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Exeter campaign to pardon the last women hanged in England for 'witchcraft'

By Western Daily Press  |  Posted: August 29, 2014

The cottage in Bideford, in Devon, where the three women lived together – they were all hanged for witchcraft in 1682

The cottage in Bideford, in Devon, where the three women lived together – they were all hanged for witchcraft in 1682

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A new campaign has been launched to clear the name of the last three witches hanged in England.

The infamous trio, knows as the "Bideford Witches", were put to death in 1682 for supposedly dabbling in the occult.

Temperance Lloyd, Susannah Edwards and Mary Trembles became the last three people hanged in England for witchcraft.

But historians and MPs claim they were targeted because they were old and suffered dementia.

A new campaign to have them officially pardoned has been launched to mark the largest ever gathering of witches together.

The event, the Grand Witches Tea Party, will see hundreds gather at Rougemont Castle in Exeter, Devon – 322 years since they were hanged in August 1682.

Modern witch Jackie Juno, 51, hopes the campaign will persuade Exeter City Council to take them seriously and reconsider.

She said: "By getting them pardoned we are making a statement that this bigoted behaviour should not be tolerated nowadays. It would prove that humanity could change for the better. It would also be laying the women to rest in a way that resolves the mistakes of history.

"If you were unmarried or childless or sometimes simply owned a cat you were regarded with suspicion."

Records show Lloyd was accused of "having discourse or familiarity" with the devil and "having used some magical art, sorcery or witchcraft".

Edwards and Trembles, who both lived with her, were also arrested before all three were executed at Exeter Prison in Devon. Historians say the women were convicted on hearsay evidence, which included one of them being accused of turning into a magpie.

Even the justices at the time did not believe they were guilty but were forced to respond to an angry mob that was baying for a hanging for the women.

Last year author Christine Nash set up an online petition to call for their public pardon but despite support, which included Exeter MP Ben Bradshaw. However it was unsuccessful.

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