Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Kettle, Alice

KETTLE or KYTELER, Dame ALICE (fl. 1324), reputed witch, lived in Kilkenny in the fourteenth century. Her relatives were wealthy. Robert le Kyteler was a trader with Flanders towards the close of the thirteenth century. She is frequently referred to in the history of the English Pale. According to Holinshed she was accused in 1324, by Richard de Lederede, bishop of Ossory, with two accomplices, Petronilla of Meath and Bassilla her daughter, of holding ‘nightlie conference with a spirit called Robert Artisson, to whome she sacrificed in the high waie nine red cocks and nine peacocks' eies.’ The accused persons abjured and did penance, but were afterwards found to have relapsed. One of the accomplices was burnt at Kilkenny, and at her death declared that Lady Kettle's son was an accomplice. He was imprisoned by the bishop for nine weeks, but delivered by Arnold le Powre, seneschal of Kilkenny (a relative of Lady Kettle's fourth husband). Lady Kettle's son then bribed le Powre to imprison the bishop. Lady Kettle was again cited to appear at Dublin before the Dean of St. Patrick's, but some of the nobility supported her, and got her over to England, where no more was heard of her. In her closet was found a sacramental wafer, with a print of the devil, and some ointment which converted a staff into a practicable steed. Wright gives Lady Kettle four husbands: 1. William Outlaw of Kilkenny, ‘banker.’ 2. Adam le Blound of Callan, whom she married about 1302. 3. Richard de Valle, whom she married about 1311; and 4. John le Poer or Powre, to whom she was married in 1324. She bore a son to William Outlaw, also called William. A ‘Narrative of the Proceedings against Dame Alice Kyteler, prosecuted for sorcery in 1324 by Richard de Lederede, bishop of Ossory,’ in Latin, was edited by Thomas Wright for the Camden Society in 1843, from Harl. MS. 641, f. 187; a transcript is in Sloane MS. 4800.

[Wright's edit. of the Proceedings; Cal. of Carew MSS., Book of Howth (Rolls Ser.), pp. 147–148; Chartularies of St. Mary's Abbey Dublin (Rolls Ser.), ii. cxxxiii–v, 362–4; Holinshed's Chron. of Ireland, p. 69; Irish Eccles. Journ. (October 1843), ii. 261, where is another letter by James Heathorn Todd, D.D.]

B. H. B.