A Story of Witchcraft in Sussex.
Although not strictly a Ghost Story as such, I do not have a category I can place this in for now so it will have to share the Ghost story section.
Taken from 'Glimpses of our Ancestors', 1883. C.Fleet.
Sussex was, as with most counties in England, subject to a period in our history that was at best misguided, and at worst, downright cruel. I speak of the times of Witchcraft and how, at a certain point in our history, it could mean death for any poor person accused of such deeds. Those souls, some of which were no more than herbalists of the time, country folk with great knowledge of all things healing, and people who preferred to live alone in solitude with few friends for company, became victims of horrendous crimes carried out in the name of the church, the government and the will of the people.
It must be said though, that at this time, education was pretty much non-existent, except for those born into nobility, religious service and a few self-educated persons, most folk were very superstitious and wary of strangers especially of those who lived on the fringe of their lives. This lack of education and fear of the dark was a main reason of the witch hunts that prevailed throughout the British Isles and beyond. Supported by Noted dignataries and the backing of the church, it became a driving force to be feared by all who lived during these years.
The following excerpt I found interesting and wanted to place it online for you to read. I hope you enjoy it......
WE need hardly remind our readers that, in the 17th century, the most enlightened men believed in witchcraft, and that Judges like Sir Matthew Hale sent poor old women accused of dealing with his Satanic Majesty to the stake. It is not, therefore, to be wondered at that country Justices fell into the same delusion; it was a part of the religion of the day.
Sussex was never the scene of such wholesale witch-drownings and burnings as disgraced Lancashire and some other counties ; the infamous witch-finder, Hopkins, did not travel so far south. But that, if he had done so, he would have found the soil ready for him may be judged by the curious narrative contained in the MS. collections relating to Sussex, left by the Rev. W. Hayley, rector of Brightling, to the British Museum. The date of the incidents referred to is supposed to be about 1662. We give it verbalim el literatim :—