The Bewitched Spinning Wheel

Illustration by Marie Hartley, ‘The Old Hand-Knitters of the Dales’, 1951.

 

Proof that sometimes, carrying a bit of ballast is a Good Thing. And also a timely reminder to oil and maintain your spinning wheel!

From ‘The London Evening Post’, February 24th – 27th, 1759, comes this cautionary tale:

We hear from Wingrove, near Aylesbury, in Bucks., that a few days ago, one Susanna Hannokes, an elderly Woman of that Place, was accused by a Neighbour with being a Witch, for that she had Bewitched her Spinning-Wheel, so that she could not make it go round; and offer’d to make and Oath of it, before a Magistrate, on which the Husband of the poor Woman, in order to justify his Wife, insisted upon her being tried on the Church-Bible, and that the Accuser should be present: Accordingly, she was conducted by her Husband, attended by a great Concourse of People, who flocked to see the Ceremony, to the Parish Church, where she was stripp’d of all her Cloaths to her Shift and Under-Coat, and weighed against the Bible; when, to the no-small Mortification of her Accuser, she out-weighed it, and was honourably Acquitted of the Charge. It is Observable that not eight years Since, one Ruth Osborn and her Husband, were by the too-credulous People of that Neighbourhood, duck’d in a Pond on a like Supposition, and used so ill, that the poor Woman was at last drown’d…

 

Spinning wheels in storage at the Bankfield Museum, Halifax. Photo Credit: Caro Heyworth.

 

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