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Stephanie du Barry - The Witch In Scotland And The Witch In East Anglia A Comparative Study (105.0 Kb)

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What characteristics predisposed individuals to accusations of witchcraft? In looking at both the accused themselves and at the accusations, one is struck with many notable similarities between witches in Scotland and witches in East Anglia. This paper will examine those similarities as well as highlighting the differences in treatment of the accused.The sex of the accused was similar in both areas although a greater proportion of males were accused in Scotland1. Larner found that, while the number of male witches fluctuated... More >>>
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Category 1:  Wicca and Witchcraft
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Author:      Stephanie du Barry
Format:      eBook
What characteristics predisposed individuals to accusations of witchcraft? In looking at both the accused themselves and at the accusations, one is struck with many notable similarities between witches in Scotland and witches in East Anglia. This paper will examine those similarities as well as highlighting the differences in treatment of the accused.

The sex of the accused was similar in both areas although a greater proportion of males were accused in Scotland1. Larner found that, while the number of male witches fluctuated, dropping during the witch "panics" of the 1640s and 1660s, the overall number of males amounted to about 20% of the accused2. In East Anglia, however, Macfarlane found that only 23 of the 291 accused witches were male. Here Larner claims that the Scottish numbers are similar in proportion to those found in Europe and that those found in England seem rather low . Analysis has shown that all male witches whose identity has been pursued have had ties of either blood or marriage to a female suspect, have been suspected of other crimes or been a solitary cunning man. In East Anglia, too, 11 of the 23 male accused were either married to an accused witch or appeared in a joint indictment with a woman.

The age of the accused witch also shows definite similarities in both Scotland and East Anglia. Macfarlane claims that the most likely age for an accused witch in East Anglia was between 50 and 706 whilst Larner simply states that, where age is known, the witches were "middle-aged or elderly"7. She was almost always a wife or widow rather than an unmarried woman, although Macfarlane found that some East Anglian women known to be married or widowed were often referred to as being spinsters. According to Larner, about half of those witches whose status is recorded were in fact married at the time of their arrest.