Damnable Practises Of three Lincolne-shire Witches,


Damnable Practises Of three Lincolne-shire Witches,


Joane Flower, and her two Daughters, Margret and Phillip Flower, against Henry Lord Rosse, with others the Children of the Right Honourable the Earle of Rutland, at Beaver Castle, who for the same were executed at Lincolne the 11. of March last. To the tune of the Ladies fall.


The story of the Belvoir Witches, Joan Flower and her daughters Margaret and Philip, convicted in 1619 of killing the children of a noble family through witchcraft. The ballad conforms to English stereotypes of witches: a trio of women who consort with familiars and who take revenge for imagined slights.

Digital Object

Image notice

Full size images of all ballad sheets available at the bottom of this page.

Image / Audio Credit

Magdalene College - Pepys Library, Shelfmark: Pepys Ballads 1.132-133; EBBA 20058. Prose pamphlet - EEBO (institutional login required). Audio recording by Molly McKew. 

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OF damned deeds, and deadly dole, I make my mournfull song,
By Witches done in Lincolne-shire, where they have lived long:
And practisd many a wicked deed, within that Country there,
Which fills my brest and bosome full, of sobs, and trembling feare.

[O]ne Beaver Castle is a place, that welcome gives to all,
[B]y which the Earle of Rutland gaines the loves of great and small:
[His] Countesse of like friendlinesse, [Do]th beare as free a mind:
[Al]so from them both rich and poore, [?] helps and succour find.

[Am]ongst the rest were Witches three, [th]at to this Castle came,
[...]Margaret and Phillip Flower, [An]d Joane their Mothers name:
[Whi]ch Women dayly found reliefe, [and] were contented well:
[Th]at the last this Margret was, [rec]eived there to dwell.

[...]oke unto such houshold charge, [...] unto her belongd,
[...] she possest with fraud and guile, [he]r place and office wrongd,
[...] [s]ecretly purloyned things [t]o her mother home:
[...] unlawfull howers from thence, [d]id nightly goe and come.

[...]en the Earle & Countesse heard, [...]r dealings knew,
[...]ved much that she should prove, [...] so untrue.
And so discharg'd her of the house, therein to come no more:
For of heer lewd and filching prankes, of proofes there were some store.

And likewise that her Mother was, a woman full of wrath,
A swearing and blaspheming wretch, forespeaking sodaine death:
And how that neighbours in her lookes, malitious signes did see:
And some affirm'd she dealt with Sprits, and so a Witch might be.

And that her Sister Phillip was well knowne a Strumpet lewd,
And how she had a young mans love, bewitched and subdued,
Which made the young man often say, he had no power to leave
Her curst inticing company, that did him so deceave.

When to the Earle and Countesse thus, these just complaints were made,
Their hearts began to breed dislike, and greatly grew affraid:
Commanding that she never should, returne unto their sight,
Nor back into the Castle come, but be excluded quite.

Whereat the old malitious feend, with these her darlings thought:
The Earle and Countesse them disgrac't, and their discredits wrought:
In turning thus despightfully, her daughter out of dores,
For which revengement, in her mind she many a mischiefe stores.

Heereat the Divell made entrance in,his Kingdome to inlarge.
And puts his executing wrath, unto these womens charge:
Not caring whom it lighted on, the Innocent or no,
And offered them his diligence, to flye, to run, and goe.

And to attend in pretty formes, of Dog, of Cat, or Rat,
To which they freely gave consent, and much rejoyc't thereat:
And as it seemd they sould their soules, for service of such Spirits,
And sealing it with drops of blood, damnation so inherits.

These Women thus being Divels growne most cunning in their Arts:
With charmes and with inchanting spells, they plaid most damned parts:
They did forespeake, and Cattle kild, that neighbours could not thrive,
And oftentimes their Children young, of life they would deprive.

At length the Countess and her Lord, to fits of sickness grew:
The which they deemd the hand of God, and their corrections due:
Which crosses patiently they bore, misdoubting no such deede,
As from these wicked Witches heere, malitiously proceeds.

Yet so their mallice more increast, that mischiefe set in foote,
To blast the branches of that house, and undermine the roote:
Their eldest sonne Henry Lord Rosse, possest with sicknesse strange,
Did lingring, lye tormented long, till death his life did change.

Their second sonne Lord Francis next, felt like continuing woe:
Both day and night in grievous sort, yet none the cause did know:
And then the Lady Katherin, into such torments fell:
By these their devilish practises, as grieves my heart to tell.

The second Part. To the same tune.

YEt did this noble minded Earle, so patiently it beare:
As if his childrens punishments, right natures troubles were:
Suspecting little, that such meanes, against them should be wrought,
Untill it pleas'd the Lord to have to light these mischiefes brought.

For greatly here the hand of God, did worke in justice cause:
When he for these their practises them all in question drawes.
And so before the Magistrates, when as the yongest came,
Who being guilty of the fact confest and tould the same.

How that her mother and her selfe, and sister gave consent:
To give the Countesse and her Lord, occasions to repent
That ere they turnd her out of dores, in such vile disgrace:
For which, or them or theirs should be, brought into heavy case.

And how her sister found a time, Lord Rosses glove to take:
Who gave it to her mothers hand consuming spels to make.
The which she prickt all full of holes, and layd it deepe in ground:
Whereas it rotted, so should he, be quite away consum'd.

All which her elder sister did, acknowledge to be true:
And how that she in boyling blood, did oft the same imbrew,
And hereupon the yong Lord Rosse, such torments did abide:
That strangely he consum'd away, untill the houre he died.

And likewise she confest how they, together all agreed:
Against the children of this Earle, to practise and proceed.
Not leaving them a child alive, and never to have more:
If witchcraft so could doe, because, they turnd them out of dore.

The mother as the daughters told, could hardly this deny:
For which they were attached all, by Justice speedily.
And unto Lincolne Citty borne, therein to lye in Jayle:
Untill the Judging Sizes came, that death might be their bayle.

But there this hatefull mother witch, these speeches did recall:
And said that in Lord Rosses death, she had no hand at all.
Whereon she bread and butter tooke, God let this same (quoth she)
If I be guilty of his death, passe never thorough me.

So mumbling it within her mouth, she never spake more words:
But fell downe dead, a judgment just and wonder of the Lords.
Her Daughters two their tryalls had, of which being guilty found,
They dyed in shame, by strangling twist, and layd by shame in the ground.

Have mercy Heaven, on sinners all, and grant that never like
Be in this Nation knowne or done, but Lord in vengeance strike:
Or else convert their wicked lives which in bad wayes are spent:
The feares of God and love of heaven, such courses will prevent.

Method of Punishment






Execution Location


Printing Location

Printed by G. Eld. for John Barnes, dwelling in the long Walke neere Christ-Church, 1619.

Tune Data

The Ladies Fall, is also known as, In Peascod Time


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“Damnable Practises Of three Lincolne-shire Witches,,” Execution Ballads, accessed May 30, 2024, https://omeka.cloud.unimelb.edu.au/execution-ballads/items/show/876.

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