mid-Victorian stories and beliefs

The best source for the study of Victorian witchcraft is newspapers. This chapter first discusses the power of narrative in detail. It then looks at two instances of alleged witchcraft, both of which attracted much notoriety in their day. A great deal of attention has been paid to the development in this period of the detective novel, particularly to the work of Poe, Dickens and Collins. The chapter begins with witch-cutting of Jane Ward in Stratford-on-Avon in the late 1860s. False-pretences charges in 'witchcraft trials' were against cunning-folk, always after they had accepted cash or payment-in-kind for their services, and usually after they had failed to achieve what they had promised. The tale of how a cunning-man called James Tunnicliff duped the newly-married Thomas and Elizabeth Charlesworth is complex, and the chapter provides a context for the forensic narrative. In both, those stories were countered in court by forensic stories.

in Witchcraft Continued