It is ironic and not
a little sad that the author of the published report could not get Amy's
name right! The report calls her Amy Duny
but on the indictments she is named as Amy Denny - a surname very common
in the Lowestoft area.
little is known about Amy or her family. There is no record of her
birth or marriage in the Lowestoft records. The Parish registers
carry only one entry directly related to her, this records the baptism
of a child, Samuel, on 11 May 1651. From this we learn that her husband's
name was John. It is safe to assume that neither Amy or her husband
were "natives" of Lowestoft.
parish registers note the burial of a John Denny in Lowestoft in January
1657. This is probably Amy's husband, for she was a widow when the
trial took place.
is a possibility that Amy and her husband originated from the market town
of Beccles, eight miles west of Lowestoft. The parish registers here
record the marriage of John Denny to Emma Heckleton in October 1634.
"Amy" is a common pet form of Emma, being a corruption of "Emmy".
One of the most damning allegations made against Amy Denny was that she
was related to a known witch. During the great witch hunt led by
Matthew Hopkins, the self-styled "Witchfinder General", in 1645 a
woman by the name of Margaret Eccleston from the village of Linstead, nine
miles south of Beccles, was accused of being a witch and found guilty.
Given the vagaries of 17th century spelling this woman might have been
related to Emma (Amy) Heckleton. This of course is all very tenuous
and Amy Denny had three children baptised at Beccles, the last being in
1642, after that they disappear from the Beccles records. However,
just two years later the name John Denny suddenly occurs with great frequency
in the Manor Court Books of Lowestoft. The Court Baron, which met
monthly dealt mainly with the transfer of Copyhold property but it also
adjudicated suits involving injuries, trespass and debt not exceeding 40
November 1644 and December 1653 the name John Denny appears no less that
69 times, all but three of then as defendant. No other person's name
appears with such regularity as that of John Denny. Unfortunately,
because the court records only contain the names of the plaintiff and the
defendant, together with the verdict, it is impossible to say why Denny
was brought to court so many times, except that he must have exhibited
incredible "anti-social" tendencies towards all and sundry in Lowestoft!
The court records are missing between 1653 and 1667, when they resume the
name John Denny is conspicuous by its absence.
were two adult males named John Denny living in Lowestoft at this time
so there is an even chance that the one who appeared before the Manor Court
was Amy's husband, more so because the "other" John Denny was born and
raised in the town but the name doesn't appear before 1644.
Amy's husband (or his family) did consistently cause civil injuries to
their neighbours, perhaps this was one source of the vindictiveness against
Amy that led to her untimely demise on the gallows as a "witch".
Denny rented a sub-divided house at the extreme southern end of town.
This house was owned by Cornelius Landefielde, whose wife Anne
gave evidence against her at her trial, some of which was centered on the
"bewitching" of this property.
little is known about Amy Denny is speculative, but whatever the truth,
there is no possible reason why she should have been accused and executed
for "crimes" she could not have committed . . . . .
Parish Registers. Suffolk Record Office, Lowestoft.
Suffolk Record Office, Lowestoft [FC3/D2/11].
Manor Court Books. Suffolk Record Office, Lowestoft [194/A10/8
Examination of the Witches - August 1645 [British Museum. Add. MS 27402.