William Bayntun
was, at the time, the only living son of
Sir Edward Bayntun (1517 - 1593) and his wife Agnes Ryce. His murder meant that Sir Edward would have been left with no heir and should he himself die, his half-brother would inherit his estate. But Edward had a total of 13 children by his first wife, Anges

The Chancery Proceedings against Agnes Mylles, late of Stanley, Wiltshire – accused of the murder of the infant William Bayntun by reputed witchcraft in 1564

In the Chancery proceedings which followed, she said she did the same murder by the procurement and enticement of Dorothy, the wife of Henry Bayntun (Edward's brother out of his father's second marriage), who was hoping that if Sir Edward failed to produce another male heir, the subsequent fortune of his estate would go to her husband, presuming Sir Edward would die before him.

Afterwards Agnes Mylles was hanged for the same murder at Fisherton, Co. Wiltshire.

CHANCERY PROCEEDINGS 29 May, 1565 (Series II, Bundle 8 No. 11b)

Edward Baynton, Esquire, and Agnes, his wife, complain that whereas Agnes Mylles, late of Stanley, Co. Wilts, widow, ''not having God before her eyes but being seduced with a devilish instigation by using of Sorcerer's charms and witchcraft,'' about the Friday before Palm Sunday 6 Elizabeth feloniously by witchcraft murdered William Baynton, an infant, the only son and heir apparent of Edward and Agnes Baynton. And as Agnes Mylles confessed divers times before John Bishop of Sarum, George Penruddock and John Hooper Esquires, justices of the peace in Wilts, and other justices and witnesses, that she did the same murder by the procurement and enticement of Dorothy, wife of Henry Baynton, Gentleman, to whom and to the heirs male of his body the greater portion of the complainant's lands are to remain on his dying without issue male, the said Henry now having by Dorothy 3 sons and 2 daughters to whom the said land is entailed. And whereas also one Jane Marshe widow dwelling in Somerset was reported to the said reverend Father and Mr Justice Weston and Mr Sergeant Harper, Justices of Assize in the said County, of such skill that she could detect persons who used witchcraft, and because it did not then appear who had murdered or procured the murder of the child, she was sent for by them to Salisbury to declare her knowledge, and at and before her coming to the place where he was murdered she declared the said Dorothy Baynton to have been the procurer thereof; and afterwards Agnes Mylles was hanged for the same murder at Fisherton, Co. Wilts. But the said Henry and Dorothy, seeking to falsify her trial and to make it appear that Agnes Mylles was unjustly attained in spite of her frequent confessions of having done the murder by the instigation of Dorothy "which she did justify unto the said Dorothy's face", in the presence of the said Reverend Father and other Justices, have procured out process in an action upon the case against William Ayssheman, gentleman, and divers others, giving evidence for the Queen against the said witch, and have also caused Jane Marshe to be imprisoned in the city of New Sarum and to be threatened that unless she denied her former depositions and falsely accused Edward Baynton and his wife Agnes of corrupting her with rewards of money and other things, she should never be delivered out of prison but left to "lie, rot and consume there''; whereupon Jane, to gain her liberty, about Easter last past denied her former depositions and accused Edward and Agnes of procuring her by bribes to accuse Dorothy. Wherefore they pray for a writ of subpoena against Henry Baynton and Dorothy his wife and Jane Marshe.


She verily thinketh that the murder was done in the manner mentioned in the Bill of Complaint by Agnes Mylles at the instigation of Dorothy Baynton. But as for her own examination taken of late by the bailiff of Sarum and others whilst she was prisoner under his ward, she declares that she made it out of fear and to regain her liberty, that it is altogether untrue; she had excused Dorothy and accused Agnes Baynton, because of the sore, continual and grievous imprisonment which she, Jane , had suffered in the said prison of Sarum by the commandment of the Bishop of Sarum for about half-a-year, and because of the threats of the said bailiff and others, Dorothy's friends, that she should either rot in prison or lose her life unless she ceased to accuse Dorothy and laid the blame on Agnes, wife of Edward Baynton, "a very innocent of such matter alleged against her mentioned in the Bill of Complaint; and all this she did by the gainful duress and enforcement of imprisonment", without that the said Edward and Agnes did corrupt and procure her to accuse Dorothy.

From E. M. Thompson – Wiltshire Notes and Queries – Volumn IV.

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