Philobiblon: The underclass; it's been around a while

Friday, October 15, 2004

The underclass; it's been around a while

Strange news from Shadwell
Being a True & Just Relation of
the Death of Alice Fowler, who had
for many years been accounted a Witch

"In King St near Whapping, lived a widow woman named Alice Fowler, about the age of four score years, and had always been a malicious ill-natured woman and for many years had been accounted a witch; she was always observed to be muttering and grumbling to herself, and was continually holding a Discourse as it were with herself ... she was always poor, as it is observable that those kind of people are."

[Her son Waler, had been transported to Barbados; "nine years since he was hung for murdering his wife & breaking open a house."]

The poor neighbour who was nursing her went out, locking her in & taking the key. When she came back "local account had her lying dead on the floor with her 2 big toes tied together, naked, with a blanket lying over her" ... neighbours examined the body and "found 5 Teats, all as black as Coal".

She was buried at St Paul's, Shadwell. No one attended the funeral.

Printed by E. Mallet, London, 1685.
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I just cycled home through Shadwell; it hasn't changed much.

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