of Lowestoft
Trial Witness

(Although the report spells her name Durent, I have used the most common form as used in many of the Parish records and on the indictments)

 Neither Dorothy Durrant or her husband William were Lowestoft-born.

The first record of William Durrant at Lowestoft appears with the burial of his first wife, Marie,  on 29th October 1653.  This is followed by his marriage to Dorothy, a singlewoman (whose maiden name was Fox) on 25th July the following year.  Nothing is known about Dorothy before this date.

It is not known quite why William settled in Lowestoft, but as his occupation was that of a "dauber" - i.e.., a person who constructed walls using "daub" - it is possible that he came to work in Lowestoft to help in the re-building of the town after the great fire that swept through it in March 1645.

William and Dorothy had eight children, the first of whom was baptised William in May 1655.  This was the infant whom Dorothy claimed had been stricken  by Amy Denny's diabolical machinations in March 1657.  He was therefore about 20 months old when he was "bewitched".  Although the infant William survived Amy's "witchcraft" attack, he died the following year and was buried in St. Margaret's churchyard on 13 April 1663 - exactly 13 months to the day after Amy Denny was sentenced to death . . . .

The second of the Durrant children who Dorothy claims was "bewitched" by Amy Denny, was Elizabeth.  She was "about 10 years old" at the time of the trial and was a daughter from William's first marriage - Dorothy being her step-mother.

According to the step-mother's testimony, Elizabeth died at Lowestoft on Monday March 8, 1659.  Although not stated in the Trial Report, the Indictment says that she died of a "quartan ague", presumably thought to have been induced by Amy Denny's witchcraft!  This was one of the diseases which in the 17th century were listed as being those that doctors "cannot cure at all".

Although the Durrant's are described as being "of Lowestoft" and the records show that they were living there at this time, there is no record of Elizabeth Durrant's burial at Lowestoft.  It may be that she was buried in the parish where she had been born . . . .

The Manor Court records of Lowestoft give no clue as to where the Durrant's lived in town.  However, as William Durrant never contributed to the Town Rates (to which all property owners contributed) it is reasonably safe to assume that he owned no property and the family lived in rented accommodation.

Dorothy's husband died at Lowestoft in October 1672.  Two years later she is listed in the Town records as living in a single-hearth house.  She died a widow in January 1707 and was interred with her husband somewhere in the Parish churchyard.

Without details of their births it is impossible to say how old either Dorothy or her husband were at the time of the trial.  


Lowestoft Parish Registers.  Suffolk Record Office,  Lowestoft.
Miscellaneous Document in the Suffolk Record Office, Lowestoft.
Original Indictments.  Public Record Office, London [ASSI/16/4/1].
Robert Burton: The Anatomy of Melancholy [Oxford, 1621]
Lowestoft Hearth Tax Returns

St Margaret's Church