Cawood Castle

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  1. Ian Topham says:

    Re: Cawood Castle
    According to ‘The Haunted Homes and Family Traditions of Great Britain’ by John Ingram (1897)

    Anyone conversant with the less-known judicial records of the past, is well aware that supernatural evidence frequently formed an important factor in ancient criminal trials. One of these curious cases is recorded in Aubrey’s Miscellanies, that medley of useful and useless matters, as having taken place in the immediate vicinity of Cawood Castle, Yorkshire. The depositions made at the trial, but for one extraordinary and all-important piece of evidence, were of common-place type. According to the circumstances brought out in the
    course of investigation, the facts were these:

    On Monday, the 14th of April, 1690, William Barwick was out walking with his wife, Mary Barwick, close to Cawood Castle. From motives not divulged at the trial, although shrewdly guessed at by Aubrey, he determined to murder her, and finding a pond conveniently at hand, he threw her in. Deeming, doubtless, that the body would soon be discovered where it was, he went the next day to the place, procured a huge spade, and, getting the corpse out of the water, made a grave close by, and buried it.

    Apparently satisfied that no one had witnessed his ghastly deed, Barwick actually went on the day he had committed the murder to his wife’s sister, and informed her husband, Thomas Lofthouse, that he had taken his wife to a relative’s house in Selbv, and left her there. Lofthouse, however, according to his deposition on oath, averred that on the Tuesday after the visit of Barwick, "about half an hour after twelve of the clock, in the day-time, he was watering quickwood, and as he was going for the second pail, there appeared, walking: before him, an apparition in the shape of a woman. Soon after she sat down over against the pond, on a green hill. He walked by her as he went to the pond, and as he came with the pail of water from the pond, looking sideways to see if she sat in the same place, which he saw she did." The witness then observed that the apparition was dandling "something like a white bag" on her lap, evidently suggestive, indeed, of her unborn babe that was slain with her. Lofthouse now emptied his pail of water, so he averred, and then stood in the yard of his house, to see if he could still see the woman’s figure, but she had disappeared. He described her attire as exactly similar to that worn by his sister-in-law at the time of her murder, but remarked that she looked extremely pale, and that her teeth were visible, "her visage being like his wife’s sister."

    Notwithstanding the horror of this apparition, Lofthouse, according to Aubrey’s account, did not mention anything about it to his wife till night-time, when, at his family duty of prayers, the thoughts of the apparition were so overpowering, that they interrupted his
    devotion. After he had made an end of his prayers, therefore, he told the whole story of what he had seen to his wife, "who, laying the whole circumstances together, immediately inferred that her sister was either drowned or otherwise murdered, and desired her husband to look after her the next day, which was Wednesday in Easter week." Lofthouse now recalled to mind what Barwick had told him about having left his wife at his uncle’s at Selby, and therefore went to him and made inquiries, and found that neither the man nor his wife had been seen or heard of there. This information, coupled with the appearance of the apparition, increased his suspicions against Barwick to such a degree, that he went before the Lord Mayor of York, and obtained a warrant for the arrest of his brother-in-law.

    The culprit, when arrested, confessed the crime, and the body of the murdered woman being disinterred, was found dressed in clothing similar, apparently, to that worn by the apparition. Ultimately Barwick suffered the extreme penalty of the law for his crime.