Perfidy of an ex-cop snake,
In the caldron boil and bake;
Matron’s stories told defy the truth,
Gropes remember’d from their youth,
Liz Dux’ ego, and Meirion’s sting,—
For a charm of powerful trouble,
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.
Gall of Spindler, and slips of Yewtree
Sliver’d in BSkyB’s eclipse;
Nose of Murdoch, and Winsor’s lips;
Finger of the dead tree press,
Ditch-deliver’d by broadband,—
Make the gossip thick and slab:
Add thereto t’internet’s chaudron,
For the ingredients of our caldron.
Next Sunday, hundreds of modern witches will gather at Rougemont Castle to call for a posthumous pardon for Temperance Lloyd, Mary Trembles and Susannah Edwards from Bideford, north Devon, who in August 1682 became the last three women in England to be hanged for witchcraft.
Mary and Susannah were arrested having been seen begging for food with Temperance in Bideford. At their trial a month later all three women made no attempt to deny witchcraft.
Under the law as it stood there was no onus on the prosecution to prove the case against them – it was for the women to prove their innocence.
Apparently, the women were convicted on hearsay evidence, which included one of them being accused of turning into a magpie. Even the Assizes Justices at the time did not believe they were guilty but were forced to respond to an angry mob that was baying for a hanging. The mob got its way.
Jackie Juno, a modern day witch, said: “By getting them pardoned we are making a statement that humanity could change for the better. It would also be laying the women to rest in a way that resolves the mistakes of history.”
Some of the comments under the local paper coverage of this event are interesting:
“But 300 years ago it was considered a real crime. Beliefs change. Laws change. We cannot judge what happened 300 years ago by the standards of today.”
“What a waste of time. They were found guilty of a crime over 300 years ago, and sentenced as seem fit at the time. No new evidence has come to light, so there is no reason to pardon them. Whatever next – the pardoning of all the criminals sent to Australia for stealing a loaf of bread?”
How curious – the same sort of people who comment on local newspapers are as sure that there is no argument in favour of ‘historic pardons’ as they are in favour of ‘historic convictions’. Courts convicting people on hearsay evidence without proof – for fear of the baying mob getting out of control? Judging what happened in the past by the standards of today?
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