The Element Encyclopedia of Witchcraft: The Complete A-Z for the Entire Magical World - Judika Illes 2005
Pickingill, “Old George” (1816—1909)
Witchcraft Hall of Fame
“Old George” Pickingill, an influential figure in modern witchcraft, claimed to be a hereditary witch. His roots allegedly stretched back to his ancestor Julia, the Witch of Brandon in Norfolk. According to a family legend, Julia was hired in 1071 to chant incantations to inspire Hereward the Wake’s soldiers when they battled the Normans and to confuse the Normans. Unfortunately, the Normans burned Julia’s village with her in it.
Pickingill worked as a farmer in Canewdon, Essex. Suspicious neighbors accused him of magical intimidation, alleging that they feared to argue with him lest he cast spells over them. Neighbors claimed Pickingill relaxed by his hedge while a host of imps did his heavy labor for him.
Pickingill openly advocated the demise of Christianity and suggested that witches form alliances with Satanists in order to further that vision.
He established covens in Essex, Hampshire, Hertfordshire, Norfolk, and Sussex.
Pickingill formed the Nine Covens with hereditary witches serving as leaders. Tremendously proud of his hereditary witchcraft lineage, he placed great emphasis on “witch blood.” Men and women were accepted into the coven but only women were permitted to conduct rituals. Pickingill also reputedly led an all-female coven as well, the Seven Witches of Canewdon.
He was reputed to have initiated both Aleister Crowley and Gerald Gardner into the Nine Covens.