

Amy Denny was first accused by Samuel Pacy, who claimed she had cursed his daughters after a dispute about buying fish. It began with his daughter Deborah being seized by fits for a number of weeks. Samuel sought medical help from his neighbour, Dr Feavor, he said that he could find no natural causes for her illness. Not long after this Samuel’s other daughter Elizabeth also became similarly afflicted.

Upon the evidence being formally presented Amy Denny was thrown into stocks, but the Pacy sister's torment did not end there.

Rose Cullender had been the subject of local rumours for a while, with lots of locals believing she was a witch. She soon became implicated along with Amy. Both Deborah and Elizabeth claimed that they had been seen visions of the women whilst suffering fits, seizures and loss of senses. Samuel had the girls move to their aunt’s house, hoping the extra distance would weaken the affects. It did not. Whilst there the symptoms continued, including vomiting pins and on occasion nails. Elizabeth gave an account of how the specter of Amy Denny visited her and implored her to drown herself.

The Pacy’s neighbours soon started alleging that similar fates had befallen their children following a dispute with Rose, and the case against the two women grew. After days of witness accounts and experiments being conducted on both the women and their victims, a jury took half an hour to find them both guilty. They were hanged the next day.

This trial played and important role in the history of the persecution of witches for a couple of reasons. The first of which being the publication of ‘A Tryal of Witches, at the Assizes held at Bury St. Edmonds for the County of Suffolk; on the Tenth day of March 1664’. Despite it’s rather inaccurate title - (the trial took actually took place in 1662) - this makes this trial one of the best documented on record.

This leads to the second reason why this case was so important. ‘A Tryal of Witches, at the Assizes…’, was later used as a reference for specter manipulation during the famed Salem Witch Trials.


  1. Peace and Light, Lily

    I enjoy your blog!
    All the best to you in 2011!!!

    Bright Blessings & Stay well,

    Ten Nebula

  2. Thanks! Though I feel I should point out the burning and hanging articles will be over soon and we'll be moving on to happier times in the History of Witchcraft lol x

    Lily x