Select document: Florence Newton's trial for witchcraft, Cork, 1661: Sir William Aston’s transcript

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Abstract

This article examines the sole extant and complete set of signed witness statements for an Irish witchcraft trial. These testimonies were given at Florence Newton’s trial for witchcraft at Cork assizes in September 1661, and were signed by the presiding judge, Sir William Aston. The Aston manuscript has been annotated and transcribed in its full, original form for the first time, providing historians with a unique document with which to explore one of the few Irish witchcraft trials. This article also provides suggestions for new ways of looking at the case, and more importantly demonstrates that Newton was not, as once thought, put to death for witchcraft under the 1586 Irish Witchcraft Act but died during her trial. Furthermore, taken in the context of early modern European witchcraft, the case is shown to be an important example of a witch trial occurring in a highly gendered, contested, post-conflict society.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)298-319
Number of pages22
JournalIrish Historical Studies
Volume43
Issue number164
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 30 Nov 2019

Keywords

  • witchcraft trial
  • Florence Newton
  • Youghal 1611
  • Ireland

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