25 Years Ago: BARBACK complete the Skullgrave EP (the bones of Ursula Kemp)

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25 Years Ago: BARBACK complete the Skullgrave EP (the bones of Ursula Kemp)

Recorded in December 1991, BARBACK finished mixing the EP, their last release, during this month in 1992. We have tapes of Skullgrave.

The cover image shows a skeleton presented in a coffin. It is one of two skeletons originally discovered in St Osyth, Essex in the 1920s; believed to be the bones of Ursula Kemp, who was tried as a witch and executed by hanging in 1582.
After being discovered in the 20s the skeleton went on display to paying visitors. The building burnt down in the 30s and the skeletons were reburied. They were 'discovered' (this time probably intentionally) again in the 60s or 70s. Until his death they were in the possession of Cecil Williamson, then passed to English artist Robert Lenkiewicz who displayed the skeleton in his library. This is possibly where the cover photograph originates.

Below is the trial document. Conducted by Justice of the Peace Brian Darcy of St. Osyth, Essex. Prosecution of the Witchcraft Act 1563 (An Act Against Conjurations, Enchantments and Witchcrafts), passed under the reign of Elizabeth I.

THE TRIAL OF URSULA KEMP

The Information of Grace Thurlowe

The 19th Day of February the 24th year of the reign of our Sovereign Lady Queen Elizabeth. The information of Grace Thurlowe, the wife of John Thurlowe, taken before me, Brian Darcy, the day and year above said, against Ursula Kemp, alias Grey, as followeth.

The said Grace saith also that about three quarters of a year ago she was delivered of a woman child, and saith that shortly after the birth thereof, the said Ursula fell out with her, for that she would not suffer her to have the nursing of that child; at such times as she the said Grace continued in work at the Lord Darcy's place. And saith that she, the said Grace nursing the said child, within some short time after that falling out, the child lying in the cradle, and not above a quarter old, fell out of the said cradle, and broke her neck, and died. The which the said Ursula hearing to have happened, made answer it maketh no matter. For she might have suffered me to have the keeping and nursing of it.
And the said Grace saith that when she lay in, the said Ursula came unto her, and seemed to be very angry for that she had not the keeping in of the said Grace, and for that she answered unto her that she was provided. And thereupon they entered further into talk, the said Grace saying that if she should continue lame as she had done before, she would find the means to know how it came, and that she would creep upon her knees to complain of them to have justice done upon them. And to that she the said Ursula said, "It were a good turn." Take heed (said Grace) Ursula, thou hast a naughty name. And to that Ursula made answer, though she could unwitch she could not witch, and so promised the said Grace that if she did send for her privately, and send her keeper away, that then she would show the said Grace how she should unwitch herself or any other at any time.
And the said Grace further saith that about half a year past she began to have a lameness in her bones, and specially in her legs, at which time the said Ursula came unto her unsent for and without request and said she would help her of her lameness if she the said Grace would give her twelve pence, [then] which the said Grace speaking her fair, promised her so to do, and thereupon for the space of five weeks after, she was well and in good case as she was before. And then the said Ursula came unto the said Grace, and asked her the money she promised to her. Whereupon the said Grace made answer that she was a poor and a needy woman, and had no money. And then the said Ursula requested of her cheese for it but she said she had none. And she the said Ursula, seeing nothing to be had of the said Grace, fell out with her and said that she would be even with her and thereupon she was taken lame, and from that day to this day hath so continued.
And she saith that when she is anything well or beginneth to amend, then her child is tormented, and so continueth for a time in a very strange case, and when he beginneth to amend then she the said Grace becommeth so lame, as without help she is not able to arise or to turn her in her bed.

The Information of Annis Letherdall

The information of Annis Letherdall, wife of Richard Letherdall, taken by me, Brian Darcy, Esquire, against Ursula Kemp, alias Grey, the 19th day of February.

The said Annis saith that before Michaelmas last, she the said Ursula sent her son to the said Letherdall's house to have scouring sand and sent word by the said boy that his mother would give her the dyeing of a pair of women's hose for the sand. But the said Annis knowing her to be a naughty beast sent her none. And after she the said Ursula, seeing her girl to carry some to one of her neighbors' houses, murmured as the said child said, and presently after her child was taken as it lay very big with a great swelling in the bottom of the belly and other private parts. And the said Annis saith that about the tenth day of February last she went unto the said Ursula, and told her that she had been forth with a cunning body, which said, that she the said Ursula had bewitched her child. To that the said Ursula answered that she knew she had not so been, and so talking further she said that she would lay her life that she the said Annis had not been with any, whereupon she requested a woman being in the house a-spinning with the said Ursula to bear witness what she had said. And the next day the child was in most piteous case to behold, whereby she thought it good to carry the same unto mother Ratcliffe, for that she had some experience of her skill. The which when the said mother Ratcliffe did see, she said to the said Annis that she doubted she should do it any good, yet she ministered unto it, et cetera.

The Information of Thomas Rabbet

The information of Thomas Rabbet, of the age of 8 years or thereabouts, base son to the said Ursula Kemp, alias Grey, taken before me, Brian Darcy, Esquire, one of Her Majesty's justices, the 25th day of February, against his said mother.

The said Thomas Rabbet saith that his said mother Ursula Kemp, alias Grey, hath four several spirits, the one called Tyffin, the other Tittey, the third Pigeon, and the fourth Jack and being asked of what colours they were, saith that Tittey is like a little gray cat, Tyffin is like a white lamb, Pigeon is black like a toad, and Jack is black like a cat. And he saith he hath seen his mother at times to give them beer to drink, and of a white loaf of cake to eat, and saith that in the nighttime the said spirits will come to his mother, and suck blood of her upon her arms and other places of her body.
This examinant being asked whether he had seen Newman's wife to come unto his mother, saith that one morning he being in a chamber with his mother, his Godmother Newman came unto her, and saith that then he heard her and his mother to chide, and to fall out. But saith before they parted they were friends and that then his mother delivered an earthen pot unto her, in the which he thinketh her spirits were, the which she carried away with her under her apron.
And this examinant saith that within a few days after the said Newman's wife came unto his mother, and that he heard her to tell his mother that she had sent a spirit to plague Johnson to the death and another to plague his wife.

The Examination of and Confession of Ursula Kemp, alias Grey

The examination and confession of Ursula Kemp, alias Grey, taken at St. Osyth, and brought before me, Brian Darcy, Esquire, one of Her Majesty's justices of the peace, the 20th day of February, 1582.

Condemned.
The said Ursula Kemp saith that about ten or eleven years past, she this examinant was troubled with a lameness in her bones, and for ease thereof, went to one Cocke's wife of Weley, now deceased, who telled this examinant that she was bewitched, and at her entreaty taught her to unwitch herself. And hath her take hogs' dung and charcoal and put them together and hold them in her left hand, and to take in the other hand a knife, and to prick the medicine three times, and then to cast the same into the fire, and to take the said knife and to make three pricks under a table, and to let the knife stick there. And after that to take three leaves of sage, and as much of herb John (alias herb grace) and put them into ale, and drink it last at night and first in the morning, and that she taking the same had ease of her lameness.
The said examinant saith that one Page's wife and one Gray's wife, being either of them lame and bewitched, she being requested and sent for to come unto them, went unto them. And saith that she knew them to be bewitched, and at their desires did minister unto them the foresaid medicine, whereupon they had speedy amendment.
The said Brian Darcy then promising to the said Ursula that if she would deal plainly and confess the truth, that she should have favour. And so by giving her fair speeches she confessed as followeth.
The said Ursula bursting out with weeping, fell upon her knees, and confessed that she had four spirits, whereof two of them were hes, and the other two were shes. The two he spirits were to punish and kill unto death, and the other two shes were to punish with lameness and other diseases of bodily harms, and also to destroy cattle.
And she this examinant, being asked by what name or names she called the said spirits, and what manner of things or colour they were of, confesseth and saith that the one is called Tittey, being a he, and is like a gray cat; the second called Jack, also a he, and is like a black cat; the third is called Pigeon, being a she, and is like a black toad; the fourth is called Tyffin, being a she, and is like a white lamb.
This examinant being further asked which of the said spirits she sent to punish Thurlowe's wife and Letherdall's child, confessed and said that she sent Tittey to punish Thurlowe's wife, and Pigeon Letherdall's child.
And this examinant, without any asking of her own free will at that present, confessed and said that she was the death of her brother Kemp's wife, and that she sent the spirit Jack to plague her, for that her sister had called her whore and witch.
And this examinant further confessed that upon the falling out between Thurlowe's wife and her, she sent Tyffin the spirit unto her child, which lay in the cradle, and willed the same to rock the cradle over, so as the child might fall out thereof, and break the neck of it.
These foresaid 5 last recited matters, being confessed by the said Ursula privately to me the said Brian Darcy, were afterward (supper being ended, and she called again before me, the said Brian) recited and particularly named unto her all which she confessed, as before in the presence of us, whole names he hereunder subscribed.
Also after this examinant's aforesaid confession, the said Thurlowe's wife and Letherdall's wife being then in my house, and she the said Letherdall's wife having her child there also, were brought in my presence before this examinant, who, immediately after some speeches had passed between them, she this examinant burst out in tears and fell upon her knees, and asked forgiveness of the said Letherdall's wife, and likewise of Thurlowe's wife, and confessed that she caused Newman's wife to send a spirit to plague the child, asking the said Letherdall's wife, if she were not afraid that night that the spirit came unto the child, and telled her about the same hour, and said that she herself by reason thereof was in a great sweat. And this examinant confesseth that she caused the said Newman's wife to send a spirit to Thurlowe's wife to plague her where that thought good, et cetera.
The said Letherdall's child (being a woman child) at the time of this examination appeared to be in most piteous sort consumed, and the private and hinder parts thereof to be in a most strange and wonderful case, as it seemed to very honest women of good judgment, and not likely to live and continue any long time.
Note also that it is specially to be considered, that the said child being an infant and not a year old, the mother thereof carrying it in her arms, to one mother Ratcliffe's, a neighbor of hers, to have her to minister unto it, was to pass by Ursula this examinant's house, and passing by the window, the infant cried to the mother, wo, wo, and pointed with the finger to the window wards. And likewise the child used the like as she passed homeward by the said window, at which she confessed her conscience moved her, so as she went shortly after and talked with the said Ursula, whereupon she used such speeches as moved her to complain.

The Second Confession and Examination of Ursula Kemp

The second confession and examination of Ursula Kemp, taken the 21st day of February.

The said Ursula, being committed to the ward and keeping of the constable that night, upon some speeches that she had passed, said that she had forgotten to tell Mr. Darcy one thing, whereupon the next day she was brought before Brian Darcy, and the second time examined, who confessed and said.
That about a quarter of a year last past, one Alice Newman, her near neighbor, came unto this examinant's house and fell out with her, and said she was a witch, and that she would take away her witchery, and carry the same unto Mr. Darcy. But this examinant saith she thought she did not mean it, but after they had children they became friends, and so she departed carrying away with her her spirits in a pot, as this examinant saith.
And she further saith that about Christmas last, she went to the said Alice Newman, and declared to her that Thurlowe's wife and she were fallen out, and prayed the said Newman's wife, to send the spirit called Tittey, unto her to plague the said Thurlowe's wife, where that thought good. The which this examinant saith she did, and at the return of the said spirit it told this examinant that it had punished Thurlowe's wife upon her knee. And then it had a reward by sucking blood of this examinant, and so returned as she saith to the said Alice Newman.
This examinant saith that about three months past, she and one John Stratton fell out, and the said John called her whore and gave her other evil speeches, whereupon this examinant saith that shortly after she sent her boy for spices unto the wife of the said John. But she saith she sent her none, whereupon this examinant saith she went unto the said Newman's wife, and told her of the falling out between Stratton and her, and requested the said Newman's wife to send Jack the spirit unto Stratton's wife to plague her, the which the said Alice Newman promised this examinant to do the next night, as this examinant saith she did. And the spirit told this examinant when it returned, that it had plagued her in the back even unto death. And the spirit did suck of this examinant upon the left thigh, the which when she rubbeth (she saith) it will at all times bleed.
And she saith that then the spirit did return to the said Newman's wife again, and had the like reward of her as she thanketh.
This examinant saith, that about Friday was seeneight being about the ninth of February, she went unto the said Alice Newman, and did show her that one Letherdall's wife and she were fallen out, and saith that she prayed her to send one of the spirits unto her young child. Whereunto she the said Alice answered well, she would. And this examinant saith that at that time she could have no longer talk with her, for that her husband was then present in the house. And this examinant saith that the said Alice sent the spirit Pigeon to plague the said child where that thought good, and after that it had sucked of this examinant. She saith it returned to the said Newman's wife, and more at that time the said examinant confessed not.