Question : How much does it cost to burn a witch? Answer : £15 19s 2d

We know this because in the Archives are stored the Newcastle Chamberlains’ accounts for the years 1508 until 1835.


The entry we looked at read…”bill of charges for the wiches for 2 weekes ending the 23th (sic) of August 1650 and other charges for executing the prisoners” was £15 19s 2d.

The Chamberlain was the 16th century equivalent of the City Treasurer. It was his job to account for all the City’s expenditure. Thankfully today’s City Treasurer does not have to account for witch trials.

Lask week Christina, one of the Archives Conservators, was cleaning and stabilising once of the volumes so that the fascinating information they contain can be accessed more easily by researchers and historians. Here are some pictures of her at work.

Using the shaving brush to remove dust and loose dirt



Tools of the trade! A clean shaving brush used for dusting and pieces of the conservation sponge before and after showing how much dirt has been removed

Other payments recorded in the volumes included:

“To the 4 students at Cambridge viz: Richard Stotte, Cuthbert Stotte, Edward Dobsonne & Rich: Handcocke £30” (1643 – early grants?)

“For wintering the Townes Bulles £8” (also 1643)

“Paid for wine for Mr Maior and Alldermen the 5th and 6th November and for my lord Newcastle and his gentlemen £6 4s 8d” (1642) (Guy Fawkes night?)

“Pade William Marshall ffor bookes viz the Annotations of the bible a dickenarie and a booke to copy letters in 44s 10d (1646 – they obviously needed the dickenarie)

17th century writing. Roman numerals showing payment amounts.

3 Responses to Question : How much does it cost to burn a witch? Answer : £15 19s 2d

  1. Fe Messham says:

    Shame it doesn’t tell us how many witches that 2 weeks covers.

  2. Mel Whewell says:

    Hi Fe

    Thanks for your comment. We think we might have the answer for you -14 witches and 1 wizard (ie 14 women and 1 man).

    This information has been supplied Liz Rees from TWAM Archives who is a frequent blogger on this site and sourced from website

    March 26, 1649 – WITCH TRIALS (Newcastle) Twenty-seven out of 30 suspected witches are found guilty of witchcraft at Newcastle. Fourteen are executed on the Town Moor. One man is executed for being a wizard. Newcastle Council had suggested all witches be brought to trial, so magistrates sent for a Scottish witch finder called Cuthbert Nicholson. The Newcastle bellman invited people to report suspected witches. Thirty women were brought to the Town Hall and stripped to their waist. Nicholson pushed a pin under their clothes to pierce their skin. If they did not bleed they were declared witches. Nicholson was later executed in Scotland for trickery. He confessed responsibility for the deaths of 220 women. He was paid 20 shillings for each witch captured.

  3. Mark Davis says:

    Hi there, fascinating stuff indeed!
    I was just wondering if you could tell me what the writing says (picture underneath ‘tools of the trade’. Many thanks!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *