A ‘Divellish’ Woman Discovered: The Witch of Newbury, 1643

Sheilagh Ilona O'Brien


During September 1643 a number of publications related the news that a witch had been found and killed by Roundhead soldiers just prior to the Battle of Newbury. This article will analyse the contents of the longest work on the Witch of Newbury, A Most Certain, Strange, and True Discovery of a VVitch, focusing in particular on aspects of the account which illustrate developments in early modern English witch beliefs. In ascertaining her identity, the soldiers relied upon popular beliefs about witches and their powers, and these beliefs informed their reactions to the witch. The discussion of the Witch of Newbury’s powers ,and the soldiers perceptions of them, illustrates how ideas about witchcraft could and did change throughout the seventeenth-century, and in particular, during the English Civil Wars.



Witchcraft; Demonology; Pamphlet; Propaganda; Devil

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Primary Sources:

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