A post by George McFadyen
There are many well recorded witches in the Black Country and surrounding areas, unlike the witches you may know from fairy stories these witches were supposedly real, if the reports are to be believed. Many of them were recorded in the 1800’s and usually discovered after relationships with their neighbours turned sour. This is one such story which was found previously by the Cradley Links Society, we wanted to bring more attention to it; The Cradley Witch. There is only this one article documenting the existence of the witch, it doesn’t even include her name. The article is in the Staffordshire Advertiser from Saturday, July 22nd 1848, under the heading ‘Modern Credulity.’
By what clever scheme was this witch uncovered? Well, she openly declared herself as such! She told her neighbour that within three weeks he would fall from a horse and break his neck. The poor man was terrified by this, suggesting perhaps he had previous experiences of her that led him to believe she indeed had such power. The man offered her an undisclosed sum of money to prevent this, which we are led to believe she accepted. Evidently crime doesn’t pay, but sorcery can.
The witch then got the whole town in a panic by telling everyone that a steam engine at the local iron works (the British Iron Company Corngraves Works - picture from 1835 below) would explode on a particular day. Perhaps she thought that if she could be paid off by a butcher for protection with no further consequence to worry of, the iron works company would be able to pay her a far greater amount. It seems the company never paid, though there is no mention of the engine exploding either. Very lucky for the witch, as such a level of sabotage even by magical means would no doubt have caused her serious trouble with the law. Several of the workers did make themselves absent from work that day for their own protection, so they took the threat seriously.
What happened to the witch after this is not known, one can only imagine what other schemes supernatural or otherwise such a woman may have concocted that have been lost to the mists of time.