Go back

Assertions for a specific person.

Name Description Original Text
Joan ByetA woman from St. Osyth in the county of Essex, wife to local dairy farmer, William Byet, and the neighbor of Elizabeth Bennett. Although the Bytes lived in peace with their neighbor for the first year of their residence, things soon grew strained, and then violent between the families. Byet would sometime call Bennett an "olde trot and olde witche, and did banne and curse" her cattle. In return, Bennett would call Byett a "knave saying, winde it vp Byet, for it wil light vpon your selfe." Although Bennett mentioned the three of Byett's cow shortly after this incident, and more to do with poor animal husbandry; Byet beat the fallen cow until it died. Joan Byet also "did beate her swine seuerall times with greate Gybets." Moreover, she also" thrust a pitchforke through the side of one of [Elizabeth Bennet's] swine, the which Durrant a Butcher did buie, and for that when hee had dressed it, it prooued A messell," (a leprous animal, which presumably could not be eaten?). Of course, this version of the story is not the only one. According to Ursely Kempe, although Elizabeth Bennet's three familiars "plagued three of his Beastes whereof two of them dyed, and the third leyer fire or drooping, & not likly to liue: Byette caused his folkes to make a fire about her" presumably as an act of countermagic and cremation. Kempe suggested that "the Cowe feeling the heate of the fire, starte vp and ranne her way, and by that occasion was saued"; Byett himself seems to hint that the cow was certainly saved by jumping up, but also by "byting of stickes, bigger then any mans finger" from a local wood stack. Joan Byett was not so lucky. She appears to have died on Febraury 10, 1581, a crime attributed Kempe to Bennet's other familiar, Suckin who "did plague Byettes wife vnto death." The court blames the bewitchment on Bennet. Bennet acknowledges the felony, and is deemed guilty and charged to be hanged. (A2v-A3)The third examination & confession of Vrsley Kempe alias Gray, taken before me Brian Darsey esquire, one of her Maiesties Iustices of the peace, the xxiiii. day of Februarie. THis examinate, being asked how she knew the said Elizabeth Bennet to haue two spirits, saith, that about a quarter of a yere past, she went vnto mother Bennets house for a messe of milke, the which shee had promised her: But at her comming this examinate saith shee knocked at her dore, and no bodie made her any answere, wherevpon shee went to her chamber windowe and looked in therat, saying, ho, ho, mother Bennet are you at home? And casting her eyes aside, shee saw a spirit lift vp a clothe lying ouer a pot, looking much lik a Ferret. And it beeing asked of this examinate why the spirite did looke vpon her, shee said it was hungrie. This examinate, beeing asked howe shee knewe the names of mother Bennets spirites, sayth, that Tyffin her spirite did tell this examinate that shee had two spirites, the one of them like a blacke Dogge, and the other redde like a Lyon, and that their names were Suckin and Lyerd, and sayeth that Suckin did plague Byettes wife vnto death, and the other plagued three of his Beastes whereof two of them dyed, and the third leyer fire or drooping, & not likly to liue: Byette caused his folkes to make a fire about her: The Cowe feeling the heate of the fire, starte vp and ranne her way, and by that occasion was saued.()