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Paula McBride

[The witch’s] lore is indeed folklore in the strictest sense of the word,

and in no part of England is it, perhaps, more abounding

than it is in Warwickshire

A. H. Wall, ‘Warwickshire Folklore’, in William Andrews (ed.),

Bygone Warwickshire (Hull, Birmingham & London, 1893;

2nd edition Trowbridge & London,1969), pp. 239-240.


MA by Research Supervisor, 2011-2014: Professor Beat Kumin

Department: History




'Magic and Witchcraft in the Early Modern Midlands'


Three Witches, Leicestershire


My area of research concentrates on magic and witchcraft in the early modern English Midlands. Both personally and academically, I have always been interested in local history, witchcraft, magic, folk customs, paganism, religion and the unorthodox within Warwickshire and the Midlands, hence the geographical area within which I have focussed my attention. The main objectives are to redress the dearth of evidence for magic and witchcraft in the Midlands within existing secondary sources, in comparison with the extensive volumes of information available for the Home Counties, the South of England, and Scotland. Is a lack of belief in witchcraft in the Midlands the reason for a lack of documentary evidence of witch hunts in previous historical works? Could evidence of witches, witch hunts and trials exist in regional court records, and could other primary sources have been overlooked? Was there a general acceptance of 'good' magic - the cunning man and the wise woman - within the Midlands? Might we find any valuable information in local archives that could contribute in some small way to the work and past research of historians, and serve to broaden the availability of resources for other students of early modern English local history in general, and of magic/paganism in particular?

For the MA by Research in History, examined by Emeritus Professor Bernard Capp (University of Warwick) and Professor Malcolm Gaskill (University of East Anglia), completed in September 2014, I concentrated on the Midland Assize Circuit areas of the Midlands - Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Northamptonshire, Nottinghamshire and Warwickshire. I now intend to broaden my investigation through further study including research on the Oxford Assize Circuit areas - Gloucestershire, Herefordshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire, Worcestershire, and some parts of Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire, depending on the county/assize boundaries of the time. My recent research has shown that, with only half of the Midlands researched so far, and if one is prepared to look hard enough for the evidence, there are a surprising number of cases for magic and witchcraft.


Paula McBride

Paula McBride

Contact details:

P dot K dot T dot McBride at warwick dot ac dot uk