Witch Burning in Norwich

Woodcut of a Witch burning in Dernburg 1555 -  Source

Woodcut of a Witch burning in Dernburg 1555 - Source

Sources differ regarding Witch burning in Norwich. Philip Browne’s The History of Norwich from the Earliest Records to the Present Time Published in 1814 states that in 1659 “Mary Oliver burnt for witchcraft and her goods confiscated for the use of the city.” And also records that two women in 1648 were burnt on charges of Witchcraft.

The story of a Mary Oliver, is found in multiple other sources, such as The Encyclopaedia of Witchcraft and Demonology by Rossell Hope Robbins published in 1959.

Many sources telling of Mary Oliver’s burning, tell the story of how she killed her husband, and that was why she was burnt rather than hung. Burning was the punishment for acts of petty treason at the time. Yet there doesn’t seem to be any contemporary sources that reference this event.


Historian Willow Winsham writes for her blog The Witch, The Weird and The Wonderful and discusses the facts regarding Mary Oliver;

There was a Mary Oliver, who was the wife of Thomas Oliver. The couple left for America in 1632, but returned in 1649. Winsham writes that they returned because of “Mary’s inability to control her tongue and Thomas’ inability to control Mary.”

After Mary’s death, Thomas married a women named Bridget Bishop. Bridget was executed as a witch in 1692 in Salem. She was accused, but cleared, of killing Thomas. Winsham concludes that it is very possible that the stories of these two wives became confused.