Dame Alice Kettle

From A Compendium of Irish Biography, 1878

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Kettle, Dame Alice, a reputed witch, resident in Kilkenny in the 14th century, to whom frequent references are made in the history of the Pale. One of the Camden Society's publications, for 1843, is devoted to full consideration of her strange history. It quotes the following short account of her career from Holinshed's Chronicle of Ireland, under date 1323. It may be premised that she was four times married — to William Outlaw (a Kilkenny banker), Adam le Blound, Richard de Valle, and John le Poer. Her favourite son, William, was a banker. Seeing that the proceedings against her were not followed up in England, it is possible they had their origin either in jealousy of her wealth, or in some dispute with the Church.

"In these daies lived in the diocese of Ossorie the lady Alice Kettle, whom the Bishop asscited to purge herselfe of the fame of inchantment and witchcraft imposed unto hir, and to one Petronill and Basill hir complices. She was charged to have nightlie conference with a spirit called Robert Artisson, to whom she sacrificed in the high waie nine red cocks and nine peacock's eies... At the first conviction they abjured and did penance, but shortlie after they were found in relapse, and then was Petronill burnt at Kilkennie, the other twaine might not be heard of. She at the hour of hir death accused the said William [the Dame's son] as privie to their sorceries, whome the bishop held in durance nine weeks, forbidding his keepers to eat or to drink with him, or to speake to him more than once in the daie. But at length, through the sute and instance of Arnold le Powre then seneschall of Kilkennie, he was delivered, and after corrupted with bribes the seneschall to persecute the bishop; so that he thurst him into prison for three moneths. In rifling the closet of the ladie, they found a wafer of sacramental bread, having the devil's name stamped thereon in ested of Jesus Christ, and a pipe of ointment, wherewith she greased a staffe, upon which she ambled and gallopped through thicke and thin, when and in what manner she listed. This businesse about these witches troubled all the state of Irelande the more, for that the ladie was supported by certeine of the nobilitie, and lastlie conveied over into England, since which time it could never be understood what became of hir."

Sources

207. Kyteler, Narrative of Proceedings against Dame Alice: Thomas Wright, F.S.A. (Camden Society.) London, 1843.

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