The 17th Century Trial of Elizabeth Wood – the Benenden ‘Witch’

Anonymous copy of original 1693 'Cast out all Witches and Devils' poster Anonymous copy of original 1693 ‘Cast out all Witches and Devils’ poster

During the 17th Century the accusation of witchcraft was a real threat and on 8 September 1653 the people of Benenden eagerly awaited a verdict from the Kent Quarter Sessions.

Following an alleged quarrel between Mrs Elizabeth Hodge and her neighbour, Elizabeth Wood, ‘a singlewoman’, Mr Hodge had accused Elizabeth Wood of witchcraft on the basis that their six-year-old son had begun to be ‘taken in the night time with strange fits of crying’ that could not be gratified.

When giving his evidence before three Justices of the Peace (William Boys, Robert Gibbon and Richard Kilburne) Mr Hodge stated that Elizabeth Wood had threatened to take her revenge on his wife and for past two months their son had suffered, calling out to him saying ‘Here comes a black thing and teares me and pulls mee by the…

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