They write from Glen in this county, that on Wednesday sen’night last, a dispute arose between two old women of that town, one of whom calling the other a Witch, and she affirming that she was no more a Witch than herself, a challenge ensued, and they both agreed to be dipt by way of trial; they accordingly stript to their shirts, had their thumbs and great-toes tied across, and with a cart rope tied around their middle, suffered themselves to be thrown into a pool of water; one of ’em is said to have sunk, whilst the other continued struggling upon the surface, which the mob called swimming, and deemed an infallible sign of her being a Witch, insisting on her impeaching her accomplices in the craft; she accordingly told ’em that in the neighbouring village of Burton, there were several old women as much Witches as she was. These suspicions being confirmed by a Student in Astrology, or White-Witch, who was referred to on account of a young woman, said to be afflicted with an uncommon disorder, and pronounced to be Bewitched; the mob in consequence of this intelligence, on Thursday repaired to Burton, and after a little consultation, they proceeded to the old woman’s house on whom they had fixed the strongest suspicion; the poor old creature on their approach, locked the house door and went into a chamber, and from the window, asked what they wanted? they informed her that she was charged with being guilty of Witchcraft, which they were come to try her for, by ducking; remonstration at the same time on the necessity there was of her giving this proof whether she was a Witch or no; but upon her persisting in a positive refusal to come down, they broke open the house, went into the chamber, carried her downstairs, and by force took her to a deep gravel pit full of water, tied her thumbs and toes as above, then threw her in, where they kept her during pleasure. The same day the mob tried the experiment on another poor old woman, and on Thursday a third underwent a like discipline.
Several of the ring-leaders in this riot, we hear have been apprehended and carry’d before a Justice; two of which have been bound over to the sessions, and others ordered to pay small fines.
We shall just beg leave by way of gentle admonition to remind the persons who have been so active in discovering who are Witches in Leicestershire [and which we hope may be means of preventing the farther trial of this experiment] to observe to ’em, that no longer ago as the year 1751 at Tring in Hertfordshire, a mob of the same nature as this, were determined to try by ducking whether or no one Mrs. Osborne and her husband were witches [two poor harmless people, aged above 70] who were accordingly tied as above, thrown into a muddy stream, where after much ducking and ill-usage, the old woman was taken out, laid naked on the bank, and died in a few minutes; the poor old man was also used so cruelly, that in a few hours after he also died. The Coroner’s inquest brought in their verdict of wilful murder against 9 of the persons specified, and 20 others whose names were unknown. Thomas Colley, one of the rioters was brought to trial, condemned, executed and afterwards hang’d in chains. At the place of execution he signed a solemn declaration relating to his Faith on Witchcraft, which was read at his request and was as follows:
The Declaration of Thomas Colley.
I beseech you all to take warning by an unhappy man’s suffering; that you be not deluded into so absurd and wicked a conceit, as to believe that there are any such beings upon earth as witches.
It was foolish and vain imagination, heightened and inflamed by the strength of liquor, which prompted me to be instrumental (with others as mad-brained as myself) in the horrid and barbarous murder of Ruth Osborne, the supposed witch, for which I am now so deservedly to suffer death.
I am fully convinced of my former error, and with the sincerity of a dying man, declare, that I do not believe there is such a thing in being as a witch; and pray God that none of you, thro’ a contrary persuasion, may hereafter be induced to think, that you have a right in any shape to persecute much less endanger the life of a fellow creature.
I beg of you all, to pray to God to forgive me, and to wash clean my polluted soul in the blood of Jesus-Christ, my saviour and redeemer.
So exhorteth you all, the dying