Thomas Colley's confession

'There is no such being as a witch'

Colley's confession. De/Lw/Z22
Hertfordshire Archives and Local Studies

Although the Witchcraft Act of 1732 erased the crime of witchcraft from the statute books, it was harder to remove country people’s belief in witches as this case shows.

Ruth Osborne and her husband were accused of witchcraft and ducked by a local mob. Ruth died as a result.

Only one person was arrested for her murder. This was Thomas Colley, a chimney sweep, and he was found guilty and sentenced to be hung at the spot where the crime took place.

The night before his death he was forced to sign a declaration which was read out to the crowds who came to witness his execution. The intention was clearly to send out a strong message to the people that there were no such things as witches:

‘Good people I beseech you all to take Warning by an unhappy man’s suffering, that you be not deluded into so absurd & wicked a conceit as to believe that there are any such beings upon earth as Witches…

You can read more about this case at Ruth Osborne of Tring.

This page was added on 24/10/2013.

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