The Book, Cat, & Cat Book Lovers Almanac

of historical trivia regarding books, cats, and other animals. Actually this blog has evolved so that it is described better as a blog about cats in history and culture. And we take as a theme the advice of Aldous Huxley: If you want to be a writer, get some cats. Don't forget to see the archived articles linked at the bottom of the page.

July 29, 2017

July 29, 1566

The fact witchcraft is usually, in the popular, and in the professional historian's mind, associated with the European medieval world, assumes a stubborn but misleading conjunction.

Agnes Waterhouse (1503 to July 29,1566) was the first woman executed for witchcraft, in England.
She was accused of being a witch, because of deaths which happened in or near Hatfield Peverel, a village in Essex, and the records mention her familiar, a cat named Sathan or Satan. Her trial mentioned the illness of William Fynne, who died on 1 November 1565. She was also charged with using sorcery to kill livestock, as well as bring about the death of her husband. Agnes was hanged on July 29, 1566, an example of, perhaps, Renaissance witchcraft.

This was not the thesis of Christina Hole's Witchcraft in England (1945). Nor is this portrait of Agnes Waterhouse likely to be historically accurate. It is irresistible however, because it shows an old woman and a cat. Here is the illustration Mervyn Peake made for Witchcraft in England.

Today residents of Hatfield Peverel can commute to jobs in London.

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