A-Z of the Accused: Rebecca Jones

Name: Rebecca Jones

Location: St.  Osyth, Essex

Date: 1645

Accusations: In the midst of the fresh surge of witchcraft accusations during the Civil War period,  Rebecca was accused of causing the deaths of Thomas Bumpstead and his wife Katherine through witchcraft.  After her apprehension she confessed that nearly a quarter of a century beforehand,  she had been in service to a man named John Bishop. A “handsome young man” knocked at the door, and,  after asking how she was,  he took a pin from her own sleeve pricked her left wrist twice.  After this startling behaviour,  the visitor wiped off the resultant drop of blood with his fingertip,  before leaving.  In hindsight,  Rebecca believed this man to have been the Devil. 

Three months later,  a man with “great eyes” and dressed in a ragged suit gave her “three things like moles,  having four feet apiece,  but without tails,  and of a black colour.” The man told her to nurse the creatures,  saying that in return they would give her vengeance against her enemies, and that if she murdered a few,  he would grant her forgiveness.

After naming her new familiars Susan,  Annie, and Margaret,  Rebecca sent an imp to kill Thomas Bumpstead as payback for beating her son for eating honey from the Bumpstead house. She also confessed to sending another to kill his wife.  The third imp was sent to  torment Mistress Darcy’s child, but not with the intent of killing it.

Outcome: Rebecca was found guilty of causing the death of Thomas Bumpstead and sentenced to death. 

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