25 December – The death of ,witch-hunter, Brian Darcy, and Christmas Day and Lettice Knollys

Posted By on December 25, 2021

Happy Christmas!

On this day in Tudor history, 25th December 1587, Brian Darcy, magistrate, Sheriff of Essex, witch-hunter and contributor to the 1582 “A true and just recorde of the information, examination and confession of all the witches, taken at S Oses [St Osyth]”, died.

“A True and Just Recorde” argued for harsher punishments for those found guilty of witchcraft, and Darcy was personally responsible for a number of deaths of people accused of witchcraft.

Find out more about this zealous witch-hunter in this talk…

I also talk about Lettice Devereux, wife of favourite Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, and mother of favourite Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex.

And I also talke about how Tudor people celebrated Christmas

Find out more in this video…

1 thought on “25 December – The death of ,witch-hunter, Brian Darcy, and Christmas Day and Lettice Knollys”

  1. Banditqueen says:

    Was Brian D’Arcy a witch hunter or a magistrate or prosecutor as there wasn’t an official office of Witch Hunter in England? He doesn’t sound as if he is rooting out witches as someone paid by the magistrates would have done, although he did interrogate and prosecute and wrote a tome against them. In East Anglia Matthew Hopkins was paid by the magistrates to find the witches as they were actually too lazy to do the work themselves and he claimed he could root them out. He made a lot of money as they paid per witch. 1000 people were rounded up all across Essex, East Anglia and Sussex in just a few years during the 1640s and between 200 and 500 people were executed. It was a terrifying time.

    The Essex trials under Elizabeth I thankfully didn’t rise to such a craze, but that was in a time outside of law and order. The Witch hunts in Essex where on a much more restrained and smaller scale. The literature of these hunts, trials, crazes, whichever word describes them best, tended to be scholarly, hysterical in nature in that it sensationalised the accusations and the individual testimonials and in a number of cases, ran into several pages. A pamphlet is a short account and brief description we might think but some could really go to town. This one does sound like a remarkable work and one imagines it was full of Quotations from the Bible and other ideas of the time.

    Magistrates had a very odd role as well, being involved in looking for and rooting out accused witches etc and then hearing and trying the cases etc. The roles of hunter, finder and enforcer of the law must have become blurred around the edges at times. Not that we would be trying a witch today, but no magistrate today would be involved in questioning and investigating the accused before the trial. To us it would be a conflict of interest. Back then the role of magistrate and questioner would seem very strange if they were combined in such a powerful and yet odd way.

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