Campaign to pardon the ‘Bideford witches’
08:00 14 September 2012
A former Bideford resident is campaigning to the government to pardon the last three women executed for witchcraft 330 years ago.
MORE than 300 years ago three Bideford women became the last to be hung for witchcraft in England, and now one woman is campaigning to have them pardoned.
Psychologist and self proclaimed ‘political animal’ Dr Chris Nash wrote a book about the lives of the ‘Bideford witches’ who were hung in August 1682.
Dr Nash, who grew up in Bideford but now lives in Canada, is urging people to sign a petition to the government to pardon Temperance Lloyd, Susannah Edwards and Mary Trembles.
She said: “In January 2009, I wrote a novella, ‘In the Hope’, and read an excerpt to a gathering that included a well-known writer who told me to write it into a novel.
“So I wrote ‘Temperance Lloyd’, deriving the women’s lives partly from my own childhood in a house built in their time, remembering a mother who treated our ailments with herbs we grew.
“My work is historical fiction, but I grew to love the women as I created them; any of us could have been one of them.
“They did nothing wrong. They were victims of circumstance, as were most of the people who accused them.
“They should be pardoned, if only as representatives of the over 450 people who died as witches in Britain.”
Dr Nash is planning a year-long campaign to try and gather 100,000 signatures to support the posthumous pardon.
At a meeting of Bideford Town Council in June, Councillor Peter Christie put forward a motion to erect a plaque in memory of the three women.
Anyone wishing to support Dr Nash’s campaign can sign the e petition at http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/37616