The End

Agnes Waterhouse is known for the end of her life. Never for the life she lived. For one we know nothing about the life she had before she was around the age of 60 and thrown into the world of witchcraft. Weather that’s by Elizabeth or she seaked Elizabeth out just like the woman saliors we learned about in class for something different in life. Whichever that my be Agnes believed wholly that she was a witch and usually if the accused believes then everybody else with along with them. Does this mean she deserved to die? I don’t think so a lot of her story doesn’t add up and it’s very hard to try to put together the pieces. There’s nothing known of Elizabeth’s husband or why she would kill him or her neighbor. The cat familiar, Satan, could of acted out of his own accord or at the hands of Elizabeth in the killings. But it will never be known Agnes’ death will forever be a mystery but it will always be significant because she’s the first to be hung for such crimes.

Its a Trap?

Now since I’ve been reading up on everything Agnes and theres not a lot clearly. But what I’ve gathered from them I’ve come up with something quit odd. As its known there is nothing on Agnes Waterhouse before she was 60 years old which is a problem. But a lot of articles state that Elizabeth Francis the woman who was taught at the young age of 12 about witchcraft by her grandmother, was Agnes Waterhouse’s sister. Which really doesn’t add up and though the stories of Agnes, mostly what seems like are told from Elizabeth, make her seem like she doesn’t know a thing about witchcraft. Even says that when Elizabeth gave Agnes her cat Satan, that Satan was teaching her witchcraft as well. Mentioning also that Elizabeth got Satan when she was 12 and I’m going to guess her and Agnes were around same age. Which is extremely odd along with everything else. But I guess a cat does have 9 lives. So the big question here is did Agnes do these things? Or was it Elizabeth?

As seen in my previous post Elizabeth and her frisky feline get into a lot of trouble together and it seems that Agnes hasn’t known Elizabeth for all that long. Agnes herself however confessed that she said she kept it in a pot lined with wool and had turned it into a toad, because of all the trouble it caused her. So why would a witch practically lock away her own familiar? Agnes’ whole story is an enigma and will forever continue to be. She was the first woman to die for being a witch but was she really a witch? Or once again along with the all witch trails was she an innocent? Or just her own kind of crazy. We’ll never know.


What of Elizabeth?

There is one person that is mentioned many times with Agnes’s story and that would be Elizabeth Francis. Elizabeth was believed to be Agnes’s sister with whom she practiced magic with. Elizabeth is also the woman who introduced Agnes to the cat familiar Satan.Elizabeth was convicted three times for witchcraft her time with Agnes being the second. Her first accusation was that she bewitched John the infant son of William Auger so that he became paralyzed. She confessed and spent a year in prison. Her third time though, most defiantly was the charm for she was hanged in the gallows of Chelmsford. But this isn’t even all of her story. Before Elizabeth was hanged for her third conviction she was off doing horrible things with her cat. First to was trying to obtain a rich husband. Her first husband was a man by the name of Andrew Byles. She gave herself to this man beforehand only for him to refuse to marry her afterwards. Angry and wanting revenge she sent Satan after him to touch Byles body causing him to die. Then thinking she may be pregnant with his child, she took the herbs given to her by her trusty sidekick to abort the pregnancy. But of course one is never enough. She later asked Satan for another husband and he promised her Christopher Francis. Elizabeth gave herself to him and he honored the agreement by marrying her and also giving her a child. The marriage of course wasn’t all that she dreamed of. When her child turned six months of age she willed Satan to kill it to try and fix her relationship. Satan did as told but things didn’t improve. So the she did what Elizabeth does and she once again told Satan to do the dead. This time her turned into a toad in one of Christopher’s shoes and once her touched it with his foot he became lame and could not be healed.

What occurred in the years after this is unsure but finally in 1572 Elizabeth popped up again for her second offense of bewitching a Mary wife of William Cocks. She was found guilty and imprisoned for one year. The final mention of Elizabeth Francis was in 1579. She was convicted of bewitching Alice Poole, spinster, wife of Richard Poole of Hatfield Peverel, so that she died. Elizabeth would be hanged for her third and final conviction. I guess you can’t get away with everything.

The Inquisition

Looking for information on Agnes Waterhouse I came upon the actually thing that was the dawn of the witch hunts. To truly understand Agnes Waterhouse I believe you must understand why the witch hunts even begin. Now I didn’t know much about this I just figured the church went with it because there are  bible verses about witches or in this case sorcerers or those who speak to the dead. But it seems this actually starts with the Inquisition. Now the inquisition is a practically a police force for the church that engaged chiefly in combating and punishing heresy. So no surprise really that they have some reasoning behind witch hunts. It was also created by the Roman Catholic Church in the 13th century. Around December of 1484 Pope Innocent passed a document that condemned witchcraft. Two men Jakob Sprenger and Heinrich Kramer were the inquisitors that were sent to deal with the problem. They put together a book that was called Malleus Maleficarum, or The Hammer of Witches. Protestants and Catholics accepted this as authority on witches. This book gives it all stories of witches based of folklore, presented theological and legal arguments against witchcraft, and gave a list on how to identify and pretty much kill a witch. If that doesn’t scream the reason behind the whole witch hunt I don’t know what does. This book is described as being the most vicious and most damaging book in all world literature.


The Life and Times of Agnes Waterhouse

The time and place actually do have a lot to do with the execution of Agnes Waterhouse besides her convictions. Besides the fact that Agnes was on trial for murder and the fact that her own daughter spoke out against her, the setting in which she was in also had a bit to do with her death. Agnes lived in Essex, England which is about an hour away from London. So as you can guess the people saw it as something a little to close to home. Considering that Agnes told her cat to make her neighbor ill and apparently kill her husband. There is also the fact that she was a healer so to speak she worked with herbs and such oddities that would call attention to her. Then theres the huge looked over factor of the Witchcraft Act of 1562 to put it simply The Act Aganist Conjurations, Enchantments and Witchcrafts was an eye for an eye. Pretty much if any of these actions resulted in death, the accused would be put to death. So all in all it was the law Agnes had no way whatsoever to come out of that alive once she gave her confession. Though her friend Elizabeth Francis was given a lighter sentence but was hanged after a second conviction later on. Joan Waterhouse however was set free and was never charged for anything.


Why were you the first?

The one thing Agnes Waterhouse is known for is the fact that she was the first one to be excuicuted for witchcraft in England. So I would like to understand why she was the first one to be killed why not the ones before her? Was it because she pretty much said yea I’m a witch and gave out every little detail as to why?  Reading up on it it’s seems that it was bound to happen it just seems Agnes was convicted and found guilty of witchcraft at the wrong time. Considering the growing terror of witchcraft at the time someone was doomed to get executed for it Agnes just happened to be that person. Which is terrible but then again she told her whole life story of how she was raised as a witch. Practically asking for it because there’s nothing I’ve found that says that the confession was tortured out of her. She was trailed as a witch and a murder practically. But the one thing that bothers me is that she believed whole heartedly that she was a witch, died for it even, so was she really?



What is a Familiar?

Now according to Webster’s Dictionary a familiar is, “a spirit often embodied in an animal and held to attend and serve or guard a person”, this is of course in witches terms. It is said that many witches had familiars serve them, it could be anything from just a small household pet to things like demons and imps. Like Agnes Waterhouse’s cat Satan for example it only aided her, but at what cost? In Satan’s case it was blood, but according to Carol F. Karlsen it was much more than that. She states in her book The Devil in the Shape of a Woman, ” who nourished themselves on her body” which could be blood or even her soul. Considering how demonized the term familiar seemed to be, many accusers of the witch trial times would call them grotesque disgusting creatures. There is so much lore that centers around familiar that goes back to Roman times even where they were called Daimons. In Roman times they were protectors of the household, just simple spirit guardians. So how did something so good get turned into something so evil? Even the Indians used them, they where such things as Totem Spirits, familiars are globally everywhere in history.


Book- The Devil in the Shape of a Woman, by Carol F. Karlsen


Tis but a Cat

So what exactly did get Agnes Waterhouse accused in the first place for being a witch? She was mainly accused of using her witch abilities to make her neighbor, William Fynne fall ill and die. But other than that she was also charged with death of livestock, and well bringing about the death of her husband of course. Now it didn’t seem like Agnes was very innocent considering her fiend Elizabeth Francis confessed to a lot. For instance, owning a white spotted cat named Satan who was her familiar. The cat she revived from her grandmother who taught her witchcraft at the young age of 12. Now she said this crazy feline spoke to her and would do as she pleased as long as a drop of blood was given. She also stated that the cat killed her 6th month old baby, but of course Elizabeth believed it was meant to be. Then the cat was given to Agnes later on so he could do her bidding as well. Crazy what havoc just a little spotted cat could cause. 

The Beginning

Considering there isn’t much on the very start of Agnes Waterhouse’s life, but theres enough. From what I’ve gathered she was most likely born in 1503, and lived in Hatfield Peverel Essex, England. The townspeople called her Mother Waterhouse, this suggests that she might of been a kind old woman, could of even been a healer of sorts. But none of that would matter when she was accused of witchcraft in 1566 along with two other women, Elizabeth Francis and Agnes’ own daughter Joan Waterhouse. Agnes will be the first woman in England to be put to death for witchcraft.