Support from the community

Defence of Susanna Hincliffe & Anne Shillitoe. (Catalogue ref: ASSI 45/11/1/93)

When people were accused of witchcraft within a community, people might either take it upon themselves to take part in the accusations, and seek justice, or to defend the accused. In this source, the neighbours (meaning simply those living in the same town) of Susanna Hinchcliffe and Anne Shillitoe strongly defend them from the accusation of witchcraft, and questioned the validity of the original accusation, 1674.


  1. To the honourable and worshipful his Majesty’s Justices of Peace
  2. in the West Riding of the County of York. We whose names are
  3. subscribed [listed], being neighbours to, or inhabitants in the town of
  4. Denby in the said county, do humbly certify, as follows.
  5. That whereas an Information for Witchcraft is commonly reported to be exhibited
  6. before some of his Majesty’s Justices against Susanna Hinchliffe wife of Joseph
  7. Hinchliffe and Anne Shillitoe wife of Thomas Shillitoe and daughter of the said
  8. Joseph, both of Denby aforesaid, by one Mary Moore a girl of about sixteen years
  9. of age. We do humbly testify and affirm, that some of us have well known the
  10. said Susanna, and Anne, by the space of twenty years and upwards. Others of us
  11. fifteen years and upwards. Others of us ten years and upwards. And have by the
  12. said space observed and known the life and conversation of the said Susanna to be
  13. not only very sober, orderly, and unblameable in every respect, but also of good example,
  14. and very helpful and useful in the neighbourhood, according to her poor ability. That
  15. she was a constant frequenter of public ordinances, while she was able, and to the
  16. best of our understanding, made conscience of her ways in more than common sort.
  17. That we never heard, or had the least ground to suspect her, or her said daughter, to
  18. be in any sort guilty of so foul a crime. But do fully believe that the said information
  19. against them both is a most gross and groundless (if not malicious) prosecution.
  20. And this we humbly certify, as our very true apprehensions, as in the sight and
  21. presence of him, who will judge the secrets of all hearts. And as touching
  22. the said girl who now informs, some of us could say too much concerning her, of
  23. a quite different nature, but that we judge recrimination [arguments between people blaming each other] to be but an indirect way
  24. of clearing the innocent.
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