27 October 1441 – Margery Jordemaine
With four days to go before Hallowe’en, it seems fitting that we’ve unearthed someone who was slow roasted for being a witch.
Margery Jordemaine (or Jourdemaine or Jourdemayne) was flung on the barbecue at Smithfield after she was found guilty of witchcraft in the 15th century. But not just any old witchcraft – she’d apparently used her sorcery skills in an attempt to bring about the death of Henry VI.
Known as the ‘Witch of Eye’ she was reknowned for her aptitude in divination, and she’d already had her first brush with the law not nine years before, after she’d been arrested alongside two priests. But no charges stuck and she was released.
However she fell foul of the law again after she became embroiled in an apparent plot to overthrow the king, together with Roger Bolingbroke (aka Roger Whiche), John Hunn and Thomas Southwell, headed up by Eleanor Cobham, Duchess of Gloucester.
Hunn (or Hume as some sources refer to him) is said to have shopped the lot of them.
While the duchess was exiled to the Isle of Man, Bolingbroke was hanged, drawn and quartered (more of him on 18 November) and Southwell died in prison, but not so Jordemaine.
Indeed, Jordemaine’s death bucked the trend. Most witches were hanged in those days, however, Jordemaine was burned at the stake as a heretic, because her crime was tantamount to treason.
In case you were wondering, the plot failed and Henry lived to the ripe-ish old age of 49, however he (and this episode) was immortalised in the trilogy by Shakespeare.