Elizabeth Crossley


In 1646, Elizabeth Crossley and others in Heptonstall were charged with causing the death of a child by witchcraft.

The trial heard that, in September, Crossley called at the house of Henry Cockcroft, a clothier of Heptonstall, begging. She was unhappy with what he gave her, Two nights later, Cockcroft's 2-year-old son William began to have fits, and eventually died.

Fearing that his son had been bewitched, Cockcroft visited Mary Midgley, whom he suspected of being in league with Crossley, and accused her of causing his child's death. Midgley confessed that she did indeed possess certain powers, but said Crossley and her daughter Sarah, with Mary Kitching, had caused the child's death.

Daniel Briggs of Wadsworth said that about 2 years ago, a child named Shackleton had been seized with severe pain, and lay crippled for 3 months. Briggs and a nursemaid who cared for the child, took it to a neighbour's house, where Rev William Whalley told them that,

if they met with any persons on their homeward journey, they would be possessed with a longing

to mawle them on the head

Briggs and the maid left and met Crossley on the way. The maid tried to warn her off, but Crossley went up to her and asked how the infant was. Although Briggs suspected Crossley had power over the child, he was afraid to touch her.

A night or two later, the maid, remembering the minister's warning, struck Crossley with a candlestick, after which the child began to rally. However, the child had a relapse shortly afterwards, and died.

Another witness implied that Mary Midgley was also suspected of bewitching her neighbours' cattle

© Malcolm Bull 2021
Revised 13:23 / 9th April 2021 / 3711

Page Ref: QQ_152

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