Case of false evidence

The Lancaster Witches: re-examination of Edmund Robinson the younger. (Catalogue ref: SP 16/271 f.227)

During the course of the trial of the Lancaster Witches one of the key witnesses, a young boy named Edmund Robinson, gave new evidence in which he admitted that he fabricated the accusations against the witches,16 July, 1634.


Page One: (a)

  1. The re-examination of Edmund Robinson the younger,
  2. taken the xvj [16] day of July 1634 before George Long
  3. esquire one of his majesty’s Justices of Peace of the county of Middlesex.
  4. Being examined touching his accusation of Frances, the wife of John
  5. Dickenson, Jennet Hargraves the wife of Henry Hargraves, Jennet
  6. Devys, William Devys, her half brother, and Beawser to be
  7. witches, and that they were at a witch feast at Horestones in Pendle
  8. Forest in the County of Lancaster, he says that he had had divers [many] &
  9. several times heard the neighbours talk amongst themselves as they
  10. sat together, of a witch feast that was kept at a place called
  11. Mocking Tower in Pendle Forest in the County of Lancaster about
  12. 20 years since, to which feast divers witches came, and many of them
  13. were apprehended and executed at Lancaster for witchcraft.
  14. And thereupon he framed those tales of his concerning the persons aforesaid,
  15. because he had heard divers of the neighbours repute them for witches.
  16. Therefore he named them to be some of those whom he had seen at
  17. And namely he hath heard one Edmund Stevenson
  18. say that he was much troubled with the said Dickenson his wife in the
  19. time of his sickness, and that he suspected her, and he heard Robert
  20. Smith, another neighbour, say that his wife, lying upon her death bed
  21. did accuse Jennet Hargraves to be the cause of her death. And he
  22. had heard William Nutter his wife say that Jennet Devys and William Devys
  23. had bewitched her; and it was so reported by those neighbours that watched
  24. with her in her sickness. And it was generally spoken that Beawse his
  25. wife, who went a-begging, was commonly taken for a witch, and he
  26. had heard Sharpee Smith say that the wife of John Loynd
  27. had laid her hand upon a cow of his, after which she never rose.
  28. And having heard the story of the meeting of the witches at Mocking
  29. Tower, it came in his head to make the like tale of a meeting at
  30. Horestones in the forest aforesaid, at which place he had been formerly
  31. with his father at such time as he built it for Thomas Robinson to dwell in.

Page Two: (b)

  1. And he sayeth that nobody was ever acquainted with any part of this his
  2. fiction or intention, neither durst [did] he ever let anybody be acquainted
  3. with it less they should tell. Neither did anybody ever advise or
  4. counsel him to do or say anything, but it merely proceeded
  5. out of his own brain and out of that those discourses that he
  6. heard folk speak of Mocking Tower and the Witch Feast
  7. that was there. He says he invented it at several times and
  8. sometimes added one thing to it all and sometimes another.
  9. And he utterly denies that he said unto the Kings Majesty or to any
  10. other person that he was set on animated or advised to make the said
  11. declarations touching the said witches.
  12. He says that at the first he framed these tales to avoid his mother’s correction
  13. and punishing of him for not bringing home her [kin?]. But afterwards
  14. perceiving that many folks gave care unto him and believed him, in
  15. that he spoke he grew confident in it more and more. And now
  16. he sayeth he is very sorry for that he hath said and wishes heartily
  17. that it were to speak for he would never say it.
  18. The mark of
  19. Edmond Robinson the Younger
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