The Cholmley family have been a famous instalment in Whitby since the late 1500s. Their mansion still sits alongside the Abbey after it was built by Sir Hugh Cholmley in 1672, but the Cholmley family may have had a dark past.
After inheriting his father’s estate Sir Francis Cholmley and his wife, Lady Jane Cholmley, made the move to Whitby. Lady Jane was not a popular member of the family, and many (if not all) disagreed with their marriage, she was not a wanted member of the Cholmley
family. And it was all due to one rumour; Lady Jane Cholmley was a witch.
It has been speculated that the rumour was made-up by the family themselves, her in-laws so desperate to get her out of the family they wanted to damn her name. Though Sir Hugh Cholmley later tried to quash the rumours, stating that Sir Francis was overtopped and guided by his wife, which made the family (and Sir Hugh) think that Lady Jane had a charm cast over Sir Francis.
When Sir Francis died in 1579 all fingers pointed to Lady Jane as it was speculated that she must have had some involvement.
Lady Jane was lucky, despite the rumours she was never brought to trial for the rumours, even in the midst of 16th century witch hype. Though some think it was because of her title that she was never tried.