Nigel Jones

Any beggar woman was a potential scapegoat during the European witch craze

John Callow describes the hanging in 1682 of three penniless women from Bideford, accused of bewitching the sick relative of a prosperous local businessman

A witch is punished by being dipped in a millstream (17th-century English woodcut). [Bridgeman Images]

Already a subscriber? Log in

This article is for subscribers only

Subscribe today to get 3 months' delivery of the magazine, as well as online and app access, for only £3.

There’s no commitment, you can cancel any time.

  • Weekly delivery of the magazine
  • Unlimited access to our website and app
  • Enjoy Spectator newsletters and podcasts
  • Explore our online archive, going back to 1828


A blooming good offer

Join the conversation with other Spectator readers by getting the next 3 months for £3.

Already a subscriber? Log in