The Case of Dorothy Griffith and Witchcraft

Court of Great Sessions1656

The National Library of Wales

The National Library of Wales
Aberystwyth, United Kingdom

For centuries the concept of magic has fascinated society. In pre-literate societies, "white" magic was believed to provide cures and blessings not otherwise available in religion and medicine. On the other hand, "black" magic was injurious and involved the performance of a conscious act of evil such as cursing a neighbour or harming a cow.

In the middle ages a new factor emerged, developed by theologians and lawyers, the concept of the demonic pact. Witches, it was argued, acquired magical powers by direct association with the Devil. By the end of the fifteenth century, witchcraft and religious heresy were seen as objects of fear and sporadic persecutions at a local level were transformed in some areas into a determined campaign to eliminate every trace of witchcraft. Evidence from the gaol files of the Court of Great Sessions show that witches were persecuted in Wales.

The first case saw William Griffith, a mariner from Picton, accusing Dorothy Griffith of Llanasa of witchcraft. The precise reason for the accusation cannot now be discovered, although it is apparent there had been a long history of ill-feeling between both families.


  • Title: The Case of Dorothy Griffith and Witchcraft
  • Creator: Court of Great Sessions
  • Date Created: 1656
  • Location: Flintshire, Wales
  • Location Created: Flintshire, Wales
  • Type: Archive
  • External Link: View in NLW's Digital Gallery

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