Cullender was not a native of Lowestoft. She first appears in the
town records as Rose Hicks, singlewoman when she married William Cullender,
occupation unknown, on 18th April, 1625. This is also the first reference
to her husband, nothing is known about either of them before this date.
Rose walked up the aisle of St. Margarets Church, Lowestoft she was six
months pregnant. Her first child, Elizabeth, was baptised at the
same church on 24 June.
the next twelve years Rose and William produced another eight offspring:
(born in 1627), Susan (born in 1629), William (born in 1630), Peter and
Mary (twins - born in 1632), Bridget (born in 1634), Mary (born in 1635)
and another Mary (born in 1637). Of these children 5 died before
reaching the age of 10; four of them during a period of plague in 1635/36.
after their marriage Rose and William moved into a tenement at the western
end of Old Blue Anchor Lane (now Dukes Head Street) in Lowestoft
- which was part of a large sub-divided property formerly called "The Hall
House". Adjacent, and forming part of the same property, was a barn
and yard used by a brewer named Francis Ewen. Ewen had a number of
children amongst whom was Anne, a teenager in the 1630's who, as Ann
Landefielde, was one of the main witnesses against Rose at her trial.
close by in Old Blue Anchor Lane was a tavern called "The Sun" this was
owned by John Soan,
another principal witness
at the trial.
January 1638 a certain Richard Church of Lowestoft mortgaged his house
in Swan Lane, Lowestoft, to Rose's husband. Three years late the
Cullender's purchased the house from Church and it became their new home.
within a year William Cullender was dead. The details of his death
are unclear. Roses's eldest son, Thomas, was only 14 years old and
too young in inherit the property and as there was no Will, Rose could
not inherit in her own right! Although there is no evidence in the
Lowestoft Manor Court records it seems that the property was placed in
Trust for young Thomas until he reached his majority.
is no record of the burial of William Cullender at Lowestoft and so his
final resting place is not known.
Cullender was still living in this house (now owned by her son Thomas)
when she was arrested as a witch in 1662 - and it was there that she was
stripped and searched for "witches marks". At the time she had two
surviving children - Thomas (aged 35) and Susan (aged 33). Susan,
who never married, was probably still living at home and caring for her
aging mother in their Swan Lane abode.
date of Rose Cullender's birth is not known, but assuming that when she
married William in 1625 she was at the "average" age of marriage during
this period, i.e.., about 25, then she would have been approximately 62
years old when she was tried and executed at Bury St. Edmunds.
was also a grandmother to Bethia and Samuel Cullender, the children
of her son Thomas.
October 1662, seven months after his mother's untimely death, Thomas transferred
the Swan Lane house into his sister Susan's name. It remained hers
until her death in 1688. Thomas died at Lowestoft and was buried
there on 8 February 1676 aged 49.
Rose Cullender's last surviving child, died intestate in 1688 aged 59.
She had no heirs and the ownership of the Swan Lane property reverted
to her niece Bethia Fox, the surviving child of her brother Thomas.
On the day that she inherited the house Bethia immediately sold it on .
. . . . The building was demolished in the early 1960's when the area was
redeveloped. . . . and the last trace of the Cullenders disappeared . .
. An apartment block now stands on the site.
Cullender differs somewhat from other victims of witchcraft accusations,
for she does not fit into the usual model of an accused woman. She
and her husband had some money and property, and the family were probably
reasonably well off. Even after the death of her husband Rose was
making regular contributions to the "Poor Rate" in Lowestoft, rather than
receiving handouts from it.
we will probably never know what made her fellow townsfolk accuse her of
being a witch . . .
Parish Registers (1561 - 1720) - Suffolk Record Office Lowestoft.
Manor Court Books - Suffolk Record Office, Lowestoft [194/A10/7].
documents at the Suffolk Record Office, Lowestoft and Ipswich.
Butcher, The Development of Pre-Industrial Lowestoft. 1560 - 1730.
M.Phil Thesis, University of East Anglia, Norwich. 1991