Not only does Whitby have beasts and ghosts lurking around the town, Whitby is also home to some of the Devil’s workers, and they’ve used our home for many years. The witches of Whitby that use the town as their hunting ground are usually females and are best to be avoided, although most of the witches on this list are long dead there may still be a witch lurking in the midst and hiding among the normal people, so be aware!
Living in Ruswarp during the 1700s, old Kattie drew fear from anyone she encountered, including anyone who lived near her. The village of Ruswarp lived in fear of the old lady who lived in a small white cottage. They avoided her by any means necessary as they believed they were in danger if she even laid eyes on you.
Which was why, when Abe Rogers came into town everyone got a shock. Abe was a pedlar, he sold house hold goods and spices, which he kept in his suitcase. Legend has it that Abe came across Old Kattie on the moors and, although no one knows why, a fight between the two broke out after some heated words were exchanged.
Kattie pulled out a knife and attempted to cut the pedlar, but he was much stronger than her and managed to take the knife from her and threaten to strangle her if she so much as came anywhere near him. Kattie was not used to being spoken to like this, and her anger conjured up her familiars who went to attack Abe, but Abe (who some have said may be a Warlock) pulled an unknown spice from his suitcase and threw it towards the familiars who burnt as soon as the substance touched them. After this odd interaction, Kattie and Abe became friends, and he became the only person to ever enter her cottage.
Read about this Whitby witches tale in The Whitby Gazette
It has been documented that during the witch hype of the 16th century the most active place for witches in North Yorkshire was Goathland. Families considered witchcraft a family occupation and the skills of witchcraft would be passed down from generation to generation.
As the witches began dwindling due to the growth in fear, one witch lived alone in Goathland as the only witch in the village. Like Kattie, Anne Pierson was accused of having an ‘evil eye’, that could cast spells with just once glance. Children, as well as adults, would scream when they saw her coming.
She lived deep in woodland inside a cottage where she made spells and curses. One night a squire approached her home and knocked on her door, begging that she give him a cure for his daughter’s ‘love’. She had fallen in love with a local farmer which was not what he wanted as he had already got a much more suitable husband in mind for her, one with money. Excited to put one of her wicked tricks to use she handed the squire a
Excited to put one of her wicked tricks to use she handed the squire a vale with yellow liquid in it, instructing him to pour it into his daughter’s food.
The next night the squire came back rather angry, but Anne wouldn’t let him in, he cried that his daughter was now paralysed from the waist down and still very much in love with the poor farm boy, he begged for a cure but the evil witch refused and just cackled as the squire cried.
The farmer, hearing about his lover, went to a local wiseman who knew exactly what to do, the farmer needed to get the blood of the witch, mix it with holy water and rub his lover’s feet with the mixture. The quick-thinking farm boy had remembered that Anne would sometimes disguise herself as a hare to get about unnoticed during the night, so he set up shop outside her home and waited with a shotgun. When she eventually emerged in her new form he shot and got the blood for his love, running straight to her home and rubbing her feet with them – she was cured instantly and they eloped together.
Even Whitby has had its own witch “Mad Maggie”. She lived just at the bottom of famous 199 steps and her presence would make children flee, they wouldn’t even step foot near her home due to their fears.
The most feared by Maggie were the elderly and seamen though, as Maggie claimed to have the power to know when someone was about to die. She took pleasure in telling people when their demise was to come, and she was never wrong. Maggie promised that when she died a big storm would come from the North Sea and kill many sailors, and even put part of Whitby under water. And true to her word, the day she died a storm raged over the North Sea and made many women widowed, as well as nearly flooding the entire town.
Do you know more stories regarding witches of Whitby? Please share them in the comments below.