Edmund  Anderson

Edmund Anderson (bef. 1530 - 1605)

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Sir Edmund Anderson
Born before in Flixborough, Lincolnshire, Englandmap
[sibling(s) unknown]
Husband of — married about in Eyworth, Bedfordshire, Englandmapmap
Died in Broughton, Bedfordshire, Englandmap
Anderson-2233 created 9 May 2011 | Last modified | Last edit: 22 Sep 2016
21:17: Cheryl (Stone) Caudill removed Margaret Anderson as a child of Edmund Anderson. [Thank Cheryl for this]
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Categories: Clan Anderson | Witch Trials.

{{{image-caption}}} Edmund Anderson was involved in the English Witch Trials
If you are interested in this profile,
please check out the Witch Trials Project!


The Anderson family originated in Scotland and then came to Northumberland. They settled in Lincolnshire in the 14th century and became a prominent family there.

Sir Edmund Anderson (1530 – 1 August 1605), Chief Justice of the Common Pleas under Elizabeth I, sat as judge at the trial of Mary, Queen of Scots

Sir Edmund Anderson, son of Edward Anderson, was born in Flixborough in Lincolnshire c. 1530. He received the first part of his education in the country and then spent a brief period at Lincoln College, Oxford, before entering the Inner Temple in June 1550.

In 1577, Anderson was created Sergeant-at-Law and in 1578 he was appointed Queen's Sergeant. In 1581 he was appointed Justice of Assize on the Norfolk circuit and tried Edmund Campion and others in November 1581, securing an unexpected conviction.

On the back of that success, Anderson was made Chief Justice of the Common Pleas in 1582 and was knighted. He was reappointed by James I and held office until his death. Throughout his career he played a prominent role in some of the most important political trials of Elizabeth’s reign including that of Mary, Queen of Scots, and Sir Walter Ralegh. At one point Sir Edmund presided over the trial of Davison, the Queen's secretary who was accused of erroneously issuing the warrant for the execution of Mary, Queen of Scots.

Anderson was often described as a strict lawyer who was “completely governed by the law”. He even stated at an important trial that, “I sit here to judge of law, not logic”. In Sir Edward Coke and the Elizabeth Age by Allen D. Boyer, Sir Edmund is described as “the monster: an angry man in the courtroom and a resentful man afterward, an advocate who begrudged other lawyers' victories”.

Anderson wrote two books, Reports of Many Principal Cases Argued and Adjudged in the Time of Queen Elizabeth, in the Common Bench 1644 and Resolutions and Judgments on the Cases and Matters Agitated in All the Courts of Westminster, in the latter end of the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1653, which are still today very influential legal references.

About 1566 Anderson married Magdalen (c.1542–1622), daughter of Christopher Smythe, of Annables in Hertfordshire, and his wife, Margaret. The couple had four sons and three daughters; one son was the MP Edward Anderson (b. 1573, d. in or before 1605), who trained as a lawyer and was advanced by his uncle Sir John Fortescue (1533–1607). In Michaelmas term 1577 Anderson was created sergeant-at-law, and on 3 February 1578 he was appointed queen's sergeant. By this time he had earned a reputation both for great learning and for religious conservatism, and in 1581 he was appointed justice of assize on the Norfolk circuit. His even-handed belligerence towards both Catholic and puritan nonconformists endeared him to Elizabeth I and her privy councillors. He tried Edmund Campion and others on 20 November 1581 and, despite the weakness of the case against the accused and their stout defence, secured an unexpected conviction..

On Another Note; Dedicated Witch Hunter

Per: Witch Hunts in Europe and America an Encyclopedia By William E Burns

Sir Edmund Anderson, Lord Chief Justice of Common Pleas from 1582, was a rarity among English Magistrates - a dedicated Witch Hunter.

In his most famous witch related trial, that of Elizabeth Jackson for bewitching Mary Glover in 1602, Anderson declared the following in his charge to the Jury;

"The land is full of witches, they abound in all places, I have hanged five or six and twenty of them. There is no man here can speak more of them than myself; few of them would confess it, some of them did against whom the proofs were nothing so manifest as against those that denied it."

Anderson went on to endorse the theory of the witch's mark and to argue for relaxed standards of proof in witch cases, claiming that given the power and subtlety of Satan, it was necessary to go on presumptions and circumstances rather than direct proof. He argued that if physicians could not give a natural cause or cure for Glover's bewitchment, it must be concluded to be witchcraft.

References; C L'Estrand Ewen "Witchcraft and Demonianism"


  1. WikiTree profile Anderson-4550 created through the import of Watson Family Tree Large.ged on Oct 21, 2011 by Jonathan Watson.
  2. Title: Ancestry Family Trees Publication: Online publication - Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com. Original data: Family Tree files submitted by Ancestry members. Ancestry.com Address: http://www.Ancestry.com
  3. The Baronetage of England by William Betham (1801)
  4. National Portrait Gallery (London) NPG.org
  5. Sir Edward Coke and the Elizabethen Age By Allen D. Boyand
  6. Edmund Anderson (judge)
  7. Sir Edmund Anderson
  8. Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 01
  9. Witches in Early Modern England
  10. Possession & The Courts 1593-1692

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On 17 Oct 2015 at 22:44 GMT Cheryl (Stone) Caudill wrote:

DNA Confirmed

Edmund is 17 degrees from Kevin Bacon, 25 degrees from Bob Dylan, 21 degrees from AJ Jacobs, 21 degrees from Michael Phelps and 14 degrees from Queen Elizabeth II of the Commonwealth Realms on our single family tree. Login to find your connection.

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