Accusation of witchcraft

The Lancaster Witches: examinations of Margaret Johnson, Mary Spencer, and Frances Dickenson (Catalogue ref: SP 16/269 f.174)

A key component of witchcraft trials was the examination of the accused by somebody in authority, when they would be presented with a series of questions and asked to give their account. In this document the Bishop of Chester describes the answers of 3 women accused of witchcraft in Lancaster, 15 June, 1634.


  1. The Examinations of Margaret Johnson, Mary Spencer
  2. and Frances Dickenson, taken at Lancaster the 13th of June
  3. Upon Command of the right honourable the Lords of his Majesty’s
  4. most honourable Privy Council. By John Lord Bishop of
  5. Chester
  6. Margaret Johnson widow, aged 60 years of thereabouts, says that she hath been a witch
  7. about 6 years last past, and that she was brought there upon some troubles
  8. and vexations of her bad neighbours. And, about that time walking in the
  9. highway in Marsden in the parish of Whalley, there appeared to her a man in
  10. black attire [clothing] trussed with black points [laces or ties] who said to her: if she would give
  11. him her soul, she should want nothing but should have power to hurt whom
  12. she would both man and beast. But she then refused and thereupon he vanished.
  13. In that manner he oftentimes returned to her, till at last she yielded to him,
  14. and he gave her into her hand some silver and gold (as she thought) but it
  15. vanished soon again and so knows not how, for she was ever bare and poor
  16. though he often gave her the like. And she asked his name and he called
  17. himself Mamilion and she said that most commonly at his coming to her, he
  18. hath the use of her body, and she had some lust and pleasure thereby. And
  19. after this he appeared to her in other shapes: as sometimes of a brown coloured
  20. dog, sometimes as white cat, and at other times like a hare, and as those
  21. shapes did suck her blood “at 2 duggs or papps” in her private parts, one whereof
  22. is as big (she says) as her little fingers and half as long, the other less.
  23. But since she lay in prison they have shrank up and grown less then formerly.
  24. She says that she never hurt man or woman by Witchcraft, only there
  25. was one Henry Heap her neighbour, who called her Witch (before she was one)
  26. whereupon her spirit willed her to hurt him, but she assented not to him: yet (for-
  27. getting herself) she says that Heap was dead, ere [before] her spirit advised her to it.
  28. She also says that there were 7 or 8 others of her Neighbours who were
  29. Witches, but most of them are dead, namely one Jane wife of Roger Cartwells
  30. of Colne, the rest she cannot name, but says they were fetched in carts to Ladyham, to
  31. the Justices ere she came to prison.
  32. And she says the rest of the Witches which are condemned and now in Gaol were
  33. unknown to her, till she was committed and she never was acquainted or in company
  34. with any of them before.
  35. And that she is in her conscience persuaded that Wilkinson and his
  36. wife now in prison are not witches (nor many others who stand now condemned
  37. for witchcraft) because he daily prays and reads and seems to her to be a godly man,
  38. as do diverse [different] of the rest.
  39. And that she herself did diligently frequent the Church till her soul
  40. compact with the Devil, but from thence she seldom went to any Church.
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