A Rare Case of Witch Burning

The Lawes against Witches, and Conivration 1645 -  Click here  to read

The Lawes against Witches, and Conivration 1645 - Click here to read

In Europe, many accused Witches were being burned at the stake. But in England, contrast to popular belief, condemned Witches were not being burned. The punishment for being found guilty of practicing Witchcraft was to be hung.


An exceptional case of the burning of a Witch occurred in 1645 in Ipswich.

The case of Mary “Mother” Lakeland was recorded in The Lawes against Witches, and Conivration 1645. It is speculated that the Witchfinder General Matthew Hopkins himself wrote this pamphlet.


Mary met her death at the stake because she was found guilty of the bewitching to death of her husband. Although many convicted Witches at the time were found guilty of bewitching to death, the victims were usually neighbours. Thus, Mary was found guilty of killing her Lord and Master, an act of pretty treason. The punishment for this was to be burnt at the stake.

Mary was the victim of the Suffolk Witch craze of 1645, which Witchfinder Matthew Hopkins took a lead role in. She is said to have confessed to her crimes, but her confessions were probably taken after the use of Hopkin's sleep deprivation tactics.

Mary Lakeland was burnt at the stake on Tuesday 9th December 1645 on Rushmere Common, now Rushmere Golf Course.


This was the first time in a hundred years that someone had been executed by burning in the town.

And it was the last time that anyone was executed for Witchcraft in Ipswich.

(Jones. D. L. 2015)


For further reading see David L. Jones The Ipswich Witch