In 1481, London, a woman by the name of Johanna Beverly was brought to court on charges that she used witchcraft to compel two other witches to win the love of two different men — one of whom was named Robert Stanton. The court documents from the time state that one of the two witches associated with Johanna nearly killed the other — though specific details on this aren’t entirely known.
Johanna Beverly was accused of being a “common harlot,” and a vicious woman who resorted to use of poisons when her magical incantations failed her. Her husband, who is not named in court documents, reportedly “lived in terror” of Johanna, and wanted to live apart from her. It seemed that her conviction in court allowed him the opportunity to escape from their marriage.
Little else is known about this witch trial, but given the time and location of the trial — as well as the severe charges hurled against her — it is likely that Joanna Beverly was put to death or imprisoned for life. The most common means of executing a witch during the late 1400s involved hanging and burning, but not all people convicted of witchcraft were executed. The court document from this time is scant and does not mention any means of sentencing.
Genealogy of Johanna Beverly
As of now there doesn’t appear to be any efforts to trace the genealogy of Johanna Beverly, and so no genealogical profiles of her exist. Furthermore, the one document detailing her witch trial does not allude to her age, so confirming her identity in any other documents (i.e. birth, death or christening records) is proving difficult. However, a document search of the era surrounding her trial does show that a woman named Johane Beverly was buried upon her death in October 1559 — in Norfolk, England. This was 78 years following the witch trial of Johanna Beverly, who was already a married woman of unknown age. It’s not completely unlikely for these two women to be the same person, but it would imply that Johanna Beverly lived into her 80s or 90s — if she was a younger woman at the time of her trial.
Since no other documents appear to exist that could further identify Johanna Beverly, it is unlikely for her name to be traced as an ancestor at this time. However, this could change — and if it does, any new information will be updated in this post.
Norfolk, England, Church of England Baptism, Marriages, and Burials, 1535-1812
Witchcraft in Old and New England; Humphrey Millford University Press; George Lyman Kittredge;