Although never officially documented as a witch, Mother Russell certainly appeared to possess strange powers. Living in the same village as her, East Woodhay, was a stripper, a person who made his living by removing the bark off felled trees. He was permitted, as a perk, to keep for his own usage the strips of wood which had inevitably accumulated at the end of each days work.
One day, whilst working on a tree outside of Mother Russell's cottage, she inquired as to whether she should also be permitted to collect up some of the waste chippings. Not content with those which were then given to her, she insisted on being allowed to collect some more up herself. The stripper then remonstrated with her, but the old lady ignored his complaints and continued at her nefarious task. When he again told her that she had exceeded his hospitality she turned around and stared at him in a most disconcerting manner.
From that day forward, from being both hale and hearty, his health started to deteriorate. It is reported that, although he was never actually unwell, he was dogged by a continual feeling of being out of sorts.
Some six months later however, he again chanced to meet Mother Russell. Inquiring after his health she was told that he was "very middling". She told him to cheer up and that all would again be well within a day or so. He was too.
Whether she was a witch or not remains in some doubt, but something disturbed her mind, for, a few months later she committed suicide in a house at Up Somborne, being buried at a nearby crossroads with a stake through her heart.
The crossroads today still is known locally as "Mother Russell's Post".