An Honorable Occupation – Whitby Sorcery

Whitby, 1816. In making up the census for 1816 no account was taken of the employment of females, except in a few instances. There were probably about 200 mantua-makers (dressmakers) and milliners, including apprentices. I heard of no less than seven who follow the honourable occupation of sorceress or fortune-teller: and it seems they are so well employed, that another worthy matron has recently commenced business in the same line.

Young. A History of Whitby And Streoneshalh Abbey, etc. By the Rev. George Young. 2 vols. Whitby 1817.

6 thoughts on “An Honorable Occupation – Whitby Sorcery

  1. Makes you wonder if – as a Rev. – he wrote that tongue in cheek! I bet they were popular. There was a programme on about fortune tellers/witches in Romania and Slovakia and they were doing a booming trade, credit card payments and all!

    1. I’m sure you’re right about the Rev. That said, the people of this corner of the world were known for being deeply superstitious. There are records from the late C19th of people consulting wise men and women.
      I’m not sure whether divination has ever really died out, we have a woman in our road who will read your cards if you ask her to. When I was young I knew a man who could charm warts away, he was just an ordinary bloke.

  2. I suppose that divination has partially morphed into the fringier parts of the modern “wellness” industry, where people seemingly want their witchcraft dressed up in the language and appearance of science.

  3. “Superstition, indeed, is fled, but has left a vacant place in the minds of men …. which leaves, perhaps, to this enlightened generation little real cause of triumph.”
    Thomas Whitaker (1823)

    and perhaps explains where we are today?

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