16th century victims:

1574   Alice Reade of Lawford 
1584  Joan Thatcher of Lawford 
1598  William Ruffle of Lawford 

1566  Emma Crosse of Manningtree 
1594  Anne Harvey of Manningtree 

The Witchfinder’s victims:
1645  'Mother' Benfield of Lawford
1645  Jane Bigs of Lawford
1645  Jane Browne of Lawford
1645  'Mother' Clarke of Lawford
1645  'Mother' Forman of Lawford
1645  Rachel Flower of Lawford
1645  Mary Foster of Lawford
1645  Mary Greene of Lawford
1645  'Mother' Goodwin of Lawford 
1645  Frances Jones of Lawford 
1645  'Mother' Miller of Lawford 
1645  Mary Rhodes of Lawford 
1645  'Goodwife' Wayt of Lawford 
1645  Anne West of Lawford 
1645  Rebecca West of Lawford

1645  Sarah Bright of Manningtree 
1645  Elizabeth Clarke of Manningtree 
1645  Ellen Clarke of Manningtree 
1645  Elizabeth Goodwyn of Manningtree 
1645  Elizabeth Gooding of Manningtree 
1647  Nicholas Leech of Manningtree

1644  Elisabeth Gooding of Mistley 
1645  Anne Leach of Mistley

Witch-hunts were a part of England’s history at least back to the 16th century, and wide spread in Europe from the 14th Century.  James I of England (James VI of Scotland) was instrument in the persecution of witches in England. The insecurity of the English Civil wars added to this fear.

However in England it took on a whole new dimension with a arrival on the scene of the self proclaimed ‘Witchfinder General’, Mathew Hopkins.

The son of the local Rectory, Hopkins lived and based his reign of terror from Manningtree.

It is generally accepted that the Mistley, Manningtree and Lawford victims were some of the first if not the first so called witches persecuted by Mathew Hopkins ( the self acclaimed ‘Witchfinder General’)

‘The Devils       Darlings’


It is worth stating the obvious;

several of the above names are duplicated or have very similar spelling. Any genealogist will be aware that 400 year old records do contain errors and a variation in spellings.

I believe that the actual number of executed local ‘witches’ in the area numbered about 12 or 13. For a small community this was a still extremely large number.

You can see Hopkin’s impact, there were 5 local cases in twenty years prior to his reign of terror, and up to 23 in the 14 months between 1645 and 1647.

First hand witness to the trials in Chelmsford of the Manningtree Witches

Arthur Wilson, (Steward to The Earl of Warwick).

Had the following comment to make:

....could find nothing in the evidence that did not sway me to thinke them other than poore, mallenchollie Envious, mischevious, ill-disposed, illdieted, atrabil[io]us Constitutions, whose fancies working by grosse fumes & vapores might make the imagination readie to take any impression whereby their anger and envie might vente it selfe into such expressions as the hearers of their Confessions, that gave Evidence, might find cause to believe, that they were such people as they blazon[e]d themselves to bee.........

External Link to:

Manningtree Museum & Local History group.

Credit - Philip Cunningham0