The Witches of St Sidwell’s

Thomasine Shorte

First person in the SW to be executed for witchcraft

Thomasine (or Tamsin) Short was the wife of Robert Short, of St Sidwells, and lived somewhere outside the East Gate.

She was clearly a mature woman by the time that she was first accused of witchcraft in the 1580s, because she had come before the city magistrates on several other occasions during the 1560s and 1570s, when she had been accused of ‘scolding’ and other crimes.

It was later alleged that, in September 1580, Thomasine Short cursed the family of Richard Hewe, of Exe Island, weaver.

Over the coming months, Richard’s wife, Dionisia, his daughter, Maria, and his son, Richard, all died one by one.

Shortly after March 1581, Richard Hewe accused Thomasine Short of witchcraft.

TS was tried, and sentenced to death on 11 April 1581.  She was subsequently hanged at the city gallows in May that year, and buried in St Sidwells.

Richard Wilkins

Executed at Heavitree for witchcraft (for killing his neighbour’s sheep) and was buried at St Sidwells in July 1610.