A-Z of the Accused: Anne Ashby

Name:Anne Ashby, (alias Anne Cobler)

Location:Cranbrook, Kent


Accusations:Anne, a spinster, was accused of bewitching the three year old daughter of Richard Wilding to death, and another infant on 4th December the year before. She was also accused along with four other women of bewitching Elizabeth Osborne on 19th April, 1652, causing her to languish until she died on 15th July that same year. Anne was named as the main ‘actress’ in the drama that unfolded, and not only confessed to the crimes she was charged with, but also to having let the Devil have carnal knowledge of her. 

Anne appeared to be possessed by a spirit named Rug and to have control over said spirit; she was observed to fall into ‘an ecstacy’ whilst in court, and when she recovered informed those present that ‘the spirit Rug came out of her mouth like a mouse.’ According to Anne, the Devil had given the women a piece of flesh and told them that if they touched it they would get whatever they wanted. She also revealed the location of this grisly object, ‘of a sinewy substance and scorched,’ and, if the account be believed, it was discovered in the place she named. Anne, along with two others of the accused, pleaded pregnancy in an attempt to avoid their fate.  

Outcome: Three of the women were reprieved, but Anne was found guilty at the Maidstone Assizes on Friday 30th July 1652 and hanged not long afterwards. 

Further details of the case are related in the pamphlet A Prodigious and Tragical History of the Arraignment, Trial, Confession and Condemnation of six Witches at Maidstone, in Kent’, printed in London, August 1652. 

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *