The trial of sisters Joan and Agnes Thurrock for witchcraft

Between 1578 and 1584 there were a serious of unexplained deaths in Burnham on Crouch.

1.   On 20 December 1578 Jasper Leper the son of William Leper died

2.   On 1 August 1583 4 hogs belonging to John Lawe were found dead

3.   On 22 December 1583 Thomas Owgham, who was the son of Thomas Owgham Senior, Died suddenly

4.   On 20 January 1584 2 cows belonging to John Gybbons were found dead

5.   On 10 February 1584  Mary Bowles wife of Isaac Bowles suddenly died

6.   On 1 July 1584 three horses belonging to William Leper were found dead

Local people suspected witchcraft and suspicion fell on two local spinsters - Joan and Agnes Thurrock.

An investigation resulted in charges of murder by witchcraft being brought against Joan and Agnes Thurrock.

Joan appeared at the Essex Assizes Court held at Witham on 27 July 1584 presided over by Justice Thomas Gawdy and Serjeant Francis Gawdy.

A trial jury of 13 men was sworn in and heard the evidence.

The jury found Joan guilty on the three counts of murder of people and not guilty of the counts of killing the animals.

Justice Gawd passed the death sentence of Joan was hung as a witch.

Agnes appeared at the Essex Assize Court held at Chelmsford on 8 March 1885

Once again  the Court was presided over by Justice Thomas Gawdy and Serjeant Francis Gawdy.

Agnes was charged with the Murder by witchcraft of Mary Bowles for which Joan had earlier been found guilty.

The jury of 13 men considered the evidence and found her not guilty.


 Click here to learn about how suspected witches in eastern Essex were dealt with