The Royston Witches
A somewhat unreliable pamphlet from 1606, entitled The Most Cruel and Bloody Murder comments on the activities of Witches in Royston.
Alice Stokes and Christiana Stokes were accused of various acts of witchcraft that resulted in killing cattle and causing sickness. A women was said to have accidentally thrown water over Christiana, and her child then fell from its cradle and died. Supposedly this was Christiana’s punishment on the women.
Before they were arrested a man was punished and fined five shillings after Alice sued him for catching her and drawing blood. The man had been sick and believed that if he drew blood from Alice, then he would lift her spell. Apparently the man did recover, but after he was fined, his illness returned.
After their arrest a chest was found. In this chest there were materials that the two were using for their witchcraft, such as hair, human bones and anatomical drawings. Alice Stokes confessed that she had used these items to cause pain and suffering.
Alice and Christiana were hung for their crimes at Hertford in 1606.
The pamphlet also records a Joan Harrison and her daughter, who were also both hung at Hertford in the same year. However the pamphlet references the same stories as that of Alice and Christiana Stokes. It is not considered a reliable source.
Like many pamphlets of the time they were not printed to provide accurate reports, but to sensationalise stories and to confirm and increase readers prejudices.