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Witchcraft in Little Staughton

Jeanette Atkinson and Brenda Foster have been working on adding Community History pages for Little Staughton.

The first act that defined witchcraft as a crime that could be punishable by death was in 1542 during the reign of King Henry VIII (1509-1547). Over the following hundred years many ordinary people, usually women, were accused of this crime and often executed as witches.

On the 3rd October 1653 at the Bedford Quarter Session, Emma Saunders, the wife of Robert Saunders (‘carpenter of Little Stoughton’) was accused of ‘feloniously bewitching William Holland’ [QSM1].  The session could not deal with the case, so Emma was transmitted to the Assizes (the national travelling courts). Little Staughton parish records indicate that Emma Saunders (born Emma Ball) outlived her husband, Robert, and died in Little Staughton on the 11 March 1670 [P66/1/1].