"Yet they all swam like a cork or an empty barrel'........"
On 4 August 1717, Jane Clarke of Great Wigston (now Wigston Magna),her son Joseph and daughter Mary, were brought before Justice Ashby by twenty-five of her neighbours. The witnesses accused the family of harassing them through witchcraft, causing illness and even, in one case, death. Even though twenty years before this event, witchcraft was taken off the statue books and Leicester no longer believed in witchcraft.
Jane Clarke was hunted down by a mob, stripped and searched for witch’s marks and then bled ‘with great pins and such instruments’. The witches’ thumbs and great toes tied fast together and were thrown so bound into the water to see if they would float. The accused, according to witnesses ‘strove and used all endeavors to sink yet they all swam like a cork or an empty barrel'
But despite the number of witnesses against the 'Clarkes', the court threw the matter out.
Image: Leicester Past & Present