Toil and Trouble: Help Posthumously Pardon the Hanged Witches of Bideford

Toil and Trouble: Help Posthumously Pardon the Hanged Witches of Bideford


A new campaign to make right the past wrongs of British witch hunts is gaining support from government officials, and you can help too.

British MP, Ben Bradshaw, has shown his support to posthumously pardon the last three women to be hanged for witchcraft in England, an act he says is “a stain” on British history.

The Witches of Bideford, otherwise known as Temperance Lloyd, Susannah Edwards and Mary Trembles, were hanged to death on August 25th 1682 after having been accused of performing acts of witchcraft against members of the town.


Temperance Lloyd was arrested in July 1682, after Thomas Eastchurch, the Bideford shoekeeper, accused Lloyd of being a witch. She was taken and held at the “chapel at the end of the bridge” until she was brought before the justices to defend herself against the charges.

936955_10151688156765730_1214046094_nHer charges were described as,

“…suspicion of having used some magical art, sorcery or witchcraft upon the body of Grace Thomas and to have had discourse or familiarity with the devil in the likeness or shape of a black man.”

Like most cases of witchcraft during that time period, the testimony was paranoid, suspicious, and mostly ridiculous.

Mary Trembles was accused of and investigated for witchcraft after a local woman by the name of Grace Barnes blamed Trembles for an illness she had contracted.

A connection between the Trembles and Temperance was discovered after witnesses claim to have spotted Trembles begging Lloyd for food.

Mary Trembles eventually admitted to being a witch, but not before also pointing her finger at Susannah Edwards as having introduced her to the dark arts, a confession that was given after much torture, questioning, and the promise that she might still be reprieved of charges.

Susannah Edwards was the first to be hanged, followed by Mary Trembles and then Temperance Lloyd.

An online petition, created by Christine Nash is hoping to gain enough signatures to pardon the woman of their grievous charges. Some might say “too little, way, way too late”, but the attempt to make right the wrongs of the past is a good move, no matter how small.

“They were innocent,” Nash told BBC News. “The law no longer exists. You have to be innocent to be pardoned. Quite clearly, they were not witches. They certainly did not do any of the things they were accused of, one of which was turning into a magpie.”

If you’re interested in lending your support for the pardon, the e-petition can be found here. For more information about the sad and fascinating case of the Bideford Witches go here.


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