Neighbour’s accusations

Accusing Jennet and George Benton of witchcraft. (Catalogue ref: ASSI 45/5/3/5)

This source, which is the testimony of a witness in a witchcraft trial, contains some of the reasons why neighbours might accuse each other of witchcraft. It shows how they could be quite every-day concerns but that they led to very supernatural accusations, 7 June, 1656.


  1. The Information of Richard Jackson of Wakefield
  2. taking upon oath the 7th of June
  3. 1656
  4. Who says that he being tenant to Mr Stringer of Sharlston
  5. for a farm called by the name of Bunny Hall near
  6. Wakefield one Jennett Benton and George Benton her son
  7. pretended to have a high way through the grounds
  8. belonging to the said farm which one Daniel Crave,
  9. servant to the said Richard Jackson & by his master
  10. appointed, did endeavour to hinder upon which the said George Benton
  11. cast a stone at him, the said Craven, where with he cut
  12. his lip and broke two teeth out of his chaps. So
  13. an action being brought against the said George Benton
  14. for the trespass, which was submitted unto by him, & endeavoured
  15. to end the difference, which was composed & satisfaction
  16. given unto the said Craven. After which the said Jennett
  17. Benton & George Benton her son did utter these speeches:
  18. that it should be a dear day’s work unto the said Richard
  19. Jackson or to his, before the year went about. Since
  20. which time his wife hath had her hearing taking from
  21. her, a child strangely taken with fits in the night time
  22. Also being formerly of healthful body have
  23. been suddenly taken without probably reason to be given or
  24. natural cause appearing, being sometimes in such extremity
  25. that he conceived himself drawn in pieces at the heart, back
  26. and shoulder and that in the beginning of these fits the first night
  27. he heard a great noise of music & dancing about him.
  28. The next night, about twelve of the clock, he was taken with another
  29. fit & in the middle of it he conceives there was a noise like
  30. ringing of small bells with singing & dancing and sometime
  31. both nights a noise of deep groaning upon which he called of his wife
  32. and asked her if she heard it not & so of his man who answered they
  33. did not he asked them again & again if they heard it not at last
  34. his wife and servant all heard it gave three hard groans and at that instant
  35. dogs did howl and yell and the window as though they would have pulled
  36. them in pieces. He had also a great many swine which broke through
  37. two barn doors, also the door in the house, at that time [clapped] to and
  38. from the boxes and trunks as they conceived was removed, and several
  39. apparitions like black dogs and cats were seen in the house & the informer
  40. further says that since the time that the said Jennett Benton and George
  41. Benton threatened him he hath lost his horses and means and that he
  42. conceives he hath had all the loss by the use and practise of some witch-
  43. craft or sorcery by the said Jennett Benton and George Benton
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