By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon

We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: Witch Stories
Author: Linton, E. Lynn (Elizabeth Lynn), 1822-1898
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Witch Stories" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.

generously made available by Internet Archive/American Libraries

Note: Images of the original pages are available through
      Internet Archive/American Libraries. See


Collected by


Author of "Azeth the Egyptian," "Amymone," Etc.

"Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live."--EXODUS XXII. 18.

Chapman and Hall, 193 Piccadilly.

[_The right of Translation reserved._]

London: Printed By W. Clowes and Sons, Stamford Street.


In offering the following collection of witch stories to the public, I do
not profess to have exhausted the subject, or to have made so complete a
summary as I might have done, had I been admitted into certain private
libraries, which contain, I believe, many concealed riches. But I had no
means of introduction to them, and was obliged to be content with such
authorities as I found in the British Museum, and the other public
libraries to which I had access. I do not think that I have left much
untold; but there must be, scattered about England, old MSS. and unique
copies of records concerning which I can find only meagre allusions, or
the mere names of the victims, without a distinctive fact to mark their
special history. Should this book come to a second edition, any help from
the possessors of these hitherto unpublished documents would be a gain to
the public, and a privilege which I trust may be afforded me.

Neither have I attempted to enter into the philosophy of the subject. It
is far too wide and deep to be discussed in a few hasty words; and to sift
such evidence as is left us--to determine what was fraud, what
self-deception, what actual disease, and what the exaggeration of the
narrator--would have swelled my book into a far more important and bulky
work than I intended or wished. As a general rule, I think we may apply
all the four conditions to every case reported; in what proportion, each
reader must judge for himself. Those who believe in direct and personal
intercourse between the spirit-world and man, will probably accept every
account with the unquestioning belief of the sixteenth and seventeenth
centuries; those who have faith in the calm and uniform operations of
nature, will hold chiefly to the doctrine of fraud; those who have seen
much of disease and that strange condition called "mesmerism," or
"sensitiveness," will allow the presence of absolute nervous derangement,
mixed up with a vast amount of conscious deception, which the insane
credulity and marvellous ignorance of the time rendered easy to practise;
and those who have been accustomed to sift evidence and examine witnesses,
will be utterly dissatisfied with the loose statements and wild distortion
of every instance on record.


_London_, 1861.

The Witches of Scotland

Scotland was always foremost in superstition. Her wild hills and lonely
fells seemed the fit haunting-places for all mysterious powers; and long
after spirits had fled, and ghosts had been laid in the level plains of
the South, they were to be found lingering about the glens and glades of
Scotland. Very little of graceful fancy lighted up the gloom of those
popular superstitions. Even Elfame, or Faërie, was a place of dread and
anguish, where the devil ruled heavy-handed and Hell claimed its yearly
tithe, rather than the home of fun and beauty and petulant gaiety as with
other nations: and the beautiful White Ladies, like the German Elle-women,
had more of bale than bliss as their portion to scatter among the sons of
men. Spirits like the goblin Gilpin Horner, full of malice and unholy
cunning,--like grewsome brownies, at times unutterably terrific, at times
grotesque and rude, but then more satyr-like than elfish,--like May
Moulachs, lean and hairy-armed, watching over the fortunes of a family,
but prophetic only of woe, not of weal,--like the cruel Kelpie, hiding
behind the river sedges to rush out on unwary passers-by, and strangle
them beneath the waters,--like the unsained laidly Elf, who came tempting
Christian women, to their souls' eternal perdition if they yielded to the
desires of their bodies,--like the fatal Banshie, harbinger of death and
ruin,--were the popular forms of the Scottish spirit-world; and in none of
them do we find either love or gentleness, but only fierceness and crime,
enmity to man and rebellion to God. But saddest and darkest and unholiest
of all was the belief in witchcraft, which infested society for centuries
like a sore eating through to the very heart of humanity, and which was
nowhere more bitter and destructive than among the godly children of our
Northern sister. Strange that the land of the Lord should have been the
favourite camping-ground of Satan, that the hill of Zion should have had
its roots in the depths of Tophet!

The formulas of the faith were as gloomy as the persons. The power of the
evil eye; the faculty of second sight, which always saw the hearse plumes,
and never the bridal roses; the supremacy of the devil in this
God-governed world of ours, and the actual and practical covenant into
which men and women daily entered with him; the unlimited influence of the
curse, and the sin and mischief to be wrought by charm and spell; the
power of casting sickness on whomsoever one would, and the ease with which
a blight could be sent on the corn, and a murrain to the beasts, by those
who had not wherewithal to stay their hunger for a day, these were the
chief signs of that fatal power with which Satan endowed his chosen
ones--those silly, luckless chapmen who bartered away their immortal souls
for no mess of pottage even, and no earthly good to breath or body, but
only that they might harm their neighbours and revenge themselves on those
who crossed them. Sometimes, indeed, they had no need to chaffer with the
devil for such faculties: as in the matter of the evil eye; for Kirk, of
Aberfoyle, tells us that "some are of so venomous a Constitution, by being
radiated in Envy and Malice, that they pierce and kill (like a Cockatrice)
whatever Creature they first set their Eyes on in the Morning: so was it
with Walter Grahame, some Time living in the Parock wherein now I am, who
killed his own Cow after commending its Fatness, and shot a Hair with his
Eyes, having praised its Swiftness (such was the Infection of ane Evill
Eye); albeit this was unusual, yet he saw no Object but what was obvious
to other Men as well as to himselfe." And a certain woman looking over the
door of a byre or cowhouse, where a neighbour sat milking, shot the calf
dead and dried up and sickened the cow, "by the venomous glance of her
evill eye." But perhaps she had got that venom by covenant with the devil;
for this was one of the prescriptive possessions of a witch, and ever the
first dole from the Satanic treasury. When Janet Irving was brought to
trial (1616) for unholy dealings with the foul fiend, it was proved--for
was it not sworn to? and that was quite sufficient legal proof in all
witchcraft cases--that he had told her "yf schoe bure ill-will to onie
bodie, to look on them with opin eyis, and pray evill for thame in his
name, and schoe sould get hir hartis desyre;" and in almost every witch
trial in Scotland the "evil eye" formed part of the counts of indictment
against the accused. The curse was as efficacious. Did a foul-mouthed old
dame give a neighbour a handful of words more forcible than courteous, and
did terror, or revenge, induce, or simulate, a nervous seizure in
consequence, the old dame was at once carried off to the lock-up, and but
few chances of escape lay between her and the stake beyond. To be skilful
in healing, too, was just as dangerous as to be powerful in sickening; and
to the godly and unclean of the period all sorts of devilish cantrips lay
in "south-running waters" and herb drinks, and salves made of simples;
while the use of bored stones, of prayers said thrice or backwards, of
"mwildis" powders, or any other more patent form of witchcraft, though it
might restore the sick to health, yet was fatally sure to land the user
thereof at the foot of the gallows, and the testimony of the healed friend
was the strongest strand in the hangman's cord. This, indeed, was the
saddest feature in the whole matter--the total want of all gratitude,
reliance, trustiness, or affection between a "witch" and her friends. The
dearest intimate she had gave evidence against her frankly, and without a
second thought of the long years of mutual help and kindliness that had
gone before; the neighbour whom she had nursed night and day with all
imaginable tenderness and self-devotion, if he took a craze and dreamed of
witchcraft, came forward to distort and exaggerate every remedy she had
used, and every art she had employed; her very children turned against her
without pity or remorse, and little lips, scarce dry from the milk of her
own breasts, lisped out the glibbest lies of all. Most pitiful, most sad,
was the state of these poor wretches; but instructive to us, as evidencing
the strength of superstition, and the weakness of every human virtue when
brought into contact and collision with it. What other gifts and powers
belonged to the witches will be best gathered from the stories themselves;
for varied as they are, there is a strange thread of likeness running
through them all; specially is there a likeness in all of a time or
district, as might be expected in a matter which belonged so much to mere

Scotland played an unenviable part in the great witch panic that swept
like an epidemic over Europe during the sixteenth and seventeenth
centuries. It suited with the stern, uncompromising, Puritan temper, to
tear this accursed thing from the heart of the nation, and offer it,
bleeding and palpitating, as a sacrifice to the Lord; and accordingly we
find the witch trials of Scotland conducted with more severity than
elsewhere, and with a more gloomy and savage fanaticism of faith. Those
who dared question the truth of even the most unreliable witnesses and the
most monstrous statements were accused of atheism and infidelity--they
were Sadducees and sinners--men given over to corruption and uncleanness,
with whom no righteous servant could hold any terms. And then the
ministers mingled themselves in the fray; and the Kirk like the Church,
the presbyter like the priest, proved to be on the side of intolerance and
superstition, where, unfortunately, priests of all creeds have ever been.
And when James VI. came with his narrow brain and selfish heart, to
formularize the witch-lie into a distinct canon of arbitrary faith, and
give it increased political significance and social power, the reign of
humanity and common sense was at an end, and the autocracy of cruelty and
superstition began. It is a dreary page in human history; but so long as a
spark of superstition lingers in the world it will have its special and
direct uses.

The first time we hear of Scottish witches was when St. Patrick offended
them and the devil alike by his uncompromising rigour against them: so
they tore off a piece of a rock as he was crossing the sea and hurled it
after him; which rock became the fortress of Dumbarton in the days which
knew not St. Patrick. Then there was the story of King Duff (968), who
pined away in mortal sickness, by reason of the waxen image which had
been made to destroy him; but by the fortunate discovery of a young maiden
who could not bear torture silently, he was enabled to find the
witches--whom he burnt at Forres in Murray, the mother of the poor maiden
who could not bear torture among them: enabled, too, to save himself by
breaking the wasting waxen image roasting at the "soft" fire, when almost
at its last turn. Then we come to Thomas of Ercildoune, whom the Queen of
Faërie loved and kept; and then to Sir Michael Scot of Balweary, that
famous wizard, second to none in power; while a little further removed
from those legendary times we see the dark figure of William Lord Soulis,
who was boiled to death at Nine Stane Brig, in fitting punishment for his
crimes. And then in 1479 twelve mean women and several wizards were burnt
at Edinburgh for roasting the king in wax, and so endangering the life of
the sovereign liege in a manner which no human aid could remedy; and the
Earl of Mar was at their head, and very properly burnt too. And in 1480
Incubi and Succubi held the land between them, and even the young lady of
Mar gave herself up to the embraces of an Incubus--a hideous monster,
utterly loathsome and deadly to behold; and if the young ladies of the
nobility could do such things, what might not be expected from the
commonalty? But now we come out into the light of written history, and the
first corpse lying on the threshold is that of the beautiful Lady Glammis


One of the earliest, as she was one of the noblest, victims of this
delusion, politics and jealousy had as much to do with her death as had
superstition. Because she was "one of the Douglases," and not because she
was convicted as a sorceress, did William Lyon find her so easy a victim
to his hate. For it was he--the near relative of her first husband,
"Cleanse the Causey" John Lyon, Lord Glammis,--who ruined her, and brought
her young days to so shameful an end. And had he not cause? Did she not
reject him when left a widow, young and beautiful as but few were to be
found in all the Scottish land? and, rejecting him, did she not favour
Archibald Campbell of Kessneath instead, and make over to him the lands
and the beauties he had coveted for himself, even during the life of that
puling relative of his, "Cleanse the Causey"? Matter enough for revenge in
this, thought William Lyon: and the revenge he took came easy to his hand,
and in fullest measure. For Lady Glammis, daughter of George, Master of
Angus, and grand-daughter of that brave old savage, Archibald
Bell-the-Cat, was in no great favour with a court which had disgraced her
grandfather, and banished her brother; and consequently she found no
protection there from the man who was seeking her ruin. Perhaps, too, she
had mixed herself up with the court feuds and parties then so common, and
thus had given some positive cause of offence to a government which must
crush if it would not be crushed, and extirpate if it would not be
destroyed. Be that as it may, William Lyon soon gathered material for an
accusation, and Lady Glammis found that if she would not have his love he
would have her life. She was accused on various counts; for having
procured the death of her first husband by "intoxication," or unholy
drugging, for a design to poison the king, and for witchcraft generally,
as a matter of daily life and open notoriety; and for these crimes she was
burnt, notwithstanding her beauty and wealth and innocence and
high-hearted bravery, notwithstanding her popularity--for she was beloved
by all who knew her--and the honour of her stainless name. And once more,
as so often, hatred conquered love, and the innocent died that the guilty
might be at rest.

I must omit any lengthened notice of the trial of Janet Bowman in 1572, as
also of that of a notable witch Nicneven, which name, "generally given to
the Queen of the Fairies, was probably bestowed upon her on account of her
crimes, and who, when 'her collore craig with stringis whairon wes mony
knottis' was taken from her, gave way to despair, exclaiming, 'Now I have
no hoip of myself,' saying, too, that 'she cared not whether she went to
heaven or to hell.'" The Record has preserved nothing beyond the mere
fact of the first, while the foregoing extract is all that I can find of
the second; so that I am obliged to pass on to the pitiful tale of--


Poor douce honest Bessie Dunlop, spouse to Andro Jak in Lyne, deposed,
after torture, on the 8th day of November, 1576, that one day, as she was
going quietly enough between her own house and Monkcastle yard, "makeand
hevye sair dule with hirself," weeping bitterly for her cow that was
dead, and her husband and child who were lying "sick in the land-ill," she
herself still weak after gissane, or child-birth, she met "ane honest,
wele, elderlie man, gray bairdit, and had ane gray coitt with Lumbart
slevis of the auld fassoun; ane pair of gray brekis and quhyte schankis
gartanit abone the kne; ane blak bonet on his heid, cloise behind and
plane befoir, with silkin laissis drawin throw the lippis thairof; and ane
quhyte wand in his hand." This was Thom Reid, who had been killed at the
battle of Pinkye (1547), but was now a dweller in Elfame, or Fairy Land.
Thom stopped her, saying, "Gude day, Bessie." "God speid yow, gude man,"
says she. "Sancta Marie," says he, "Bessie, quhy makis thow sa grit dule
and sair greting for ony wardlie thing?" Bessie told him her troubles,
poor woman, and the little old gray-bearded man consoled her by assuring
her that though her cow and her child should die, yet her husband would
recover; and Bessie, after being "sumthing fleit" at seeing him pass
through a hole in the dyke too narrow for any honest mortal to pass
through, yet returned home, comforted to think that the gude man would
mend. After this, she and Thom foregathered several times. At the third
interview he wanted her to deny her baptism, but honest Bessie said that
she would rather be "revin at horis taillis" (riven at horses' tails); and
on the fourth he came to her own house, and took her clean away from the
presence of her husband and three tailors--they seeing nothing--to where
an assemblage of eight women and four men were waiting for her. "The men
wer cled in gentilmennes clething, and the wemens had all plaidis round
about them, and wer verrie semelie lyke to se." They were the "gude
wychtis that wynnit (dwelt) in the court of Elfame," and they had come to
persuade her to go back to fairy-land with them, where she should have
meat and clothing, and be richly dowered in all things. But Bessie
refused. Poor crazed Bessie had a loyal heart if but a silly head, and
preferred her husband and children to all the substantial pleasures of
Elfame, though Thom was angry with her for refusing, and told her "it
would be worse for her."

Once, too, the queen of the fairies, a stout, comely woman, came to her,
as she was "lying in gissane," and asked for a drink, which Bessie gave
her. Sitting on her bed, she said that the child would die, but that the
husband would recover; for Andro Jak seems to have been but an ailing
body, often like to find out the Great Mysteries for himself, and Bessie
was never quite easy about him. Then Thom began to teach her the art of
healing. He gave her roots to make into salves and powders for kow or yow
(cow or sheep), or for "ane bairne that was tane away with ane evill blast
of wind or elfgrippit:" and she cured many people by the old man's fairy
teaching. She healed Lady Johnstone's daughter, married to the young Laird
of Stanelie, by giving her a drink brewed under Thom's auspices, namely,
strong ale boiled with cloves, ginger, aniseed, liquorice, and white
sugar, which warmed the "cauld blude that gaed about hir hart, that causit
hir to dwam and vigous away," or, as we would say, to swoon. And she cured
John Jake's bairn, and Wilson's of the town, and her gudeman's sister's
cow; but old Lady Kilbowye's leg was beyond them both. It had been crooked
all her life, and now Thom said it would never mend, because "the march of
the bane was consumit, and the blude dosinit" (the marrow was consumed,
and the blood benumbed). It was hopeless, and it would be worse for her
if she asked for fairy help again. Bessie got fame too as a "monthly" of
Lyne. A green silk lace, received from Thom's own hand, tacked to their
"wylie coitts" and knit about their left arms, helped much in the delivery
of women. She lost the lace, insinuating that Thom took it away again, but
kept her fatal character for more medical skill than belonged to an
ordinary canny old wife. In the recovery of stolen goods, too, she was
effective, and what she could not find she could at least indicate. Thus,
she told the seekers that Hugh Scott's cloak could not be returned,
because it had been made into a kirtle, and that James Baird and Henry
Jameson would not recover their plough irons, because James Douglas, the
sheriff's officer, had accepted a bribe of three pounds not to find them.
Lady Blair having "dang and wrackit" her servants on account of certain
linen which had been stolen from her, learnt from Bessie, prompted by
Thom, that the thief was no other than Margaret Symple, her own friend and
relation, and that she had dang and wrackit innocent persons to no avail.
Bessie never allowed that Thom's intercourse with her was other than
honest and well conducted. Once only he took hold of her apron to drag her
away to Elfame with him; but this was more in the way of persuasion than
love making, and she indignantly denied the home questions put to her by
the judges with but scant delicacy or feeling for an honest woman's shame.
Interrogated, she said that she often saw Thom going about like other men.
He would be in the streets of Edinburgh, on market days and other,
handling goods like any living body, but she never spoke to him unless he
spoke first to her: he had forbidden her to do so. The last time she met
him before her arrest he told her of the evil that was to come, but
buoyed her up with false hopes, assuring her that she would be well
treated, and eventually cleared. Poor Bessie Dunlop! After being cruelly
tortured, her not very strong brain was utterly disorganized, and she
confessed whatever they chose to tax her with, rambling through her wild
dreamy narrative with strange facility of imagination, and with more
coherence and likelihood, than are to be found in those who came after
her. Adjudged as "confessit and fylit," she was "convict and brynt" on the
Castle Hill of Edinburgh--a mournful commentary on her elfin friend's
brave words and promises.


On the 28th of May, 1588, Alesoun Peirsoun, in Byrehill, was haled before
a just judge and sapient jury on the charge of witchcraft, and seven
years' consorting with the fairy folk. This Alesoun Peirsoun, or, as we
should now write it, Alison Pearson, had a certain cousin, one William
Simpson, a clever doctor, who had been educated in Egypt; taken there by a
man of Egypt, "ane gyant," who, it is to be supposed, taught him many of
the secrets of nature then hidden from the vulgar world. During his
absence, his father, who was smith to king's majesty, died for opening of
"ane preist-buik and luking vpoune it:" which showed the tendency of the
family. When Mr. William came back he found Alison afflicted with many
diseases, powerless in hand and foot, and otherwise evilly holden; and he
cured her, being a skilful man and a kindly, and ever after obtained
unlimited influence over the brain and imagination of his crazed cousin.
He abused this influence by taking her with him to fairy land, and
introducing her to the "gude wychtis," whose company he had affected for
many years. In especial was she much linked with the Queen of Elfame, who
might have helped her, had she been so minded. One day being sick in
Grange Muir, she lay down there alone, when a man in green suddenly
appeared to her and said that if she would be faithful he would do her
good. She cried for help, and then charged him in God's name, and by the
law he lived on, that if he came in God's name and for the welfare of her
soul, he would tell her. He passed away on this, and soon after a lusty
man, and many other men and women came to her, and she passed away with
them further than she could tell; but not before she had "sanit," or
blessed herself and prayed. And then she saw piping, and merriness, and
good cheer, and puncheons of wine with "tassis," or cups to them. But the
fairy folk were not kind to Alison. They tormented her sorely, and treated
her with great harshness, knocking her about and beating her so that they
took all the "poustie," or power out of her side with one of their heavy
"straiks," and left her covered with bruises, blue and evil-favoured. She
was never free from her questionable associates, who used to come upon her
at all times and initiate her into their secrets, whether she liked it or
no. They showed her how they gathered their herbs before sunrise, and she
would watch them with their pans and fires making the "saws" or salves
that could kill or cure all who used them, according to the witches' will;
and they used to come and sit by her, and once took all the "poustie" from
her for twenty weeks. Mr. William was then with them. He was a young man,
not six years older than herself, and she would "feir" (be afraid) when
she saw him. What with fairy teaching, and Mr. William's clinical
lectures, half-crazed Alison soon got a reputation for healing powers; so
great, indeed, that the Bishop of St. Andrews, a wretched hypochondriac,
with as many diseases as would fill half the wards of an hospital, applied
to her for some of her charms and remedies, which she had sense enough to
make palateable, and such as should suit episcopal tastes: namely, spiced
claret (a quart to be drunk at two draughts), and boiled capon as the
internal remedies, with some fairy salve for outward application. It
scarcely needed a long apprenticeship in witchcraft to prescribe claret
and capon for a luxurious prelate who had brought himself into a state of
chronic dyspepsia by laziness and high living; yet the jury thought the
recipe of such profound wisdom that Alison got badly off on its account.

Mr. William was very careful of Alison. He used to go before the fairy
folk when they set out on the whirlwinds to plague her--"for they are ever
in the blowing sea-wind," said Allie--and tell her of their coming; and he
was very urgent that she should not go away with them altogether, since a
tithe of them was yearly taken down to hell, and converts had always first
chance. But many people known to her on earth were at Elfame. She said
that she recognized Mr. Secretary Lethington, and the old Knight of
Buccleugh, as of the party; which was equivalent to putting them out of
heaven, and was a grievous libel, as the times went. Neither Mr. William's
care nor fairy power could save poor Alison. After being "wirreit
(strangled) at ane staik," she was "conuicta et combusta," never more to
be troubled by epilepsy or the feverish dreams of madness.


Nobler names come next upon the records. Katherine Roiss, Lady Fowlis, and
her stepson, Hector Munro, were tried on the 22nd of June, 1590, for
"witchcraft, incantation, sorcery, and poisoning." Two people were in the
lady's way: Margery Campbell the young lady of Balnagown, wife to George
Roiss or Ross of Balnagown, Lady Katherine's brother; and Robert Munro her
stepson, the present baron of Fowlis, and brother to the Hector Munro
above mentioned. If these two persons were dead, then George Ross could
marry the young Lady Fowlis, to the pecuniary advantage of himself and the
family. Hector's quarrel was on his own account, and was with George Munro
of Obisdale, Lady Katherine's eldest son. The charges against the Lady
Katherine were, the unlawful making of two pictures or images of clay,
representing the young lady of Balnagown and Robert Munro, which pictures
two notorious witches, Christian Ross and Marioune M'Alester, _alias_
Loskie Loncart, set up in a chamber and shot at with elf arrows--ancient
spear or arrow-heads, found in Scotland and Ireland, and of great account
in all matters of witchcraft. But the images of clay were not broken by
the arrow-heads, for all that they shot eight times at them, and twelve
times on a subsequent trial, and thus the spell was destroyed for the
moment; but Loskie Loncart had orders to make more, which she did with a
will. After this the lady and her two confederates brewed a stoup or
pailful of poison in the barn at Drumnyne, which was to be sent to Robert
Munro. The pail leaked and the poison ran out, except a very small
quantity which an unfortunate page belonging to the lady tasted, and "lay
continewallie thaireftir poysonit with the liquour." Again, another "pig"
or jar of poison was prepared; this time of double strength--the brewer
thereof that old sinner, Loskie Loncart, who had a hand in every evil pie
made. This was sent to the young laird by the hands of Lady Katherine's
foster-mother; but she broke the "pig" by the way, and, like the page,
tasting the contents, paid the penalty of her curiosity with her life. The
poison was of such a virulent nature that nor cow nor sheep would touch
the grass whereon it fell; and soon the herbage withered away in fearful
memorial of that deed of guilt. She was more successful in her attempts on
the young Lady Balnagown. Her "dittay" sets forth that the poor girl,
tasting of her sister-in-law's infernal potions, contracted an incurable
disease, the pain and anguish she suffered revolting even the wretch who
administered the poison, Catherine Niven, who "scunnerit (revolted) with
it sae meikle, that she said it was the sairest and maist cruel sight that
ever she saw." But she did not die. Youth and life were strong in her, and
conquered even malice and poison--conquered even the fiendish
determination of the lady, "that she would do, by all kind of means,
wherever it might be had, of God in heaven, or the devil in hell, for the
destruction and down-putting of Marjory Campbell." Nothing daunted, the
lady sent far and wide, and now openly, for various poisons; consulting
with "Egyptians" and notorious witches as to what would best "suit the
complexion" of her victims, and whether the ratsbane, which was a
favourite medicine with her, should be administered in eggs, broth, or
cabbage. She paid many sums, too, for clay images, and elf arrows
wherewith to shoot at them, and her wickedness at last grew too patent for
even her exalted rank to overshadow. She was arrested and arraigned, but
the private prosecutor was Hector Munro, who was soon to change his place
of advocate for that of "pannel;" and the jury was composed of the Fowlis
dependents. So she was acquitted; though many of her creatures had
previously been convicted and burnt on the same charges as those now made
against her; notably Cristiane Roiss, who, confessing to the clay image
and the elf arrows, was quietly burnt for the same.

Hector Munro's trial was of a somewhat different character. His stepmother
does not seem to have had much confidence in mere sorcery: she put her
faith in facts rather than in incantations, and preferred drugs to charms:
but Hector was more superstitious and more cowardly too. In 1588, he had
communed with three notorious witches for the recovery of his elder
brother, Robert; and the witches had "pollit the hair of Robert Munro, and
plet the naillis of his fingeris and taes;" but Robert had died in spite
of these charms, and now Hector was the chief man of his family. Parings
of nails, clippings of hair, water wherein enchanted stones had been laid,
black Pater-Nosters, banned plaids and cloths, were all of as much potency
in his mind as the "ratoun poysoun" so dear to the lady; and the method of
his intended murder rested on such means as these. They made a goodly pair
between them, and embodied a fair proportion of the intelligence and
morality of the time. After a small piece of preliminary sorcery,
undertaken with his foster-mother, Cristiane Neill Dayzell, and Mariaoune
M'Ingareach, "one of the most notorious and rank witches of the country,"
it was pronounced that Hector, who was sick, would not recover, unless
the principal man of his blood should suffer for him. This was found to be
none other than George Munro, of Obisdale, Lady Katherine's eldest son,
whose life must be given that Hector's might be redeemed. George, then,
must die; not by poison but by sorcery; and the first step to be taken was
to secure his presence by Hector's bedside. "Sewin poistes" or messengers
did the invalid impatiently send to him; and when he came at last, Hector
said never a word to him, after his surly "Better now that you have come,"
in answer to his half-brother's unsuspecting "How's a' wi' ye?" but sat
for a full hour with his left hand in George's right, working the first
spell in silence, according to the directions of his foster-mother and the
witch. That night, an hour after midnight, the two women went to a "piece
of ground lying between two manors," and there made a grave of Hector's
length, near to the sea-flood. A few nights after this--and it was
January, too--Hector, wrapped in blankets, was carried out of his sick
bed, and laid in this grave; he, his foster-mother, and M'Ingareach all
silent as death, until Cristiane should have gotten speech with their
master, the devil. The sods were then laid over the laird, and the witch
M'Ingareach sat down by him, while Cristiane Dayzell, with a young boy in
her hand, ran the breadth of nine rigs or furrows, coming back to the
grave, to ask the witch "who was her choice." M'Ingareach, prompted of
course by the devil, answered that "Mr. Hector was her choice to live and
his brother George to die for him." This ceremony was repeated thrice, and
then they all returned silently to the house, Mr. Hector carried in his
blankets as before. The strangest thing of all was that Mr. Hector was not
killed by the ceremony.

Hector Munro was now convinced that everything possible had been done, and
that his half-brother must perforce be his sacrifice. In his gratitude he
made M'Ingareach keeper of his sheep, and so uplifted her that the common
people durst not oppose her for their lives. It was the public talk that
he favoured her "gif she had been his own wife;" and once he kept her out
of the way "at his own charges," when she was cited to appear before the
court to answer to the crime of witchcraft. But in spite of the tremendous
evidence against him, Hector got clear off, as his stepmother had done
before him, and we hear no more of the Fowlis follies and the Fowlis
crimes. Nothing but their rank and the fear of the low people saved them.
Slighter crimes than theirs, and on more slender evidence, had been
sufficient cause for condemnation ere now; and Lady Katherine's
poisonings, and Hector Munro's incantations, would have met with the fate
the one at least deserved, save for the power and aid of clanship.


The month after this trial, Bessie Roy, nurreych (nurse) to the Leslies of
Balquhain, was "dilatit" for sorcery generally, and specially for being "a
common awa-taker of women's milk." She took away poor Bessie Steel's, when
she came to ask alms, and only restored it again when she was afraid of
getting into trouble for the fault. She was also accused of having, "by
the space of tual yeiris syne or thairby," past to the field with other
women to pluck lint, but instead of following her lawful occupation, she
had made "ane compas (circle) in the eird, and ane hoill in the middis
thairof;" out of which hole came, first, a great worm which crept over
the boundary, then a little worm, which crept over it also, and last of
all another great worm, "quhill could nocht pas owre the compas, nor cum
out of the hoill, but fell doune and deit." Which enchantment or sorcery
being interpreted meant, by the first worm, William King, who should live;
by the second small worm, the unborn babe, of which no one yet knew the
coming life; and by the third large worm the gude wyffe herself, who
should die as soon as she was delivered. Notwithstanding the gravity and
circumstantiality of these charges, Bessie Roy marvellously escaped the
allotted doom, and was pronounced innocent. "Quhairvpoune the said Bessie
askit act and instrument." Two women tried the day before, Jonet Grant and
Jonet Clark, were less fortunate. Charged with laming men and women by
their devilish arts--whereof was no attempt at proof--they were convicted
and burnt; as also was Meg Dow, in April of the same year, for the
"crewell murdreissing of twa young infant bairns," by magic.

And now we come to a very singular group of trials, opened out by that
clumsy, superstitious pedant, whose name stands accursed for vice and
cruel cowardice and the utmost selfishness of fear--James VI. of Scotland.
If anything were wanting to complete one's abhorrence of Carr's patron and
Raleigh's murderer--one's contempt of the upholder of the divine right of
kings in his own self-adoration as God's vicegerent upon earth--it would
be his part in the witch delusion of the sixteenth century. Whatever of
blood-stained folly belonged specially to the Scottish trials of this
time--and hereafter--owed its original impulse to him; and every groan of
the tortured wretches driven to their fearful doom, and every tear of the
survivors left blighted and desolate to drag out their weary days in
mingled grief and terror, lie on his memory with shame and condemnation
ineffaceable for all time.


On the 26th of December, 1590, John Fian, _alias_ Cuningham (spelt Johanne
Feane, _alias_ Cwninghame), master of the school at Saltpans, Lothian, and
contemptuously recorded as "Secretar and Register to the Devil," was
arraigned for witchcraft and high treason. There were twenty counts
against him, the least of which would have been enough to have lighted up
a witch-fire on that fatal Castle Hill, for the bravest and best in the
land. First, he was accused of entering into a covenant with Satan, who
appeared to him in white, as he lay in bed, musing and thinking ("mwsand
and pansand," says the dittay in its quaint language) how he should be
revenged on Thomas Trumbill, for not having whitewashed his room,
according to agreement. After promising his Satanic majesty allegiance and
homage, he received his mark, which later was found under his tongue, with
two pins therein thrust up to their heads. Again, he was found
guilty--"fylit" is the old legal term--of "feigning himself to be sick in
the said Thomas Trumbill's chamber, where he was stricken in great
ecstacies and trances, lying by the space of two or three hours dead, his
spirit taken, and suffered himself to be carried and transported to many
mountains, as he thought through all the world, according to his
depositions." Note, that these depositions were made in the midst of
fearful torture, and recanted the instant after. Also, he was found
guilty of suffering himself to be carried to North Berwick church, where,
together with many others, he did homage to Satan, as he stood in the
pulpit, making doubtful speeches, saying, "Many come to the fair, and all
buy not wares;" and desired him "not to fear, though he was grim, for he
had many servants who should never want, or ail nothing, so long as their
hair was on, and should never let one tear fall from their eyes so long as
they served him;" and he gave them lessons, and said, "Spare not to do
evil, and to eat and drink and be blithe, taking rest and ease, for he
should raise them up at the latter day gloriously." But the pith of the
indictment was that he, Fian, and sundry others to be spoken of hereafter,
entered into a league with Satan to wreck the king on his way to Denmark,
whither, in a fit of clumsy gallantry, he had set out to visit his future
queen. While he was sailing to Denmark, Fian and a whole crew of witches
and wizards met Satan at sea, and the master, giving an enchanted cat into
Robert Grierson's hand, bade him "cast the same into the sea, holà," which
was accordingly done; and a pretty capful of wind the consequence. Then,
when the king was returning from Denmark, the devil promised to raise a
mist which should wreck him on English ground. To perform which feat he
took something like a football--it seemed to Dr. Fian like a wisp--and
cast it into the sea, whereupon arose the great mist which nearly drove
the cumbrous old pedant on to English ground, where our strong-fisted
queen would have made him pay for his footing in a manner not quite
congenial to his tastes. But, being a Man of God, none of these charms and
devilries prevailed against him. A further count was, that once again he
consorted with Satan and his crew, still in North Berwick church, where
they paced round the church wider shins (wider scheins?), that is,
contrary to the way of the sun. Fian blew into the lock--a favourite trick
of his--to open the door, and blew in the lights which burned blue, and
were like big black candles held in an old man's hand round about the
pulpit. Here Satan as a "mekill blak man, with ane blak baird stikand out
lyke ane gettis (goat's) baird; and ane hie ribbit neise, falland doun
scharp lyke the beik of ane halk; with ane lang rumpill (tail); cled in
ane blak tatie goune, and ane ewill favorit scull bonnett on his heid;
haifand ane blak buik in his hand," preached to them, commanding them to
be good servants to him, and he would be a good master to them, and never
let them want. But he made them all very angry by calling Robert Grierson
by his Christian name. He ought to have been called "Ro' the Comptroller,
or Rob the Rower." This slip of the master's displeased them sorely, and
they ran "hirdie girdie" in great excitement, for it was against all
etiquette to be named by their earthly names; indeed, they always received
new names when the devil gave them their infernal christening, and they
made themselves over to him and denied their holy baptism. It was at this
meeting that John Fian was specially accused of rifling the graves of the
dead, and dismembering their bodies for charms. And many other things did
this Secretar and Register to the devil. Once, at the house of David
Seaton's mother, he breathed into the hand of a woman sitting by the fire,
and opened a lock at the other end of the kitchen. Once he raised up four
candles on his horse's two ears, and a fifth on the staff which a man
riding with him carried in his hand. These magic candles gave as much
light as the sun at noonday, and the man was so terrified that he fell
dead on his own threshold. He sent an evil spirit, who tormented a man for
twenty weeks; and he was seen to chase a cat, and in the chase to be
carried so high over a hedge that he could not touch her head. The dittay
says he flew through the air--a not infrequent mode of progression with
such people. When asked why he hunted the cat, he said that Satan had need
of her, and that he wanted all the cats he could lay hands on, to cast
into the sea, and cause storms and shipwrecks. He was further accused of
endeavouring to bewitch a young maiden by his devilish cantrips and horrid
charms; but, by a wile of the girl's mother, up to men's arts, he
practised on a heifer's hairs instead of the girl's, and the result was
that a luckless young cow went lowing after him everywhere--even into his
school-room--rubbing herself against him, and exhibiting all the languish
and desire of a love-sick young lady. A curious old plate represents John
Fian and the heifer in grotesque attitudes; the heifer with large,
drooping, amorous eyes, intensely ridiculous--the schoolmaster with his
magic wand drawing circles in the sand. These, with divers smaller
charges, such as casting horoscopes, and wearing modewart's (mole's) feet
upon him, amounting in all to twenty counts, formed the sum of the
indictment against him. He was put to the torture. First, his head was
"thrawed with a rope" for about an hour, but still he would not confess;
then they tried fair words and coaxed him, but with no better success; and
then they put him to the "most severe and cruell pains in the worlde,"
namely, the boots, till his legs were completely crushed, and the blood
and marrow spouted out. After the third stroke he became speechless; and
they, supposing it to be the devil's mark which kept him silent, searched
for that mark, that by its discovery the spell might be broken. So they
found it, as stated before, under his tongue, with two charmed pins stuck
up to their heads therein. When they were drawn out--that is, after some
further torture--he confessed anything which it pleased his tormentors to
demand of him, saying how, just now, the devil had been to him all in
black, but with a white wand in his hand; and how, on his, Fian's,
renouncing him, he had brake his wand, and disappeared. The next day he
recanted this confession. He was then somewhat restored to himself, and
had mastered the weakness of his agony. Whereupon it was assumed that the
devil had visited him through the night, and had marked him afresh. They
searched him--pulling off every nail with a turkas, or smith's pincers,
and then thrusting in needles up to their heads; but finding nothing more
satanic than blood and nerves, they put him to worse tortures, as a
revenge. He made no other relapse, but remained constant now to the end;
bearing his grievous pains with patience and fortitude, and dying as a
brave man always knows how to die, whatever the occasion. Finding that
nothing more could be made of him, they mercifully came to an end. He was
strangled and burnt "in the Castle Hill of Edinbrough, on a Saterdaie, in
the ende of Januarie last past 1591;" ending a may be loose and not
over-heroic life in a manner worthy of the most glorious martyr of
history. John Fian, schoolmaster of Saltpans, with no great idea to
support him, and no admiring friends to cheer him on, bore himself as
nobly as any hero of them all, and vindicated the honour of manhood and
natural strength in a way that exalts our common human nature into
something godlike and divine.


Fian was the first victim in the grand battue offered now to the royal
witchfinder; others were to follow, the manner of whose discovery was
singular enough. Deputy Bailie David Seaton of Tranent, had a half-crazed
servant-girl, one Geillis Duncan, whose conduct in suddenly taking "in
hand to helpe all such as were troubled or grieved with anie kinde of
sicknes or infirmitie," excited the righteous suspicions of her master. To
make sure he tortured her, without trial, judge, or jury; first, by the
"pillie-winks" or thumbscrews, and then by "thrawing,"--wrenching, or
binding her head with a rope--an intensely agonizing process, and one that
generally comes in as part of the service of justice done to witch and
wizard. Not confessing, even under these persuasions, she was "searched,"
and the mark was found on her throat: whereupon she at once confessed;
accusing, among others, the defunct John Fian, or Cuningham, Agnes Sampson
at Haddington, "the eldest witch of them all," Agnes Tompson of Edinburgh,
and Euphemia Macalzean, daughter of Lord Cliftonhall, one of the senators
of the College of Justice. Agnes Sampson's trial came first. She was a
grave, matronlike, well-educated woman, "of a rank and comprehension above
the vulgar, grave and settled in her answers, which were to some purpose,"
and altogether a woman of mark and character. She was commonly called the
"grace wyff" or "wise wyff" of Keith; and, doubtless, her superior
reputation brought on her the fateful notice of the half-crazed girl; also
it procured her the doubtful honour of being carried to Holyrood, there to
be examined by the king himself. At first she quietly and firmly denied
all that she was charged with, but after having been fastened to the
witches' bridle,[7] kept without sleep, her head shaved and thrawn with a
rope, searched, and pricked, she, too, confessed whatever blasphemous
nonsense her accusers chose to charge her with, to the wondrous
edification of her kingly inquisitor. She said that she and two hundred
other witches went to sea on All-Halloween, in riddles or sieves, making
merry and drinking by the way: that they landed at North Berwick church,
where, taking hands, they danced around, saying--

  "Commer goe ye before! commer goe ye!
  Gif ye will not goe before, commer let me!"

Here they met the devil, like a mickle black man, as John Fian had said,
and he marked her on the right knee; and this was the time when he made
them all so angry by calling Robert Grierson by his right name, instead of
Rob the Rower, or Ro' the Comptroller. When they rifled the graves, as
Fian had said, she got two joints, a winding-sheet, and an enchanted ring
for love-charms. She also said that Geillis Duncan, the informer, went
before them, playing on the Jew's harp, and the dance she played was
Gyllatripes; which so delighted gracious Majesty, greedy of infernal news,
that he sent on the instant to Geillis, to play the same tune before him;
which she did "to his great pleasure and amazement." Furthermore, Agnes
Sampson confessed that, on asking Satan why he hated King James, and so
greatly wished to destroy him, the foul fiend answered: "Because he is the
greatest enemy I have;" adding, that he was "un homme de Dieu," and that
Satan had no power against him. A pretty piece of flattery, but availing
the poor wise wife nothing as time went on. Her indictment was very heavy;
fifty-three counts in all; for the most part relating to the curing of
disease by charm and incantation, and to foreknowledge of sickness or
death. Thus, she took on herself the sickness of Robert Kerse in Dalkeith,
then cast it back, by mistake, on Alexander Douglas, intending it for a
cat or a dog: and she put a powder containing dead men's bones under the
pillow of Euphemia Macalzean, when in the pains of childbirth, and so got
her safely through. As she went on, and grew more thoroughly weakened in
mind and body, she owned to still more monstrous things. Item, to having a
familiar, in shape of a dog by name Elva, whom she called to her by "Holà!
master!" and conjured away "by the law he lived on." This dog or devil
once came so near to her that she was "fleyt," but she charged him by the
law he lived on to come no nearer to her, but to answer her
honestly--"Should old Lady Edmistoune live?" "Her days were gane," said
Elva; "and where were the daughters?" "They said they would be there,"
said Agnes. He answered, one of them should be in peril, and that he
should have one of them. "It sould nocht be sa," cried the wise wife; so
he growled and went back into the well. Another time she brought him forth
out of the well to show to Lady Edmistoune's daughters, and he frightened
them half to death, and would have devoured one of them had not Agnes and
the rest gotten a grip of her and drawn her back. She sent a letter to
Marian Leuchope, to raise a wind that should prevent the queen from
coming; and she caused a ship, 'The Grace of God,' to perish--the devil
going before, while she and the rest sailed over in a flat boat, entered
unseen, ate of the best, and swamped the vessel afterwards. For helping
her in this nefarious deed, she gave twenty shillings to Grey Meill, "ane
auld, sely, pure plowman," who usually kept the door at the witches'
conventions, and who had attended her in this shipwreck adventure. Then,
she was one of the foremost and most active in the celebrated
storm-raising for the destruction, or at least the damage of the king on
his return from Denmark; giving some curious particulars in addition to
what we have already had in Fian's indictment; as, that she and her sister
witches baptized the cat by which they raised the storm, by putting it,
with various ceremonies, thrice through the chimney crook. "Fyrst twa of
thame held ane fingar, in the ane syd of the chimnay cruik, and ane vther
held ane vther fingar in the vther syd, the twa nebbis of the fingaris
meting togidder; than they patt the catt thryis throw the linkis of the
cruik, and passit it thryis vnder the chimnay;" afterwards they knit four
dead men's joints to the four feet of the cat, and cast it into the sea,
ready now to work any amount of mischief that Satan might command. Then
she made a "picture," or clay image, of Mr. John Moscrop, father-in-law to
Euphemia Macalzean, to destroy him, at the said Euphemia's desire. She was
also at all the famous North Berwick meetings, where Dr. Fian was
secretary, registrar, and lock-opener; where they were baptized of the
fiend, and received formally into his congregation; where he preached to
them as a great black man; and where they rifled graves and meted out the
dead among them. She also confessed to taking a black toad, and hanging
him up by his heels, collecting all his venom in an oyster shell for three
days, and she told the king that it was then she wanted his fouled linen,
when she would have enchanted him to death--but she never got it. She had
two Pater Nosters, the white and the black. The white ran thus:--

  "White Pater Noster,
  God was my Foster,
  He fostered me,
  Under the Book of Palm Tree.
  Saint Michael was my Dame,
  He was born at Bethlehem,
  He was made of flesh and blood,
  God send me my right food:
  My right food and dyne two
  That I may to yon kirk go,
  To read upon yon sweet book,
  Which the mighty God of Heaven shoop.
  Open, open, Heaven's yaits,
  Stick, stick, Hell's yaits.
  All Saints be the better,
  That hear the white prayer Pater Noster."

There was no harm in this doggerel, nor yet much good; little of blessing,
if less of banning; nor was the Black more definite. It was shorter, which
ought to have ranked as a merit:--

         Black Pater Noster.
  "Four newks in this house, for holy angels,
  A post in the midst, that's Christ Jesus,
  Lucas, Marcus, Matthew, Joannes,
  God be into this house and all that belongs us."

To "sain" or charm her bed she used to say,--

  "Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John
  The bed be blest that I ly on."

And when the butter was slow in coming, it was enough if she chanted

  "Come, butter, come!
  Come, butter, come!
  Peter stands at the gate.
  Waiting for a buttered cake,
  Come, butter, come,"

said with faith and unction, she was sure to have at once a lucky

These queer bits of half-papistical, half-nonsensical doggerel were
considered tremendous sins in those days, and the use of them was quite
sufficient to bring any one to the scaffold; as their application would,
for a certainty, destroy health, and gear, and life, if it were so willed.
And for all these crimes--storm-raising, cat-baptizing, and the
rest--Agnes Sampson, the grave, matronlike, well-educated grace wife of
Keith, was bound to a stake, strangled, and burnt on the Castle Hill, with
no one to seek to save her, and no one to bid her weary soul God-speed!

Barbara Napier, wife to a burgess of Edinburgh, and sister-in-law to the
Laird of Carschoggill, was then seized--accused of consorting with Agnes
Simpson, and consulting with Richard Grahame, a notorious necromancer, to
whom she gave "3 ells of bombezie for his paynes," all that she might gain
the love and gifts of Dame Jeane Lyon, Lady Angus; also of having procured
the witch's help to keep the said Dame Jeane "fra wometing quhen she was
in bredin of barne." She was accused of other and more malicious things;
but acquitted of these: indeed the "assisa" which tried her was
contumacious and humane, and pronounced no doom; whereon King James wrote
a letter demanding that she be strangled, then burnt at the stake, and all
her goods escheated to himself. But Barbara pleaded that she was with
child; so her execution was delayed until she was delivered, when "nobody
insisting in the persute of her, she was set at libertie." The
contumacious majority was tried for "wilful error on assize--acquitting a
witch," but got off with more luck than usual.[8]

Euphemia Macalzean,[9] or as we should say, Maclean, was even higher game.
She was the daughter of Lord Cliftonhall, and wife of Patrick Moscrop, a
man of wealth and standing; a firm, passionate, heroic woman, whom no
tortures could weaken into confession, no threats terrify into submission.
She fought her way, inch by inch, but she was "convict" at last, and
condemned to be burnt alive: the severest sentence ever pronounced against
a witch. In general they were "wirreit" or strangled before being burnt.
There is good reason to believe that her witchcraft was made merely the
pretence, while her political predilections, her friendship for the Earl
of Bothwell, and her Catholic religion, were the real grounds of the
king's enmity to her, and the causes of the severity with which she was
treated. Her indictment contains the ordinary list of witch-crimes,
diversified with the additional charge of bewitching a certain young
Joseph Douglas, whose love she craved and found impossible to obtain, or
rather, to retain. She was accused of giving him, for unlawful purposes,
"ane craig cheinzie (neck chain), twa belt cheinzies, ane ring, ane
emiraut," and other jewels; trying also to prevent his marriage with Marie
Sandilands, and making Agnes Simpson get back the jewels, when her spells
had failed. The young wife whom Douglas married, and the two children she
bore him, also came in for part of her alleged maleficent enchantments.
She "did the barnes to death," and struck the wife with deadly sickness.
She was also accused of casting her own childbirth pains, once on a dog,
and once on the "wantoune cat;" whereupon the poor beasts ran distractedly
out of the house, as well they might, and were never seen again. She
managed this marvellous piece of sleight-of-hand by getting a bored stone
from Agnes Sampson, and rolling "enchanted mwildis"--earth from dead men's
graves--in her hair. Another time she got her husband's shirt, and caused
it to be "woumplit" (folded up) and put under her bolster, whereby she
sought to throw her labour pains upon him, but without effect; as is not
to be wondered at. She bewitched John M'Gillie's wife by sending her the
vision of a naked man, with only a white sheet about him; and Jonett
Aitcheson saw him with the sleeves of his shirt "vpoune leggis, and taile
about his heid." She was also accused of endeavouring to poison her
husband; and it was manifest that their union was not happy--he being for
the most part away from home, and she perhaps thinking of the other
husband promised her, Archibald Ruthven; which promise, broken and set
aside, had made such a slander and scandal of her marriage with Patrick
Moscrop. And it was proved--or what went for proof in those days--that
Agnes Sampson, the wise wife, had made a clay image of John Moscrop, the
father-in-law, who should thereupon have pined away and died, according to
the law of these enchantments, but, failing in this obedience, lived
instead, to the grief and confusion of his daughter-in-law. All these
crimes, and others like unto them, were quite sufficient legal causes of
death; and James could gratify his superstitious fears and political
animosity at the same time, while Euphemia Maclean--the fine, brave,
handsome Euphemia--writhed in agony at the stake to which she was bound
when burned alive in the flames: "brunt in assis quick to the deid," says
the Record--the severest sentence ever passed on a witch. This murder was
done on the 25th July, 1591.

"The last of Februarie, 1592, Richard Grahame wes brant at y{e} Cross of
Edinburghe for vitchcrafte and sorcery," says succinctly Robert Birrel,
"burges of Edinburghe," in his "Diarey containing divers Passages of
Staite and uthers memorable Accidents, from y{e} 1532 zeir of our
Redemption, till y{e} beginning of the zeir 1605." "And in 1593, Katherine
Muirhead was brunt for vitchcrafte, quha confest sundrie poynts yrof."
Richard Graham was the "Rychie Graham, ane necromancer," consulted by
Barbara Napier; the same who gave the Earl of Bothwell some drug to make
the king's majesty "lyke weill of him," if he could but touch king's
majesty on the face therewith; it was he also who raised the devil for Sir
Lewis Ballantyne, in his own yard in the Canongate, whereby Sir Lewis was
so terrified that he took sickness and died. Even in the presence of the
king himself, Rychie boasted that "he had a familiar spirit which showed
him many things;" but which somehow forgot to show him the stake and the
rope and the faggot, which yet were the bold necromancer's end, little as
the poor cozening wretch merited such an awful doom.


June, 1596, had nearly seen a nobler victim than those usually accorded.
John Stuart, Master of Orkney, and brother of the Earl, "was dilatit of
consulting with umquhile Margaret Balfour, ane wich, for the
destructionne of Patrik Erll of Orkney, be poysoning." In the dittay she
is called "Alysoun Balfour, ane knawin notorious wich." Alisoun, after
being kept forty-eight hours in the "caschiclawis"[10]--her husband, an
old man of eighty-one, her son, and her young daughter, all being in ward
beside her, and tortured--was induced to confess. She could not see the
old man with the Lang Irons of fifty stone weight laid upon him; her son
in the boots, with fifty-seven strokes; and her little daughter, aged
seven, with the thumbscrews upon her tender hands, and not seek to gain
their remission by any confession that could be made. But when the torture
was removed from them and her, she recanted in one of the most moving and
pathetic speeches on record--availing her little then, poor soul! for she
was burnt on the Castle Hill, December 16th, 1594, and her confession
treasured up to be used as future evidence against John Stuart. Thomas
Palpla, a servant, was also implicated; but as he had been kept eleven
days and nights in the caschiclaws (or caspie-claws); twice in the day for
fourteen hours "callit in the buitis;" stripped naked and scourged with
"ropes in sic soirt that they left nather flesch nor hyde vpoun him;" and,
as he recanted so soon as the torture was removed, his confession went for
but little. So John, Master of Orkney, was let off, when perhaps he had
been the only guilty one of the three.

In October[11] of the same year (1596), Alesoun Jollie, spous to Robert
Rae, in Fala, was "dilatit of airt and pairt" in the death of Isobell
Hepburn, of Fala: and the next month, November, Christian Stewart, in
Nokwalter, was strangled and burnt for the slaughter of umquhile Patrick
Ruthven, by taking ane black clout from Isobell Stewart, wherewith to work
her fatal charm. It does not appear that she did anything more heinous
than borrow a black cloth from Isobell, which might or might not have been
left in Ruthven's house; but suspicion was as good as evidence in those
days, and black clouts were dangerous things to deal with when women had
the reputation of witches. So poor Christian Stewart was strangled and
burnt, and her soul released from its troubles by a rougher road, and a
shorter, than what Nature would have taken if left to herself. "Strange
that while all these dismal affairs were going on at Edinburgh, Shakspeare
was beginning to write his plays, and Bacon to prepare his essays. Ramus
had by this time shaken the Aristotelian philosophy, and Luther had broken
the papal tyranny."[12] Truly humanity walks by slow marches, and by
painful stumbling through thorny places!


Aberdeen was not behind her elder sister. One man and twenty-three women
were burned in one year alone for the crime of witchcraft and magic; and
the Records of the Dean of Guild faithfully detail the expenses which the
town was put to in the process. On the 23rd of February, 1597, Thomas
Leyis cost them two pounds thirteen shillings and fourpence, for "peattis,
tar barrelis, fir, and coallis, to burn the said Thomas, and to Jon
Justice for his fie in executing him;" but Jonet Wischart (his mother),
and Isobel Cocker, cost eleven pounds ten shillings for their joint
cremation; with ten shillings added to the account for "trailling of
Monteithe (another witch of the same gang) through the streits of the town
in ane cart, quha hangit herself in prison, and eirding (burying) her."
The dittay against these several persons set forth various crimes. Janet
Wischart, who was an old woman notorious for her evil eye, was convicted,
amongst other things, of having "in the moneth of Aprile or thairby, in
anno nyntie ane yeiris, being the first moneth in the raith (the first
quarter) at the greiking" (breaking) of the day, cast her cantrips in
Alexander Thomson's way, so that one half of the day his body was "rossin"
(burned or roasted) as if in an oven, with an extreme burning drought, and
the other half melting away with a cold sweat. Upon Andrew Wobster--who
had put a linen towel round her throat, half choking her, and to whom she
said angrily, "Quhat wirreys thow me? thow salt lie: I sall give breid to
my bairnis this towmound, and thou sall nocht byd ane moneth with thin, to
gif tham breid"--she had laid such sore cantrips, that he died as she
predicted: which was a cruel and foul murder in the eyes of the law,
forbye the sin of witchcraft. But she had other victims as well. James
Low, a stabler, refused to lend her his kiln and barn, so he took a
"dwining" illness in consequence, "melting away like ane burning candle
till he died." His wife and only son died too, and his "haill geir,
surmounting three thousand pounds, are altogether wrackit and away."
Beside this evidence there was his own testimony availing; for he had
often said on his death-bed, that if he had lent Jonet what she had
demanded, he would never have suffered loss. She had also once brought
down a dozen fowls off a roost, dead at her feet; and had ruined a woman
and her husband, by bidding them take nine grains or ears of wheat, and a
bit of rowan tree, and put them in the four corners of the house--for all
the mischance that followed after was due to this unholy charm; and once
she raised a serviceable wind in a dead calm, by putting a piece of live
coal at two doors, whereby she was enabled to winnow some wheat for
herself, when all the neighbours were standing idle for want of wind; and
she bewitched cows, so that they gave poison instead of milk; and oxen, so
that they became furious under the touch of any one but herself; and she
sent cats to sit on honest folks' breasts, and give them evil dreams and
the horrors; and furthermore, she was said to have gone to the gallows in
the Links, and to have dismembered the dead body hanging there, for
charms; and twenty-two years ago she was proved to have been found sitting
in a field of corn before sunrising, peeling blades, and finding that it
would be "ane dear year," for the blade grew widershins, and it was only
when it grew sungates (from east to west) that it would be a full harvest
and cheap bread for the poor; and once her daughter-in-law had found her,
and another hag, sitting stark by her fireside, the one mounted on the
shoulders of the other, working charms for her health and well-being. So
she cost the town of Aberdeen the half of eleven pounds odd shillings, for
the most effectual manner of carrying out her sentence, which was, that
she "be brint to the deid."

Her son Thomas Leyis was not so fortunate as her husband and daughters:
"qwik gangand devills" were these; for they escaped the flames this time,
and were banished instead. But Thomas was less lucky. He was dilatit of
being a common witch and sorcerer, and the partner of all his mother's
evil deeds. One of his worst crimes was having danced round the
market-cross of Aberdeen, he and a number of witches and sorcerers--the
devil leading; "in the quhilk dans, thow, Thomas, was foremost, and led
the ring, and dang the said Katherine Mitchell (another of the accused)
because scho spillit your dans, and ran nocht so fast about as the rest."
Thomas had a lover too, faithless Elspet Reid, and she, turning against
him, as has been the manner of lovers through all time, gave tremendous
evidence in his disfavour. She said that he had once offered to take her
to Murrayland, and there marry her; a man at the foot of a certain
mountain being sure to rise at his bidding, and supply them with all they
wanted; and when he was confined in the church-house, she came and
whispered to him through the window, and the man in charge of Thomas swore
that she said she had been meeting with the devil according to his orders,
and that when she sained herself he had "vaniest away with ane rwmleng
(rumbling)." In the morning, too, before the old mother's conviction, "ane
ewill spreit in lyiknes of ane pyit (magpie)," went and struck the
youngest sister in her face, and would have picked out her eyes, but that
the neighbours to the fore dang the foul thief out of the room; and again,
on the day after conviction, and before execution, the devil came again as
ane kae (crow), and would have destroyed the youngest sister entirely had
he not been prevented: which two visitations were somehow hinged on to
Thomas, and included in the list of crimes for which he was adjudged
worthy of death.

Helen Fraser, of the same "coven," was a most dangerous witch. She had the
power to make men transfer their affections, no matter how good and
wholesome the wife deserted:--and she never spared her power. By her
charms she caused Andrew Tullideff to leave off loving his lawful wife and
take to Margaret Neilson instead: so that "he could never be reconceillit
with his wife, or remove his affection frae the said harlot;" and she made
Robert Merchant fall away from the duty owing to his wife, Christian
White, and transfer himself and his love to a certain widow, Isobel Bruce,
for whom he once went to sow corn, and fell so madly in love that he could
never quit the house or the widow's side again; "whilk thing the country
supposed to be brought about by the unlawful travelling of the said Helen;
"and was further _testified by Robert himself_," says Chambers
significantly. Helen Fraser was therefore burnt; and it is to be hoped
that the men returned to their lawful mates.

Isobel Cockie, who was burnt in company with Thomas Lee's mother, old
Jonet, meddled chiefly with cows and butter. She could forespeak them so
that they should give poison instead of milk, and the cream she had once
overlooked was never fit for the "yirning." Her landlord once offended her
by mending the roof of her house while she was from home, and Isobel, who
did not choose that her things should be pulled about in her absence, and
perhaps some of her cantrips discovered, "glowrit up at him, and said, 'I
sall gar thee forthink it that thow hast tirrit my hows, I being frae
hame.'" Whereupon Alexander Anderson went home sick and speechless, and
gat no relief until Isobel gave him "droggis," when his speech and health
returned as of old. Isobel had been the dancer immediately after Thomas
Lees at the Fish Cross, "and because the dewill playit not so melodiously
and well as thow cravit, thow took his instrument out of his mouth, then
tuik him on the chafts (chops) therewith, and playit thyself theiron to
the haill company." What further evidence could possibly be required to
prove that Isobel Cockie was a witch, and one that "might not be suffered
to live"?

Other trials did Aberdeen entertain that year on this same wise and
Christian count. There was that of Andrew Man, a poor old fellow specially
patronized by the Queen of Fairy who sixty years ago had come to his
mother's house, where she was delivered of a bairn just like an ordinary
woman, and no devil or Queen of Elfin at all. Andrew was then but a boy,
but he remembered it all well, and how he carried water for her, and was
promised by her that he should know all things, and should be able to cure
all sorts of sickness except the "stand deid;" and that he should be "well
entertainit," but should seek his meat ere he died, as Thomas Rhymer had
done in years long past. Twenty-eight years after this the queen came
again, and caused one of his cattle to die on a hillock called the
Elf-hillock, but promised to do him good afterwards; and it was then that
their guilty albeit poetic and loving intercourse began. Andrew was told
in his dittay that he could cure "the falling sickness, the bairn-bed, and
all other sorts of sickness that ever fell to man or beast, except the
_stand-deid_, by baptizing them, reabling them in the auld
corunschbald,[14] and striking of the gudis on the face, with ane foot in
thy hand, and by saying their words, 'Gif thou wilt live, live; and gif
thow wilt die, die,' with sundry other orisons, sic as Sanct John and the
three silly brethren, whilk thow canst say when thow please, and by
giving of black wool and salt as a remeid for all diseases, and for
causing a man prosper, so that his blude should never be drawn." Once,
Andrew Man, by putting a patient nine times through a hasp of unwatered
yarn, and a cat as many times backwards through the same hasp, cured the
patient by killing the cat. This was logical, and quite easy to be
understood. Andrew's devil whom he affirmed to be an angel, and whose name
was Christsonday, was raised by saying Benedicite, and laid again by
putting a dog under his arm, then casting it into the devil's mouth with
the awful word "Maikpeblis!" "The Queen of Elphen has a grip of all the
craft," says the dittay, "but Christsonday is the gudeman, and has all
power under God; and thow kens sundry deid men in their company, and the
king that died at Flodden, and Thomas Rhymer is there." And as the queen
had been seen in Andrew's company in a rather beautiful and poetic manner,
the whole affair was settled, and no man's mind was left in doubt of the
old creature's guilt. For, Andrew was told, "Upon Rood-day in harvest, in
this present year, whilk fell on a Wednesday, thow saw Christsonday come
out of the snaw in the likeness of a staig (young male horse), and the
Queen of Elphen was there, and others with her, riding upon white
hackneys." "The elves have shapes and claithes like men, and will have
fair covered tables, and they are but shadows, but are starker (stronger)
nor men, and they have playing and dancing when they please; the queen is
very pleasant, and will be auld and young when she pleases; she makes any
king whom she pleases.... The elves will make thee appear to be in a fair
chalmer, and yet thow wilt find thyself in a moss on the moor. They will
appear to have candles, and licht, and swords, whilk will be nothing else
but dead grass and straes." So Andrew's doom was sealed, for all that he
denied his guilt, and he was convicted and burnt like the rest.

Marjory Mutch came to her end because, having a deadly hatred against
William Smith, she bewitched his oxen, as they were ploughing, so that
they all ran "wood" or mad that instant, broke the plough, and two of them
plunged up over the hills to Deer, and two ran up Ithan side, and could
never be taken or apprehended again. She was notorious for bewitching
cattle; and that she was a witch, and good for nothing but burning, a
gentleman proved to the satisfaction of all present, for he found a soft
spot on her which he pricked without causing any pain; a test that ought
to have been eminently satisfactory and conclusive--but was not; for she
was "clenged"--cleansed, or acquitted.

Ellen Gray, convicted of many of the ordinary crimes of witchcraft, did
away with all chance of mercy for herself when, on being taken, she looked
over her shoulder, saying, "Is there no mon following me?" and Agnes
Wobster was a witch because in a great snow she took fire out of a "cauld
frosty dyke," and carried the same to her house. They were both burnt, as
they merited. Jonet Leisk cast sickness and disease on all she knew, and
made whole flocks run "wode" and furious; geese too; but she was
"clenged," or cleared; so was Gilbert Fidlar; but Isobell Richie, Margaret
Og, Helen Rogie, and others, were burnt, for the satisfaction of offended

Margaret Clark, too, came to no good end, because being sent for by the
wife of Nicol Ross, when in child-bed, she gave her ease by casting her
pains upon Andrew Harper, who fell into such a fury and madness during
her time of travail, that he could not be holden, and only recovered when
the gentlewoman was delivered. And what did Violet Leys do, but bewitch
William Finlay's ship so that she never made one good voyage again, all
because her husband had been discharged therefrom, and Violet the witch
was most mightily angered? And Isobell Straquhan, too, had she not powers
banned even in the blessing? She went one day to "Elspet Murray in
Woodheid, she being a widow, and asked of her if she had a penny to lend
her, and the said Elspet gave her the penny; and the said Isobell took the
penny and bowit (bent) it, and took a clout and a piece of red wax, and
sewed the clout with a thread, the wax and the penny being within the
clout, and gave it to the said Elspet Murray, commanding her to use the
said clout to hang about her craig (neck), and when she saw the man she
loved best, take the clout, with the penny and wax, and stroke her face
with it, and she so doing, would attain into the marriage of that man whom
she loved." She also made Walter Ronaldson leave off beating his wife, by
sewing certain pieces of paper thick with threads of divers colours, and
putting them in the barn among the corn, since which time Walter left off
dinging his poor spouse, and was "subdued entirely to her love." So
Isobell Straquhan made one of the tale of twenty-two unfortunate wretches
who were executed in Aberdeen that year, for the various crimes of
witchcraft and sorcery.

No evidence was too meagre for the witch-hunters; no accusation too
absurd; no subterfuge or enormity sufficiently transparent to show the
truth behind. When Margaret Aiken, "the great witch of Balwery,"[15] went
about the country dilating honest women for witches, "by the mark between
their eyes," it was evident to all but the heated and credulous, such as
John Cowper, the minister of Glasgow, and others, that she used this as a
mere means to save time, she herself having been tortured into confession,
and now seeing no way of safety but by complicity and witch-finding. She
told of one convention held on a hill in Atholl, where there were
twenty-three hundred witches, and the devil among them. "She said she knew
them all well enough, and what mark the devil had given severally to every
one of them. There was many of them tried by swimming in the water, by
binding of their two thumbs and their great toes together, for being thus
casten in the water, they floated ay aboon." It was not only the
malevolent witch that suffered in this wild raid made against reason and
humanity. The doom dealt out to the witch who slew was equally allotted to
the witch who saved. Yet the witchologists made a difference between the

"Of witches there be two sorts," says Thomas Pickering, in his 'Discovrse
of the damned Art of Witchcraft,' printed 1610, "_the bad witch_ and _the
good witch_; for so they are commonly called. The _bad witch_ is he or she
that hath consulted in league with the Deuill; to vse his helpe for the
doing of hurte onely, so as to strike and annoy the bodies of men, women,
children, and cattell, with diseases and with death itselfe; so likewise
to raise tempests by sea and by land, &c. This is commonly called _the
binding_ witch.

"The _good witch_ is he or she that by consent in a league with the Deuill
doth vse his helpe for the doing of good onely. This cannot hurt, torment,
curse, or kill, but onely heale and cure the hurt inflicted vpone men or
cattell by badde witches. For as they can doe no good but onely hurt; so
this can doe no hurt but good onely. And this is that order which the
Deuill hath set in his kingdome, appointing to severall persons their
severall offices and charges. And the Good Witch is commonly called the
Vnbinding Witch."

But the good witch, as Pickering calls her, was no better off than the
bad. Indeed she was held in even greater dread, for the black witch hurt
only the body and estate, while the white witch hurt the soul when she
healed the body; the healed part never being able to say "God healed me."
Wherefore it was severed from the salvation of the rest, and the wholeness
of the redemption destroyed. In consequence of this belief we find as
severe punishments accorded to the blessing as to the banning witches; and
no movement of gratitude was dreamt of towards those who had healed the
most oppressive diseases, or shown the most humane feeling and kindness,
if there was a suspicion that the power had been got uncannily, or that
the drugs had more virtue than common.


Thus on November the 12th, 1597, Janet Stewart in the Canongate, Christian
Levingstone in Leith, Bessie Aiken, also of Leith, and Christian Sadler of
Blackhouse, were brought to trial for no worse crimes than healing and
helping sundry of their neighbours. Christian Levingstone was "fylit and
convict" for abusing (deceiving) Thomas Gothray, who went to her
complaining that his gear went from him, and that he was bewitched; which
she said was true; promising to help him, and "let him see where the
witchcraft was laid." So she took him down his own stair, and dug a hole
with her knife, and took out a little bag of black plaid, wherein were
some grains of wheat, worsted threads of many colours, some hair, and
nails of men's fingers, affirming that he was bewitched by these means,
and bidding his wife catch them in her apron. If this bag had not been
found, said Christian, he would have been wrackit both in mind and body;
which was a clear case of "abusing," if you will. This "scho deponit in
presens of my Lord Justice vpoun the tent day of Julij last past to be of
veritie." She also said that her daughter had been taken away by fairy
folk, and that she had learnt all her wise-wife knowledge from her, and as
a proof of this knowledge, she prophesied that Gothray's wife, then "being
with barne," should bear a man child; which proved to be true, to the sad
strengthening of the accusations against her. Another time she and
Christian Sadler were prayed by Robert Bailie, mason in Haddington, to go
and cure his wife. Christian Sadler recommended her to take three pints of
sweet wort, and boil it with a quantity of fresh butter; which she did,
and drank it too, but with no good effects of healing, as we may suppose.
Again, shortly before her accusation, she was sent for by Christian
Sadler, on some other devil's deed; and together they made Andrew
Pennycuik a cake baked with the blood of a red cock; but he could not eat
it. Then they took his shirt and dipped it in the well at the back of his
house, and brought it to him and put it on him, dripping as it was,
"quhairthrow he maist haif sownit amang their hands," giving him to
understand that now he would be mended, "albeit that it was onlie plane
abusione, as the event declarit." Not finding the cake of red cock's
blood or the dripping shirt of great efficacy, Andrew went then to Janet
Stewart, craving his health at her hands "for God's sake;" but we are not
told the result.

Janet Stewart was fylit for going to Bessie Inglis in the Kowgate, Bessie
being deidlie sick; when Janet took off her "mutche and sark" (cap and
shift), washed them in south-running water, and put them on her again at
midnight, wet as they were, saying three times, "In the name of the
Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost." She also "fyrit," or put a hot iron
into water, and burnt straw at the four corners of the bed, as Michael
Clarke, smith, had learnt her; and she healed women of the mysterious
child-bed disorder called wedonymph, by taking a garland of woodbine and
putting them through it, afterwards cutting it into nine pieces, which she
threw into the fire. This charm she said she had learnt from Mr. John
Damiet, an Italian, and a notorious enchanter. And she cured sundry
persons of the falling-evil by hanging a stone about their necks for five
nights, which stone she said she got from Lady Crawford.

Christian Sadler was "fylit and convict" for taking in hand to heal the
young Laird of Bargany, with a salve made of quicksilver, which she rubbed
into the patient, alleging that she learnt it of her father; but she did
the same by "unlessum" (unwholesome) means, said the dittay, she having no
such knowledge as would enable her to cure leprosy, which the most expert
men in medicine are not able to do. Robert Hunter, too, since deceased,
having a flaw in his face, she undertook to cure with a mixture of
quicksilver in a drink. She said the flaw was leprosy, but it was nothing
of the kind; and "God knows how the drink was composed," but the
gentleman died twelve hours after, "as was notourlie confessit of hirself,
and can nocht be denyit, quhairby scho was giltie of his death be hir
craft; ministering to him vnlessum things, quhairof he deit suddenlie." So
the four women were convicted and condemned, sentenced to be strangled at
a stake, then burnt, and all their goods forfeit to the crown. Only Bessie
Aiken got off by reason of her pregnancy; and after having suffered "lang
puneischment be famine and imprisonment," was finally banished the kingdom
for life.

In July, 1602, James Reid suffered for the same kind of offences--taking
three pennies and a piece of "creisch" (grease) from the bag of his master
the devill, whom he met on Bynnie-crags, and learning from him the art of
healing by means of silk laces, south-running waters, charms,
incantations, and other "unlessum" means. He cured Sarah Borthwick by his
sorcery and devilry, bringing her south-running water from the
"Schriff-breyis-well," and casting a certain quantity of salt and wheat
about her bed: and he consulted with certain for the destruction of David
Libbertoune, baxter and burges of Edinburgh, his spouse, their corn, and
goods, by taking a piece of raw flesh, and making nine nicks in it, then
putting part under the mill door and part under the stable door; while, to
ruin the land, he enchanted stones and cast them on the fields. He cured
John Crystie of a swelling, by putting three silk laces round his leg for
ten weeks; and his deeds becoming notorious and his character lost, he was
adjudged worthy of death, and judicially murdered accordingly.

Who was safe, if a half-fed scrofulous woman had fancies and the megrims?
The first person on whom her wild imagination chose to cast the grim
shadow of witchcraft was surely doomed, however slight the evidence, or
whatever the manifest quality of the disease. There was poor Patrick
Lowrie, fylit July 23, 1605--what had he done? Why, he and Jonet Hunter,
"ane notorious wich," bewitched Bessie Saweris' (Sawyer's) her corn, and
took all her fisnowne (fushion, foison, pith, strength, flavour) from her;
and then he fell foul of certain "ky," so that they gave no milk; and he
had cured the horse of Margaret Guffok, the witch of Barnewell, twenty
years ago; and struck Janet Lowrie blind; and, as a climax, uncannily
helped Elizabeth Crawford's bairn in Glasgow, which had been strangely
sick for the last eight or nine years. And the way in which he helped her
was thus. He took a cloth off the said bairn's face, "saining" it, and
crossing the face with his hand; he kept the cloth for eight days, then
came back and covered her face again with it; whereupon the child slept
without moving for two days, and at the end of that time Patrick Lowrie
wakened her, and her eye, which "had been tynt throw disease, was restored
to her, and in five days she was cured and mended." He was also fylit of
having met the devil on the common waste at Sandhills, in Kyle, when a
number of men and women were there; and for having entertained him under
the form of a woman, one Helen M'Brune (this was a succubus); also of
having received from him a hair belt, at one end of which was the
similitude of "four fingeris and ane thumbe, nocht far different from the
clawis of the devill;" which belt Jonet Hunter had, and it was burnt at
her trial; also of having dug up dead bodies, to dismember them for his
deadly charms; and also for being "ane cowmone and notorious sorcerer,
warlok, and abuser of the peopill, be all vnlawfull charms and devillische
incantationes, vset be him this xxiiij yeir begane." To which terrific
array was added the testimony of Mr. David Mill, who said how, in his own
place, he was "brutit and commonlie called Pait ye Witch, and that he gat
his father's malison," and had been spoken of as sure to make an ill end.
So he did, poor fellow; for the Lord Advocate threatened to prosecute the
assize if they acquitted him, which insured his effectual condemnation,
and Pate the Witch was burnt with his fellows.


Two years afterwards, on March the 10th, 1607, Isobel Grierson, "spous to
John Bull," came into court with anything but clean hands. She was accused
of having visited Adam Clarke and his wife--they lying decently in bed,
their servant being in the other bed beside them--not as an honest woman,
but in the form of a cat, being accompanied by other cats which made a
great and fearful noise. Whereat Adam Clarke, his wife, and servant were
so affrighted they were almost mad. At the same time arrived the devil in
the shape of a black man, and came to the servant girl then standing on
the floor, and drew her up and down the house in a fearful manner, first
taking the curtche (cap) off her head and casting it into the fire,
whereby the poor woman had a sickness which lasted six weeks. Isobel
killed William Burnet by casting a cutting of plaid in at his door, after
which the devil, for the space of half a year, perpetually appeared to
him as a naked child, holding an enchanted picture in his hand, and
standing before the fire; but sometimes he appeared as Isobel herself,
who, when William Burnet called to her by name, would vanish away. So she
haunted and harried him till he pined away and died. She bewitched Mr.
Brown, of Prestonpans, by throwing an enchanted "tailzie" (cut or piece)
of beef at his door, sending the devil to distress him for half a year,
appearing to him herself in the form of an infant bairn, and so hardly
treating him, that Brown died as Burnet had done. Then she bewitched
Robert Peddan, who got no good from any remedy, and knew not what ailed
him, until he suddenly remembered that he and Isobel had had a quarrel
about nine shillings which he owed her and would not pay; so he went to
her and paid her, asking humbly for his health again; which came. Robert
Peddan deposed, too, that, being once at his house, she wanted her cat,
whereupon she opened his window, put out her hand, and drew the cat in: at
which time was working a brewing of good sound ale, which all turned to
"gutter dirt." Another time she or her spirit went at night to his house
and drew Margaret Donaldson, his wife, out of her bed, and flung her
violently against the floor; whereat the wife was very ill and sore
troubled, and cried out on her. Isobel, hearing of this, went to the
neighbours, and said they were to bring her and Margaret together again;
which they did; and Margaret had her health for nine or ten days. But Meg,
not leaving off calling out against her, Isobel went to her, "and spak to
hir mony devillisch and horribill words," saying, "The faggot of hell
lycht on thé, and hell's cauldron may thow seith in!" So Meg was sick
again after this; and as a poor beggarwoman coming to the door to ask
meat told her she was bewitched, for that she had the right stamp of it,
the case grew serious, and Margaret cried out more loudly than before.
Then Isobel went again to her house with a creil on her back, and said
passionately, "Away, theiff! I sall haif thy hairt for bruitting of me sae
falslie;" which so frightened Meg that she took to her bed, and Isobel was
arrested, tried, convicted, and burnt.


That same year James Brown was ill. Bartie Paterson went to him, and gave
him drinks and salves made of green herbs, and bade him "sitt doun on his
kneis thre seuerall nychtis, and everie nycht, thryse nyne tymes, ask his
helth at all living wichtis, aboue and vnder the earth in the name of
Jesus." He gave Alexander Clarke a drink of Dow-Loch water--poor Alexander
Clarke was fond of consulting witches--causing him each time he lifted the
mug to say, "I lift this watter in the name of the Father, Sone, and Holy
Ghaist, to do guid for their helth for quhom it is liftit." And he was
able to cast a spell over cattle by saying--

  "I charme thé for arrow-schot,
  For dor-schot, for wondo-schot,
  For ey-schot, for tung-schot,
  For lever-schot, for lung-schot,
  For hert-schot, all the maist,
  In the name of the Father, the Sone, and Haly Ghaist.
  To wend out of fleisch and bane,
  Into stek and stane,
  In the name of the Father, the Sone, and Haly Ghaist. Amen."

So the law put a stop to his incantations, and he was strangled and
burnt, and all his goods escheit to the crown. But the crown did not get a
very full haul, for poor Bartie was scarce removed from beggary.


In 1608, on May the 27th, Beigis Tod in Lang Nydrie came to her fate. She
had long been a frequenter of Sabbaths, and once was reproved by the devil
for being late, when she answered respectfully, "Sir, I could wyn na
soner!" Immediately thereafter she passed to her own house, took a cat,
and put it nine times through the chimney work, and then sped to Seaton
Thorne "be north the yet," where the devil called Cristiane Tod, her
younger sister, and brought her out. But Cristiane took a great fright and
said, "Lord, what wilt thou do with me?" to whom he answered, "Tak na
feir, for ye sall gang to your sister Beigis, to ye rest of hir cumpanie
quha are stayand vpoun your cuming at the Thorne." Cristiane Tod, John
Graymeill, Ersche (Irish), Marion, and Margaret Dwn, who were of that
company that night, had all been burnt, so now Beigis had her turn. She
fell out with Alexander Fairlie, and made his son vanish away by continual
sweating and burning at his heart, during which time Beigis appeared to
him nightly in her own person, but during the day in the similitude of a
dog, and put him almost out of his wits. Alexander went to her to be
reconciled, and asked her to take the sickness off his son, which at first
she refused, but afterwards consenting, she went and healed the youth, a
short time before she was arrested--to be burnt. Two years after this
Grissel Gairdner was burnt for casting sickness upon people; and in 1613
Robert Erskine and his three sisters were executed--he was beheaded--for
poisoning and treasonable murder against his two nephews. But before this,
in 1608, the Earl of Mar brought word to the Privy Council that some women
taken at Broughton or Breichin, accused of witchcraft, and being put to
"ane assize and convict albeit they persevered constant in their deniall
to the end, yet they wes burnet _quick_ after sic ane crewell maner that
sum of thame deit in dispair, renunceand and blasphemand, and vtheris,
half brunt, brak out of the fyre and wes cassin _quick_ into it againe,
quhill they war brunt to the deid." Even this horrible scene does not seem
to have had any effect in humanizing men's hearts, or opening their eyes
to the infamy into which their superstition dragged them; for still the
witch trials went on, and the young and the old, and the beautiful and the
unlovely, and the loved and the loveless, were equally victims, cast
without pity or remorse to their frightful doom.

Sixteen hundred and sixteen was a fruitful year for the witch-finders.
There was Jonka Dyneis of Shetland,[20] who, offended with one Olave, fell
out in most vile cursings and blasphemous exclamations, saying that within
a few days his bones should be "raiking" about the banks: and as she
predicted so did it turn out--Olave perishing by her sorcery and
enchantments. And not content with this, she cursed the other son of the
poor widowed mother, and in fourteen days he also died, to Jonka's own
undoing when the Shetlanders would bear her iniquities no longer. And
there was Katherine Jonesdochter, also of Shetland, who cruelly
transferred her husband's natural infirmities to a stranger: and Elspeth
Reoch of Orkney, who pulled the herb called melefowr (millfoil?) betwixt
her finger and thumb, saying, "In Nomine Patris, Filii, et Spiritûs
Sancti," thus curing men's distempers in a devilish and unwholesome
manner: and Agnes Scottie, who refused to speak word to living man before
passing "the boundis of hir ground, and their sat down, plaiting her feit
betwixt the merchis," that a certain woman might have a good childbirth;
who was also convicted "of washing the inner nuke of her plaid and
aprone," for some wicked and sinister purpose; for what sane Scottish
woman would wash her clothes more than was absolutely necessary? and who
could curse as well as cure, and transfer as well as give the sickness she
could heal: and Marable Couper who threw a "wall piet" at a man who spoke
ill of her, and made his face bleed, so that he went mad, and could only
be recovered by her laying her hands on him, whereby he received his
senses and his health again: and Agnes Yullock, who went to the guid wyfe
of Langskaill, and by touching her gave her back her health: and William
Gude, who had power over all inanimate things, and by his touch could give
them back the virtue they had lost. These are only a few, very few, of the
cases to be found in the various judiciary records of the year 1616--a
year no worse than others, and no better, where all were bad and
blood-stained alike.

In 1618 one of the saddest stories of all was to be read in the tears of a
few sorrowful relatives, and in the exultation of those fanatics who
rejoiced when the accursed thing plucked out from them was of more goodly
savour and of a fairer form than usual, and thus was a meeter sacrifice
for the Lord. Of all the heartrending histories to be found in the records
of witchcraft, the history of Margaret Barclay and her "accomplices" is
saddest, most sorrowful, most heartrending.


Margaret was a young, beautiful, high-spirited woman, wife of Archibald
Dein, burgess of Irvine, and not on the best of terms with John Dein, her
husband's brother. Indeed, she had had him and his wife before the Kirk
session for slander, and things had not gone quite smoothly with them ever
since. When, therefore, the ship, The Grace of God, in which John Dein was
sailing, sank in sight of land, drowning him and all his men, the old
quarrel was remembered, and Margaret, together with Isobel Insh and John
Stewart, a wandering "spaeman," was accused of having sunk the vessel by
charms and enchantments. Margaret disdainfully denied the charge from
beginning to end: Isobel said she had never seen the spaeman in her life
before; but Stewart "clearly and pounktallie confessit" all the charges
brought against him, and also said that the women had applied to him to be
taught his magic arts, and that once he had found them both modelling
ships and figures in clay for the destruction of the men and vessel
aforesaid. And as it was proved that Stewart had spoken of the wreck
before he could have known it by ordinary means, suspicion of sorcery fell
upon him, and he was taken: and made his confession. He said that he had
visited Margaret to help her to her will, when a black dog, breathing fire
from his nostrils, had formed part of the conclave; and Isobel's own
child, a little girl of eight, added to this, a black man as well.
Isobel, after denying all and sundry of the charges brought against her,
under torture admitted their truth. In the night time she found means to
escape from her prison, bruised and maimed with the torture as she was;
but in scrambling over the roof she fell to the ground, and was so much
injured that she died five days afterwards. Margaret was then tortured:
the spaeman had strangled himself, which was the best thing he could do,
only it was a pity he did not do it before; and poor Margaret was the last
of the trio. The torture they used, said the Lords Commissioners, was
"safe and gentle." They put her bare legs into a pair of stocks, and laid
on them iron bars, augmenting their weight one by one, till Margaret,
unable to bear the pain, cried out to be released, promising to confess
the truth as they wished to have it. But when released she only denied the
charges with fresh passion; so they had recourse to the iron bars again.
After a time, pain and weakness overcame her again, and she shrieked
aloud, "Tak off! tak off! and befoir God I will show ye the whole form!"
She then confessed--whatever they chose to ask her; but unfortunately, in
her ravings, included one Isobel Crawford, who when arrested--as she was
on the instant--attempted no defence, but, paralyzed and stupefied,
admitted everything with which she was charged. Margaret's trial
proceeded: sullen and despairing, she assented to the most monstrous
counts: she knew there was no hope, and she seemed to take a bitter pride
in suffering her tormentors to befool themselves to the utmost. In the
midst of her anguish her husband, Alexander Dein, entered the court,
accompanied by a lawyer. And then her despair passed, and she thought she
saw a glimmer of life and salvation. She asked to be defended. "All that
I have confessed," she said, "was in an agony of torture; and before God
all that I have spoken is false and untrue. But," she added pathetically,
turning to her husband, "ye have been owre lang in coming!" Her defence
did her no good; she was condemned, and at the stake entreated that no
harm might befall Isobel Crawford, who was utterly and entirely innocent.
To whom did she make this prayer? to hearts turned wild and wolfish by
superstition; to hearts made fiendish by fear; to men with nothing of
humanity save its form--with nothing of religion save its terrors. She
might as well have prayed to the fierce winds blowing round the
court-house, or the rough waves lashing the barren shore! She was taken to
the stake, there strangled and burnt: bearing herself bravely to the last.
Poor, brave, beautiful, young Margaret! we, at this long lapse of time,
cannot even read of her fate without tears; it needed all the savageness
of superstition to harden the hearts of the living against the actual
presence of her beauty, her courage, and her despair!

Isobel Crawford was now tried; "after the assistant minister, Mr. David
Dickson, had made earnest prayer to God for opening her obdurate and
closed heart, she was subjected to the torture of the iron bars laid upon
her bare shins, her feet being in the stocks, as in the case of Margaret
Barclay." She endured this torture "admirably," without any kind of din or
exclamation, suffering above thirty stone of iron to be laid on her legs,
never shrinking thereat in any sort, but remaining steady and constant.
But when they shifted the iron bars, and removed them to another part of
her legs, her constancy gave way, as Margaret's had done, and she too
broke out into horrible cries of "Tak off! tak off!" She then
confessed--anything--everything--and was sentenced: but on the way to her
execution she denied all that she had admitted, interrupted the minister
in his prayer, and refused to pardon the executioner, according to form.
Her brain had given way, and they fastened to the stake a bewildered,
raving maniac. God rest their weary souls!


Margaret Wallace (1622), spous to John Dynning, merchant and citizen of
Glasgow, hated Cuthbert Greg. She had sent Cristiane Grahame to him,
wanting his dog; but he would not give it, saying, "I rather ye and my
hussie (cummer, gossip) baith was brunt or ye get my dog." Margaret,
coming to the knowledge of this speech, went to him angrily, and said,
"Ffals land-loupper loun that thow art, sayis thow that Cristiane Grahame
and I sall be brunt for witches? I vow to God I sall doe ye ane evill
turne." So she did, by means of a cake of bread, casting on him the most
strange, unnatural, and unknown disease, such as none could mend or
understand. Suspecting that he was bewitched, his friends got her to come
and undo the mischief she had done: so she went into the house, took him
by the "schaikill bane" (shoulder-blade) with one hand, and laid the other
on his breast, but spoke no word, only moved her lips; then passed from
him on the instant. The next day she went again to his house, and took him
up out of bed, leading him to the kitchen and three or four times across
the floor, though he had been bedridden for fifteen days, unable to put
his foot to the ground. And if all that was not done by devilish art and
craft, how was it done? asked the judges and the jury. Another time she
went to the house of one Alexander Vallange, where she was taken with a
sudden "brasch" of sickness, and was so hardly holden that they thought
she would have "ryved" herself to fits. She cried out piteously for her
"dear burd," and the bystanders thought she meant her husband: but it
turned out to be the witch Cristiane Grahame that she wanted--whom they
immediately sent for. Cristiane came at once, and took Margaret tenderly
in her arms, saying "no one should hurt her dear burd, no one;" then
carried her down stairs into the kitchen, and so home to her own house.
The little daughter of the house ran after them; on the threshold, she was
seized with a sudden pain, and falling down cried and screamed most
sorely. Her mother went to lift her up crossly, but she called out,
"Mother, mother, ding me nocht, for there is ane preyne (pin) raschet
throw my fute." She "grat" all the night, and was very ill; her parents
watching by her through the long hours: but when Margaret wanted the
mother to let her be cured by Cristiane's aid, she said sternly, no, "scho
wad commit her bairne to God, and nocht mell with the devill or ony of his
instrumentis." However, Margaret Wallace healed the little one unbidden;
by leaping over some bits of green cloth scattered in the midst of the
floor, and then taking her out of bed and laying her in Cristiane
Grahame's lap--which double sorcery cured her instantly. Cristiane Grahame
had been burnt for a witch some time before this trial; and now Margaret
Wallace, in this year of our Lord 1622, was doomed to the same fate: bound
to a stake, strangled, burnt, her ashes cast to the wind, and all her
worldly gear forfeit to king's majesty, because she was a tender-hearted,
loving woman, with a strong will and large mesmeric power, and did her
best for the sick folk about her.


Isobell Haldane confessed before the Session of Perth, May 15, 1623, that
she had cured Andro Duncan's bairn by washing it and its sark in water
brought from the Turret Port, then casting the water into a burn; but in
the going "scho skaillit (spilt) swm quhilk scho rewis ane evill rew,
becaus that if onye had gone ower it they had gottyn the ill." She
confessed, too, that about ten years since, she, lying in her bed, was
taken forth, whether by God or the devil she knows not, and carried to a
hill: the hill-side opened, and she went in and stayed there from Thursday
to Sunday at eleven o'clock, when an old man with a gray beard brought her
forth. The old man with the gray beard, who seems to have been poor Bessie
Dunlop's old acquaintance, told her many things after this visit. He told
her that John Roch, who came to the wright's shop for a cradle, need not
be so hasty, for his wife would not be lighter for five weeks, and then
the bairn should never lie in the cradle, but would die when baptized: as
it proved, and as John Roch deposed on her trial. Also, he told her that
Margaret Buchanan, then in good health, should prepare herself for death
before Fastings Even, which was a few days hence; and Margaret died as she
predicted. And Patrick Ruthven deposed that he, being sick--bewitched by
one Margaret Hornscleugh--Isobell came to see him, and stretched herself
upon him, her head to his head, her hands on his, and so forth, mumbling
some words, he knew not what. And Stephen Ray deposed that three years
since he had detected Isobell in a theft, whereon she clapped him on the
back, and said, "Go thy way; thow sall nocht win thyself ane bannok of
breid for yeir and ane day;" and so it proved. He pined away, heavily
diseased, and did not do a stroke of work for just three hundred and
sixty-six days, of the full four-and-twenty hours' count. But Isobell said
that her sole words were, "He that delyueret me frome the ffairy ffolk
sall tak amends on thé:" and that she had never meaned to harm him, nor
even to answer him ungently. But she confessed to various charms; such as
a cake made of small handsful of meal, gotten from nine several women who
had been married, virgins--through a hole in which sick children were to
be passed, to their decided cure; and she confessed to getting water,
silently going, and silently returning, from the well of Ruthven, in which
to bathe John Gow's child; and to having made a drink of focksterrie[24]
leaves for Dan Morris's child, who "wes ane scharge" (changeling or fairy
child), which focksterrie drink she made it swallow; when it died soon
after. So Isobell Haldane shook hands with life, and went back to Thom
Reid and the fairy folk on the hill, helped thither by the hangman.


In the July of this same year Bessie Smith of Lesmahago also confessed to
sundry unlawful doings. When people who were ill of the heart fevers went
to her for advice, instead of employing honest drugs such as every
Christian understood and nauseated, she bade them kneel and ask their
health "for God's sake, for Sanct Spirit, for Sanct Aikit, for the nine
maidens that died in the boor-tree in the Ladywell Bank. This charm to be
buik and beil to me, God grant that sae be." This charm, with the
"wayburn" leaf to be eaten for nine mornings, was sufficient to prove
Bessie Smith of Lesmahago a necromancer; and the presbytery of Lanark did
quite righteously, according to its lights, when they made her come before
them and confess her crimes, humbly. Fortunately, they did not burn her.


Thomas Grieve was a notorious enchanter, according to the Session, which
prided itself on being "ripely advised." He put a woman's sickness on a
cow, which ran mad, and died in consequence; and he cured William Kirk's
bairn by stroking its hair back from its face and wrapping it in an
enchanted cloth, whereby it slept, and woke healed. He cured cattle of
"the heastie," or any other bovine disease untranslateable, by sprinkling
the byre with enchanted water; and he cured sick people by putting them
through a hank of yarn, which then he cut up and threw into the fire,
where it burned blue. He healed one woman by "fyring"--putting a hot iron,
which was supposed to burn the obsessing witch--into some magic water
brought from Holywell, Hill-side, and making her drink it; and he cured
another woman by burning a poor hen alive, first making her carry it,
when half roasted, under her arm; and he took in hand to heal Elspeth,
sister of John Thomson, of Corachie--passing with her two brothers in the
night season from Corachie towards Burley, enjoining them not to speak a
word all the way, and whatever they heard or saw, not to be anywise
"effrayed," saying "it micht be that thai would heir grit rumbling and sie
vncouth feirfull apparitiones, but nothing suld annoy thame." Arrived at
the ford at the east of Birley he washed her sark; and during the time of
this washing there was a great noise made by fowls in the hill, beasts
that arose and fluttered in the water--"beistes that arrais and
flichtered" in the water; and when he put her sark upon her again, Elspeth
mended and was healed. And of another patient he propounded this wise
opinion, come to by the examination of his sark: "Allace, the withcraft
appointit for ane vther hes lichtit vpoune him," but it had not yet
reached his heart. And further than all this, which was bad enough, he
made signs and crosses, and muttered uncouth words, and believed in
himself and the devil: so he was strangled and burnt, and an end come to
of him: for which the neighbours all were glad, even those he had
benefited, and the ministers were quite satisfied that they had given
glory to God in the holiest manner open to them.


Katherine Grant, in the November of the year 1623, was dilatit for that
she had gone to Henry Janies' house, with "a stoup in hir hand, with the
boddome foremost, and sat down ryght fornent the said Henrie, and gantit
thryce on him: and going furth he followit hir; and beiyan the brigstane,
scho lukit over her shoulder, and turned up the quhyt of her eye, quhair
by her divilrie, their fell ane great weght upoun him that he was forcit
to set his bak to the wall, and when he came in, he thoucht the hous ran
about with him, and theirefter lay seik ane lang tyme." Katherine Grant
was not likely to overcome the impression of such testimony as this: that
she should have gone to any man's house and yawned thrice, and added to
this devilry the further crime of looking over her shoulder, was quite
enough evidence of guilt for any sane man or woman in Orkney. Can we
wonder, then, that she was not suffered to vex the sunlight longer by
carrying pails bottom upwards, or yawning thrice in the faces of decent
folk, and that she was taken forth to be strangled, burnt, and her ashes
cast to the four winds of the merciful heaven?


"Mareoune" Richart, _alias_ Langland, dwelt on one of the wild Orkney
islands, not far from where mad Elspeth Sandisome kept the whole country
in fear lest she should do something terrible to herself or to others.
Marion was invited to go the house, and try her skill at curing her, for
she was known to be an awful witch, and able to do whatever she had a mind
in the way of healing or killing. So she went, and set herself to her
charm. She took some "remedie water"--which she made into "remedy water,"
by carrying it in a round bowl to the byre where she cast into it
something like "great salt," taken from her purse, spitting thrice into
the bowl, and blowing in her breath--and with this magic "remedie watter
forspeking," she bade Elspeth's woman-servant wash her feet and hands, and
she would be as well as ever she had been before. This was bad enough; but
worse than this, she came to Stronsey on a day, asking alms of "Andro
Coupar, skipper of ane bark," to whom said Andrew rudely, "Away witch,
carling; devils ane farthing ye will fall!" whereupon went Marion away
"verie offendit; and incontinentlie he going to sea, the bark being vnder
saill, he ran wode, and wald half luppen ourboord; and his sone seing him
gat him in his armes, and held him; quhairvpon the sicknes immediatelie
left him, and his sone ran made; and Thomas Paiterson, seeing him tak his
madnes, and the father to turn weill, ane dog being in the bark, took the
dog and bladdit him vpon the twa schoulderis, and thaireftir flang the
said dogg in the sea, quhairby those in the bark were saiffed." So Marion
Richart, _alias_ Langland, learnt the hangman's way to the grave in the
year of grace 1629; and her corpse was burned, when the hangman's rope had
done its work.


Isobel Young, spous to George Smith, was burnt, in 1629, for curing
cattle, as well as for the other crimes belonging to a witch. She had
sought to borrow Lady Lee's Penny--a precious stone or amulet, like to a
piece of amber, set in a silver penny, which one of the old Lee family had
gotten from a Saracen in the Crusades--and which Lee Penny was to help
her in her incantations, for curing "the bestiall of the routting evill,"
whatever that might have been. But Lady Lee let her have only a flagon of
water in which the amulet had been steeped, which did quite as well, and
helped to set the stake as quickly as anything else would have done.
Various other mischancy things did Isobel Young. She stopped a certain
mill, and made it incapable of grinding for eleven days: she forespoke a
certain boat, and though all the rest returned to Dunbar full and richly
laden, this came back empty, whereby the owner was ruined: she bewitched
milk that it would give no cream, and churns, so that no butter would
come: she twice crossed the mill water on a wild and stormy night, when
the milne horses could not ride it out, and where there was no bridge of
stone or wood; but Isobel the witch crossed and recrossed those raging
waters under the stormy sky, and came out at the end as dry as if from a
kiln. And was not this as unholy as taking off her "curch" at William
Meslet's barn-door, and running "thrice about the barn widdershins,"
whereby the cattle were caused to fall dead in "great suddainty?" Then, as
further iniquity, she had dealings with Christian Grinton, another witch,
who one night came out of a hole in the roof in the likeness of a cat; and
she cast a sickness from off her husband, and laid it on his brother's
son, who, knowing full well that he was bewitched, came to the house, and
there saw the "firlott"--a certain measure of wheat--running about, and
the stuff poppling on the floor, which was the manner of the charm.
Drawing his sword, this husband's brother's son ran on the pannel (the
accused) to kill her, but was witch-disabled, and only struck the lintel
of the door instead; so he went home and died, and Isobel Young was the
cause of his death by the cantrip wrought in the locomotive firlott and
the poppling grain. Forbye all this, she was seen riding on "ane mare"--at
least her apparition was seen so riding--and by her sorcery and devilish
handling the mare was made to cast its foal, and since died. So Isobel
Young was of no more value to the world or its inheritors, and died by the
cord and the faggot, decently, as a convicted witch should. And Margaret
Maxwell and her daughter Jane were haled before the Lords of Secret
Council for having procured the death of Edward Thomson, Jane's husband,
"by the devilish and detestable practice of witchcraft;" and Janet Boyd
was tried for "the foul and detestable crime" of receiving the devil's
mark, besides being otherwise dishonestly intimate with him; but this was
in 1628, and we are now in 1629: and then the Lords of the Privy Council
published a thundering edict, forbidding all persons to have recourse to
holy words, or to make pilgrimages to chapels, and requiring of its
Commissioners to make diligent search in all parts for persons guilty of
this superstitious practice, and to have up and put in ward all such as
were known to be specially devoted thereto. The meaning of the decree was
to plague the Catholics, and Hibbert quotes part of this "Commission
against Jesuits, Priests, or Communicants and Papists, going in
pilgrimage." But whatever the political significance of the edict, the
social effect was to make the search after the White Witches, or Black,
hotter and more bitter than ever.


Elspeth Cursetter was tried, May 29 (still in 1629), for all sorts of bad
actions. She bade one of her victims "get the bones of ane tequhyt
(linnet), and carry thame in your claithes"; and she gave herself out as
knowing evil, and able to do it too, when and to whomsoever she would; and
she sat down before the house of a man who refused her admittance--for she
was an ill-famed old witch, and every one dreaded her--saying, "Ill might
they all thrive, and ill may they speed," whereby in fourteen days' time
the man's horse fell just where she had sat, and was killed most
lamentably. But she cured a neighbour's cow by drawing a cog of water out
of the burn that ran before William Anderson's door, coming back and
taking three straws--one for William Anderson's wife, and one for William
Coitts' wife, and one for William Bichen's wife--which she threw into the
pail with the water, then put the same on the cow's back; by which charm
the three straws danced in the water, and the water bubbled as if it had
been boiling. Then Elspeth took a little quantity of this charmed water,
and thrust her arm up to the elbow into the cow's throat, and on the
instant the cow rose up as well as she had ever been; but William
Anderson's ox, which was on the hill, dropped down dead. Likewise she
worked unholy cantrips for a sick friend with a paddock (toad), in the
mouth of a pail of water, which toad was too large to get down the mouth,
and when it was cast forth another man sickened and died immediately: and
she spake dangerous words to a child, saying, "Wally fall that quhyt head
of thine, but the pox will tak the away frae thy mother." As it proved,
for the little white head was laid low a short time after, when the
small-pox raged through the land. "Thow can tell eneugh yf thow lyke,"
said the mother to her afterwards, "that could tell that my bairne wold
die so long befoir the tyme." "I can tell eneugh if I durst," replied
Elspeth, over proud for her safety. But in spite of all this testimony,
Elspeth got off with "arbitrary punishment," which did not include burning
or strangling, so was luckier than her neighbours. Luckier than poor Jonet
Rendall was, who, on the 11th of November (1629), was proved a witch by
the bleeding of the corpse of the poor wretch whom she had "enchanted" to
his death. For "as soon as she came in the corpse having lain a good
space, and not having bled any, immediately bled much blood, as a sure
token that she was the author of his death." And had she not said, too,
when a certain man refused her a Christmas lodging, "that it wald be weill
if the gude man of that hous sould make ane other yule banket" (Christmas
banquet); by which curse had he not died in fifteen days after? Wherefore
was she a proved murderess as well as witch, and received the doom
appointed to both alike. Alexander Drummond was a warlock who cured all
kinds of horrid diseases, the very names of which are enough to make one
ill; and he had a familiar, which had attended him for "neir this fifty
yeiris:" so he was convicted and burnt.

Then came Jonet Forsyth, great in her art. She could cast sickness on any
one at sea, and cure him again by a salt-water bath; she could transfer
any disease from man to beast, so that when the beast died and was opened,
nothing could be found where its heart should have been but "a blob of
water;" she knew how to charm and sain all kinds of cattle by taking
three drops of a beastie's blood on All Hallow E'en, and sprinkling the
same in the fire within the innermost chamber; she went at seed time and
bewitched a stack of barley belonging to Michael Reid, so that for many
years he could never make it into wholesome malt; and this she did for the
gain of Robert Reid, changing the "profit" of the grain backwards and
forwards between the two, according as they challenged or displeased her.
All this did Jonet Forsyth of Birsay, to the terror of her neighbours and
the ultimate ruin of herself, both in soul and body. Then came Catherine
Oswald,[30] spouse to Robert Aitcheson, in Niddrie, who was brought to
trial for being "habite and repute" a witch--defamed by Elizabeth Toppock
herself a witch and, as is so often the case, a dear friend of Katie's.
Elizabeth need not have been so eager to get rid of her dear friend and
gossip, for she was burnt afterwards for the same crimes as those for
which poor Catherine suffered the halter and the stake. It seems that
Katie was bad for her enemies. She was offended at Adam Fairbairn and his
wife, so she made their "twa kye run mad and rammish to died," and also
made a gentleman's bairn that they had a-fostering run wood (mad) and die.
And she fired William Heriot's kiln, full of grain; and burnt all his
goods before his eyes; and made his wife, in a "frantick humour," drown
herself; and she cursed John Clark's ground, so that for four years after
"by hir sorceries, naether kaill, lint, hempe, nor any other graine" would
grow thereon, though doubly "laboured and sowen." She bewitched Thomas
Scott by telling him that he looked as well as when Bessie Dobie was
living, whereby he immediately fell so deadly sick that he could not
proceed further, but was carried on a horse to Newbiggin, where he lay
until the morrow, when "a wife" came in and told him he was forespoken.
And other things as mischievous--and as true--did Catherine Oswald, as the
Record testifies. She was well defended, and might have got off, but that
a witness deposed to having seen Mr. John Aird the minister, and a most
zealous witch-finder, prick her in the shoulder with a prin, and that no
blood followed thereafter, nor did she shrink as with pain or feeling. And
as there was no gainsaying the evidence of the witch-mark, Satan and Mr.
John Aird claimed their own. Was Catherine's brand like a "blew spot, or a
little tate, or reid spots, like flea-biting?" or with "the flesh sunk in
and hallow?" according to the description of such places, published by Mr.
John Bell, minister of the gospel in Gladsmuir. We are seldom told of what
precise character the marks were, only that they were found, pricked, and
tested, and the witch hung or burnt on their testimony.


Soon after Catherine Oswald's execution, one of her crew or covin, who had
been with her on the great storm in "the borrowing days (in anno 1625), on
the Brae of the Saltpans," a noted warlock, by name Alexander Hunter, or
Hamilton, _alias_ Hatteraick, which last name he had gotten from the
devil, was brought to execution on the Castle Hill. It was in 1629 that he
was taken. It was proved that on Kingston hills he had met with the devil
as a black man, or, as Sinclair says, as a mediciner; and often
afterwards he would meet him riding on a black horse, or he would appear
as a corbie, cat, or dog. When Alexander wanted him he would beat the
ground with a fir stick lustily, crying, "Rise up, foul thief!" for the
master got but hard names at times from his servants. This fir stick, and
four shillings sterling, the devil gave to him when the compact was first
made between them; and he confessed, moreover, that when raised in this
manner he could only be got rid of by sacrificing to him a cat or dog, or
such like, "quick." Also he set on fire Provost Cockburn's mill of corn,
by taking three stalks from his stacks, and burning them on Garleton
Hills; and he owned to a deadly hatred against Lady Ormiston, because she
once refused him "ane almous," and called him "ane custroune carle." So,
to punish her, he and some witches raised the devil in Salton Wood, where
he appeared like a man in gray clothes, and gave him the bottom of a blue
clew, telling him to lay it at the lady's door: "which he and the women
having done, 'the lady and her daughter were soon thereafter bereft of
their naturall lyfe.'" But Sinclair's account is the most graphic. I will
give it in his own words:--

"Anent Hattaraick, an old Warlock.

"This man's name was Sandie Hunter, who called himself Sandie Hamilton,
and it seems so called Hattaraik by the devil, and so by others as a
Nickname. He was first a Neatherd in East Lothian, to a gentleman there.
He was much given to charming and cureing of men and Beasts, by words and
spels. His charms sometimes succeeded and sometimes not. On a day, herding
his kine upon a Hill side in the summer time, the Devil came to him in
form of a Mediciner, and said, 'Sandie, you have too long followed my
trade, and never acknowledged me for your master. You must now take on
with me, and I will make you more perfect in your calling.' Whereupon the
man gave up himself to the devil, and received his Mark with this new
name. After this he grew very famous throw the countrey for his charming
and cureing of diseases in men and beasts, and turned a vagrant fellow
like a Jockie, gaining Meat, Flesh, and Money by his Charms, such was the
ignorance of many at that time.

"Whatever House he came to, none durst refuse Hattaraik an alms, rather
for his ill than his good. One day he came to the yait of Samuelstown,
when some Friends after dinner were going to Horse. A young Gentleman,
Brother to the Lady, seeing him, switcht him about the ears, saying, 'You
Warlok Cairle, what have you to do here?' whereupon the Fellow goes away
grumbling, and was overheard to say, 'You shall dear buy this, ere it be
long.' This was _Damnum Minatum_. The young Gentleman conveyed his Friends
a far way off, and came home that way again, where he slept. After supper,
taking his horse and crossing Tine-water to go home, he rides throw a
shadowy piece of a Haugh, commonly called the Allers, and the evening
being somewhat dark he met with some Persons there that begat a dreadful
consternation in him, which for the most part he would never reveal. This
was _malum secutum_. When he came home, the Servants observed terror and
fear in his countenance. The next day he became distracted, and was bound
for several days. His sister, the Lady Samuelstoun, hearing of it, was
heard to say, 'Surely that knave Hattaraik is the cause of his Trouble.
Call for him in all haste.' When he had come to her, 'Sandie,' says she,
'what is this you have done to my brother William?' 'I told him,' says
he, 'I should make him repent his striking of me at the Yait lately.' She
gave the Rogue fair words, and promising him his Pock full of Meal with
Beef and Cheese, persuaded the Fellow to cure him again. He undertook the
business; 'but I must first,' says he, 'have one of his Sarks,' which was
soon gotten. What pranks he plaid with it cannot be known. But within a
short while the gentleman recovered his health. When Hatteraik came to
receive his wadges, he told the Lady, 'Your Brother William shal quickly
goe off the Countrey but shall never return.' She, knowing the Fellow's
prophecies to hold true, caused her Brother to make a Disposition to her
of all his patrimony, to the defrauding of his younger brother George.
After that this Warlock had abused the Countrey for a long time, he was at
last apprehended at Dunbar, and brought into Edinburgh, and burnt upon the
Castle Hill." But not until he had delated several others of hitherto good
repute, so that for the next few months the witch-finder's hands were


Notably was arrested about this time, Alie Nisbet, midwife; and three
others. Alie was accused of witchcraft; and of a softer, but as heinous a
crime as witchcraft. This she confessed to; but the breaking of the
seventh commandment in Christian Scotland, in the year 1632, was a far
more dangerous thing than we can imagine possible in our laxer day; and
Alie was on the horns of a dilemma, either of which could land her in
ruin, death, and perdition. She was accused, among other things, of
having taken her labour pains from off a certain woman, using "charmes and
horrible words, amongs which thir ware some, _the bones to the fire and
the soull to the devill_;" but this Alie denied, strenuously, though she
admitted that she might have bathed the woman's legs in warm water, which
she had bewitched for good, by putting her fingers into it and running
thrice round the bed, widershins; but the spoken charm as given she would
have none of. The labour pains, however, left the woman, and were foully
and unnaturally cast upon another who had no concern therewith, so that
she died in four-and-twenty hours from that time, and Alie was the
murderess by all the laws of sorcery. She was accused, also, of having
poured some enchanted water on a threshold over which a servant girl,
against whom she had a spite, must pass, and the servant girl died
therefrom. Alie was wirriet and burnt and troubled the world no more.


Katherine Grieve, too (1633), was brought to judgment and sentenced to be
"taken to the mercat crose and brunt in the cheick, in example of others,"
with the future prospect, that if she haunted suspected places, or used
charms "scho sould be brunt in asches to the dead without dome or law, and
that willinglie, of hir owne consent." For Katherine's curses had wronged
both man and beast, which evil thing she had brought to pass by the power
of the devil her master. However, she was forced to undo her evil, and by
laying on of hands cure the sore she had made: so she got off with this
smaller punishment of branding, and a rebuke. And there was John Sinclair
tried that same year; a cruel villain to others, if loving to his own. For
under silence and cloud of night he took his distempered sister, sitting
backward on the horse, and carried her from where she lay to the Kirk of
Hoy. Then a voice came to him, saying "Seven is too many, but four might
do;" and in the morning a boat with five men in it struck on the rocks,
and four perished, but one was saved; by which fiendish and unholy
sacrifice John Sinclair's sister was cured. He was proved to be their
murderer, for when the dead men were found, and he was "forcit to lay his
handis vpoun thame, they guishit out with bluid and watter at the mouth
and noise." John Sinclair's thread of life needed no more waxing to make
it run smoothly and easily. The hangman knew where the knot lay; and cut
it to the perfect satisfaction of all the country.


A year after this Bessie Bathgate, spouse to Alexander Rae, fell into
trouble and the hands of the police. George Sprot, wobster, had some cloth
of Bessie's, which he kept too long for her thinking. She went and took it
violently away, and nipped his child in the thigh till it skirled, "and of
which nip it never convalesced, but dwamed thereof and died by hir
sorcerie." Also, said Sprot's wife, giving her child an egg that came out
of Bessie's house there struck out a lump as big as a goose egg upon the
child, which continued on her till her death, which was occasioned by
nothing else than this "enchanted egg." Furthermore she threatened Sprot
that "he should never get his Sunday's meat to the fore by his work;" and
he forthwith fell into extreme poverty, by which her words came true. To
William Donaldson she said--he outrunning her as she chased him to beat
him for calling her a witch--"Weill, sir, the devill be in your feit," and
he fell lame and impotent straightways, and so continued ever since. Other
things of the same kind did she, bewitching Margaret Horne's cow that it
died, "and that night it died there was women seen dancing on the rigging
of the byre;" also she was seen by "two young men at 12 howers at even
(when all persons are in their beds) standing barelegged and in hir sark
valicot, at the back of hir yard, conferring with the devill, who was in
gray cloaths;" which, with other offences of the same nature, were, we
should have thought, heavy enough to have lost a world. But Elizabeth
Bathgate, spouse to Alexander Rae, was acquitted; though how the verdict
came about no one can possibly understand.

It was not that any fit of mercy or humanity had come over the people.
More than twenty poor wretches suffered about this time, Sir George Home
of Manderston, being one of the chief of the prosecutors: for Sir George
and his wife did not live very lovingly together, and she was given to
witches and warlocks--or they said she was--to see if she could not get
rid of him by enchantments and sorceries: so Sir George had a pleasant
mixture of spite and self-defence in his onslaught, and the whole
country-side was in a stir. About this time too, John Balfour, of
Corhouse, took on himself the office of witch-finder and pricker by
thrusting "preens" into the marks; but he was not accepted quite blindly,
and measures were taken for examining his pretensions to this special
branch of knowledge. In general the pricker was the master of the
situation, and brought all the rest to his feet.


All the honest men of the isle knew Bessie Skebister. She was the
shrewdest witch in the whole country, and it was a usual thing with them
when they thought their boats in danger to send to her to know the truth;
and, "Giff Bessie say it is weill, it is weill" was a common proverb in
the Orkney Islands. She did other things besides foreknowing the fall of
storms, for she took James Sandieson when in a strange distemper and
tormented him greatly. "In his sleip, and oftymes waking," says the
dittay, "he was tormented with yow, Bessie, and vther two with yow, quhom
he knew not, cairying him to the sea, and to the fyre, to Norroway,
Yetland, and to the south--that ye had ridden all this wayes, with ane
brydle in his mouth." Moreover, Bessie was a "dreamer of dreams," as well
as a rider of sick men's souls; so she was strangled and burnt.


The trial of Katherine Craigie (1640), had a certain dash of poetry and
romance in it, not often found in these woeful stories. Friend Robbie--now
friend, now foe--lay a-dying, and Katherine must needs go see him with
the rest. The wild waves were beating round that rugged Orkney Isle, when
Katherine went over the heather to Robbie's house. "What now, Robbie! ye
are going to die!" she said. "I grant that I prayed ill for yow, and now I
see that prayer hath taken effect. Jonet," quoth she, turning to the wife,
"if I durst trust in yow, I sould knaw quhat lyeth on your guidman and
holdis him downe. I sould tell whether it was ane hill spirit, ane kirk
spirit, or ane water spirit that so troubles him." Jonet was too anxious
not to promise secrecy or help, or anything else that Katherine wished; so
the next morning, before daylight, Katherine brought three stones to
Robbie's house, and put them into the fire, where they remained until
after sunset. While the night was passing, they were taken from the fire,
and put under the threshold of the door, then, in the early morning,
thrown, one after the other, into a pail of water, where Jonet heard one
of them "chirle and chirme." Upon which Katherine said that it was a kirk
spirit that troubled the guidman Robbie, and he must be washed with the
water in which the stones had "chirled and chirmed." This ceremony was
repeated thrice, and at the third time Katherine herself washed Robbie, on
whom this unusual cleansing had most powerful and beneficial effects. When
one thinks of the normal state of filth in which these honest people
lived, it is not surprising if any form of ablution proved of a most
supernatural benefit. But Katherine Craigie got into the trouble from
which there was no escape; and friend Robbie went back to his dirt,
persuaded of the Satanic agency of a bath.

Quite as full of poetic feeling was James Knarstoun's manner of charming
with stones, when he took one stone for the ebb, another for the hill, and
the third for the kirkyard, listening carefully as to what stone should
make the "bullering" noise that would betray the tormenting spirit, and
enable the magician to send him home again: a process through which
Katherine Carey went (1617) when she found that her patient was troubled
with the spirit of the sea, which would not let him bide in peace and
quiet. Such touches as these redeem the subject from the sad monotony of
sorrow and death which else pervades it from end to end, and lift it from
the domain of the devil into the brighter and lovelier world of the
Spirits of Nature.


In 1643 there was a fierce onslaught against the poor persecuted servants
of the devil. Thirty women suffered at once in Fife alone; and the more
zealous of the ministers hounded on the people to terrible cruelties.
There was one John Brugh,[36] "a notorious warlock in the parachin of
Fossoquhy, by the space of 36 yearis," who was wirreit at a stake and
burnt; and Janet Barker and Margaret Lauder, "indwellers and servands in
Edinburgh," who came to confession boldly, and showed that they had read
the story of Europa to some purpose, though to a great deal of confusion.
They accused Janet Cranstoun of seducing them, by promising them that if
they gave themselves over to her and the devil, they should be "as trimlie
clad as the best servands in Edinburgh." Coupled with the fact that they
had witch-marks, their confession was accepted as undeniable, and their
fate inevitably sealed.

And there was Marion Cumlaquoy,[37] in Birsay, who bewitched David
Cumlaquoy's corn seed, and made it run out too soon. She had been very
anxious to know when David would sow, and when she was told, she went and
stood "just to his face" all the time he was casting, and that year his
seed failed him, so that he could only sow a third of his land; though he
had as much grain as heretofore, and it had never run out too soon all the
years he had farmed that land. And she went to Robert Carstairs' house by
sunrise one day, bringing milk to his good mother, though not used to show
such attention; and as she left she turned herself three several times
"withershins" about the fire, and that year Robert Carstairs' "bear
(barley) was blew and rottin," and his oats gave no proper meal, but made
all who ate thereof heart-sick, albeit both bear and oats were good and
fresh when he put them in the yard. And if all this was not proof against
Marion Cumlaquoy, what would the Orkney courts hold as proof? As the past,
so the present; and Marion Cumlaquoy must learn in prison and at the stake
the evils that honest folk found in her power of "enchanting" corn and
crops. There were many others in this same year, to catalogue whom would
become at least wearisome and monotonous: they must be passed by
unmentioned, and left to the silence and oblivion which is the privilege
of the unfortunate dead.

But among the victims was one Agnes Finnie,[38] a bitter-tongued,
evil-tempered old hag, who had a curse and a threat for every one who
offended her; who killed young Fairlie with a terrible disorder, because
he called her "Winnie Annie;" and laid so frightful a disease on Beatrix
Nisbet, for some other trifling offence, that she lost the use of her
tongue; who made a "grit jist" (great joist) fall down on the leg of
Euphame Kincaid's daughter, because Euphame called her a witch on being
called by her a drunkard; and appeared to John Cockburn in the night--the
doors and windows being fast closed--terrifying him by her hideous old
apparition in his sleep, because he had disagreed with her daughter; and
who did all other wicked and uncanny things, like a raving, unprincipled,
old hag as she was. She even forespoke Alexander Johnstone's bairne, so
that it was eleven years old before it could walk, and all because she was
not made godmother, or "had not gotten its name;" and she made Margaret
Williamson sick and blind, by saying most outrageously, "The devill blaw
thé blinde!" And she was a bad mother and evil exemplar to her daughter,
bringing her up to be as vile as herself, at least in the way of
quarrelling and fighting with her neighbours, and then backing her with an
unfair amount of her own supernatural powers. Thus, one day, Margaret
Robinson, the daughter in question, was using high words with Mawse
Gourlay, spouse of Andrew Wilson, and Mawse, in a rage, called her "ane
witche's get," which was about the worst thing that could be said in those
days between a couple of scolds. "Gif I be ane witche's get," cried
Margaret, in extremest fury, "the devill ryve the saull out of ye befoir I
come again!" After which cruel and devilish imprecation, helped on by
Winnie Annie's horrible art used at Margaret's instigation, Andrew Wilson
became "frenatik" and stark mad: his eyes starting out of his head in the
most terrible and frightful manner as he went about, ever pronouncing
these words as his ordinary and continual speech--the perpetual raving of
his madness--"The devill ryve the saull out o' me!" For all which
crimes--though she was ably defended--though, when her house was searched,
"there was neither picture, toad, nor any such thing found therein, which
ever any witch in the world was used to practize,"--yet the evidence was
held to be too strong, and Winnie Annie Finnie was ordained to be "brunt
to the deid," and her ashes cast out to the winds of heaven.

Janet Brown[39] was another of those who got into hot quarters. She
confessed that she had charmed James Hutton and Janet Scott with these

  "Our Lord forth did raide,
  His foal's foot slade;
  Our Lord down lighted,
  His foal's foot righted;
  Saying flesh to flesh, blood to blood, and stane to stane,
  In our Lord his name."

She said this was a charm that had been learnt her by a nameless man from
Strathmiglo; but Margaret Fisher,[40] in Weardie, spoke it somewhat
differently. She had for her spell:--

  "Our Lord to hunting red,
  His sool-soot sled,
  Down he lighted,
  His sool-soot righted;
  Blod to blod,
  Shinew to shinew,
  To the other sent in God's name,
  In the name of the Father, Sone, and Holy Ghost."

Either version was equally efficacious as a cure to the sick and a curse
to the whole; and equally deadly as a crime in those who used it. And
there was Margaret Young, "ane honest young woman of good reputation,
without any scandal or blot," who lay miserably in prison for ten weeks,
without trial or release; but she got off at last on her husband's
becoming her surety. And Jonet Thomeson, who bewitched Andrew Burwick's
corn, so that when carried to the mill it leapt up into his wife's face
like mites, and as it were "nipped" her face until it swelled; and when it
was made into "meat," neither he nor his wife could abide the smell of it;
and when they did manage to eat it, it tasted like pins ("went owre lyke
prinsis"), and could not be quenched for thirst: and the dogs would not
eat of it, and the neighbours would not buy it; so poor Andrew Burwick's
gear was destroyed, and his means most sorely diminished. For all which
deadly sorcery and malice Jonet Thomeson, _alias_ Greibok, was made to
smart severely.

Marion Peebles[41] came to an untimely end, not unreasonably, according to
the witch-haters. She was "a wicked, devilish, fearful, and abominable
curser," and the world could not be too soon rid of her; for had she not
changed herself into the likeness of an unchristian beast, a mere
shapeless monster, a huge and ugly "pellack-quhaill" (porpoise), and in
this form wrecked the boat of Edward Halcro, to whom she and her husband
had "ane deadlie and veneficial malice?" Halcro and four other men were in
the boat, and public suspicion pointed at once to Marion, and affirmed
this wreck to be caused by her wicked deed. So when two of the dead bodies
were brought to land, she and her husband had to undergo the
_bahr-recht_--the ordeal by touch of the dead--to prove themselves
innocent or guilty. When they came where they lay the "said umquhile
Edward bled at the collar-bane or craig-bane;" the other in the hand and
fingers, "gushing out bluid thairat, to the great admiration of the
beholders, and judgment of the Almytie." Many and heavy were Marion's
misdeeds. She cursed Janet Robinson, and "accordingly showers of pains and
fits fell upon the victim." She looked upon a cow, and it "crappit
togidder till no lyfe was leukit for her." She took away the profit of
Edward Halcro's brewing, and destroyed the milk of Andrew Erasmusson's kye
for thirteen days. Indeed, her character was so well known that when
Swene, her husband, was working in a peat moss where a sickly fellow was
one of the gang, his fellows would ask him seriously "if he could not make
his wife go to her pobe (foster-father) the devil, and bid him loose a
knot, so that the man might get back his health?" Once she cast a sickness
on a woman, then took it from her and flung it on a calf, which went mad
and died; and she crippled a man, then cured him under compulsion, by
putting her fingers first to his leg and then to the ground, which she did
twice, muttering to herself; but the report of this getting about, she was
angry and banned the man once more, yet once more was forced to cure
him;--this time by means of a bannock prepared with her own hands, whereby
she cast his malady on a cow. Poor cowey died of her strange sickness, and
poor Marion died of a worse disease--the rope and the faggot: and then the
neighbourhood slept in peace.


On a certain day in a certain month, A.D. 1644, a woman went to the house
of another woman in Borrowstonness. She went early, and instantly fell to
mauling and pulling her, crying, "Thou traitour thief, thou thought to
destroy my son this morning, but it was not in thy power!" And then she
pulled her mutch from off her head, and mauled and maltreated her anew.
Now the meaning of the row was, that this woman had a son out at sea, whom
she, so cruelly assaulted, had sought to destroy by means of a sudden
storm raised by magic means this very day. The storm was actually raised,
and many of the crew suffered; but the son of the woman at Borrowstonness
was washed overboard by one wave, and washed on board again by another
wave, which so filled all the mariners with amaze that they came ashore.
The dispute between the two women becoming noised abroad, and the thing
being as the one had said, it was found that they were both in equal
fault--that the one had done, and the other known, too much; wherefore
they were burnt as witches, and the world had the satisfaction of hearing
them confess before they died.

Another woman, "about thirty and two, or three and thirty years of age, a
most beautiful and comely person as was in the country about," wife to one
Goodaile, a cooper, in Carrin, was fyled for a witch and put in prison.
She was the devil's favourite and dear delight; and at their meetings she
was the person whom "he did most court and embrace, calling her constantly
my dear mistress, setting her always at his right hand, to the great
discontent of his old haggs, whom, as they now conceived, he slighted;"
but her time came at last, and the law caught hold of her in place of the
devil, and gave her a yet more stringent embrace. James Fleming, a
sea-captain, and a man of great personal courage and physical strength,
was set to watch her, for the magistrates feared lest the devil should
attempt her rescue, since he loved her so well; and to him she said, that
if she got no deliverance by one o'clock in the morning, she would lay her
breast open to him and confess freely. James Fleming, a little alarmed at
this, and not liking to encounter the devil single-handed, took down
fourteen of his ship's company with him, "not forgetting the reading of
Scripture and earnest prayer to God." Sure enough the foul fiend came: for
on a sudden at midnight a tremendous hurricane arose, which unroofed the
house where they all were, and threatened to bring the whole place about
their ears, and a voice was heard calling to her by a strange name to come
away: "at which time she made three several loups upward, increasing
gradually till her feet were as high as his breast." But though James
Fleming's hair was standing widershins on his head, and though his heart
failed him for dread and fear, and he "beteached" himself to God "with
great amazement," yet his muscles continued as serviceable as ever, and at
last got the better even of the Prince of Darkness. He held this beautiful
and comely person in his powerful arms, and kept her there, through all
her struggles to get free; and at last succeeded in throwing her down upon
the ground, where for some time she grovelled and foamed like one in the
falling sickness, and then sank into a deep sleep. When she awaked she
complained bitterly of the devil, saying how that he had promised to
release her and carry her over to Ireland, touching at Paisley by the way,
where she had a sister living; but now she saw through all his treachery
and perfidiousness, and understood how she had been made his dupe. She was
burnt in all penitence and good conduct, as was also another woman about
the same time, who, putting up her arm to swear that she was not a witch,
had it suddenly withered and stiffened so that she could not bring it back
again; nor was she able to do so, until a minister who was there, had
intreated God in her behalf; for the ministers were always men of mighty
power on such occasions, and either made or marred at their pleasure. If
they chose to accept a case as possession, they prayed and exorcised; but
if it seemed good to them to call it witchcraft, then the poor wretch's
life was doomed, and no man might hope to save. It was very seldom they
cared so much for humanity as to choose the more merciful of the two
absurdities. Sometimes, though, the devil was as good as his word, and
made at least an attempt, if a clumsy one, to release his servants: as
when he took Helen Eliot from the steeple of Culross where she was
confined, and carried her in his arms through the air. He might have
landed her in safety somewhere--who knows?--had she not cried out, "O God!
whither are you taking me?" At which words he let her fall "at the
distance from the steeple of about the breadth of the street of Edinburgh,
whereby she broke her legs and otherwise seriously injured herself." Many
thousand people flocked to see the dimple which her heels had made, and
over which no grass would grow again. So at last they built a stone dyke
round it, and kept the impression safe.

In 1649 Lady Pittathrow was delated of witchcraft. She was put in prison
waiting for her trial; but one morning she was found dead, having
strangled herself, or been strangled by the devil--the world might
determine which according to its pleasure. Shortly after, Bessie Grahame
was apprehended for a few drunken words said against John Rankin's wife,
who had since died. During a confinement of thirteen weeks she was
visited by the minister, who found her obdurate in confession, and was
much inclined to find her innocent of crime. But Alexander Bogue, a
pricker, came to examine her, and discovered the mark, into which he
thrust a pin, which neither pained nor drew blood. Still she was held to
be innocent, until one day Mr. James Fergusson, the minister, heard her
talking to the devil as soon as she was alone. He knew it was the devil,
for his voice was hollow and ghoustie, and the servant, Alexander Sympson,
was like to have fallen back for fear. Still Bessie would never confess
anything beyond general unworthiness and the usual tale of vague misdeeds,
owning, indeed, to a special horror of him, the minister, and how she was
not "let to love him," as indeed was no special miracle; and then she fell
to railing at him bitterly, which was less a miracle than all else. So she
was burnt, dying obdurate and unconfessed; and thus another murder reeked
up to heaven, crying aloud for vengeance, because John Rankin's wife died
suddenly, and an intemperate old woman swore in her cups and had a habit
of speaking to herself.

Agnes Gourlay was accused of charming milk. She told Anna Simpson to throw
a small quantity of the milk into the "grupe" or sewer of the byre,
saying, "God betak us to! May be they are under the earth that have as
much need of it as they that are above the earth!" After which bread and
salt were to be put into the cows' ears, and milk would come. Agnes got
off by penance and confession: which was more than Janet Couts did, or
Archibald Watt, _alias_ "Sole the Paitlet;" though eleven other poor
creatures delated escaped their doom, partly because the burgh of Lanark
disliked having so many mouths to feed in prison pending their trial.

At Lauder, in 1649, Hob Grieve was accused of witchcraft. Twenty years
agone his wife, who had been burnt for a witch, told Hob that he might get
rich if he would follow her counsel and go along with her. So he went with
her to a haugh on Gallow-water, to meet, as she said, a gentleman there;
but he saw only a large mastiff dog, "which amazed him." At last came the
devil as a black man, telling him that if he would take suit and service
with him he should be made rich. He was to be officer at the meetings, and
hold the door at the sabbaths. Hob consented, and for eighteen years held
that office; but it does not seem that the foul fiend kept his part of the
condition, for Hob had enough to do to find salt for his porridge. He was
always poor, and remained poor to the end, with all the kicks and none of
the halfpence; and for his eighteen years of servitude got only suspicion
and ill-will, without fat or fry to comfort him. When taken, he "delated"
many, who, for the most part, confessed. After he had filled the prison,
so that it could hold no more, he accused another still, a woman of
Lauder. The magistrate kept the secret, wishing to wait until some of the
accused were "emptied out," having nowhere to put her; but the devil,
always at mischief, went to her in the night time, and told her what Hob
Grieve had said. Next day she arose and came to the prison, railing at
Hob, calling him warlock and slave to the devil, and what not. She was
told to go home, but she sat down on the Tolbooth stairs, and said she
would never stir until she and that slave of Satan had been confronted.
The bailie himself came to her, and told her to go home; but that was too
mild a proceeding. "No," she cried, "I must be set face to face with that
rascal who has delated me, an honest woman, for a witch." She was set face
to face with him, and she fell down on her bare knees, and cursed him.
Says she, "Thou common thief, how dare thou for thy soul say that ever
before this time thou saw me or I saw thee, or ever was in thy company,
either alone or with others?" Hob listened to her railings patiently, till
commanded by the bailie to speak, when says he, "How came she then to know
that I had called her a witch? Surely none but the devil, thy old master
and mine, has told thee so much." "The devil and thou perish together, for
he is not my master though he be thine. I defy the devil and all his
works!" said the woman. Then Hob reminded her of the many times and places
where they had met while in the same service; whereat she cried, "Now I
perceive that the devil is a lyar and a murderer from the beginning, for
this night he came to me, and told me to come and abuse thee; and never
come away till I was confronted with thee, and he assured me that thou
would deny all and say, thou false tongue, thou lyest!" She then confessed
all with which she was charged, and was executed. Hob was a very penitent
sinner: being now a mere lunatic, he was easy to manage, and exceeding
confidential in his confessions. He said that once in Musselburgh water
the devil had tried to drown him when he had a heavy creil on his back;
and even since he had been in prison he had come to cast him into the
fire. But though there was a very crowd "fylit" by this poor maniac, he
was innocent of the death of a certain woman who was hanged a short time
after. The magistrates, glutted to satiety with victims, wanted to save
her; but she would accept no chance offered to her. She had been fyled as
a witch, she said, and as a witch she would die. And had not the devil
once, when she was a young lassie, kissed her, and given her a new name?
Reason enough why she should die, if even nothing worse lay behind. At
last the day of her execution came, and she was taken out to be burnt with
the rest. On her way to the scaffold she made this lamentable
speech:--"Now all you that see me this day, know that I am now to die a
witch by my own confession; and I free all men, especially the ministers
and magistrates, of the guilt of my blood. I take it wholly on myself. My
blood be upon my own head; and as I must make answer to the God of heaven
presently, I declare I am as free of witchcraft as any child; but being
delated by a malicious woman, and put in prison under the name of a witch,
disowned by my husband and friends, and seeing no ground of hope of my
coming out of prison or ever coming in credit again, through a temptation
of the devil, I made up that confession on purpose to destroy my own life,
being weary of it, and choosing rather to die than to live." How many poor
wretches had been like this unhappy creature--disowned by husband and
friends, seeing no ground of hope of ever coming in credit again, and
therefore in despair choosing rather to die than to live! In this special
case even the magistrates, usually so passionately determined that all the
accused should be found guilty and suffer death, even they seem to have
sought her release, and to have refused the evidence of her confession as
long as they could; but the times were not sufficiently enlightened for
them to refuse it altogether; and so she gained the fiery goal whither her
anguish and despair impelled her.


In 1649, John Kinnaird, the witch-finder, made deposition that he had
"pricked" Patrik Watson, of West Fenton, and Manie Haliburton, his spouse,
and that he had found the devil's mark on Patrik's back a little under the
point of his left shoulder, and on Manie's neck a little above her left
shoulder; of which marks they were not sensible (had no feeling in them),
neither came there any blood when pricked. So Manie, seeing that the scent
was hot and the game up, made confession, and saved further trouble. She
said that eighteen years ago, the devil had come to her in likeness of a
man, calling himself a physician, saying that he had good salves, and
specially oylispek (oil of spike or spikenard), wherewith he would cure
her daughter, then sick. So she bought some of his salves, and gave him
two English shillings for her bargain, forbye bread and milk and a pint of
ale. In eight days' time he came again, and stayed all night; and the next
morning, Patrik being "forth" and Manie yet in bed, she became more
intimately acquainted with the devil than an honest woman should. We do
not read that Manie was tortured, and, considering that it was not an
unusual thing to keep suspected witches twenty-eight days and nights on
bread and water, they being stripped stark naked, with only a haircloth
over them, and laid on a cold stone, or to put them into hair-shirts
steeped in vinegar, so that the skin might be pulled from off them, we
feel that poor Manie got off pretty well with only cremation as the result
of her mad confessions.

But one of the most extraordinary things of all was that wonderful bit of
knavery and credulity called


when Master Tom Campbell set the whole country in a flame, and brought no
end of notice and sympathy upon his house and family. In 1654 one Gilbert
Campbell was a weaver in Glenluce, a small village not far from Newton
Stewart. Tom, his eldest son, and the most important personage in the
drama, was a student at Glasgow College; and there was a certain old
blaspheming beggar, called Andrew Agnew--afterwards hanged at Dumfries for
his atheism, having said, in the hearing of credible witnesses, that
"there was no God but salt, meal, and water"--who every now and then came
to Glenluce to ask alms. One day old Andrew visited the Campbells as
usual, but got nothing; at which he cursed and swore roundly, and
forthwith sent a devil to haunt the house, for it was soon after this
refusal that the stirs began, and the connection was too apparent to be
denied. For what could they be but the malice of the devil sent by old
Andrew in revenge? Young Tom Campbell was the worst beset of all, the
demon perpetually whistling and rioting about him, and playing him all
sorts of diabolical and malevolent tricks. Once, too, Jennet, the young
daughter, going to the well, heard a whistling behind her like that
produced by "the small slender glass whistles of children," and a voice
like the damsel's, saying, "I'll cast thee, Jennet, into the well! I'll
cast thee, Jennet, into the well!" About the middle of November, when the
days were dark and the nights long, things got very bad. The foul fiend
threw stones in at the doors and windows, and down the chimney head; cut
the warp and threads of Campbell's loom; slit the family coats and bonnets
and hose and shoon into ribbons; pulled off the bed-clothes from the
sleeping children, and left them cold and naked, besides administering
sounding slaps on those parts of their little round rosy persons usually
held sacred to the sacrifices of the rod; opened chests and trunks, and
strewed the contents over the floor; knocked everything about, and
ill-treated bairn and brother; and, in fact, persecuted the whole family
in the most merciless manner. The weaver sent his children away, thinking
their lives but barely safe, and _in their absence there were no assaults
whatever_--a thing to be specially noted. But on the minister's
representing to him that he had done a grievous sin in thus withdrawing
them from God's punishments, they were brought back again in contrition.
Only Tom was left behind, and nothing ensued until Tom appeared; but
unlucky Tom brought back the devil with him, and then there was no more
peace to be had.

On the Sunday following Master Tom's return, the house was set on
fire--the devil's doing: but the neighbours put the flames out again
before much damage had ensued. Monday was spent in prayer; but on Tuesday
the place was again set on fire, to be again saved by the neighbours'
help. The weaver, in much trouble, went to the minister, and besought him
to take back that unlucky Tom, whom the devil so cruelly followed and
molested; which request he, after a time, "condescended to," though
assuring the weaver that he would find himself deceived if he thought
that the devil would quit with the boy. And so it proved; for Tom, having
now indoctrinated some of his juniors with the same amount of mechanics
and legerdemain as he himself possessed, managed that they should be still
sore troubled--the demon cutting their clothes, throwing peats down the
chimney, pulling off turf and "feal" from the roof and walls, stealing
their coats, pricking their poor bodies with pins, and raising such a
clamour that there was no peace or rest to be had.

The case was becoming serious. Glenluce objected to be made the
head-quarters of the devil; and the ministers convened a solemn meeting
for fast and humiliation; the upshot of which was that weaver Campbell was
led to take back his unlucky Tom, with the devil or without him. For this
was the point at issue in the beginning; the motive of which is not hard
to be discovered. Whereupon Tom returned; but as he crossed the threshold
he heard a voice "forbidding him to enter that house, or any other place
where his father's calling was exercised." Was Tom, the Glasgow student,
afraid of being made a weaver, consent or none demanded? In spite of the
warning voice he valiantly entered, and his persecutions began at once. Of
course they did. They were tremendous, unheard of, barbarous; in fact, so
bad that he was forced to return once more for a time to the minister's
house; but his imitator or disciple left behind carried on business in his
absence. On Monday, the 12th day of February, the demon began to speak to
the family, who, nothing afraid, answered quite cheerily: so they and the
devil had long confidential chats together, to the great improvement of
mind and morals. The ministers, hearing of this, convened again, and met
at weaver Campbell's, to see what they could do. As soon as they entered,
Satan began: "Quum literatum is good Latin," quoth he. These were the
first words of the Latin rudiments, as taught in the grammar-school. Tom's
classical knowledge was coming into play.

After a while he cried out, "A dog! a dog!" The minister, thinking he was
alluded to, answered, "He thought it no evil to be reviled of him;" to
which Satan replied civilly, "It was not you, sir, I spoke to: I meant the
dog there;" for there was a dog standing behind backs. They then went to
prayer, during which time Tom--or the devil--remained reverently silent;
his education being not yet carried out to the point of scoffing.
Immediately after prayer was ended, a counterfeit voice cried out, "Would
you know the witches of Glenluce? I will tell of them," naming four or
five persons of indifferent repute, but one of whom was dead. The weaver
told the devil this, thinking to have caught him tripping; but the foul
fiend answered promptly, "It is true she is dead long ago, but her spirit
is living with us in the world."

The minister replied, saying, "Though it was not convenient to speak to
such an excommunicated and intercommuned person, 'the Lord rebuke thee,
Satan, and put thee to silence. We are not to receive information from
thee, whatsoever fame any person goes under. Thou art seeking but to
seduce this family, for Satan's kingdom is not divided against itself.'"
After which little sparring there was prayer again; so Tom did not take
much by this move.

All the while the young Glasgow student was very hardly holden, so that
there was more prayer on his special behalf. The devil then said, on their
rising, "Give me a spade and a shovel, and depart from the house for
seven days, and I will make a grave and lie down in it, and shall trouble
you no more."

The good man Campbell answered, "Not so much as a straw shall be given
thee, through God's assistance, even though that would do it. God shall
remove thee in due time." Satan cried out, impudently, "I shall not remove
for you. I have my commission from Christ to tarry and vex this family."
Says the minister, coming to the weaver's assistance, "A permission thou
hast, indeed; but God will stop it in due time." Says the demon,
respectfully, "I have, sir, a commission which perhaps will last longer
than yours." And the minister died in the December of that year, says
Sinclair. Furthermore, the demon said he had given Tom his commission to
keep. Interrogated, that young gentleman replied in an off-hand way, that
"he had had something put into his pocket, but it did not tarry." They
then began to search about for the foul fiend, and one gentleman said, "We
think this voice speaks out of the children." The foul fiend, very angry
at this--or Master Tom frightened--cries out, "You lie! God shall judge
you for your lying; and I and my father will come and fetch you to hell
with warlock thieves." So the devil discharged (forbade) the gentleman to
speak anything, saying, "Let him that hath a commission speak (meaning the
minister), for he is the servant of God." The minister then had a little
religious controversy with the devil, who answered at last, simply, "I
knew not these scriptures till my father taught me them." Nothing of all
this disturbing the easy faith of the audience, they, through the
minister, whom alone he would obey, conjured him to tell them who he was;
whereupon he said that he was an evil spirit come from the bottomless pit
of hell, to vex this house, and that Satan was his father. And then there
appeared a naked hand, and an arm from the elbow downward, beating on the
floor till the house did shake again, and a loud and fearful crying, "Come
up, father! come up, father! I will send my father among ye! See! there he
is behind your backs!"

Says the minister, "I saw, indeed, a hand and an arm, when the stroke was
given and heard."

Says the devil, "Saw ye that? It was not my hand, it was my father's; my
hand is more black in the loof."

"Oh!" said Gilbert Campbell, in an ecstacy, "that I might see thee as well
as I hear thee!"

"Would ye see me?" says the foul thief. "Put out the candle, and I shall
come but[45] the house among you like fire-balls; I shall let ye see me

Alexander Bailie of Dunraget said to the minister, "Let us go ben,[46] and
see if there is any hand to be seen." But the demon exclaimed, "No! let
him (the minister) come ben alone: he is a good honest man: his single
word may be believed." He then abused Mr. Robert Hay, a very honest
gentleman, very ill with his tongue, calling him witch and warlock: and a
little while after, cried out, "A witch! a witch! there's a witch sitting
upon the ruist! take her away." He meant that there was a hen sitting on
one of the rafters. They then went to prayer again, and, when ended, the
devil cried out, "If the good man's son's prayers at the College of
Glasgow did not prevail with God, my father and I had wrought a mischief
here ere now." Ah, Master Tom, did you then know so much of prayer and the
inclining of the counsels of God?

Alexander Bailie said, "Well, I see you acknowledge a God, and that
prayer prevails with him, and therefore we must pray to God, and commit
the event to him." To whom the devil replied, having an evident spite
against Alexander Bailie, "Yea, sir, you speak of prayer, with your
broad-lipped hat" (for the gentleman had lately gotten a hat in the
fashion with broad lips); "I'll bring a pair of shears from my father's
which shall clip the lips of it a little." And Alexander Bailie presently
heard a pair of shears go clipping round his hat, "which he lifted, to see
if the foul thief had meddled with it."

Then the fiend fell to prophesying. "Tom was to be a merchant, Bob a
smith, John a minister, and Hugh a lawyer," all of which came to pass.
Turning to Jennet, the good man's daughter, he cried, "Jennet Campbell,
Jennet Campbell, wilt thou cast me thy belt?"

Quoth she, "What a widdy would thou do with my belt?"

"I would fain," says he, "fasten my loose bones together."

A younger daughter was sitting "busking her puppies" (dressing her
puppets, dolls), as young girls are used to do. He threatens to "ding out
her harns," that is, to brain her; but says she quietly, "No, if God be to
the fore," and so falls to her work again. The good wife having brought
out some bread, was breaking it, so that every one of the company should
have a piece. Cries he, "Grissel Wyllie! Grissel Wyllie! give me a piece
of that haver bread. I have gotten nothing this day but a bit from
Marritt," that is, as they speak in the country, Margaret. The minister
said to them all, "Beware of that! for it is sacrificing to the devil!"
Marritt was then called, and inquired if she had given the foul fiend any
of her haver bread. "No," says she; "but when I was eating my due piece
this morning, something came and clicked it out of my hands."

The evening had now come, and the company prepared to depart; the
minister, and the minister's wife, Alexander Bailie of Dunraget, with his
broad-lipped hat, and the rest. But the devil cried out in a kind of

"Let not the minister go! I shall burn the house if he goes." Weaver
Campbell, desperately frightened, besought the minister to stay; and he,
not willing to see them come to mischief, at last consented. As he turned
back into the house, the devil gave a great gaff of laughing, saying,
"Now, sir! you have done my bidding!" which was unhandsome of Tom--very.

"Not thine, but in obedience to God, have I returned to bear this man
company whom thou dost afflict," says the minister, nowise discomposed,
and not disdaining to argue matters clearly with the devil.

Then the minister "discharged" all from speaking to the demon, saying,
"that when it spoke to them they must only kneel and pray to God." This
did not suit the demon at all. He roared mightily, and cried, "What! will
ye not speak to me? I shall strike the bairns, and do all manner of
mischief!" No answer was returned; and again the children were slapped and
beaten on their rosy parts--where children are accustomed to be whipped.
After a while this ended too, and then the fiend called out to the
good-wife, "Grissel, put out the candle!"

"Shall I do it?" says she to the minister's wife.

"No," says that discreet person, "for then you shall obey the devil."

Upon which the devil shouted, with a louder voice, "Put out the candle!"
No one obeyed, and the candle continued burning. "Put out the candle, I
say!" cries he, more terribly than before. Grissel, not caring to continue
the uproar, put it out. "And now," says he, "I will trouble you no more
this night." For by this time I should suppose that Master Tom was sleepy,
and tired, and hoarse.

Once again the ministers and gentlemen met for prayer and exorcism; when
it is to be presumed that Tom was not with them, for everything was quiet;
but soon after the stirs began again, and Tom and the rest were sore
molested. Gilbert Campbell made an appeal to the Synod of Presbyters, a
committee of whom appointed a special day of humiliation in February,
1656, for the freeing of the weaver's house from this affliction. In
consequence whereof, from April to August, the devil was perfectly quiet,
and the family lived together in peace. But after this the mischief broke
out again afresh. Perhaps Tom had come home from college, or his father
had renewed his talk of settling him firmly to his own trade: whatever the
cause, the effect was certain, the devil had come back to Glenluce.

One day, as the good-wife was standing by the fire, making the porridge
for the children, the demon came and snatched the "tree-plate," on which
was the oatmeal, out of her hand, and spilt all the meal. "Let me have the
tree-plate again," says Grissel Wyllie, very humbly; and it came flying
back to her. "It is like if she had sought the meal too she might have got
it, such is his civility when he is intreated," says Sinclair. But this
would have been rather beyond even Master Tom's power of legerdemain.
Things after this went very ill. The children were daily thrashed with
heavy staves, and every one in the family underwent much personal damage;
until, as a climax, on the eighteenth of September, the demon said he
would burn the house down, and did, in fact, set it on fire. But it was
put out again, before much damage was done.

After a time--probably by Tom's going away, or becoming afraid of being
found out--the devil was quieted and laid for ever; and Master Tom
employed his intellect and energies in other ways than terrifying his
father's family to death, and making stirs which went by the name of

This account is taken almost verbatim from an article of mine in "All the
Year Round;" and if a larger space has been given to this than to many
other stories, it is because there was more colouring, and more
distinctness in the drawing, than in anything else that I have read.
Though scarcely belonging to a book on witches, there is yet a hook and
eye, if a very slender one, in the fact that the old beggar, Andrew Agnew,
was hanged; and we may be sure that it was not only his atheism, but also
his naughty tricks with Satan, and his connection with the devil of
Glenluce, that helped to fit the hangman's rope round his neck. There are
many other stories of haunted houses, notably, Mr. Monpesson's at Tedworth
caused by the Demon Drummer, and the Woodstock Devil who harried the
Parliamentary Commissioners to within an inch of their lives, and others
to the full as interesting; but there is no hook and eye with
them--nothing by which they can be hung on to the sad string of witches,
or witchcraft murders. Baxter has two or three such stories; and the
curious in such matters will find a large amount of interesting matter in
the various works referred to at the foot of the pages; matter which could
not be introduced here, because of its not belonging strictly to the
subject in hand. I do not think that any candid or unprejudiced person
will fail in seeing the dark shadow of fraud and deceit flung over every
such account remaining. The importance of which, to me, is the evident and
distinct likeness between these stories and the marvels going on now in
modern society.


Steadily went on these appalling judicial crimes. In February, 1658, two
women and a man were in the Tolbooth at Edinburgh, imprisoned on the
charge of witchcraft. One of the women died in prison, the other, Jonet
Anderson,[47] confessed that before her marriage, which had been only
three months ago, she had given herself up body and soul to the devil, and
that when she was married she had seen him standing by the pulpit. She was
kept only so long as was necessary to prove her not pregnant, and then was
executed, fully repentant. In August four women, "ane of them a maiden,"
were burnt on the Castle Hill in ghastly company; and soon after five more
from Dunbar; and then again nine from Tranent, all confessing. These
seemed to have stayed the appetite of the magistrates for a time, as we
come across no more until 1661, when a painful collection of lies,
slanders, and confessions again harrow up every feeling, and outrage every
reasoning faculty.

Jonet Watson was one of the first to make her confession. She said that in
April last, bypast or thereby, she being at the burial of Lady Dalhousie,
a rix dollar was given to Jean Bughane, to be divided among a certain
number of poor folk, whereof she was one. But Jean ran away with the
money, so poor Jonet got none of it: whereat being very grieved and angry,
when she came to her own house she wished to be revenged on Jean, and at
the wish appeared the devil in the likeness of a pretty boy in green
clothes, and asked: "what ailed her, and what revenge would she have?" He
then gave her his mark and left her under the form of a black dog, and for
three days after she had a gnat constantly with her, and one morning when
she was changing her linen it sat down upon her shoulder, where she had
one of her marks. Also about the time of last Baal-fyre night (the
beginning of May) she was at a meeting in Newton-dein, where was the devil
dressed in green clothes, with a black hat on his head. And here she
denied Christ, and took upon herself to be his servant, he laying his hand
on her head, and receiving from her "all that was under his hand," when he
gave her the name of "weill-dancing Jonet," and she and a few more danced
like Tam o' Shanter's hags, and probably tired the devil out.

Beatrice Leslie[48] was a witch too, and Agnes, wife of William Young,
gave her some wholesome advice and honest reproof on the matter, whereby
Beatrice was offended, and gave her a terrible look; and that very night
William Young awakened out of his sleep all in terror and dismay, crying
out that Beatrice, with a number of cats, was devouring him. Beatrice had
a cat which two coal-heaving damsels killed by letting some coals fall on
it, afterwards adding to their offence by throwing away her coal-basket.
So Beatrice cursed them, and told them "they should see an ill sight
before eight days were past:" as it fell out, for according to her
threatening they were both killed in the coal-pit, though no one else was
hurt; and when she was brought to see and touch the corpses, the one bled
at the nose and the other at the ear, thus proving her guilt beyond the
possibility of denial. Also she helped Alexander Wilson's wife in
child-bed, by cantrips and unholy sleights; sticking a bare knife betwixt
the bed and the straw, sprinkling salt about the bed, and saying, "Lord,
let never ane worse wight waken thee, nor hes laid thee downe," with other
villanies, unwholesome to honest folk; so Beatrice Leslie saw the sun for
the last time between the cord and the flames.


Christian Wilson, _alias_ the Lanthorne, which name she had gotten from
the devil at the time of her baptism, was too famous in her generation.
She lived near her brother Alexander, and there was notorious ill blood
between them, perhaps because of her notorious evil proceedings. One
evening Alexander was found dead in his own house, naked, with his face
torn and cut, but without a spot of blood anywhere. Yet a "greate lumpe of
fleisch" had been cut out of his cheek more cleanly than any ordinary
razor could have cut either flesh or cheese. Christian bore herself
strangely. She expressed no sorrow, perhaps because she felt none, and
absolutely refused to see or touch the corpse according to the fashion of
the honest and the orthodox of the time. This refusal did her much harm in
men's minds, for was it not very evident that she was afraid of the
bier-law, or bahr-recht, which, in 1661, when all this took place, was
such a useful agent of the police, and helped so powerfully to the
discovery of murder? The bailies and ministers heard the rumours affecting
her, and commanded her to be brought into the house to touch the corpse,
as the rest had done. "She came trembling all the way to the house, but
she refused to come nigh the corpse, or to touch it, saying that 'she
never touched a dead corpse in her life.'" The neighbours did not allow of
her plea, and dragged her to the murdered man, that she might touch it
softly. She went forward to do so. "But before shoe did it, the Sone being
shyning in at the howse, shoe exprest herselfe thus, humbly desyring that,
'as the Lord made the Sone to shine and give light into that howse, that
also he would give light to discovering of that murder!' And with these
words shoe tuitching the wound of the dead man verie softlie, it being
whyte and cleane, without any spot of blood or the lyke, yet immediately,
while her fingers was upon it, the blood rushed owt of it, to the greate
admiratioune of all the behoulders, who tooke it for discoverie of the
murder according to her own prayers." Another charge, no less grave than
that of murder, was, that William Richardson, having felled one of her
hens with a stone, she frowned on him threateningly, and said he should
never throw another stone. And he never did; for immediately he fell into
ane "franicie" and madness, took to his bed, and died in a few days, all
the time of his sickness crying out against Cristiane Wilson, who, he
said, was tormenting him in the likeness of a grey cat. After his death
his nephew teased the witch by calling her "The Lanthorne," which every
one knew to be her devil-name; but Cristiane threatened him, and said that
"if he did not hold his peace she would make him die by the same death as
his uncle," which was proof sufficient of the truth of the grey cat and
her guilty sorcery. This was the same Cristiane Wilson who, when she was
being carried off to Nidrie, there to be confronted with another witch,
was suddenly lifted off the pillion by a furious blast of wind, which she
got the devil to raise in the hope of her rescue. But though she was blown
into the stream, she swam lightly as a witch should and as only a witch
could, and her jailers fished her out again, to secure her better for the
future. As the sky was cloudless when the blast arose, and as no storm
followed after, there was no possibility of doubting the Satanic origin of
that mighty puff of wind. Besides, did not Jennot Cock, another confessing
witch, say to John Stevin, when he told her that Cristiane was to be
carried to Nidrie to-morrow, "Will not yow think it a sport, if the
deivill raise a whirrell of wind, and tak her away from among yow by the
gette (way) to-morrow?" This and that together made the thing certain; and
the fall of the poor wretch was included in the dittay as one of the
counts against her, proving her witchcraft.

Witch-finding now increased rapidly in Scotland. No fewer than fourteen
special commissions were issued for the sole purpose of trying witches for
the sederunt of November the 7th, 1661; and on the 23rd of January, 1662,
fourteen more were made out. It was the popular amusement of the day, and
no one or two men then living could have turned the tide in favour of
these poor persecuted creatures. Even Sir George Mackenzie, that "noble
wit of Scotland," failed to make any reasonable impression on the besotted
public, though his pleadings and writings got him into immense disfavour
with the religious part of the community, and caused him to be ranked as
an atheist and Sadducee, and classed with the Pilates and Judases of
history. Though it had been the Bull of Pope Innocent VIII. in 1484,
which had first stirred up the zeal of the godly against witchcraft, and
written that terrible text, "Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live," in
still more terrible characters of blood and suffering, yet Calvinistic
Scotland soon outstripped even the superstitious Papacy in her frantic
piety, and poured out a sea of innocent blood which will stain her pages
with an ineffaceable stain, for ever and for ever. Yet she was nearly a
hundred years behind Rome in her zeal, for it was not till June, 1563,
that she made the subject matter for legislation at all, and then the
Estates[50] enacted "that 'nae person take upon hand to use any manner of
witchcrafts, sorcery, or necromancy, nor give themselves furth to have ony
sic craft or knowledge thereof therethrough abusing the people;' also,
that 'nae person seek ony help, response, or consultation, at ony sic
users or abusers of witchcrafts ... under pain of death.' This is the
statute under which all the subsequent witch trials took place." But bad
as it was under the Presbyterians and the Elders, it is true that under
the Restoration the witch persecutions in Scotland were even more
excessive than during the reign of the Covenanters, and that the return of
Charles II. brought satisfaction and pleasure to the younger women only of
his dominions, but nothing save torture to the old, the poor, and the
despised. Ray says that about a hundred and twenty witches suffered in the
year 1661, the year after the Restoration had brought joy and gladness to
all loyal hearts; so that it mattered little whether Puritan or Cavalier,
Presbyterian or Episcopalian, had the upper hand. Superstition was the
greatest lord of all, and a slavish adherence to a few words fettered men
down hopelessly to ignorance and wickedness.

At this time (1661) John Kincaid and John Dick were the most notorious
prickers; and they let no one escape whom they had the chance of hurting.
One John Hay, an old man of sixty, and of untarnished reputation, fell
into Dick's hands, accused of sorcery by "a distracted woman," whose words
were not worth the wind that wafted them. But Dick shaved him, and pricked
him, and tortured him in all allowable ways, then sent him off to
Edinburgh, two hundred miles away, to be locked up in the Tolbooth,
pending further proceedings. The case against him was too slight for even
those times to entertain, and he was liberated on his own petition, and a
few testimonials: but John Dick was not reproved, nor was his zeal thought
extreme or passionate.


Margaret Bryson[51] quarrelled with her husband about the selling of a
cow; she went to the house-door, "and there did imprecate that God or the
devil might take her from her husband;" which naturally ended in the
devil's appearing and forcing her into the covenant with him that had its
final expression at the stake.

Margaret Hutchison was a witch, too. She laid on Henry Balfour the pains
of a child-bed woman, and caused such a universal swelling of his body
that he died thereof; and she threatened John Boost for calling her a
witch, and threw a piece of raw flesh against his house, which the very
dogs and cats would not eat; and she sent a plague of cats to John Bell's
house, and tormented him and his wife by appearing at their hearth-side at
night, combing her hair: so Margaret Hutchison was no better than she
should be, and the world was well rid of her.

Isabel Ramsey for her part was convicted of taking sixpence from the
devil, and entering into a long chat with him upon sundry local matters;
and, indeed, she herself confessed that he gave her a dollar, which turned
into a sklaitt stane: for nothing that the devil did for these witches
ever turned to good, so that one is more surprised at their stupidity than
offended by their guilt.

Jennet Cock[52] had an ill name, past all forbearance or overlooking. She
was never easy unless she was after some evil, and the world must
positively be quit of her. She bewitched William Scott's bonny bay horse,
worth pounds and pounds of money, and made him mad; and she told a brute
who beat her that he should live to be hanged, which not very unlikely
prediction was fulfilled; and she kept company with the devil on terms
that no honest woman should endure; and she and Jean Dickson, another
witch, cured a neighbour's child by cutting off a dog's head, with which
they played some devilish cantrip that healed the bairn; and she it was
who made that speech concerning Christiane Wilson and the gaff of wind; so
Jennet Cock was adjudged dangerous to be at large, and was put into
prison, there to await her trial. And she was tried, but, strange to say,
acquitted of the charges brought against her; she was not let loose
though, but kept still in durance till a fresh case could be completed
against her. Jennet Cock was rather notorious for her evil eye and power
of overlooking, and in her dittay is thus charged:--"There being an
outcast betwixt yow and Jeane Forrest, because schoe had called yow a
witch, yow came to the said Jeane, her landlord's house, where she was
with some nyghboures, desyreing to make aggriement betwixt yow. Ye
malitiouslie and bitterlie girneing and gnashing your teeth, and beating
your hands upon your knies, said, 'O them that called me a witch! O them
that called me a witch!' And at that tyme, the said Jeane Forrest, her
chylde being in good health, on the morne the chylde, by your sorceries
and witchcraft dyed; and the mother, at the chylde's departour, called out
with a loud voyce upone her nighbours, saying, 'Alace! that ever I had
adoe with that witch Janet Cock, for shoe has been at my bed syd all this
night standing, and I could not get red of her: and behold the fruit of
it--my chylde is dead!'" This deposition was made September 10, 1661, and
surely Jennet Cock never escaped the consequences of such a cantrip as

Marion Grinlaw[53] and Jean Howison, "the survivors of ten women and a man
who had been imprisoned at Musselburgh," petitioned the Council for their
release. "Some of the rest died of cold and hunger. They themselves had
lain in durance _forty weeks_, and were now in a state of extreme misery,
_although nothing could be brought against them_. Margaret Carvie and
Barbara Horniman, of Falkland, had in like manner been imprisoned at the
instance of the magistrates and parish minister, had lain six weeks in
jail, subjected to a great deal of torture by one who takes upon him the
trial of witches by pricking; and so great was their sufferings that life
was become a burden to them, notwithstanding that they declared their
innocence, and nothing to the contrary had been shown. The Council ordered
all these women to be liberated:" which was a marvellous outstep of
humanity, and one for which its previous acts could hardly have prepared
us. The next year it seems to have had a small side-blow of rationality.
It had become sensible of the vile inhumanity of John Kincaid, and threw
the wretch into prison, then issued a proclamation repudiating the seizure
of suspected persons, which had been made illegally, unauthorizedly, and
out of only envy and covetousness. Nevertheless, it took care to issue
twelve fresh commissions for trying witches, immediately after; being
chiefly anxious to keep all the business in its own hands, and shut the
door against any outside free lances. John Kincaid lay for nine weeks in
jail, then was liberated only on condition that he would prick no more
without warrant. He sent up a whining petition, setting forth that he was
an old man, and if confined longer might be brought to mortal sickness; so
to avert this terrible catastrophe, the old sinner had his liberty given
to him again: he ought to have had instead the doom of the murderer for


In the parish of Innerkip, on March 4, 1662, Marie Lamont, a "young Woman
of the adge of Eighteen Yeares," offered herself for voluntary confession.
She said that five years ago Kattrein Scot taught her to take kyes' milk.
She told her to go out in misty mornings with a hair rope (harrie
tedder), which she was to draw over the mouth of a mug, saying, "In God's
name, God send us milk, God sent it, and mickle of it." By which means she
and Kattrein got much of their neighbours' milk which they made into
butter and cheese. Also she said, that two years and a half since, the
devil came to them at Kattrein Scot's house, where many of them were
present, and gave them all wine to drink and wheat bread to eat, and they
danced and were very merry, the devil shaking hands with them, and she
delivering herself over to him in baptism. And at her baptism she was
given the name of "Clowts," and bid to call the devil "Serpent." Further,
"Shee confessed that at that sam tym the devil nipit her upon the right
syd, qlk was very painful for a tym, but yairefter he straikit it with his
hand, and healed it; this she confesses to be his mark." At a certain
meeting which she spoke of, when she and the rest went to raise storms to
hinder the Killing fishery, the devil came to them in the likeness of a
brown dog, but she and Kattrein were as cats, and in this form they ran
into Allan Orr's house and took a bite of a herring lying in a barrel.
They then put it back again, and Allan Orr's wife, afterwards finishing
the herring, took heavy disease, and died. The reason of this malicious
act was, that Allan Orr had put Margaret Holm (one of the cats) out of her
house, and this was the manner in which she chose to be
revenged--"threitening in wrath, that he and his wife sould not be long
together." Many other things did she confess: one of which was how the
devil once "convoyed her home in the dawing; and when shee was com near
the house wherein she was a servant, her master saw a waff of him as he
went away from her." Another time she and some other witches met at the
back gate of Ardgowand, where his Cloutieship appeared in the likeness of
a black man with cloven feet, directing them to take white sand and cast
it about the gates of Ardgowand, and about the minister's house; and while
they were about the business he turned them into the likeness of cats, by
shaking his hands above them. And at another time they went to cast the
longston into the sea, to cause storms and shipwrecks, and the devil
kissed them as they went away, apparently better pleased than ordinarily
with his Clowts and Kats. All these things did poor Marie Lamont, aged
eighteen, confess to the minister and Laird of Innerkip; and they, not
knowing the virtue of purgatives and port wine, nor understanding the
value of rest and silence, took the poor young soul at her word, and found
her guilty of all the crimes and follies with which a diseased body, and a
mind overset and charged, had prompted her to accuse herself.

And now we come to


and Isobell Gowdie's marvellous confessions: still in A.D. 1662. Isobell
was neither pricked nor tortured before she entered on her singular
history of circumstantial lies. She was probably a mere lunatic, whose
ravings ran in the popular groove, and who was not so much deceiving, as
self-deceived by insanity. The assize which tried her was composed of
highly respectable people, and she seems to have been only encouraged to
rave, not forced to lie. She began by stating that one day, fifteen years
ago, as she was going between "the towns" or farmsteads of Drumdewin and
the Heads, she met the devil, who spoke to her and invited her to meet him
that night at the parish church of Auldearne. She promised that she would,
and accordingly she went, and he baptized her by the name of "Janet," and
accepted her service. Margaret Brodie held her while she denied her
Christian baptism; and then the devil marked her on the shoulder, sucking
out the blood which he "spouted" into his hand, then sprinkled it on her
head, saying, "I baptize thee, Janet, in my own name!" But first he had
put one hand on the crown of her head, and the other on the soles of her
feet, while she made over to him all that lay betwixt, giving herself body
and soul into his keeping. He was in the Reader's desk while all this took
place, appearing as a "mickle, black, hairy man" reading out of a black
book; so Isobell was henceforth Janet in the witch world, and was one of
the most devoted of her covin; for they were divided into covins or bands,
she said, and placed under the leadership of proper officers. John Young
was the officer of her covin, and the number composing it was thirteen.
She and others of her band took Breadley's corn from off his land. They
took an unchristened child which they had raised out of its grave, parings
of their nails, ears of all sorts of grain, and cole-wort leaves, all
chopped very fine and small, and mixed up well together; and this charm
they buried on his land, whereby they got all the strength of his corn and
goods to themselves, and parted them among the covin. Another time they
yoked a plough of paddocks (toads). The devil held it, and John Young
drove it: it was drawn by toads instead of oxen, the traces were of
quickens (dog-grass), the coulter was a riglen's horn (ram's horn), so was
the sock; and they went two several times about the field, all the covin
following and praying to the devil to give them the fruit of that land,
and that only thistles and briars might grow on it for the master's use.
So Breadley had trouble enough to work his land, and when it was worked he
got no good out of it, but only weeds and thorns, while the covin made
their bread of his labour.

When asked how she and her sister witches managed to leave their husbands
o' nights, she said that, when it was their Sabbath nights, they used to
put besoms or three-legged stools in bed beside their husbands; so that if
these deluded men should wake before their return, they might believe they
had their wives safe as usual. The besoms and three-legged stools took the
right form of the women, and prevented a too early discovery. To go to
these Sabbaths they put a straw between their feet, crying "Horse and
Hattock in the Devil's name!" and then they would fly away, just as straws
in the wind. Any kind of straw would do, and they who saw them floating
about in the whirlwind, and did not sanctify themselves, could be shot
dead at the witches' pleasure, and their bodies remained with them as
horses, and small as straws.

These night meetings always ended with a supper; the Maiden of the Covin
being placed next to the devil, as he was partial to young, plump,
blooming witches, and did not care much for the "rigwoodie hags," save to
beat and belabour them. And after they had gotten their meat they would
say as a grace--

  "We eat this meat in the devil's name,
  With sorrow and _sich_ (sighs) and mickle shame;
  We shall destroy both house and hald;
  Both sheep and nolt intil the fauld,
  Little good shall come to the fore,
  Of all the rest of the little store."

And when supper was done, each witch would look steadily upon their
"grisly" president and say, bowing low, "We thank thee, our Lord, for
this!" But it was not much to thank him for in general; for the old adage
seems to have been pretty nearly kept to, and the cooks, at least, not to
speak of the meat, to be of the very lowest description. The poor witches
never got more from the devil than what they might have had at home; which
was one more added to the many proofs that the mind cannot travel beyond
its own sphere of knowledge, and that even hallucinations are bounded by
experience, and clairvoyance by the past actual vision.

Then Isobell went to the Downie Hills, to see the gude wichtis who had
wrought Bessie Dunlop and Alesoun Peirsoun such sad mishap. The hill side
opened and she went in. Here she got meat more than she could eat, which
was a rare thing for her to do in those days, and seemed to her one of the
most noticeable things of the visit. The Queen of Faerie was bravely
clothed in white linen, and white and brown clothes, but she was nothing
like the glorious creature who bewitched Thomas of Ercildoun with her
winsom looks and golden hair; and the king was a braw man, well favoured
and broad faced; just an ordinary man and woman of the better classes,
buxom, brave, and comely, as Isobell Gowdie and her like would naturally
take to be the ultimate perfection of humanity. But it was not all
sunshine and delight even in the hill of Faerie, for there were "elf
bullis rowting and skoylling" up and down, which frightened poor Isobell,
as well as her auditory: for here she was interrupted and bidden on
another track. She then went on to say that when they took away any cow's
milk they did so by twining and platting a rope the wrong way and in the
devil's name, drawing the tether in between the cow's hinder feet, and out
between her fore feet. The only way to get back the milk was to cut the
rope. When they took away the strength of any one's ale in favour of
themselves or others, they used to take a little quantity out of each
barrel, in the devil's name (they never forgot this formula), and then put
it into the ale they wished to strengthen; and no one had power to keep
their ale from them, save those who had well sanctified the brewing. Also
she and others made a clay picture of a little child, which was to
represent all the male children of the Laird of Parkis. John Taylor
brought home the clay in his "plaid newk" (corner), his wife brake it very
small like meal, and sifted it, and poured water in among it in the
devil's name, and worked it about like rye porridge ("vrought it werie
sore, lyk rye-bowt") and made it into a picture of the Laird of Parkis'
son. "It haid all the pairtis and merkis of a child, such as heid, eyes,
nose, handis, foot, mowth, and little lippes. It wanted no mark of a
child; and the handis of it folded down by its sydes." This precious
image, which was like a lump of dough or a skinned sucking pig, was put to
the fire till it shrivelled and became red as a coal; they put it to the
fire every other day, and by the wicked power enclosed in this charm all
the male children of the Laird of Parkis would suffer, unless it were
broken up. She and the rest went in and out their neighbours' houses,
sometimes as jackdaws, sometimes as hares, cats, &c., and ate and drank of
the best; and they took away the virtue of all things left "unsained;" and
each had their own powers. "Bot," said Isobell, sorrowfully, "now I haw no
power at all." In another confession she told all about her Covin. There
were thirteen in each, and every person had a nickname, and a spirit to
wait on her. She could not remember the names of all, but she gave what
she could. Swein clothed in grass green waited on Margaret Wilson, called
Pickle-nearest-the-wind: Rorie in yellow waited on Bessie Wilson, or
Throw-the-corn-yard: the Roaring Lion in seagreen waited on Isobell
Nichol, or Bessie Rule: Mak Hector, a young-like devil, clothed in grass
green, was appropriated by Jean Martin, daughter to Margaret Wilson
(Pickle-nearest-the-wind), the Maiden of the Covin and called
Over-the-Dyke-with-it; this name given to her because the devil always
takes the maiden in his hand next him, and when he would leap they both
cry out, "Over the dyke with it!" Robert the Rule in sad dun, a commander
of the spirits, waited on Margaret Brodie, Thief-of-hell-wait-upon-herself:
he waited also on Bessie Wilson, otherwise Throw-the-corn-yard: Isobell's
own spirit was the Red Riever, and he was ever clothed in black: the
eighth spirit was Robert the Jakes, aged, and clothed in dun, "ane glaiked
gowked spirit," and he waited on Bessie Hay, otherwise Able-and-Stout: the
ninth was Laing, serving Elspet Nishie, re-named Bessie Bauld; the tenth
was Thomas, a faerie:--but there Isobell's questioners stopped her, afraid
to hear aught of the "guide wychtis," who might be then among them,
injuring those who offended them to death. So no more information was
given of the spirits of the Covin. She then told them that to raise a wind
they took a rag of cloth which they wetted, then knocked on a stone with a
beetle (a flat piece of wood) saying thrice--

  "I knok this ragg wpon this stane,
  To raise the wind in the Divelle's name;
  It sall not lye, vntil I please againe!"

When the wind was to be laid, they dried the rag, and said thrice--

  "We lay the wind in the divellis name,
  It sall not rise quhill we lyk to raise it again!"

And if the wind would not cease the instant after they said this, they
called to their spirit: "Thieffe! thieffe! conjure the wind and caws it to
lye!" As for elf-arrow heads, the devil shapes them with his own hand, and
then delivers them to elf boys who sharpen and trim them with a thing like
a packing-needle: and when Isobell was in elf-land she saw the boys
sharpening and trimming them. Those who trimmed them, she said, are little
ones, hollow and hump-backed, and speak gruffly like. When the devil gave
the arrows to the witches he used to say--

  "Shoot these in my name,
  And they sall not goe heall hame."

And when the witches shoot them, which they do by "spanging" them from
their thumb nails, they say--

  "I shoot yon man in the devillis name,
  He sall nott win heall hame!
  And this salbe alswa trw,
  Thair sall not be an bitt of him on liew."[56]

Isobell had great talent for rhymes. She told the court how, when the
witches wanted to transform themselves into the shape of hare or cat, they
said thrice over--always thrice--

  "I sall goe intill ane haire,
  With sorrow, and sych, and mickle caire;
  And I sall goe in the divellis name,
  Ay whill I com hom againe."

Once Isobell said this rhyme, when Patrik Papley's servants were going to
labour. They had their dogs with them, and the dogs hunted her--she in the
form of a hare. Very hard pressed, and weary, she had just time to run to
her own house, get behind the chest, and repeat--

  "Hair, hair, God send thé caire,
  I am in a hairis likeness now,
  But I sall be a woman ewin now;
  Hair, hair, God send thé caire!"

Else the dogs would have worried her, and posterity have lost her
confessions. Many other doggrels did Isobell teach her judges; but they
were all of the same character as those already given: scanty rhymes in
the devil's name, when they were not actual paraphrases of the mass book.
Some were for healing and some for striking; some in the name of God and
all the saints, others in the devil's name, boldly and nakedly used; but
both equally damnable in the eyes of the judges, and equally worthy of
death. The elf-arrows spoken of before were of great use. The devil gave
them to his covin and they shot men and women dead, right and left.
Sometimes they missed, as when Isobell shot at the Laird of Park as he was
crossing the burn, and missed, for which Bessie Hay gave her a great cuff:
also Margaret Brodie, when she shot at Mr. Harie Forbes, the minister at
Auldearne, he being by the standing stanes; whereupon she asked if she
should shoot again, but the devil answered, "Not! for we wold nocht get
his lyf at that tym." Finding the elf-arrows useless against Mr. Harie
Forbes, they tried charms and incantations once when he was sick. They
made a bag, into which they put the flesh, entrails, and gall of a toad, a
hare's liver, barley grains, nail pairings, and bits of rag, steeping all
in water, while Satan stood over them, saying--and they repeating after

  "He is lying in his bed, and he is seik and sair,
  Let him lye in till that bedd monthes two and dayes thrie mair!
  He sall lye in till his bed, he salbe seik and sair,
  He sall lye in till his bedd, monthes two and dayes thrie mair!"

When they said these words they were all on their knees with their
hair about their shoulders and eyes, holding up their hands to
the devil, beseeching him to destroy Mr. Harry; and then it was
decided to go into his chamber and swing the bag over him. Bessie
Hay--Able-and-Stout--undertook this office, and she went to his room,
being intimate with him, the bag in her hands and her mind set on slaying
him by its means; but there were some worthy persons with him at the time,
so Bessie did no harm, only swung a few drops on him which did not kill
him. They had a hard taskmaster in the devil--Black Johnnie, as they used
to call him among themselves. But he used to overhear them, and would
suddenly appear in the midst of them, saying, "I ken weill anewgh what ye
wer saying of me," and then would beat and buffet them sore. He was always
beating them, specially if they were absent from any of the meetings, or
if they forgot anything he had told them to do. Alexander Elder was being
continually thrashed. He was very soft and could never defend himself in
the least, but would cry and scream when the devil scourged him. The women
had more pluck. Margaret Wilson--Pickle-nearest-the-wind--would defend
herself finely, throwing up her hands to keep the strokes from her; and
Bessie Wilson--Throw-the-corn-yard--"would speak crusty with her tongue
and would be belling against him soundly." He used to beat them all up and
down with scourges and sharp cords, they like naked ghosts crying, "Pity!
pity! mercy! mercy, our Lord!" But he would have neither pity nor mercy,
but would grin at them like a dog, and as if he would swallow them up. He
would give them most beautiful money, at least to look at; but in
four-and-twenty hours it would be all gone, or changed to mere dirt and
rubbish. The devil wore sometimes boots and sometimes shoes, but ever his
feet were cloven, and ever his colour black. This, with some small
variations, was the sum of what Isobell Gowdie confessed in her four
depositions taken between the 13th of April and 27th of May in the year of
grace 1662.

Janet Braidhead, spous to John Taylor, followed next. Her first
confession, made on the 14th of April, set forth how that she had known
nothing of witchcraft until her husband and his mother, Elspeth Nishie,
had taught her; her first lesson from them being the making of some
"drugs" which were to charm away the fruit and corn, and kill the cattle,
of one John Hay in the Mure. After that, she was taken to the kirk at
Auldearne, where her husband presented her for the devil's baptism and
marking, which were done in the usual manner. She also gave evidence of
the clay picture which was to destroy all the male children of the Laird
of Park; and she gave a long list of the frequenters of the Sabbaths,
including some of the most respectable inhabitants of the place; and in
many other things she confirmed Isobell Gowdie's depositions, specially in
all regarding the devil and the unequivocal nature of their connection
with him, which was put into plain and unmistakable language enough.

We are not told the ultimate fate of Isobell Gowdie and Janet Braidhead,
but they had confessed enough to burn half Scotland, and it is not likely
that they escaped the doom assigned to their order.


On the 4th of April, 1670, one Major Thomas Weir, an old man of seventy,
expiated his crimes on the Gallowlie of Edinburgh. A bad man, surely; a
canting, loose-lived hypocrite, who made his puritanism the cloak for his
secret crimes, serving sin with his body in daily and most detestable
service, while his lips spoke only of zeal to God and the soul's devoutest
exercise. Still, it was a terrible fate for nothing more heinous than an
unclean life; a purification by fire in truth, but not for the
sanctification of souls. Perhaps he would have got off altogether, had he
not been charged with witchcraft. Incest and the foulest vices were bad
enough, but witchcraft was worse. Yet no intelligible charge of sorcery
was brought against this man save the fact that he got the love of all
manner of women, poor and old though he was; and the testimony of a
frightened woman who gave a rambling account of shapes, and lights, and
women, all gathered down in Stinking-close, near to where the major lived;
all of which were, of course, phantoms, spectres, or devils, conjured up
by his magical and devilish arts. This, and the frantic saying of his poor
old sister, when she heard of his death, that if they had burnt his staff
they had destroyed his power, formed about the sum of the witchcraft
evidence against him. He was arrested on his own confession. Unable to
bear the weight of his secret vices, he gave himself up to the
authorities, who at first were disposed to think him mad, but who
afterwards, reporting him sane and collected enough, set him on his trial.
After he had once spoken he would say no more, would make no defence and
no further confession: he would not pray, he would not appeal to God. Like
a beast he had lived, like a beast he would die, and "since he was going
to the devil," he said, "he did not wish to anger him." He would have no
paltering with an outraged God by the way; so the fire and the faggot came
as the culmination of a life which in its mildest phase was infamous, but
which belonged to no lawful tribunal of man to punish.

If he died sullenly and in mute and dumb despair, his sister's anguish
found wild and desperate expression. She told her judges all about her
horrible life with him, and how he had been long given up to sorcery and
magic, as well as to things not now to be mentioned; and how his power lay
in that staff of his which had been burnt along with him. That thornwood
staff, with its crooked head and carved figures like satyrs running
through, seems to have heavily burdened the poor creature's mind, for she
told her judges that when she wished to plague her brother she would hide
it, and give it back to him only when he threatened to reveal her nameless
infamy if she did not restore it. On the morning of her execution she said
that she would expiate the most shameful life that had ever been lived by
dying the most shameful death; but no one knew exactly what she meant.
When she came to the place of execution--she was mercifully hung--she
began to talk wildly of the Broken Covenant, and exhort the people back to
their old faith, and then she attempted to throw off all her clothes that
she might die "naked and ashamed." This was the lowest depth of
degradation of which her crazed old brain could conceive, and was what she
meant in the morning when alluding to the manner of her death. The
executioner had to struggle mightily with her before he was able to
overmaster her, she smiting him on the cheek the while; but at last he
flung her "open-faced" on the ground, and threw some linen cloths over
her; but "her hands not being tyed when she was throwen over, she laboured
to recover hirselfe, and put in her head betwixt two of the steps of the
leather, and keiped that powster for a tyme, till she was put from itt."
It is curious to mark the little bit of sanity in all this mournful
lunacy, when the familiar things of life were spoken of. She had always
been a great spinner, and the fame now went abroad that the devil had
helped her in this. Asked if it was not so, she at the first denied
disdainfully; use only and industry, she said, had made her so deft at her
work, and the devil had done nothing for her; but afterwards she maundered
off into some nonsense about her yarn, and how her distaff was often found
full when she had left it empty; and how the weaver could never weave the
thread spun from this yarn, which, of course, was "devil's dust" of the
true kind. She was mad enough, the wretched being, and could not fail to
trip if stones were laid in her path. But her first instincts respecting
her every-day occupation were right, and are singularly illustrative of
some of the phenomena of madness, and of how intimately with one's life is
interwoven common sense, even in the fibres of a diseased brain. She said
further that she was persuaded "her mother was a witch, for the secretest
thing that either I myself or any of the family could do, when once a mark
appeared upon her brow, she could tell it them, though done at a great
distance! Being demanded what sort of a mark it was, she answered, 'I have
some such like mark myself when I please, on my forehead.' Whereupon she
offered to uncover her head for visible satisfaction; the minister
refusing to behold it, and forbidding any discovery, was earnestly
requested by some spectators to allow the freedom: he yielded. She put
back her head-dress, and, seeming to frown, there was an exact horse-shoe,
shaped for nails, in her wrinkles--terrible enough, I assure you, to the
stoutest beholder." Her further confessions were curious, involving, as
they did, a visit from a tall woman who had one child at her back and one
or two at her feet; and who came to her, wanting her to speak to the Queen
of Fairy, and to strike and do battle with the said queen on her behalf.
The next day came "ane little woman," with a piece of a tree, or the root
of some herb, and she told her that so long as she kept the same she
should do well, and should attain all she might desire. So she spun at her
yarn, and found more yarn on the "pirn" than she thought to find; which
frightened her. This took place when she "keeped a school at Dalkeith, and
teached childering." She also rambled on about a fiery chariot in which
she and her brother had paid visits, and of his mysterious visitors and
his thornwood staff; and when nothing more was to be got out of her she
was hung, and the world was all the cleaner for the loss of so much folly
and wickedness from out the general mass.


On the 14th of October, Sir George Maxwell, of Pollok, and his household
were much agitated and disturbed. He had been taken suddenly and
dangerously ill, with pains which read like the pains of pleurisy; and
though he got partially well, had still some awkward symptoms remaining. A
young deaf and dumb girl, of unknown origin, signified that "there is a
woman whose son has broke his fruit yeard that did prick him in the side."
This was found to mean that Jennet Mathie, relict of John Stewart,
under-miller in Schaw Mill, had formed a wax picture with pins in its
side, which "Dumby" said was to be found in her house in a hole behind the
fire, and which she further offered to bring to them at Pollok, provided
certain two of the men servants might accompany her to protect her. The
young daughters of Sir George did not believe the story, but the two
servants, Laurence Pollok and Andrew Martine, professed themselves
converts, and insisted on seeing the thing to an end. So they went to
Jennet's house, and into the kitchen, all standing on the floor near the
fire; "when little Dumby comes quickly by, slips her hand into a hole
behind the fire, and puts into Andrew Martine's hand, beneath his cloak, a
wax picture with two pins in it," that in the right side very long, and
that in the left shorter: which corresponded with the severity of the
laird's pains. The picture was brought to Sir George; so was Jennet
Mathie, who was apprehended on the spot and whom Sir George then sent to
prison. When questioned, she denied all knowledge of the picture or the
pins, and said it was the work of the dumb girl; but on its being shown
that her son Hugh had once robbed Sir George's orchard--which was what
Dumby meant by "broke his fruit yeard"--and that Sir George, when told
that he was no longer in Pollokland, but had gone to Darnlie, had said, "I
hope my fingers may be long enough to reach him in Darnlie"--these
circumstances were held quite sufficient evidence that the Stewart family
would do the laird all the mischief they could. The prosecution wanted no
stronger proof, and the affair went on.

Jennet was obstinate, and would confess nothing; upon which they searched
her and found the devil's mark. After this, Sir George got better for a
short space, but soon the pains returned, and then the dumb girl said that
John Stewart, Jennet's eldest son, had made another clay image, four days
since, and that it was now in his house beneath the bolster among the bed
straw. So she and the servants went there again, and sure enough they
found it; but as it was only lately made, it was soft and broke in their
hands. John said simply he did not know who had put it there; but he and
his young sister Annabel were apprehended: and the next day Annabel

She said, that on the 4th of January last past, while the clay picture was
being formed, a black gentleman had come into her mother's house,
accompanied by Bessie Weir, Marjorie Craig, Margaret Jackson, and her own
brother John. When confronted with John she wavered, but John was no
nearer release for that. He was searched, and many marks were found on
him; and when found the spell of silence was broken, and he confessed his
paction with the devil as openly as his sister, giving up as their
accomplices the same women as those she had named. Of these, Margaret
Jackson, aged fourscore or so, was the only one to confess; but as she
had many witch marks she could not hope for mercy, so might as well make a
clean breast of it at once. On the 17th of January a portion of clay was
found under Jennet Mathie's bolster, in her prison at Paisley. This time
it was a woman's portrait, for Sir George had recovered by now, and the
witches were against the whole family equally. On the 27th Annabel made a
fuller deposition. She said that last harvest the devil, as a black man,
had come to her mother's house, and required her, the deponent, to give
herself to him; promising that she should want for nothing good if she
did. She, being enticed by her mother and Bessie Weir, did as was
desired--putting one hand on the crown of her head, and another on the
soles of her feet, and giving over to him all that lay between; whereupon
her mother promised her a new coat, and the devil made her officer at
their several meetings. He gave her, too, such a nip on the arm that she
was sore for half an hour after, and gave her a new name--Annippy, or an
Ape according to Law. Her mother's devil-name was Lands-lady; Bessie Weir
was called Sopha; Marjorie Craig was Rigeru; Margaret Jackson Locas; John
Stewart, Jonas; and they were all present at the making of the clay image
which was to doom Sir George to death. They made it of clay, then bound it
on a spit and turned it before the fire, "Sopha" crying "Sir George
Maxwell! Sir George Maxwell!" which was repeated by them all. Another
time, she said, there was a meeting, when the devil was dressed in "black
cloathes and a blew band, and white hand cuffs, with hoggers on his feet,
and that his feet were cloven." The black man stuck the pins into the
picture, and his name was Ejoall, or J. Jewell. For the devil delighted in
giving himself various names, as when he caused himself to be called
Peter Drysdale, by Catherine Sands and Laurie Moir, and Peter Saleway by

John now followed suit. He confessed to his own baptism; to the hoggers on
the black man's legs, who had no shoes, and spoke in a voice hollow and
ghousty; to the making the clay image; and to his new name of Jonas. On
the 15th of February, 1677, John Stewart, Annabel Stewart, and Margaret
Jackson all adhered to these depositions, but Jennet and Bessie and
Margerie denied them. Jennet's feet were fixed in stocks, so that she
might not do violence to her own life: and one day her gaoler declared
that he had found her bolster, which the night before was laid at least
six yards from the stocks, now placed beneath her; the stocks being so
heavy that two of the strongest men in the country could hardly have
carried them six yards. He asked her "how she had win to the bolster," and
she answered that she had crept along the floor of the room, dragging the
stocks with her. Before the court she said that she had got one foot out
of the hole, and had drawn the stocks with her, "a thing altogether
impossible." Then John and Annabel exhorted their mother to confess,
reminding her of all the meetings which she had had with the devil in her
own house, and that "a summer's day would not be sufficient to relate what
passages had been between the devil and her." But Jennet Mathie was a
stern, brave, high-hearted Scotch woman, and would not seal her sorrow
with a lie. "Nothing could prevail with her obdured and hardened heart,"
so she and all, save young Annabel, were burnt; and when she was bound to
the stake, the spectators saw after a while a black, pitchy ball foam out
of her mouth, which, after the fire was kindled, grew to the size of a
walnut, and flew out into sparks like squibs. This was the devil leaving
her. As for Bessie Weir, or Sopha, the devil left her when she was
executed, in the form of a raven; for so he owned and dishonoured his
chosen ones.

"The dumbe girl, Jennet Douglas, now speaks well, and knows Latine, which
she never learned, and discovers things past!" says Sinclair. But she
still followed her old trade. She had mesmeric visions, and was evidently
a "sensitive;" and some of the people believed in her, as inspired and
divine, and some came, perhaps mockingly, to test her. But they generally
got the worst off, and were glad to leave her alone again. One woman came
and asked her "'how she came to the knowledge of so many things,' but the
young wench shifted her, by asking the woman's name. She told her name.
Says the other, 'Are there any other in Glasgow of that name?' 'No!' sayes
the woman. 'Then,' said the girle, 'you are a witch!' Says the other,
'Then are you a devil!' The girl answers 'The devil doth not reveal
witches; but I know you to be one, and I know your practices too.' On
which the poor woman ran away in great confusion;" as, indeed, she
might--such an accusation as this being quite sufficient to sign her
death-warrant. To another woman who came to see and question her, she said
the same thing; taking her arm, and showing the landlord a secret mark
which she told him the woman had got from the devil. "The poor woman much
ashamed ran home, and a little while after she came out and told her
neighbours that what Jennet Douglas had said of her was true, and
earnestly entreated that they might show so much to the magistrates, that
she might be apprehended, otherwise the devil says she will make me kill
myself." The neighbours were wise enough to think her mad, as she was, and
took her home; but the next day she was found drowned in the Clyde; fear
and despair had killed her before the stake-wood had had time to root and
ripen. The dumb girl herself was afterwards carried before the great
council at Edinburgh, imprisoned, scourged through the town, and then
banished to "some forraigne Plantation," whence she reappears no more to
vex her generation. God forgive her! She has passed long years ago to her
account, and may her guilty soul be saved, and all its burning
blood-stains cleansed and assoilzed!


The year after Sir George Maxwell's affair there was another case at
Haddington which gave full employment to the authorities. Margaret
Kirkwood, a woman of some means, hanged herself one Sunday morning during
church time. Her servant, Lizzie Mudie, who was at kirk like a good
Christian, suddenly called out, to the great disturbance of the
congregation. She began repeating all the numbers--one, two, three, four,
&c.--till she came to fifty-nine; then she stopped and cried, "The turn is
done!" When it was afterwards found that Margaret Kirkwood had hung
herself just about that moment, and that her age was fifty-nine, Lizzie
Mudie was taken up and searched. She was found a witch by her marks, and
soon after confessed, delating five women and one man as her accomplices.
But the five women and the one man were obstinate, and would not say that
they were guilty, though they were pricked and searched and marks found on
them. Lord Fountainhall was present at the searching of the man, and he
gives an account of it: "I did see the man's body searched and pricked in
two sundry places, one at the ribs and the other at his shoulder. He
seemed to find no pain, but no blood followed. The marks were blewish,
very small, and had no protuberancy above the skin. The pricker said there
were three sorts of witches' marks: the horn mark, it was very hard; the
breiff mark, it was very little; and the feeling mark, in which they had
sense and pain." "I remained very dissatisfied with this way of trial,"
says my Lord farther on, "as most fallacious; and the fellow could give me
no account of the principles of his art, but seemed to be a drunken,
foolish rogue." One of Lizzie Mudie's five victims was an old woman of
eighty, named Marion Phinn, who had always borne a good character, "never
being stained with the least ignominy, far less with the abominable crime
of witchcraft." But though she petitioned the council to free her on her
own caution, she was kept hand-fast and foot-bound in gaol, being far too
dangerous in the helplessness and feebleness of her eighty years to be let
out with the chance of bewitching mankind to death. This she could do, and
work all other miracles; but she could not help herself to sunlight and


In 1678 two old women of Prestonpans were burnt. They made a voluntary
confession, and accused a few more of their craft. These in their turn
accusing others, in a very short time seventeen unhappy creatures were
collected together, all charged with the sin of witchcraft, intercommuning
with the devil, voluntary transformation into ravens, cats, crows, &c.,
with all the other stock pieces of the hallucination. The judges seemed
inclined to favour them, and Sir John Clerk of Pennycuik, when desired to
sit on the commission appointed to try the seven given up by the parish of
Loanhead, declined, "alleging drily that he did not feel himself warlock
(that is, conjuror) enough to be judge upon such an inquisition." These
poor creatures had deep sleeps, during which no pinching would awake them;
but though the judges saw them when in these sleeps, and heard their
confessions as to where they had been and what they had been doing during
the time, they were regarded as diabolical trances, and dealt with
accordingly. Nine of the East Lothian women were burnt, and the "seven of
Loanhead were reserved for future procedure." Among the accused was one
Katherine Liddell, a strong-minded, stout-hearted, old widow, who feared
no man, spoke her mind freely, and had a body with nerves like cart ropes
and muscles of iron. The bailie of Prestonpans, John Rutherford, had
caused her to be seized in the late panic, and, though there was nothing
against her, he had her pricked in various parts of her body "to the great
effusion of her blood, and whereby her skin is raised and her body highly
swelled, and she is in danger of life." A drummer, two salt-makers, and
others, assisted him in this torture; for John Kincaid had found zealous
followers: and any man with a peculiar temperament, and a heart hardened
by superstition against suffering, might take on himself the office of
pricker to his own soul's satisfaction, and the torture and murder of his
fellow-creatures. Katherine Liddell, besides being actively tortured, was
kept without sleep for six days and nights, but the stout old woman would
confess nothing. On the contrary, she presented a petition to the
Council, charging John Rutherford and the rest with "defamation, false
imprisonment, and open and manifest oppression," and demanded vengeance
and restitution in loud and vigorous terms. The Council, unaccustomed to
this sort of thing, and used only to victims as tame as they were
considered powerful, soon released her, dropping her like hot iron, and
condemning Rutherford and his associates as too hasty and ill-advised:
then, somewhat further redeemed themselves by an unusual act of justice
and common sense, in sentencing David Cowan, "pricker"--the one who had
been the most active of her tormentors--to be confined during pleasure in
the Tolbooth.

Katherine Liddell did not do much good to her afflicted sisterhood, though
she had helped herself: for that same year, in August,[61] "the devil had
a great meeting of witches in Loudian, where, among others, was a warlock
who formerly had been admitted to the ministrie in the Presbyterian tymes,
and when the bishops came in conformed with them." This warlock minister
was Mr. Gideon Penman, minister of Crighton, and a man of notoriously
loose life; but whether he carried his defiance of good so far as to dance
with the hags at the Sabbath, and "beat up those that were slow," and
preach damnable doctrines and blasphemous travesties of the Christian
faith in the devil's services, or whether he was only an immoral
man--better out of the ministry than in it--remains for each reader's
private judgment to determine. Ten of the accused stoutly affirmed that
Mr. Gideon Penman was their devil's parson; but as he as stoutly denied
it, he was liberated on his own security, while nine out of the ten were
condemned to be strangled and burnt, which was done accordingly. They
gave some curious details, as, that, when they renounced their baptism and
gave themselves over to Satan by laying one hand on their head and the
other on their feet he kissed them, and that he was cold to the touch, and
his breath like a damp air; that he scourged them oft, and was a most
"wicked and barbarous master;" and that when he administered the sacrament
to them the bread was like wafers, and the drink like blood or black
moss-water: that he transformed them to the likeness of bees, and crows,
and ravens, when they flew about from place to place as he ordered.


On December 19, 1679, the parish of Borrowstonness was again in an uproar
concerning the evil doings of witches and wizards, the chief of whom was
Annaple Thomson, once a widow, but now a wife. She was charged with having
one day met the devil on her way between Linlithgow and Borrowstonness,
when he "in the lyknes of ane black man told yow that yow wis ane poore
puddled bodie, and had ane evill lyiff, and difficultie to win throw the
warld; and promised that iff ye wald followe him, and go alongst with him,
yow should never want, but have ane better lyiff; and abowt fyve wekes
therafter, the Devill appeired to yow, when yow wis goeing to the
coal-hill, about sevin o'clock in the morning. Having renewed his former
tentatiowne yow did condescend thereto, and declared yowrselff content to
follow him, and becwm his servant;"--which was bad of Annaple Thomson, and
sure to bring her to ineffectual grief. Then some others, men and women
both, were further informed of their misdeeds. They were told that "ye,
and each person of yow, wis at several mettings with the Devill in the
linkes of Borrowstownes, and in the howse of yow, Bessie Vickar, and ye
did eatt and drinke with the Devill, and with on another, and with witches
in hir howss in the nycht tyme; and the Devill and the said William Craw
browght the ale which ye drank, extending to about sevin gallons, from the
howss of Elisabeth Hamilton." So did the rest. Margaret Pringle, whose
right wrist the devil had grievously pained, "but having it twitched of
new againe, it immediatelie becam haill;" Margaret Hamilton, with whom the
devil had at sundry times "drank several choppens of ale with yow," when
they met at the town-well at Borrowstonness and talked together like two
old gossips; also, another Margaret Hamilton, relict of James Pullwart,
with whom the devil conversed in the likeness of a black man, but
afterwards removed from her as a dog--they all committed abominable sins
with the devil, and entertained him familiarly like any other cummer. And
were they not all at the meeting with the "Devill and other witches at the
croce of Murestaine," above Kinneil, upon "the threttin of October last,
where yow all danced, and the Devill acted the pyiper, and where yow
endevored to have destroyed Andrew Mitchell, sone to John Mitchell, elder
in Dean of Kinneil?" The case was considered clear enough for all rational
men in Borrowstonness; so Annabel Thomson, Margaret Pringle, the two
Margaret Hamiltons, William Craw, and Bessie Vickar, were "found guiltie
be ane assyse of the abominable cryme of Witchcraft," and were ordered to
be taken to the west end of Borrowstonness, "the ordinar place of
execution," betwixt two and four in the afternoon, and "there be wirried
at a steack till they be dead, and thereafter to have their bodies burnt
to ashes."


If bodies were safe after death, characters were not. Isabel Heriot was
maid of all work to the minister at Preston. "She was of a low Stature,
small and slender of Body, of a Black Complexion. Her Head stood somewhat
awry upon her Neck. She was of a droll and jeering Humour, and would have
spoken to Persons of Honour with great Confidence." After some short time
of service, her master the minister began to dislike her, because she was
not eager in her religious duties; so he discharged her: and in 1680 she
died--and "about the time of her death her face became extreamly black."
Two or three nights after her burial, one Isabel Murray saw her, in her
white grave-clothes, walk from the chapel to the minister's louping-on
stone (horse-block). Here she halted, leaning her elbow on the stone, then
went in at the back gate, and so towards the stable. A few nights after
this stones were flung at the minister's house, over the roof, and in at
the doors and windows; but they fell softly for the most part, and did no
especial damage. Yet one night, just as the minister was coming in at the
hall door, a great stone was flung after him, which hit the door very
smartly and marked it. Isabel Murray was also hit with stones, and the
serving-man who looked to the horses was gripped at the heel by something
which made him cry out lustily. So it went on. Stones and clods, and
lighted coals, and even an old horse-comb long since lost, were
perpetually flying about, and only by severe prayer was the minister able
to lay the devil who molested them.

Soon Isabel Murray reappeared with a fresh set of circumstances concerning
the ghost of her namesake Isabel Heriot, the maid of all work. She said
that as she was coming from church between sermons, to visit her house and
kailyard for fear some vagrant cows might have got over the dyke--which
were very likely of the true Maclarty type--on going down her own yard,
which was next to the minister's, she saw again the apparition of Isabel
Heriot, as she was when laid in her coffin. "Never was an egg liker to
another than this Apparition was like to her, as to her Face, her Stature,
her Motion, her Tongue, and Behaviour; her face was black like the mouten
soot, the very colour which her face had when she died." The ghost was
walking under the fruit-trees, and over the beds where the seeds had been
sown, bending her body downwards, as if she had been seeking somewhat off
the ground, and saying, "A stane! a stane!" Her lap was full of stones; as
some people supposed the stones she cast in the night-time; and these
stones she threw down, as if to harbour them, at a bush-root in the
garden. Isobel Murray, nothing daunted, goes up to her.

"Wow!" says she, "what's thou doing here, Isabel Heriot? I charge thee by
the law thou lives on to tell me."

Says the ghost, "I am come again because I wronged my master when I was
his servant. For it was I that stealed his Shekel (this was a Jewish
shekel of gold which, with some other things, had been stolen from him
several years before), which I hid under the Hearthstone in the Kitching,
and then when I flited took it into the Cannongate, and did offer to sell
it to a French Woman who lodged where I served, who askt where I got it.
I told her I found it between Leith and Edinburgh." Then she went on to
make further confession. Having fyled herself for a thief she went on to
show how she had been also a witch. "One night," says the ghost, "I was
riding home late from the Town, and near the Head of Fanside Brae, the
Horse stumbled, and I said, The Devil raise thee; whereupon the Foul Thief
appeared presently to me, and threatened me, if I would not grant to
destroy my Master the Minister, he would throw me into a deep hole (which
I suppose is yet remaining); or if I could not get power over my master, I
should strive to destroy the Shoolmaster."

"It was very remarkable," says George Sinclair, as a kind of commentary,
"that one of the minister's servant-women had given to the schoolmaster's
servant-woman some Linnings to make clean, among which there was a Cross
cloth of strong Linning, which could never be found, though diligent
search was made for it, till one morning the Master awakening found it
bound round about his Night Cap, which bred admiration both to himself and
his Wife. No more skaith was the Devil or the Witches able to do him. What
way this was done, or for what end it cannot be well known: but it is
somewhat probable that they designed to strangle and destroy him in the
night time, which is their usual time in working and doing of mischief.
This happened about the time (I suppose) that the Devil had charged Isabel
Heriot to destroy this honest man. Yet within two days a young child of
his, of a year old, fell sick, which was quickly pulled away by death,
none knowing the cause or nature of the disease."

Isabel Murray went on to say, that furthermore the ghost confessed to
her, that she, Isabel Heriot, when in life, had met the devil a second
time at Elfiston Mill, near to Ormiston: and she told what foulness the
devil did to her. Also, one night as she was coming home from Haddington
Market with some horse-corn, she met the devil at Knock-hills, and he bade
her destroy Thomas Anderson, who was riding with her. When she refused he
threw all the horse-corn off the horse. "This Thomas Anderson was a
Christian man," and when Murray told her tale "well remembered that Isabel
had got up the next morning timeously," and brought home her oats which
had lain in the road all the night. She said too that she had cheated her
master whenever she went to the market to buy oats, charging him more than
they cost--not an unusual practice with servants at market anywhere; and
she told Isabel Murray that the stone cast at her was not for herself but
for her goodman, who had once flung her, the ghost, into the jawhole, and
abused her. At this point Murray said she began to be frightened, and ran
home in all haste. So Isabel Heriot's character was settled for ever, and
her neighbours only thought the judgment came too late.


William Barton, a loose-lived man of notoriously strong passions, was
apprehended for witchcraft. His confession included the not very frequent
Scottish element of a Succubus--a demon under the form of a beautiful
woman who beguiled him, and to whom he made himself over for love and
gold. She baptized him under the name of John Baptist, gave him her mark,
and fifteen pounds Scots in good gold as Tocher-money; and then they
parted. When he had gone but a little way she called him back and gave him
a mark to spend at the Ferry, desiring him to keep the fifteen pounds safe
and unbroken. At this point in his confession the poor wretch was weary,
and asked leave to go to sleep; which, for a wonderful stretch of
humanity, the judges granted. Suddenly he awakened with a loud laugh. The
magistrates asked why he laughed?--and he said that during his sleep the
devil had come to him, very angry at his confession, and bidding him deny
all when he awoke, "for he should be his Warrand." After this he became
"obdured," and would never confess anything again; the devil persuading
him that no man should take his life. And even when they told him that the
stake was set up and the fire built round, he only answered, "he cared not
for all that, for," said he, "I shal not die this day." How should he if
no man was to kill him? Upon this the executioner came into the prison,
but fell stone dead as he crossed the threshold. Hastily the magistrates
offered a reward to the executioner's wife if she would undertake her
husband's office, and strangle the poor mad fellow before he was burnt;
which she agreed to do, for all that she was in great pain and grief,
clapping her hands and crying, "Dool for this parting my dear burd Andrew
Martin!" When the warlock heard that a woman was to put him to death, he
fell into a passion of crying, saying that the devil had deceived him, and
"let no man ever trust his promises again!"

Barton's wife was imprisoned with him. On her side she declared that she
had never known her husband to be a warlock; he on his that he had never
known her to be a witch: but presently the mask fell off, and she
confessed. She said that malice against one of her neighbours had driven
her to give herself over to the devil, that he had baptized her by the
name of Margaratus, and taken her to be very near to him; a great deal too
near for even a virtuous woman's thoughts. When asked if she had found
pleasure in his society, she answered, "Never much." But one night, going
to a witches' dance upon Pentland Hills, he went before them all in the
likeness of a rough tanny dog, playing on a pair of pipes. The spring he
played, said she, was "The silly bit chicken, gar cast it a pickle, and it
will grow mickle;" and coming down the hill they had the best sport of
all: the devil carried the candle and his tail went, "ey wig wag, wig
wag!" Margaratus was burnt with her husband.


The Orkney and Shetland islanders were rich in witchcraft superstitions.
They had all the Norwegian beliefs in fullest, ripest quality, and held to
everything that had been handed down to them from Harald Harfagre and his
followers. Kelpies and trows, and brownies and trolls, which somehow or
other went out with taxation and agriculture, peopled every stream and
every meadow, and witches were as many as there were men who loved nature,
or women who had a faculty for healing and the instinct of making pets.
Somewhere about the middle of the seventeenth century a woman was adjudged
a witch because she was seen going from Hilswick to Brecon with a couple
of familiars in the form of black crows or corbies, which hopped on each
side of her, all the way. Which thing, not being in the honest nature of
these fowls to do, she was strangled and burnt. But most frequently the
imp took the form of a cat or dog; sometimes of a respectable human being;
as was the case about seventy years ago, when it was notorious that the
devil, as a good braw countryman, helped a warlock's wife to delve while
her husband was engaged at the Haaf. According to the same authority
too,[65] not longer ago than this time, when the devil dug like any navvy,
a woman of the parish of Dunrossness was known to have a deadly enmity
against a boat's crew that had set off from the Haaf. The day was
cloudless, but the woman was a witch, and storms were as easy for her to
raise as to blow a kiss from the hand. She took a wooden basin, called a
_cap_, and set it afloat in a tub of water; then, as if to disarm
suspicion, went about her household work, chanting softly to herself an
old Norse ditty. After she had sung a verse or two she sent her little
child to look at the tub, and see whether the cap was _whummilled_ (turned
upside down) or no. The child said the water was stirring but the bowl was
afloat. The woman went on singing a little louder; and presently sent the
child again to see how matters stood. This time the child said there was a
strange swell in the water, but the cap still floated. The woman then sang
more loud and fierce; and again she sent. The child came back saying the
waters were strangely troubled, and the cap was whummilled. Then she cried
out, "The turn is done!" and left off singing. On the same day came word
that a fishing yawl had been lost in the Roust, and all on board drowned.
The same story is told of some women in the island of Fetlar, who, when a
boat's crew had perished in the Bay of Funzie, were found sitting round a
well, muttering mysterious words over a wooden bowl supernaturally
agitated. The whole thing, as Hibbert says, forcibly reminds one of the
old Norse superstition of the Quern Song.

It was no unusual thing for men and women of otherwise peaceable and
cleanly life to tamper with the elements in those dim and distant days.
Even seventy years ago a man named John Sutherland of Papa Stour was in
the habit of getting a fair wind for weather-bound vessels: and the Knoll
of Kibister, in the island of Bressay, now called Luggie's Knowe,[66]
testifies by its name to the skill and sorrowful fate of a well-known
wizard of the seventeenth century. There on that steep hill used Luggie to
live, and in the stormiest weather managed somehow always to have his bit
of fresh fish: angling with the most perfect success, even when the boats
could not come into the bay. When out at sea Luggie had nothing to do but
cast out his lines to have as plentiful a dinner as he could desire. "He
would out of Neptune's lowest kitchen, bring cleverly up fish well-boiled
and roasted;" but strange and mischancy as the art was, his companions got
accustomed to it, "and would by a natural courage make a merry meal
thereof, not doubting who was cook." But Luggie's cleverness proved fatal
to him. Men were not even adept fishers in those days without danger, and
jealousy and fear helped to swell the reputation of his natural skill into
supernatural power: so he was tried for a sorcerer, and burnt at a stake
at Scalloway. We need hardly wonder at the fate of poor Luggie,
considering the times. If it were possible to hang two women on the 26th
of January, 1681--actually to hang them in the sight of God and this
loving pitiful human world, "for calling kings and bishops perjured bloody
men,"[67] we need not wonder to what lengths superstition in any of its
other forms was carried. We have made a stride since then, with
seven-leagued boots winged at the heels.

A family of bright young sons[68] lived on one of the Shetland islands. A
certain Norwegian lady had reason to think herself slighted by one of
them, and she swore she would have her revenge. The sons were about to
cross a voe or ferry; but one was to take his shelty, while the rest were
to go by the boat. Mysteriously the shelty was found to have been loosed
from its tether, and was gone; so all the heirs male of the race were
under the necessity of going by the boat across the voe. It was the close
of day---a mild windless evening: not a ripple was on the water, not a
cloud in the sky; and no one on either bank heard a cry or saw the waters
stir. But the youths never returned home. When they were searched for the
next day they could nowhere be found: only the boat drifting to the shore,
unharmed and unsteered. When the deed was done the shelty was brought back
to its tether as mysteriously as it had been taken away.

Trials and executions still went on; some at Dumfries, and some at
Coldingham[69] where Margaret Polwart was publicly rebuked for using
charms and incantations to recover her sick child whom "that thief
Christian Happer had wronged." But as a neighbour told her very wisely,
"They that chant cannot charm, or they that lay on cannot take off the
disease, or they that do wrong to any one, cannot recover them," so what
was the good of all her notorious cantrips with Jean Hart and Alison
Nisbet--the last of such evil fame that she had lately been scratched for
a witch--that is, had blood drawn above her breath? Margaret Polwart might
be thankful that she got off with only a rebuke for using charms in place
of drugs, and consorting with witches to undo witches' work. In 1696,
Janet Widdrow and Isobel Cochrane were brought to trial, but not burnt for
the present; but two poor creatures, M'Rorie and M'Quicken, did not
escape: nor some others, of no special dramatic interest.

And now we come to that marvellous piece of disease and imposture
combined, the notorious case of "Bargarran's Daughter."


Christian Shaw, Bargarran's daughter, was a little girl of about eleven
years of age, "of a lively character and well inclined." On the 17th of
August, 1696, she saw the woman servant, Katherine Campbell, steal a drink
of milk from the can, whereupon she threatened to tell her mother; but
Campbell, "being a young woman of a proud and revengeful temper, and much
addicted to cursing and swearing upon any light occasion," turned against
her vehemently, wishing "that the Devil might harle her soul through
hell," and cursing her with violent imprecations. Five days after this,
Agnes Naismith, an old woman of bad fame, came into the courtyard, and
asked Christian how old she was, and how she did, inquiring also after the
health of other members of the family. Christian gave her a pert answer,
and there the matter ended; but the next night the young girl was taken
with fits, and the first act of the long and mournful tragedy began. In
her fits she cried out against Katherine Campbell and Agnes Naismith,
saying they were cutting her side and otherwise tormenting her; then she
struggled as with an unseen enemy, and her body was, now bowed stiff and
rigid, resting in an arch on her head and her heels alone, and now shaken
with such a strange motion of rising and falling, as it had been a pair of
bellows; her tongue was drawn into her throat, and even the great Dr.
Brisbane of Glasgow himself was puzzled by what name to call her passion,
for she began to vomit strange things, which she said the witches, her
tormentors, forced upon her--such as crooked pins, small fowl bones,
sticks of candle fir, filthy hay, gravel stones, lumps of candle-grease,
and egg-shells. And still she cried out against Katherine Campbell and
Agnes Naismith; holding long conversations with the former, whom she
affirmed to be sitting close by when she was perhaps many miles away, and
arguing with her out of the Bible: exhorting her to repent of her sins
with more unction than logical clearness of reasoning. Agnes Naismith she
took somewhat into favour again; for the poor old woman, having been
brought by the parents into the chamber where she lay, and having prayed
for her a little simple prayer very heartily, the afflicted damsel
condescended to exempt her from further persecution for the moment, saying
that she was now her defender and did protect her from the fury of the
rest. For the crafty child had seen too well how her first venture had
sped not to venture on a broader cast. One day being in her fits she made
a grip with her hands as if to catch something, then exclaimed that J. P.
was then tormenting her, and that she had got a grip of his jerkin which
was "duddie" (tattered) at the elbows; and immediately her mother and
aunt heard the tearing of cloth, and the girl showed them in her hands two
pieces of red cloth newly torn, where never a bit of red cloth had been
before. Then she went off into a swoon or "swerf," and lay as if dead a
considerable time. These fits continued with more or less severity far
into the winter of the next year, and with ever new victims claimed by her
as her tormentors. Now it was Elizabeth Anderson; now James and Thomas
Lindsay--the latter a young lad of eleven, "the gley'd or squint-eyed
elf," as she called him; now "the scabbed-faced lass," who came to the
door to ask alms; and now the weary old Highland body, begging for a
night's lodging; then Alexander Anderson, father of Elizabeth; and Jean
Fulton, the grandmother; and then Margaret Lang--Pincht Margaret as she
was called--"a Name given her by the Devil, from a Pincht Cross cloath,
ordinarily worn on her Brow;" and her daughter, Martha Semple. Of the
twenty-one people accused by this wicked girl, Margaret Lang and her
daughter were the most remarkable--the one for her courage, her fine
character and powerful mind, the other for her youth, her beauty, and
child-like innocence of nature. When she heard that she was accused,
Margaret--who had been advised to get out of the way for a time, but who
had answered disdainfully, "Let them quake that dread and fear that need,
but I will not gang"--went up straight to Bargarran house, and passing
into the chamber where Christian lay, put her arms round her and spoke to
her soothingly, saying, "The Lord bless thee and ding the devil frae
thee!" She then asked her pointedly if she had ever seen her among her
tormentors?--to which the girl said. "No, but she had seen her daughter
Martha." Afterwards she retracted this admission and said that Margaret
had really afflicted her, but that she was under a spell when asked and
could not confess. Martha could not take things so gently. "She was as
well-Favoured and Gentill a Lass as you'l look on, and about 17 or 18
years of Age," says an old authority in an anonymous letter written to a
couple of initials. Poor Martha! her youth and beauty and passionate
distress moved even the bigoted wretches who condemned her; but their
compassion led to nothing pitiful or merciful, and the poor, bright,
beautiful girl passed into the awful doom of the rest. Then the
authorities "questioned" the witches; they were pricked, according to
custom and the national law; and "There was not any of them, save Margaret
Fulton, but marks were found on them, which were altogether insensible.
That a Needle of 3 Inches length was frequently put in without their
knowledge, nor would any Blood come from these places." Elizabeth
Anderson, a girl of seventeen, a beggar, James Lindsay, of fourteen, and
gley'd Thomas, his brother, not yet twelve--who for a halfpenny would turn
himself widershins and stop a plough at a word--were found willing and
able to confess. Elizabeth Anderson was especially determined that things
should not be lost for the want of finding. She said that about twenty
days ago her father had told her to go with him to Bargarran's yard,
somewhere about noon, where they met a black man with a bonnet on his
head, and a band round his neck, whom her father and Agnes Naismith, then
present, told her was the devil: that certain people, named, were also in
their company; that their discourse was all of Christian Shaw, then lying
sick, "whose Life they all promis'd to take away by the stopping of her
Breath;" that they all danced in the yard; that her father "Discharged
her to tell anything she saw, or she would be Torn in Pieces: and that she
was more Affraied of the forsaid persons than she was of the Devil." This
confession was made on the 5th of February, 1697. A few days later her
imagination was more lively. About seven years ago, she said, as she was
playing round the door of her grandmother, Jean Fulton's, house, she saw
"ane black grim man" go into the house to her grandmother, where he abode
for a while talking. Jean bade her take the gentleman by the hand, and he
would give her "ane Bony Black, new Coat; which accordingly she did." But
his hand was cold and she was afeard: and then he vanished away. The same
thing happened once again, when the black gentleman and her grandmother
fell a-talking together by "rounding in other's ears," but the girl
understood not what they said. This time she would not touch his hand for
all his promises of bran new clothes; so "the gentleman went away in a
flight," and she saw him no more for long after. The next time was when
her father "desired her to go with him through the Country and seek their
Meat; to which she replyed she need not seek her Meat, seeing she might
have Work:" but her father prevailed, and took her to a moor where above
twenty people were assembled; whose names she gives in a formidable
muster. Now the devil tempted her anew with meat and clothes, but she
would not consent; so he and her father stepped aside and conferred
together. Their meeting this day was for the destruction of a certain
minister's child, which they were to effect by means of a wax picture and
pins. Another time it was for the destruction of another minister's child
by the same means, and she heard Margaret Rodger say, "Stay a little, till
I stop ane Pin in the Heart of it:" which accordingly she did. This time
her father took her on his back over the water to Kilpatrick in a Flight,
saying Mount and Fly. She was with the witch crew when they drowned
Brighouse by upsetting his boat, and when they strangled a child with a
sea napkin: after which they all danced with the devil "in ane black Coat,
ane Blew Bonnet, ane Blew Band," who played the pipes for them, and gave
them each a piece of an unchristened bairn's liver to eat, so that they
should never confess if apprehended. With other abominations too foul to
be repeated.

The same day, February 18th, James Lindsay, the elder of the two brothers,
confessed. Jean Fulton was his grandmother too, and he said that one day,
when she met him, she took his little round hat and plack from him. Being
loath to part with the same, he ran after her crying for them: which she
refusing, he called her an old witch, and ran away. Whereupon she
threatened him. Eight days after this, as he was begging through the
country near Inchannan where she lived, he met her again; and this time
she had with her "ane black grim man with black cloaths, ane black Hat and
blew Band," who offered his hand, which James took and which he found cold
as it gript him straitly. The gentleman asked if he would serve him for a
Bonny black coat and a black hat, and several other things, to which he
replied "Yes, I'll do't." He then went to all the meetings, and saw all
the people and did all the things that Elizabeth had spoken of; even to
strangling Montgomerie's bairn with a sea napkin at twelve o'clock at
night, while the servant girl was watching by the cradle. Young Thomas the
gley'd followed next, confessing to just the same things, even to the
liver of the "uncrissened bairn," which all eat save Elizabeth and their
two selves: a slip-by that accounted for their confessions. And now
justice had a good handful to begin with, so the work of accusation went
briskly forward. Bargarran's daughter still continued bringing out crooked
pins and stones and all sorts of unmentionable filth from her mouth, and
still went on quarrelling with the devil whom she called an old sow, and
holding conversations with the apparitions of her tormentors, still mixed
up fraud with epilepsy, and lies and craft and wicked guile with hysteria,
till the witch-fires were fairly lighted, and seven of the poor wretches
"done to death." Among whom brave Margaret and her beautiful child held
the most prominent place. Never for a moment did Margaret Lang lose her
courage or self-possession. Seeing a farmer whom she knew, among the crowd
assembled round the gallows, she called out to him bitterly, "that he
would now thrive like a green bay-tree, for there would be no innocent
blood shed that day;" but what she meant for irony the people took for
confession. When she was burned, the answer of a spectator to one who
asked if the execution was over, showed what feeling they had about her:
"There's ane o' the witches in hell, an' the rest 'ill shune follow!" said
he contentedly. Another man, whose stick was taken to push back the legs
of the poor wretches as they were thrust out of the flames, when it was
returned to him, flung it into the flames, saying, "I'll tak nae stick
hame wi' me to nay hous that has touched a witch." When all was over and
the sacrifice was complete, Bargarran's daughter declared herself
satisfied and cured; no more "bumbees" came to pinch her--no more charms
of balls of hair or waxen eggs were laid beneath her bed--no more
apparitions thronged to vex her, nor had she fits or tossings, foamings
or strange swellings as of old; the devil left off tempting her with
promises of a fine gentleman for a husband; the witches no longer allured
her by phantom aprons filled with phantom almonds; the Lord "helped the
poor daft child," as Mrs. M. had prayed, though she was scarce worth the
helping, and the world was oppressed with her lies no more. But the blood
of the murdered innocent lay red on the ground, and cried aloud to heaven
for vengeance against the murderers. The case of Bargarran's daughter has
been always accepted as one of the most puzzling on record; but when may
not mankind be puzzled if they have but sufficient credulity? Subtract
from this account the possible and the certain--the possible frauds and
the certain lies--and what is left? A diseased girl, hysterical and
epileptic, full of hallucinations and pretended fancies, with a certain
quickness of hand which the tremendous gullibility of her auditory
rendered yet more facile--unscrupulous, mendacious; the only thing
surprising in the whole matter was that there was not one man of
sufficient coolness of judgment, or quickness of perception, to see
through the imposture and set his grip on it ere it passed. Dickie and
Mitchell, who a few years back visited the house where all this took
place, found a slit or hole in the wooden partition between her bedroom
and the room next it; a slit, evidently made purposely, and not a natural
defect in the wood, and so placed that when the bed was made up (the bed
of richly-carved oak yet stands or stood there) it could not be seen by
any one in the room. This little fact seems to speak volumes, and to help
materially towards establishing the questions of fraud and connivance. The
remote sequel is the only consoling feature in the case. From being the
most notorious impostor and the most cruel, false, and deadly persecutor
of her time, Bargarran's daughter, as Mrs. Miller, became one of the best
and most famous spinners of fine and delicate thread. She caused certain
machinery to be brought from Holland, and wrought at her spinning wheel
with all the intelligence and zeal that, earlier, had been so miserably
employed to the ruin and destruction of her fellow-creatures. It is to be
hoped that the coolness and reflection of maturity gave her grace to
repent of the sins of her girlhood, and that after-penitence wiped out the
terrible stains of youthful lying and murder.


That same year also Sir John Maxwell, of Pollok, and some other gentlemen,
were commissioned to try two poor women, Mary Millar and Elspeth M'Ewen,
and if guilty adjudge them to death; which they were found to be, and
adjudged accordingly; and a few months after, Margaret Laird--still in
Renfrewshire--was reputed to have been "under ane extraordinary and most
lamentable trouble, falling into strange and horrible fits, judged by all
who have seen her to be preternatural, arising from the devil and his
instruments." The suspected witches who were accused of troubling her,
were seized and put upon their trial. So was Mary Morrison, spouse of
Francis Duncan; but her husband petitioned so earnestly for her release
for sake of her "numerous poor family" starving in neglect at home, and
there being no kind of proof against her, she was at length released and
set at liberty. "The Lord-Advocate soon after reported to the Privy
Council a letter he had received from the Sheriff of Renfrewshire, stating
that 'the persons imprisoned in that county as witches are in a starving
condition, and that those who informed against them are passing from them,
and the sheriff says he will send them in prisoners to Edinburgh Tolbooth,
unless they be quickly tried.' His lordship was recommended to ask the
sheriff to support the prisoners till November next, when they would
probably be tried, and the charges would be disbursed by the treasury. A
distinct allowance of a groat a day was ordered on the 12th of January,
1699, for each of the Renfrewshire witches."[71]

In July of the same year, Ross-shire contributed a famous quota. Twelve
luckless creatures were reported at once as being guilty of the
"diabolical crimes and charms of witchcraft," and by the 2nd of January,
1700, two of them had confessed, and were sentenced to such arbitrary
punishment as the committee might think proper. "This is the first
appearance of an inclination in the central authorities to take mild views
of witchcraft," says Chambers; but we have not seen the last of capital
punishments, for on the 20th of November, 1702, Margaret Myles was hanged
at Edinburgh. That she was a witch was proved not only by her own
confession, but by her inability to say the Lord's Prayer, even when the
minister, Mr. George Andrews, tried to teach her. When he desired her to
pray "her heart was so obdured that she answered she could not; for, as
she confessed, she was in covenant with the devil, who had made her
renounce her baptism." He then wished her to say the Lord's Prayer after
him, and she began, but she would say nothing but "Our Father which wart
in heaven," and could not by any means be got to say the right word. He
then reproached her, saying, "How could she bid him pray for her, since
she could not pray for herself?" and, singing two verses of the 51st
Psalm, he made her show a little penitence. Then he essayed her again,
trying to make her repeat after him, "I renounce the devil," but she would
only say, "I unce the devil;" "for by no means would she say distinctly
that she renounced the devil, and adhered unto her baptism, but that she
unced the devil, and hered unto her baptism. The only sign of repentance
she gave was after the napkin had covered her face, for then she said,
'Lord, take me out of the devil's hands, and put me in God's.'"

The next year, "The Rigwoodie Witch," lean Marion Lillie of Spott, was had
before the Kirk Session to account for her dealings in the village. She
was a passionate-tongued old dame, who had handled roughly one of her
neighbours while in the condition that looked forward to Mrs. Gamp and the
caudle-cup; so roughly, indeed, that Mrs. Gamp and the caudle-cup were
forestalled, and the poor woman was brought to an unpleasant pass; so the
Rigwoodie witch got something not so pleasant as a month's nursing, and
was put out of the way of handling pregnant women roughly for the future.


Jean Neilson lived in Torryburn, a village in the west of Fife, and she
and Lillias Adie, a woman of more than equivocal reputation, were not on
the best of terms. Jean Neilson was but a poor sickly body, full of
fancies and uncatalogued ailments; and because she had no scientific name
to give them, she gave Lillias the credit of having created them by her
magic. She swore that she was bewitched, and that old Lillias was the
bewitcher. Upon which the ministers and elders of the kirk in Torryburn
met in solemn conclave on the 29th of July, and called Lillias before them
to give an account of her bad practices. Lillias had no mind that they
should lose their trouble. She confessed herself a witch without further
ado; said how that she had met the devil by the side of a "stook" in the
harvest field, where she had renounced her baptism and accepted him on the
instant as her lord and lover; how he had embraced her, when she found his
skin cold, and saw his feet cloven like a "stirk's." Since then she had
joined in dances with him and others whom she named; for Lillias, like all
the rest, seemed to think there was safety in a multitude, and delated
several of the parish, to bear her company in her uncomfortable position;
and she told how, at the back of Patrick Sands' house in Vellyfield, they
were lighted by a mysterious light, just sufficient to let them see each
other's faces, and to show the devil with a cap covering his ears and
neck. The minister and elders had now rich game in view, and they held
meeting after meeting to examine those whom Lillias accused, and feed
their ears with all the wild and monstrous tales they chose to pour into
them. But what became of them eventually no one now knows: only of a
surety Lillias Adie was burned "within the sea mark," and Jean Neilson
might now bear her uncatalogued ailments in peace. The minister of
Torryburn at that time was one Allen Logan--the Reverend Allen
Logan--notorious for his skill in detecting witches, and his zeal in
hunting them down. When administering the communion he would flash his eye
through the congregation and say harshly, as by knowledge, "You
witch-wife, get up from the table of the Lord," casting a ball for the
conscience-stricken to kick at; when, ten to one, some poor old trembling
wretch would totter up, and so go mumbling through the doors, "thus
exposing herself to the hazard of a regular accusation afterwards." He was
always "dinging" against witchcraft; and one day a woman called Helen Kay
took up her stool and went out of the church. She said she thought he was
"daft" "to be always dinging against witches thae' gait;" but the elders
thought differently, and Helen Kay was convicted of profanity, and
ordained to sit before the congregation and be openly rebuked.


While Lillias Adie was being burned in the west of Fife, Beatrix Laing, at
Pittenweem in the east, was put to sore trouble. Patrick Morton, a youth
of sixteen "free from any known vice," sent up a petition to the Privy
Council (June 13, 1704), stating, that being employed by his father to
make some nails for a ship lying off Pittenweem, Beatrix Laing, spouse to
William Brown, tailor, and late treasurer of the burgh, came and demanded
some nails. He "modestly" refused her, saying that he was engaged in
another job, and could not therefore work for her; whereupon she went
away, "threatening to be revenged, which did somewhat frighten him,
because he knew she was under a bad fame and reputed for a witch." The
next day, on passing Beatrix's door, "he observed a timber vessel with
some water and fire coal in it at the door, which made him apprehend that
it was a charm laid for him, and the effect of her threatening; and
immediately he was seized with such a weakness in his limbs that he could
hardly stand or walk." For many weeks this strange kind of lingering
disease and discomfort went on, he "still growing worse, having no
appetite, and his body strangely emaciated," all because of Beatrix having
"slockened" fire coals in a vessel as a malevolent charm for him; till
about May the disease ripened, and the symptoms of hysteria and epilepsy
presented themselves. He swelled prodigiously; his breathing was like the
blowing of a pair of bellows; his body was rigid and inflexible; his
tongue was drawn into his mouth; and he cried out vehemently against
Beatrix Laing and others--for these accusations never came alone;
professing to know his tormentors by their touch if brought to him,
although his eyes were blinded, and the bystanders held their peace. In
short, he played the same antics here in the east as Bargarran's daughter
had played in the west. Beatrix and the rest were flung into prison, and
every effort was made to induce them to confess. Beatrix was pricked, and
kept without sleep for five days and nights; but she held out manfully.
She would not consent to accept the modest youth's interpretation of his
illness, and denied strongly all hand in it, and all trafficking with
witch charms or unholy arts. At last she was conquered. Sleeplessness and
torture did their appointed work, and she made a rambling statement of
baptismal renunciation, and the like, delating Janet Cornfort and others,
which confession she recanted as soon as she had got a little strength;
and specially that part where she had spoken of her fine packs of wool
which she had sold so well at the market, coming home afterwards on a big
black horse, which she gave into her husband's hands. Her husband, she had
said, was embarrassed with this big black horse, and asked what he should
do with it? to which she had answered, "Cast his bridle on his neck and
you will be quit of him." So the horse flew off overhead with a great
noise, and Beatrix Laing's startled husband for the first time understood
its real character.

In revenge at her obduracy the magistrates "put her in the stocks, and
then carried her to the Thieves' Hole, and from that transported her to a
dark dungeon, where she was allowed no manner of light, or human converse;
and in this condition she lay for five months." All this while the
magistrates of the burgh were pressing on the Privy Council the absolute
need of trying her; but the Earl of Balcarres and Lord Anstruther, two
members of the council connected with the district, interposed their
influence, and got the poor creature set at liberty;--"brought her off as
a dreamer," says the anonymous pamphlet angrily. But she was forced to
turn her face from Pittenweem, and "wandered about in strange places, in
the extremity of hunger and cold, though she had a competency at home, but
dared not come near her own house," for fear of the fury and rage of the
people: dying at last "undesired" in her bed at St. Andrews.

Beatrix was wandering about in strange places, safe if sorrowful, but
Alexander Macgregor clinched her muttered charge against Janet Cornfoot by
accusing her of perpetually haunting him--she and two other witches, and
his Cloutieship along with them. They tormented him chiefly in the night
time, while he was sleeping in his bed. Janet, under torture confessed;
but retracted immediately after, saying that the minister himself had
beaten her with his staff to make her speak out: and there being
considerable doubt of her guilt in the minds of the gentry of the
district, even of the chastising minister himself, she was allowed to
escape, by connivance. But another minister of the neighbourhood, with
more zeal than humanity and more grace than knowledge, stopped her in her
flight, and sent her back to Pittenweem. There the mob got hold of her.
They had been fearfully excited by Beatrix Laing's acquittal and Janet's
escape, and they were not disposed to let this unexpected glut to their
vengeance go. They seized poor Janet Cornfoot, tied her up hard in a rope,
beat her unmercifully, then dragged her by the heels through the streets
and along the shore. "The appearance of a bailie for a brief space
dispersed the crowd, but only to show how easily the authorities might
have protected their victim if they had chosen." Resuming their horrible
work, the rabble tied Janet to a rope stretching between a vessel in the
harbour and the shore, swinging her to and fro, and amusing themselves by
pelting her with stones. Tiring at length of this sport, they let her down
with a sharp fall upon the beach, beat her again unmercifully, and finally
covering her with a door, pressed her to death (Jan. 30, 1705). Janet's
daughter was in the town, and knew what was taking place down by that
blood-stained shore, but she dared not interfere; and during all the time
this hideous murder was going on--lasting for nearly three hours--neither
magistrate nor minister came forward to protect or interpose. Are verily
and in truth "the powers that be ordained of God," or has not the devil
sometimes something to do with the laying on of hands?--so much of the
devil, at least, as is represented by ignorance, inhumanity, superstition,
and cowardice, always conspicuous qualities of the more zealous of every

About this time,[74] Thomas Brown, another of the accused, died of "hunger
and hardship" in prison; and at the close of the year, two Inverness men,
George and Lachlan Rattray, were executed, being found "guilty of the
horrid crimes of mischievous charms, by witchcraft and malefice, sorcery
or necromancy." And many witches were also burnt on the top of Spott Loan.


In 1708, William Stensgar, of Southside, in Orkney, had rheumatism. He
sent to an old beggar-woman, called Catherine Taylor--a cripple herself,
but none the less qualified to heal others by her magic arts. She came to
him about an hour before sunrise and took the case in hand, bidding him
follow her till they came to a certain kind of gate or stile, called a
slap or grind; William's wife accompanying them with a stoup of water. At
this slap Catherine touched his knee, saying, "As I was going by the way I
met the Lord Jesus Christ in the likeness of another man; he asked me what
tidings I had to tell? I said I had no tidings to tell, but I am full of
pain, and can neither gang nor stand. Thou shalt go to the holy kirk, and
thou shalt gang round about, and then sit down upon thy knees, and say thy
prayers to the Lord, and then thou shalt be as heal as the hour when
Christ was born." After this precious charm, which the old cripple said
had been taught her when a child, she repeated the 23rd Psalm; and then
the evil spirit which had caused the rheumatism was assumed to be "telled
out" into the stoup of water; at all events William Stensgar would have no
more of it. Then the water was emptied out over the slap or gate so that
the next person passing by the stile might get it instead of William. One
man who had watched this devilry from the beginning, evaded the foul fiend
by pushing his way through the hedge higher up; but another unfortunate
wretch, not so lucky or not so early a riser, coming blundering over the
stile as usual, got laid hold of by the fiend which William Stensgar had
shaken off, and was holden by it hardly.


Year by year witches became scarcer, none of any special note presenting
themselves till we come to the case of Margaret Nin-Gilbert, of Caithness,
which happened in the year 1718; the same year as that in which the
minister of Redcastle lost his life by witchcraft, and Mr. M'Gill's house
at Kinross (he was minister there) was so egregiously troubled by a spirit
which nipped the sheets and stuck pins into eggs and meat, and clipt away
the laps of a gentlewoman's hood and a servant maid's gown tail, and flung
stones down the chimney, which "wambled a space" on the floor, and then
took a flight out of the window, and threw the minister's bible into the
fire, and spoilt the baking, and played all sorts of mad pranks to
disquiet the family and defy God. If such things as these could be done
in the light of the sun, why, should not Margaret Nin-Gilbert have
supernatural power? Nin-Gilbert had a friend, one Margaret Olson, a woman
of it is said wicked behaviour, whom Mr. Frazer put out of her house,
taking as his tenant instead one William Montgomerie. Upon this Margaret
Olson went to her friend Nin-Gilbert, the notorious witch, and besought
her to harm Mr. Frazer; but Mr. Frazer being a gentleman of rank and
fortune was defended from the witches, and Nin-Gilbert confessed she had
no power or inclination to hurt him. However, one night as he was crossing
a bridge, they attempted him, but succeeded not; and he, on being
questioned, said he perfectly remembered "his horse making a great adoe at
that place, but that by the Lord's goodness he escaped." Also he had a
great sickness at the time these women were taken, but he had common sense
enough to refuse to ascribe it to them. Finding that they could not
prevail against Mr. Frazer, they turned their attention to Montgomerie,
"mason, in Burnside of Scrabster," who was also under the ban for having
accepted the tenancy of which Margaret Olson had been dispossessed.
Suddenly his house became so infested with cats that it was no longer safe
for his family to remain there. He himself was away, but his wife sent to
him five times, threatening that if he did not return home to protect
them, she would flit to Thurso; and his servant left them suddenly, and in
mid term, because five of these cats came one night to the fireside where
she was alone, and began speaking among themselves with human and
intelligible voices. So William Montgomerie, mason at Scrabster, returned
home to do battle with the enemy. The cats came in their old way and in
their old numbers; and William prepared his best. On Friday night, the
28th of November, one of the cats got into a chest with a hole in it, and
when she put her head out of the hole, William made a lunge at her with
his sword, which "cutt hir," but for all that he could not hold her. He
then opened the chest, and his servant, William Geddes, stuck his dirk
into her hind quarters and pinned her to the chest. After which,
Montgomerie beat her with his sword and cast her out for dead; but the
next morning she was gone; so there was no doubt as to her true character.
Four or five nights after this, his servant, being in bed, "cryed out that
Some of these catts had come in on him." Montgomerie ran to his aid, wrapt
his plaid about the cat and thrust his dirk through her body, then smashed
her head with the back of an axe, and cast her out like the first. The
next morning she too was gone, and there was proof positive for another
case. So as none of these cats belonged to the neighbourhood, and there
were eight of them assembled together in one night, "this looking like
witchcraft, it being threatened that none should thrive in my said house,"
William Montgomerie made petition to the Sherrif-Deput of Caithness, to
visit "some person of bad fame," who was reported to have fallen sick
immediately on this encounter, and search out if she had any wounds on her
body or not. "This representation seeming all the time to be very
incredulous and fabulous, the sheriff had no manner of regard yrto." But
when, on the 12th of February, Margaret Nin-Gilbert was seen by one of her
neighbours "to drop at her own door one of her leggs from the midle, and
she, being under bad fame for witchcraft, the legg, black and putrified,
was brought before the Sheriff-depute" (not the sheriff himself, the Earl
of Caithness, who might have had a little more common sense)--then the
said Sheriff-depute ordered Nin-Gilbert to be seized and examined.
Margaret made short work of it. Being interrogated the 8th of February,
1719, she confessed that she was under compact with the devil, whom she
had met in the likeness of a black man as she was travelling some long
time byegone in ane evening; confessed also that he sometimes appeared to
her as a great black horse, and other times as if riding on a black horse,
and sometimes as a black cloud, and sometimes as a black hen. Confessed
also that she was at William Montgomerie's house that evening, when he
attacked her as a cat, and that he broke her leg with the dirk or axe,
which since had fallen off from the rest of her body: also, that Margaret
Olson was there with her, who, being stronger than she did cast her on the
dirk when her leg was broken. She then delated four other women, one of
whom, Helen Andrew, had been so crushed and maimed by Montgomerie, "that
she dyed that same night of her wounds or few days yrafter:" and another,
M'Huistan, "cast herself a few days afterwards from the rocks of
Borrowstoun into the sea, since which time she was never seen; while a
third, Jannet Pyper, she identified as having a red petticoat on her.
Asked how they managed not to be discovered said, the devil raised a fog
or mist to conceal them." When her confession was ended, her accomplices
were apprehended; but she herself died in prison in a fortnight's time.
Margaret Olson was then examined. She was "tryed in the shoulders" (for
witches' marks), "where there were several small spots, some read, some
blewish; after a needle was driven in with great force almost to the eye
she felt it not. Mr. Innes, Mr. Oswald, minister, and several honest
women, and Bailzie Forbes, were witnesses to this. And further, that
while the needle was in her shoulder, as aforesaid, she said, 'Am not I
ane honest woman now?'" So this instance of human wickedness and folly
ended by the usual method of the cord and the stake.


January, 1720, saw distress and confusion at Calder in Mid Lothian. Lord
Torphichen's third son, the Honourable Patrick Sandilands, was bewitched,
and the whole country was in excitement. If the devil could touch a Lord's
son, who was safe? There was no doubt of the fact, let who would deny it.
Lord Torphichen's son though he was, the Honourable Patrick Sandilands was
worse holden than the meanest hind on the estate. He was buffeted about
the room; flung down in trances, from which no horsewhippings--and it is
to be hoped he had plenty of them, and well laid on--could revive him; he
pronounced prophecies; was lifted up in the air; taken off long journeys
between the space of two flashes of light; had the gift of clairvoyance;
and put out all the candles by his very presence--his powers depending, as
such powers generally do, on darkness and confusion for their perfect
development. Lord Torphichen soon left off the use of the horsewhip, and
he and all the family came to the conclusion that the Honourable Patrick
was bewitched. So they got hold of the witch, a brutish, ignorant,
half-witted woman living in the village of Calder, and put her in prison,
waiting her confession. As for that, it was not difficult to get at. Yes,
she was a witch; had been a witch for many years; had once given the devil
her own dead child to make a roast of; had made an image of the young
laird; and had three associates, two women and a man. Mad William
Mitchell, the Tinklarian Doctor,[77] as he was called, went on foot in ill
weather without food from the West Bow to Lord Torphichen's house at
Calder, to see what he could do towards discovering the devil in the
witches. This was on the 14th of January--the day of the solemn fast,
which was all the help that the awakening reason of the times would allow
the Honourable Patrick Sandilands. True, the witch and her confederates
were in prison, but there was no gallows planted, and no fire set: only
the ministers, and elders, and saints, and people, convened in solemn and
sacred prayer, to beseech God to drive out the devil from a lying,
mischievous, hysterical lad. But crazy William Mitchell took very little
by this move, Lord Torphichen not favouring his pretensions to special and
private illumination. The sermon was preached in the Calder Kirk by the
Rev. Mr. John Wilkie, minister of Uphall, the sorcerers being present, and
was found so powerful that the devil was fairly exorcised, and the boy
soon after wholly recovered. In time he went to sea, rose to the command
of an East Indiaman, but perished in a storm, leaving a meritorious name
singularly stained with boyish sins. "It brings us strangely near to this
wild-looking affair," says Chambers, "that the present Lord Torphichen
(1860) is only _nephew_ to the witch-boy of Calder."


And now we draw near to the close of this fatal superstition. In 1726,
Woodrow notes "some pretty odd accounts of witches," had from a couple of
Ross-shire men, but fails to give us very accurate details, save only that
one of them at her death "confessed that they had, by sorcery, taken away
the sight of one of the eyes of an Episcopal minister, who lost the sight
of his eye upon a sudden, and could give no reason for it." And early in
the year of 1727[78] the last witch-fire was kindled with which the air of
bonnie Scotland was polluted. Two poor Highland women, a mother and
daughter, were brought before Captain David Ross of Littledean,
deputy-sheriff of Sutherland, charged with witchcraft and consorting with
the devil. The mother was accused of having used her daughter as her
"horse and hattock," causing her to be shod by the devil, so that she was
ever after lame in both hands and feet; and the fact being satisfactorily
proved, and Captain David Ross being well assured of the same, the poor
old woman was put into a tar-barrel and burned at Dornoch in the bright
month of June. "And it is said that after being brought out to execution,
the weather proving very severe, she sat composedly warming herself by the
fire prepared to consume her, while the other instruments of death were
getting ready." The daughter escaped: afterwards she married and had a son
who was as lame as herself; and lame in the same manner too; though it
does not seem that he was ever shod by the devil and witch-ridden. "And
this son," says Sir Walter Scott, in 1830, "was living so lately as to
receive the charity of the present Marchioness of Stafford, Countess of
Sutherland in her own right."

This, then, is the last execution for witchcraft in Scotland; and in June,
1736, the Acts Anentis Witchcraft were formally repealed. Henceforth, to
the dread of the timid, and the anger of the pious, the English
Parliament distinctly opposed the express letter of the Law of God, "Thou
shalt not suffer a witch to live;" and declared the text upon which so
much critical absurdity had been talked, and in support of which so much
innocent blood had been shed, vain, superstitious, impossible, and
contrary to that human reason which is the highest law of God hitherto
revealed unto men. But if Parliament could stay executions it could not
remove beliefs, nor give rationality in place of folly. Not more than
sixty years ago an old woman named Elizabeth M'Whirter[79] was "scratched"
by one Eaglesham, in the parish of Colmonel, Ayrshire, because his son had
fallen sick, and the neighbours said he was bewitched. Poor old Bessie
M'Whirter was forced over the hills to the young man's house, a distance
of three miles, and there made to kneel by his bedside and repeat the
Lord's Prayer. When she had finished, the youth's father took a rusty nail
and scratched the poor old creature's brow in the form of a cross;
scratched it so effectually that it was many weeks in healing, and the
scar remained to the last day of her life. If Elizabeth M'Whirter had
lived a generation earlier, she might have run a race with death and a tar
barrel, and been defeated at the end, like the poor old wretch at Dornoch.

But still the old faith lingers in those beautiful vales, and hides in the
fastnesses of the mountain glens; still brownies haunt the ruined places,
and witches send forth blight and bale at their will; still the elfin
people ride on the whirlwind and dance in the moonlight; and the hill and
the flood and the brae and the streamlet have their attendant spirits
which vie with the churchyard ghost in impotent malevolence to men. And
the gift of second sight, though dying out because of these degenerate
times of utilitarianism and power-loom weaving, is yet to be found where
the old blood runs thickest, and the old ideas are least disturbed; and
still the whole nation clings with spasmodic force to its gloomy creed of
the Predestined and the Elect, and holds by the early faith from whose
narrow bounds others have emerged into a brighter and a wider path. No
more witch-fires are now lighted on the Castle Hill; no more grave and
reverend divines give themselves up, like Mr. John Aird, to discovering
the devil's mark stamped visibly on human flesh; yet the heart of the
people has not abandoned its ancient God, and though the altars may be
dressed with the flowers of another season, and the name upon the plinth
be carved in other characters, yet is the indwelling idol the same. The
God which Calvinistic Scotland yet worships is the same God as that to
which the witches and wizards of old were sacrificed; he is the God of
Superstition, the God of Condemnation, in whose temple Nature has no
place, and Humanity no rights.

The Witches of England.

"Every old woman with a wrinkled face, a furr'd brow, a hairy lip, a
gobber tooth, a squint eye, a squeaking voice, or a scolding tongue,
having a ragged coate on her back, a skull-cap on her head, a spindle in
her hand, and a Dog or Cat by her side, is not only suspected but
pronounced for a witch," says John Gaule;[80] while Reginald Scot[81] puts
forth as his experience:--"One sort of such as are said to be witches, are
women which be commonly old, lame, blear-eyed, pale, fowle, and full of
wrinckles; poor, sullen, superstitious, and Papists; or such as know no
religion; in whose drousie minds the devill hath gotten a fine seat; so
as, what mischief, mischance, calamity or slaughter is brought to passe,
they are easily perswaded the same is done by themselves; imprinting in
their minds an earnest and constant imagination thereof. They are leane
and deformed, showing melancholy in their faces, to the horror of all that
see them. They are doting, scolds, mad, devilish; and not much differing
from them that are thought to be possessed with spirits, so firm and
steadfast in their opinions, as whosoever shall only have respect to the
constancy of their words uttered, would easily believe they were true
indeed." Dr. Harsnet, in his "Declaration of Popish Impostures," gives the
subject a masterly touch of common sense and satire:--"These things,"
saith he, "are raked together out of old doating Heathen Histriographers,
Wizzardizing Augurs, Imposturizing Soothsayers, Dreaming Poets, Chimerical
Conceiters, and Coiners of Fables, &c. Out of these is shap'd the true
Idea of a _Witch_, an old weather-beaten Crone, having her Chin and Knees
meeting for Age, walking like a Bow leaning on a Staff, Hollow-Ey'd,
Untooth'd, Furrow'd on her Face, having her Lips trembling with the Palsy,
going mumbling in the Streets: One that hath forgotten her Pater Noster,
and yet hath a shrewd Tongue to call a Drab a Drab. If she hath learn'd of
an old Wife in a Chimney End Pax, Max, Fax, for a Spell; or can say Sir
John Grantham's Curse for the Miller's Eels, All ye that have stolen the
Miller's Eels, laudate Dominum de Coelis: And all they that have
consented thereto, Benedicamus Domino: Why then beware, look about you, my
Neighbours. If any of you have a Sheep sick of the Giddies, or a Stag of
the Mumps, or a Horse of the Staggers, or a Knavish Boy of the School, or
an idle Girl of the Wheel, or a young Drab of the Sullens, and hath not
Fat enough for her Porrage, or Butter enough for her Bread, and she hath a
little Help of the Epilepsy or Cramp, to teach her to roll her Eyes, wry
her Mouth, gnash her Teeth, startle with her Body, hold her Arms and Hands
stiff, &c. And then with an old Mother Nobs hath by Chance call'd her Idle
young Housewife, or bid the Devil scratch her; then no doubt but Mother
Nobs is the Witch, and the young Girl is Owl-blasted, &c." Then he goes on
to say, with more force and right judgment than one could have expected
from one of his generation:--"They that have their Brains baited, and
their Fancies distemper'd with the Imaginations, and Apprehensions of
Witches, Conjurers, and Fairies, and all that Lymphatical Chimæra, I find
to be marshall'd in one of these five Ranks: Children, Fools, Women,
Cowards, sick or black melancholick discompos'd Wits."

These then are the sentiments of three somewhat wise and sane men, who
lived in a time of universal madness, and gave their minds to the task of
stemming the raging torrent. For the whole world was overrun with witches.
From every town came crowds of these lost and damned souls; from every
hovel peered out the cursing witch, or cried aloud for help the stricken
victims. These poor and old and wretched beings, upon whose heads lighted
the wrath of a world, and against whom every idle lad had a curse and a
stone to fling at his will, were held capable of all but omnipotence. They
could destroy the babe in the womb and make the "mother of many children
childless among women;" they could kill with a look and disable with a
curse; bring storms or sunshine as they listed; by their "witch-ropes,"
artfully woven, draw to themselves all the profit of their neighbours'
barns and breweries; yet ever remained poor and miserable, glad to beg a
mouthful of meat, or a can of sour milk from the hands of those whom they
could ruin by half a dozen muttered words; they could take on themselves
what shapes they would, and transport themselves whither they would: no
bolt or bar kept them out, no distance by land or sea was too great for
them to accomplish; a straw--a broomstick--the serviceable imp ever at
hand--was enough for them; and with a pot of magic ointment, and a charm
of spoken gibberish, they might visit the king on his throne, or the lady
in her bower, to do what ill was in their hearts against them, or to
gather to themselves what gain and store they would. Yet with all this
power the superstitious world of the time saw nothing doubtful or
illogical in the fact of their exceeding poverty, and never stayed to
think that if they could transport themselves through the air to any
distance they chose, they would be but slippery holding in prison, and not
very likely to remain there for the pleasure of being tortured and burnt
at the end. But neither reason nor logic had anything to do with the
matter. The whole thing rested on fear, and that practical atheism of
fear, which denies the power of God and the wholesome beauty of Nature, to
exalt in their stead the supremacy of the Devil. This belief in the
Devil's material presence and power over men was the dark chain that bound
them all. Even the boldest opponent of the Witchcraft Delusion dared not
fling it off; not the bravest man or freest thinker could shake his mind
clear of this terrible trammel, this bugbear, this mere phantasm of human
fear and ignorance, this ghastly lie and morbid delusion, or abandon the
slavish worship of Satan for the glad freedom of God and Nature. It was
much when such men as Scot,[82] and Giffard,[83] and Gaule of
Staughton,[84] Sir Robert Filmer,[85] Ady,[86] Wagstaffe,[87] Webster,[88]
Hutchinson,[89] and half a dozen more shining lights could bring
themselves to deny the supernatural power of a few half-crazed old
beggar-women, and plead for humanity and mercy towards them, instead of
cruelty and condemnation; but not one dare take the wider step beyond, and
deny the existence of that phantom fiend, belief in whom wrought all this
misery and despair. Even the very best of the time gave in to this
delusion, and discussed gravely the properties and proportions of what we
know now were mere lies.

"We find the illustrious author of the 'Novum Organum' sacrificing to
courtly suppleness his philosophic truth, and gravely prescribing the
ingredients for a witch's ointment;--Selden maintaining that crimes of the
imagination may be punished with death;--The detector of Vulgar Errors,
and the most humane of physicians giving the casting vote to the
vacillating bigotry of Sir Matthew Hale;--Hobbes, ever sceptical,
penetrating, and sagacious, yet here paralyzed and shrinking from the
subject, as if afraid to touch it;--The adventurous explorer, who sounded
the depths and channels of the 'Intellectual System' along all the
'wide-watered' shores of antiquity, running after witches to hear them
recite the Common Prayer and the Creed, as a rational test of guilt or
innocence;--The gentle spirit of Dr. Henry More, girding on the armour of
persecution, and rousing itself from a Platonic reverie on the Divine Life
to assume the hood and cloak of a familiar of the Inquisition;--and the
patient and inquiring Boyle, putting aside for a while his searches for
the grand Magisterium, and listening, as if spell-bound, with gratified
attention to stories of witches at Oxford and devils at Mascon."[90] In
the Church and amongst the more notoriously "religious" men of the time
it was worse. In Archbishop Cranmer's 'Articles of Visitation' (1549) is
this clause:--"You shall enquire whether you know of any that use Charms,
Sorcery, Enchantments, Soothsaying, or any like Craft invented by the
Devil;" and Bishop Jewel, preaching before Queen Elizabeth (1558),
informed her how that "witches and sorcerers within these last few years
are marvellously increased in your Grace's realm. Your Grace's subjects
pine away even unto their death, their colour fadeth, their flesh rotteth,
their speech is benumbed, their senses are bereft; I pray God they never
practise further than upon the subject.... These eyes have seen most
evident and manifest marks of their wickedness." At the next Parliament
the new Bill against the detestable sin of witchcraft was passed, and
Strype says, partly on account of the Lord Bishop's earnest objurgation.
Dalton's[91] 'Country Justice' (1655) shows to what a pass, a century
later, witchcraft had come in credulous England. Truly Scot was right
when he said that his greatest adversaries were "young ignorance and old
customs." They have always been the greatest adversaries of all truth. Of
late, thank God, the march of humanity has been steadily, if slowly,
towards the daylight; but at present you and I, my reader, have to do with
the most debasing superstition that ever afflicted history, in the matter
of those poor wretched servants of the devil--those witches and wizards,
who somehow managed to lose on all sides--to suffer in time and be ruined
for eternity, and to get only ill-will and ill-usage from man and fiend


One of our earliest English witches, so early indeed that she becomes
mythical and misty and out of all possible proportion, was the celebrated
Witch of Berkeley,[92] who got the reward of her sins in the middle of the
ninth century, leaving behind her a tremendous lesson, by which, however,
after generations did not much profit. The witch had been rich and the
witch had been gay, but the moment of reckoning had to come in the
morning; the feast had been noble and well enjoyed, but the terrible
account had to be paid when all was over; and the poor witch found her
ruddy-cheeked apple, now that the rind was off and eaten, filled with
nothing but dust and ashes--which she must digest as best she may. As the
moment of her death approached, she called for the monks and the nuns of
the neighbouring monasteries, and sent for her children to hear her
confession; and then she told them of the compact she had made, and how
the Devil was to come for her body as well as her soul. "But," said she,
"sew me in the hide of a stag, then place me in a stone coffin, and fasten
in the covering lead and iron. Upon this place another stone, and chain
the whole down with heavy chains of iron. Let fifty psalms be sung each
night, and fifty masses be said by day, to break the power of the demons.
If you can thus keep my body for three nights safe, on the fourth day you
may bury it--the Devil will have sought and not found." The monks and the
nuns did as they were desired; and, on the first night, though the demons
kept up a loud howling and wailing outside the church, the priests
conquered, and the old witch slept undisturbed. On the second night the
demons were more fierce and clamorous, and the monks and the nuns told
their beads faster and faster; but the fiends were getting more powerful
as time went on, and at last broke open the gates of the monastery, in
spite of prayer and bolt and bar; and two chains of the coffin burst
asunder, but the middle one held firm. On the third night the fiends raged
sore and wild. The monastery was shaken to its foundations, and the monks
and the nuns almost forgot their paters and their aves in the uproar that
drowned their voices and quailed their hearts; but they still went on,
until, with an awful crash, and a yell from all the smaller demons about,
a Devil, larger and more terrible than any that had come yet, stalked into
the church and up to the foot of the altar, where the old woman and her
coffin lay. Here he stopped, and bade the witch rise and follow him.
Piteously she answered that she could not--she was kept down by the chain
in the middle: but the Devil soon settled that difficulty; for he put his
foot to the coffin, and broke the iron chain like a bit of burnt thread.
Then off flew the covering of lead and iron, and there lay the witch, pale
and horrible to see. Slowly she uprose, blue, dead, stark, as she was; and
then the Devil took her by the hand, and led her to the door where stood a
gigantic black horse, whose back was all studded with iron spikes, and
whose nostrils, breathing fire, told of his infernal manger below. The
Devil vaulted into the saddle, flung the witch on before him, and off and
away they rode--the yells of the clamouring demons, and the shrieks of the
tortured soul, sounding for hours, far and wide, in the ears of the monks
and the nuns. So here too, in this legend, as in all the rest, the Devil
is greater than God, and prayer and penitence inefficacious to redeem


Coming out from these purely legendary times, we find ourselves on the
more solid ground of an actual legal record--the 'Abbreviatio
Placitorum;'[93] which informs us that in the tenth year of King John's
reign, "Agnes, the wife of Odo the merchant, accused Gideon of sorcery (de
sorceria), and she was acquitted by the judgment of the (hot) iron." This
is the earliest historic trial to be found in any legal document in
England. Nothing more appears until 1324, when two Coventry men,[94]
specially appointed out of twenty-seven implicated, undertook the slaying
of the King, Edward II., the two Dispensers his favourites, the Prior of
Coventry, his caterer and his steward, because they had oppressed the
town, and dealt unrighteously with its inhabitants. These two men went to
a famous necromancer then living in Coventry, called Master John of
Nottingham, whom, with his servant Robert Marshall of Leicester, they
engaged to perform the work required. But Robert Marshall proved
faithless, and betrayed his master to the authorities; telling them how
they had received a sum of money for the work in hand, with which sum of
money they had bought seven pounds of wax and two yards of canvas, to make
seven images--six for the six already enumerated, the seventh for one
Richard de Lowe, who had done no one any harm, but on whom they wished to
try the effect of the spell, as a modern anatomist would try his
experiments on cats, or dogs, or rabbits. He told them how he and Master
John of Nottingham had been to a ruined house under Shorteley Park, about
half a league from Coventry, where they remained at work from the Monday
after the Feast of Saint Nicholas to the Saturday after the Feast of
Ascension, making these images of wax and canvas by which they were to
bewitch their noble enemies to death. And first, to try the potency of the
charm, Master John took a long leaden pin, and struck it two inches deep
into the forehead of the image representing Richard de Lowe, upon which
Richard was found writhing and in great pain, screaming "harrow!" and
having no knowledge of any man; and so he languished for some days. Then
Master John drew out the leaden pin from the brow, and struck it into the
heart of the image, when immediately Richard de Lowe died, as any number
of witnesses could testify. The necromancer and his man, and the
twenty-seven Coventry men implicated in this bit of sorcery, were tried
at common law, and acquitted for want of evidence.

That same year, too, occurred one of the most picturesque trials for
witchcraft known: the trial of Dame Alice Kyteler, which Mr. Wright, with
so much industry and learning, has exhumed from the dusty old records
where it was buried, and set out into the light of present knowledge and
apprehension. But Dame Alice was an Irishwoman, and so does not rightly
come into a book on English witches; else it would be a pleasant, if sad,
labour to tell how she was arrested on the charge of holding nightly
conferences with her spirit or familiar, Artisson, who was sometimes a
cat, and sometimes a black shaggy dog, and sometimes a black man with two
tall black companions, each carrying an iron rod in his hand--to which
fiendish Proteus she had sacrificed, in the highway, nine red cocks, and
nine peacocks' eyes; and also for having, between complines and twilight,
raked all the filth of Kilkenny streets to the doors of her son-in-law
William Outlawe, murmuring to herself--

  "To the house of William, my sonne,
  Hie all the wealth of Kilkennie towne."

Of how, too, she blasphemously travestied the holy sacrament, having a
wafer with the Devil's name stamped on it instead of Christ's; and how she
had a pipe of ointment wherewith she greased a staff "upon which she
ambolled and gallopped thorough thicke and thin, when and what manner she
listed." But it does not belong to my present subject: nor to tell how one
of her accomplices, poor weak Petronilla de Meath, was burnt at Kilkenny,
not having strength or courage to resist the monstrous confession forced
upon her; but how the other, Basil, escaped, according to the natural law
by which the strongest always come off the best. Perhaps the fact that
Dame Alice took refuge in England may give her a slight claim to a place
in these pages; but the question is doubtful, so we must let her go--as
also her son-in-law, William Outlawe, whose strict imprisonment of nine
weeks led to no bad result, and, let us hope, cooled his blood, which was
a trifle too near to boiling point.

Then we stumble over the threshold of the chamber where Friars Bacon and
Bungay are sleeping, while stupid Miles is watching the Brazen Head whose
brief solemn words were spoken in vain; going forward just a few paces
until we come to the death-beds of Bungay and Vandermast, and Friar
Bacon's clever cheating of the Devil at last. But we are still on the
outskirts of legendary land, and must go on to the middle of the
fourteenth century before we get a firm hold. About this time the subject
of witchcraft occupied much of the attention and thought of the Church,
but the priests had not yet quite closed their fingers round it; for in
1371 a man was arrested for sorcery, and "brought before the justices of
the King's Bench, by whom he was acquitted for want of evidence, which
shows that it was still looked upon merely as an offence against common
law."[95] It was only when it became the superstition which some men are
pleased to call "religion" that it got stained with its deepest dyes.
Early in 1406 Henry IV. gave instructions to the Bishop of Norwich to
search for the sorcerers, witches, and necromancers reported to be rather
rife in that respectable diocese, and if he could not convert them from
the evil of their ways, he was to bring them to speedy punishment; and in
1432 the Privy Council ordered to be seized and examined a Franciscan
friar of Worcester, by name Thomas Northfield; another friar, John
Ashwell; John Virley "a clerk;" and Margery Jourdemaine--the same Margery
generally called the Witch of Eye, who, nine years later, was burnt at
Smithfield for her complicity in the treasonable practices of Dame Eleanor
of Gloucester. In 1441 Dame Eleanor herself was arrested, and "put in
holt, for she was suspecte of treason;" and with her the Witch of Eye, who
was burnt; and Roger, a clerk "longing to her," who was placed on a high
scaffold against St. Paul's Cross on the Sunday, and there "arraied like
as he should never thrive in his garnementys;" while heaped up round about
were all his instruments taken with him, to be showed among the people,
and create a proper fear and horror in their mind. The end of poor Roger
the clerk was, that he was dragged from the Tower to Tyburn, there hanged,
beheaded, and quartered; his head set on London Bridge, and his four
quarters sent--one to Hereford, and one to Oxenford, another to York, and
the fourth to Cambrigge. As for Dame Eleanor, that proud, dark,
unscrupulous heroine of romance, every one knows the story of her disgrace
and shame; how she came from London to Westminster, and walked through the
streets of the city barefooted and bareheaded, carrying the waxen taper of
two pounds' weight, and doing penance before all the crowd of citizens
assembled to see her "on her foot and hoodles;" and how she offered up her
taper on the high altar of "Poules;" and when all was done, was sent to
Chester prison, "there to byde while she lyveth."

After her, in 1478, comes "the high and noble princesse Jaquet," Duchess
of Bedford, charged with having, by the aid of "an image of lede, made
lyke a man of arms, conteyning the length of a mannes fynger, and broken
in the myddes, and made fast with a wyre," turned the love of King Edward
IV. from one Dame Elianor Butteler daughter of the old Earl of Shrewsbury,
to whom he was affianced, unto her own child, Elizabeth Grey, sometime
wife to Sir John Grey, knight; and in 1483 poor Jane Shore was bound to do
penance, walking bareheaded and barefooted, clad only in her kirtle,
carrying a wax taper, and acknowledging her sins, because Richard of
Gloucester had a withered arm, and wanted to put a few enemies out of the
way of that arm and its desires. He employed the same accusation against
many of those enemies, but so patently for political motives and without
even the semblance of reason, that these attainders can scarcely be set
down in any manner to the charge of witchcraft. Then in 1484 came the bull
of Innocent VIII., which gave authority to the inquisitors to "convict,
imprison, and punish" the unfortunate servants of the Devil, who thus
found themselves a mark for every one's shaft.

In Henry the Eighth's time treasure-seeking was the most fashionable phase
of necromancy. There was Neville of Wolsey's household, who consulted
Wood--gentleman, magician, and treasure-seeker extraordinary--but only for
a charm or magic ring which should bring him into favour with his prince,
saying that his master the Cardinal had such an one, and he would fain
participate; and he did at last get Wood to make him one that would bring
him the love of women. Wood could find treasures wherever hidden, and was
sure of the philosopher's stone; nay, he would "chebard" (jeopard) his
life but that he could make gold as he listed, and offered to remain in
prison till he had accomplished it, "twelve months on silver and twelve
and a half on gold." In this same reign, too, was arrested William
Stapleton for sorcery. William[96] was a monk of St. Benet in the Holm,
Norfolk, and William loved not his monkish life; so he got out, seeking
money to buy his dispensation. And not having the money at hand himself,
nor knowing how to get it, he took to treasure-seeking as the easiest
manner open to him of making a fortune. But his conjurations and his magic
staff only led him to some Roman remains, and nothing more; so he borrowed
of a friend instead, then settled in Norfolk, and turned to
treasure-seeking again, uselessly; got into intrigues that did him no
good; and had three spirits, Andrea Malchus, Inchubus, and Oberion--the
last a dumb devil who would not speak, being in the service of my Lord

In 1521 the Duke of Buckingham died on the scaffold, led into some
imprudent actions by the predictions of his familiar magician, one friar
Hopkins; and Hopkins, to make amends, died broken-hearted shortly after.
And there was the Maid of Kent (1534), Elizabeth Barton, who had trances
and gave revelations, and was on intimate terms with Mary Magdalen and the
Virgin, and who was probably a "sensitive" made use of by the Catholics to
try and frighten the King from his marriage with the "gospel eyes;" but
poor Elizabeth Barton came to a sad pass with her revelations and trances;
and Mary Magdalen, who had given her a letter written in heaven and all of
gold, forgot to forewarn or shield her from her cruel and shameful end at
Tyburn that cloudy fitful day of April, with the gallows standing out
against the flecked sky, and the poor raving nun, half-enthusiast
half-impostor, praying bareheaded at its foot--she and her accomplices
waiting for the moment to die.

In 1541 we find a nobler name on the scaffold--Lord Hungerford--"beheaded
for procuring certain persons to conspire that they might know how long
Henry VIII. would live;" and that same year an Act was passed against
false prophecies, and another against conjurations, witchcraft, and
sorcery, making it felony without benefit of clergy. But six years later
Edward VI. abrogated that statute; not for any tenderness to witches, but
because with it was bound up a prohibition against pulling down crosses.
In 1549 Ket's rebellion was troublesome; its vigour due partly to the old
prophecy repeated through the plains of Norfolk--

  "Hob, Dic, and Hic, with Clubs and clouted Shoon,
  Shall fill up Duffin-dale with slaughtered Bodies soon."

And then we come to nothing more until 1559, when Elizabeth "renewed the
same article of inquiry for sorcerers," but punishing the first conviction
only with the pillory. The following year eight men were taken up for
conjurations and sorcery, and tried at Westminster, where they had to
purge themselves by confession, penitence, and a repudiating oath. In 1562
the Earl and Countess of Lennox, Anthony Pool, Anthony Fortescue, and some
others, were condemned for treason and meddling with sorcerers; though,
indeed, Elizabeth herself was not free from either the superstition or its
practice; for did she not patronize Dr. Dee and his "skryer" John Kelly,
with his ranting about Madimi in her gown of "changeable sey," and all the
other spirits who came in and out of the "show-stone," and talked just the
same kind of rubbish as spirits talk now in modern circles? But the poor
"figure-flinger, with his tin pictures," was a sorcerer not to be
protected, so got tried and condemned--poor figure-flinger!

In 1562, the year of Lady Lennox's business, a new Act against witchcraft
was passed; and in 1589 one Mrs. Deir practised conjuration against the
Queen, for which she was tried, but acquitted for want of evidence; but
the Queen had excessive anguish in her teeth that year, by night and by
day. When Ferdinand Earl of Derby died, about this time, of perpetual and
unceasing sickness, a waxen image was found in his chamber stuffed with
hair the exact colour of his; which sufficiently accounted for his illness
and the mysterious manner of his death, though a Sadducee and sceptic
might have whispered of poison, or a physician have spoken of cholera;
from which disease indeed, by the minute symptoms so carefully detailed,
the poor earl's death seems to have been--if not from poison, which might
have produced the same effects. Still, the accusation of sorcery was so
convenient--such a cloak for viler sins! The latter half of Elizabeth's
reign was disgraced by many witch persecutions, for the subject was
beginning to attract painful notice now; and, though it was not till James
I. had set the smouldering fragments all a-blaze that the worst of the
evils were done, still enough was doing now for the philosopher to deplore
and the humanitarian to lament. In 1575 many were hanged at Barking; in
1579 three were executed at Chelmsford, four at Abingdon, and two at
Cambridge. In 1582 thirteen at St. Osith's, the evidence against one being
that she had been heard to talk to something when alone in her house;
while of the other, a woman swore that she looked through her window one
day, when she was out, and there "espied a spirite to looke out of a
potcharde from under a clothe, the nose thereof being browne like unto a
ferret." In 1585 one was hanged at Tyburn and one at Stanmore; 1589 saw
three sent into eternity at Chelmsford; in 1593 we have the witches of
Warbois; and two years later (1595) three at Barnet and Brainford; in 1597
several at Derby and Stafford; so that by degrees the thing came to be a
notorious matter of social life; and the poor and the aged and the
disliked lived in fear and peril, daily increasing. At this time, too,
possessions were many and ghosts walked abroad without let or hindrance.
Richard Lee saw one at Canterbury (1575), and Master Gaymore and others
saw another at Rye two years after. "But," says Reginald Scot, "certainely
some one knave in a white sheet hath cosened and abused many thousands
that way, specially when Robin Goodfellow kept such a coile in the
Country. For you shall understand that these bugs specially are spied and
feared of sicke folke, children, women, and cowards, which, through
weaknesse of minde and body, are shaken with vain dreames and continuall
fear. The Scythians, being a stout and a warlike nation, as divers writers
report, never see any vaine sights, or spirits. It is a common saying, a
Lion feareth no bugs. But in our childhood our mothers' maids have so
terrified us with an ugly devil having hornes on his head, fire in his
mouth, and a taile at his back, eyes like a bason, fanges like a dog,
clawes like a beare, a skinne like a Niger, and a voice roring like a
Lion, whereby we start and are afraid when we hear one cry Bough; they
have so fraied us with bullbeggars, spirits, urchens, elves, hags,
fairies, satyrs, pans, fauns, sylens (syrens?), kit with the cansticke,
tritons, centaures, dwarfes, giants, imps, calcats, conjurors, nymphes,
changelings, incubus, Robin Goodfellow, the spoorn, the mare, the man in
the oke, the hell-waine, the firedrake, the puckle, Tom thombe,
hob-gobbin, Tom tumbler, boneles, and such other bugs, that we are afraid
of our own shadowes; insomuch as some never fear the devil, but in a dark
night; and then a polled sheep is a perillous beast, and many times is
taken for our father's soul, specially in a churchyard, where a right
hardy man heretofore scant durst passe by night, but his haire would stand
upright. For right grave writers report, that spirits most often and
specially take the shape of women, appearing to monks, &c., and of beasts,
dogs, swine, horses, goats, cats, haires, of fowles, as crowes, night
owles and shreek owles; but they delight most in the likenesse of snakes
and dragons." All of which "wretched and cowardly infidelity" was rampant
in England when good Queen Bess ruled the land--rampant doubly, so that
there was no holding in of this furious madness after James I. had got his
foot in the stirrup, and was riding a race neck and neck with the Devil.
But I must turn back a few years, and tell of


a precious babe of grace snatched from destruction. They are to be found
in 'A Booke declaring the fearfull vexation of one Alexander Nyndge,
Beynge moste Horriblye tormented wyth an euyll spirit, the xx. daie of
Januarie. In the yere of our Lorde 1573, at Lyeringswell in Suffolke;' and
this book sets forth the details of the various fits which Alexander
Nyndge indulged in, for the purpose, as it seems, of enabling his brother
Edward to prove his power of exorcism. His first fit began one evening at
seven--his father, mother, brothers, and the residue of the household
being present; his chest and body swelled, his eyes stared wildly as if
starting from their sockets, his back bent inward: the household was
disturbed and sore affrighted, but brother Edward had courage enough to
say that it was an evil spirit, and undertook to exorcise it. So he
charged the foul fiend to come out of him, and the countenance of his
brother became more sad and fearful than it was before. Edward was not
dismayed but returned to the conflict full of confidence, not giving in
even when Alexander and the devil had a wrestle together; or rather when
the devil within him seemed as if he would have torn him to pieces, so
great was his rage and malice. After some time of this kind of work,
Edward got the devil to confess to one or two little matters. In the first
place his name was Aubon, and he came last from Ireland; he had come for
Alexander's soul, which his brother was not disposed to give up; and by a
strange slip of the tongue he called Christ _his_ Redeemer: but Edward
rebuked him, as became a learned M.A., reminding him that He was
Alexander's Redeemer in truth, but not his, the foul fiend's. Even this
palpable blunder did not enlighten the Nyndge household as to whose was
really the "hollow ghostly" voice proceeding out of Alexander's chest. At
last, when Edward had tired him very much, and powerfully shaken him, he
said, gruffly, "Bawe wawe, bawe wawe!" and Alexander was transformed,
"much like a picture in a play," while a terrible roaring voice sounded
"Hellsownd." Then they opened the windows to allow the foul spirit to
escape; and in two minutes Alexander leaped up joyfully, crying, "He is
gone! he is gone!" After this he had a second, and then a third, attack;
but his brother, praying in his right ear, comforted him and finally cured
him, for he was never after tormented. Luckily he had not fixed upon any
unhappy old woman as the cause of his disorder, so it passed for a case of
simple "possession," which prayer and supplication had overcome.


Ade Davie, wife of Simon Davie husbandman, had a wiser man for her
husband, simple and unlearned as he was, than had many a wretched creature
for her judge. Ade suddenly became sad and pensive as she never had been
in times past. Her husband did his best to cheer her, but Ade still
continued sorrowful; when, at last her burden grew heavier than she could
bear, falling down at Simon's feet she besought him to forgive her, for
that she had grievously offended both God and him. "Her poor husband being
abashed at this her behaviour, comforted her as he could; asking her the
cause of her trouble and greefe; who told him that she had, contrary to
God's law, and to the offence of all good Christians, to the injury of
him, and specially to the losse of her own soul, bargained and given her
soul to the devill, to be delivered unto him within short space. Whereunto
her husband answered, saying, 'Wife, be of good cheer, this thy bargain is
void and of none effect; for thou hast sold that which is none of thine to
sell: sith it belongeth to Christ, who hath bought it, and dearly paid for
it, even with his blood, which he shed upon the crosse; so as the devil
hath no interest in thee.' After this, with like submission, teares, and
penitence, she said unto him, 'Oh, husband, I have yet committed another
fault, and done you more injury; for I have bewitched you and four
children.' 'Be content,' quoth he, 'by the grace of God, Jesus Christ can
unwitch us; for none evill can happen to them that fear God.'"

This fresh and pure idyl comes to us with a sweet and wholesome savour, in
the midst of the foul quagmires of superstition where it stands; and that
poor husbandman's simple faith in God's goodness and his wife's virtue is
more touching than many a grand heroic deed which has the suffrages of all
history to float it through the life of the world. Simon Davie was an
unlettered man, but he was strong-hearted and believing, and, thinking
that earnest prayer might comfort his wife, when the time approached for
the Devil to come and close his bargain, knelt down by her and prayed, she
joining with him fervently. Then they heard a low rumbling noise below
which made the windows shake, and which convinced the poor wife that it
was the Devil trying to take possession of her soul, but barred out from
the chamber by the fervent prayers aforesaid. In the morning it was found
that the noise came from a dog which had devoured a sheep that was newly
flayed and hung against the wall; and in due time, Ade Davie recovering
her reason--for she was crazed, and took every fire to be the fire lighted
to burn her for witchcraft--came to the knowledge that she had never sold
her soul to the Devil at all, and had never bewitched husband or children,
but had always been a faithful wife and fond mother--afflicted with a
light brain and nervous imagination.


Mildred, the "base daughter" of Alice Norrington, being seventeen years of
age, was likewise possessed of the Devil, in much the same way as
Alexander Nyndge had been. She lived as servant with William Spooner of
Westwell, in the county of Kent, and her case attracted great attention.
All the divines of the neighbourhood assembled at Spooner's house on the
13th of October, 1574, to endeavour to cast out the Devil by such means of
prayer and exorcism as they had at their command. Powerfully did they
pray; mightily roared the Devil; "And tho' we did command him many times,
in the Name of God, and of his Son Jesus Christ, and in his mighty Power
to speak, yet he would not, until he had gone through all his Delays, as
roaring, crying, striving, and gnashing of teeth, and otherwise, with
mowing and other terrible Countenances, and was so strong in the Maid that
four men could scarce hold her down." This continued for about two hours,
and then he spoke out, but very strangely, crying, "He comes, he comes,"
and "He goes, he goes." When charged to tell the exorcists who had sent
him, he said, "I lay in her way like a Log, and I made her run like Fire;
but I could not hurt her." "And why so?" said we. "Because God kept her,"
said he. When asked when he came to her, he said, "At night, in her bed."
And when charged to tell them his name, he said, "The Devil, the Devil."
But being still more powerfully exhorted, he roared and cried as before,
and spake terrible words: "I will kill her; I will kill her; I will tear
her in pieces; I will kill you all!" Asked again, and conjured so that he
could not escape, he was forced to confess that his name was Satan, and
Little Devil, and Partner, and that old Alice had sent him--old Alice in
Westwell Street, with whom he had lived these twenty years shut up in two
bottles. "Where be they?" said we. "In the back side of her house," said
he. "In what place?" said we. "Under the wall," said he. The other was at
Kennington, in the ground. Then we asked him what old Alice had given him.
He said, "Her will, her will." "What did she bid thee do?" said we. "Kill
her maid," he said, because she did not love her. He then said that he had
been to the vicarage loft in the likeness of two birds, and that old Alice
had sent him and his servant (another devil) to kill those whom she loved
not. "How many hast thou killed for her?" said we. "Three," said he. "Who
are they?" said we. "A man and his child," said he. "What were their
names?" said we. "The child's name was Edward," said he. "What more than
Edward?" said we. "Edward Ager," said he. "What more?" said we. "Richard
Ager," said he. "Where dwelt the man and the child?" said we. "At Dig, at
Dig," said he. This Richard Ager was a gentleman of forty pounds' land by
the year; a very honest man, but would often say he was bewitched, and
languished long ere he died. The Devil--or Mildred for him--said that he
had also killed Wotton's wife, and that he used to fetch old Alice meat
and drink and corn, and that he had been at many houses (named) doing her
wicked will. Then he was adjured so that he could not resist, when he
cried out that he would go, he would go, and so he departed. Then said the
maid, "He is gone. Lord have mercy on me! for he would have killed me!" So
those ministers and neighbours present all kneeled down and thanked God
for Mildred's deliverance; and she kept her countenance, and did not
betray herself. But a short time after, the "bruit of her divinity and
miraculous trances" spreading far and wide, Mr. Thomas Wotton, "a man of
great Worship and Wisdom, and for deciding and ordering of Matters, of
rare and singular Dexterity," got to the true understanding of the case,
when "the Fraud was found, and the cozenage confessed, and she received
condign Punishment." After her trial, and when she knew the worst, she
"showed her Feats, Illusions, and Trances, with the Residue of all her
miraculous Works in the Presence of divers Gentlemen of great Worship and
Credit at Boston-Malherb, in the House of the said Mr. Wotton." "Now
compare this wench with the witch of Endor, and you shall see that both
the cozenages may be done by one art," says Reginald Scot.


It was in this same year that Agnes Brigs and Rachel Pindar had to do
penance at St. Paul's Cross, in London,[99] having been convicted of cheat
and imposture in pretending to vomit pins and straws and old "clouts," and
other such impossibilities; and for counterfeiting possession by the
Devil, which the philosophers of the time thought was no subject to trifle
with, or affect in any manner whatsoever. And then, a few years later, a
young Dutchman living at Maidstone was dispossessed of ten devils, and the
mayor of the town got to subscribe his name to the account, which turned
out afterwards to be nothing but fraud and lies. In 1579[100] four
witches were hung up together, the chief accusation against one of them,
Mother Still, being, "that she did kill one Saddocke with a touch on the
shoulder, for not keeping promise with her for an old cloak, to make her a
safeguard; and that she was hanged for her labour:" and another, Ellein
Smith, was executed at Maldon,[101] on the testimony of her little son of
eight, who accused her of having three spirits--Great Dick in a wicker
bottle, Little Dick in a leathern bottle, and Willet kept in a woolpack.
Upon which the house was commanded to be searched, and "the bottles and
packe were found, but the spirites were banished awaie."

At the Rochester assizes, held 1591, Margaret Simons,[102] the wife of
John Simons, of Brenchley in Kent, was arraigned for witchcraft, on the
charge of bewitching the son of John Ferrall the vicar. An ill-conditioned
young cub was he, and prentice to Robert Scotchford, clothier; and the
father himself seems to have been little better than his son--making a bad
pair between them for the teacher and "pattern child" of Brenchley. There
had long been ill blood between Mr. John Ferrall, vicar, and Margaret
Simons; and one day it came somewhat to a head; for, when the boy was
passing Margaret's house on his way home, her little dog jumped out at him
and barked. "Which thing the boy taking in evil part," says Reginald
Scot, in his quaint, blunt, incisive way, "drew his knife, and pursued him
therewith even to her door; whom she rebuked with some such words as the
boy disclaimed, and yet neverthelesse would not be perswaded to depart in
a long time." The consequence of the fray was, that the boy in five or six
days' time fell dangerously ill. Then the vicar, "who thought himself so
privileged as he little mistrusted that God would visit his children with
sicknesse," declared that his son was bewitched by Margaret Simons, who
also had done the like evil to himself; for whenever he wished to read the
service with special emphasis and care his voice always failed him, so
that his congregation could scarce hear him at all. Margaret made answer
that his voice was always hoarse and low, and particularly when he
strained himself to speak loudest then it ever failed him: but there was
no witchcraft in the case, for all that Mr. Ferrall had procured the
health of his son at the hands of another witch, who had taken off the
charm and effected a perfect cure. Margaret had a very narrow escape for
her life. The whole of the jury, save one man, were against her, but she
had in her favour the fact that the vicar was very unpopular, and, justly
or unjustly, lay under some odious charges; so, what with the sane
juryman's exertions in her favour, and Mr. Ferrall's small hold on the
interest and affections of his parishioners, she was brought in Not
Guilty, and the hangman's cord fell slack from his greedy grasp.

It must have been somewhere about this time that the execution mentioned
by Dr. More in his 'Antidote to Atheism' took place, when a mother and
daughter were hanged at Cambridge for witchcraft and service to the
Devil. When the mother was called on to renounce and forsake her old
master, she refused to do so, saying that he had been faithful to her for
fourscore years, and she would not be faithless now to him. And in that
obstinacy she died, with a courage and constancy worthy a better cause.
The daughter was of a contrary mind. She avowed her misdeeds, and asked
for pardon and grace, was penitent, and faithful, and earnest in prayer.
All of which the Devil took, as may be imagined, very heinously; and
showed his displeasure by sending, in the midst of a dead calm, so sudden
and violent a blast of wind, that the mother's body was driven sharply
against the ladder, and was like to have overturned it, while the gallows
shook with such force that the men standing round were fain to hold the
posts, for fear of all being flung to the ground. It was somewhat before
this, that at Town Malling, in Kent, one of Queen Mary's Justices, "on the
complaint of many wise men, and a few foolish boyes, laid an archer by the
heels because he shot so near the white at buts. For he was informed and
perswaded that the poor man played with a fly, otherwise called a devill
or familiar. And because he was certified that the archer aforesaid shot
better than the common shooting, which he before had heard of or seen, he
conceived it could not be in God's name, but by inchantment, whereby the
archer (as he supposed, by abusing the Queen's liege people) gained some
one day two or three shillings, to the detriment of the commonwealth, and
to his owne inriching. And therefore the archer was severely punished, to
the great encouragement of archers, and to the wise example of justice,
but specially to the overthrow of witchcraft." Which quaint little
anecdote of Scot's is worth a whole handful of jewels more richly set.

We are coming now to one of the most curious of the older trials, that


held before Brian Darcey. It is contained in a rare and beautiful little
black-letter book,[103] and is spoken of by Scot in his 'Discovery'
without much sparing of ridicule. It opens thus: "If there hath bin at
anytime (Right Honorable) any meanes used to appease the wrath of God, to
obtaine his blessing, to terrifie secreete offenders by open transgressors
punishments, to withdraw honest natures from the corruption of euill
company, to diminish the great multitude of wicked people, to increase the
small number of virtuous persons, and to reforme all the detestable abuses
which the peruerse witte and will of man doth dayly devise, this
doubtlesse is no lesse necessarye than the best, that Sorcerers,
Wizzardes, or rather Dizzardes, Witches, Wise women (for so they will be
named), are rygorously punished. Rygorously? sayd I; why it is too milde
and gentle a tearme for such a mercilesse generation: I should rather have
sayd most cruelly execueted; for that no punishment can be thought vpon,
be it in neuer so high a degree of torment, which may be deemed sufficient
for such a deuilishe and damnable practise." These were the sentiments of
W. W., as propounded to his patron "the right honourable and his singular
good lorde, the Lord Darcey," to whom he inscribes his little book. For
Brian Darcy, evidently a relation, had lately put in practice the views
and opinions of a worthy citizen and zealous Christian touching witches,
at the great holocaust offered up at "S. Osees" (St. Osyth), in the 23rd
year of Queen Elizabeth's reign (1582): and witch hatred therefore ran in
the blood.

The first complainant in this process was Grace Thurlowe, wife of John
Thurlowe, who came to make her moan about the evil practices of her
neighbour, Ursley Kempe, alias Grey. About twelve months since, said
Grace, her son Davy was strangely taken and greatly tormented. Ursley
came, like the rest of the neighbours, to see him; but, unlike the rest,
she thrice took the child by the hand, saying each time, "A good childe,
howe are thou loden:" going out of the house and returning between each
phrase, which was evidently a charm, and no holy way of pitying a sick
child. After this she said to Grace, "I warrant thee, I, thy childe shall
doe well enough;" and sure it was so, for that night the child slept well,
and after another such cantrip visit from Ursula, mended entirely. This
was not much to complain to the magistrates about, but Grace had another
and more grievous count. After this evident cure of her son she was
delivered of a woman child, and, ungratefully enough, asked not Ursley to
be her nurse; whereat sprang up a quarrel, and the child in consequence
fell out of the cradle and brake its neck; not because it was clumsily
laid, or carelessly rocked, but because Ursley was a witch and had a
grievance against Grace. And to this mischance, when she heard of it, all
that the old dame said, was, "It maketh no matter; for she might have
suffered me to have the keeping and nursing of it." Then a trouble and a
"fratch" ensued, and Ursley threatened Grace with lameness, whereat Grace
answered, "Take heed, Ursley, thou hast a naughtie name;" but in spite of
her warning the old witch did her work, so that Grace was taken with such
lameness that she had to go upon her hands and knees. And thus it
continued; whenever she began to amend her child fell ill, and when her
child was well she was cast down lame and helpless.

Then Annis Letherdall had her word. Annis and Ursley had a little matter
of commerce between them, but Annis failed the suspected woman, "knowing
her to be a naughtie beast." So Ursley in revenge bewitched Annis's child,
and that so severely that Mother Ratcliffe, a skilful woman, doubted if
she could do it any good; yet for all that she ministered unto it kindly.
And, as a proof that it was Ursley, and only Ursley, who had so harmed the
babe, and that its sad state came in no wise from bad food, bad nursing,
and filthy habits, the little creature of only one year old, when it was
carried past her house, cried "wo, wo," and pointed with its finger
windowwards. What evidence could be stronger? So then, to clinch the
matter and strike fairly home, the magistrate examined Thomas Rabbet,
Ursley's "base son," a child of barely eight years of age, and got his
version of the mother's life. The little fellow's testimony went chiefly
on the imps at home. His mother had four, he said--Tyffin, like a white
lamb; Titty, a little grey cat; Pygine, a black toad; and Jacke, a black
cat; and she fed them, at times with wholesome milk and bread, and at
times they sucked blood from her body. He further said that his mother had
bewitched Johnson and his wife to death, and that she had given her imps
to Godmother Newman, who put them into an earthen pot which she hid under
her apron, and so carried them away. One Laurence then said that she had
bewitched his wife, so that when "she lay a drawing home, and continued so
a day and a night, all the partes of her body were colde like a dead
creatures, and yet at her mouth did appeare her breath to goe and come."
Thus she lingered, said her husband, until Ursley came in unbidden, turned
down the bed-clothes, and took her by the arm, when immediately she gasped
and died. Ursley at first would confess nothing beyond having had, ten or
eleven years ago, a lameness in her bones, for the cure of which she went
to Cook's wife of Wesley, who told her that she was bewitched, and taught
her a charm by which she might unwitch herself and cure her bones; which
charm quite answered its purpose, and had never failed her with her
neighbours; all else she denied. But upon Brian Darcy[104] "promising to
the saide Ursley that if she would deale plainely and confesse the truth
that she should have fauour, so by giving her faire speeche she confessed
as followeth." "Bursting out with weeping" and falling on her knees, she
said, yes, she had the four imps her son had told of, and that two of
them, Titty and Jack, were "hees," whose office was to punish and kill
unto death; and two, Tiffin and Piggin, were "shees," who punished with
lameness and bodily harm only, and destroyed goods and cattle. And she
confessed that she had killed all the folk charged against her; her
brother-in-law's wife, and Grace Thurlowe's cradled child, making it to
fall out of its cradle and break its neck solely by her enchantments; and
that she had bewitched that little babe of Annis Letherdall's, and
Laurence's wife, and, in fact, that she had done all the mischief with
which she was charged. Then, not liking to be alone, she said that Mother
Bennet had two imps; the one a black dog, called Suckin, the other red
like a lion, Lyerd: and that Hunt's wife had a spirit too, for one evening
she peeped in at her window when she was from home, and saw it look out
from a potcharde from under a bundle of cloth, and that it had a brown
nose like a ferret. And she told other lies of her neighbours, saying that
her spirit Tiffin informed her of all these things; and Brian Darcy sat
there, gloating over these maniacal revelations. But in spite of his soft
words and fair promises, Ursley Kempe was condemned, and executed when her
turn came.

Joan Pechey, widow, was then brought forward; and Ales Hunt, herself an
accused witch, deposed against her that she was angry because, at a
distribution of bread made by the said Brian Darcy, she had gotten a loaf
which was too hard baked for her; whereat in a pet she said it might have
been given to some one younger, and not to her, with no teeth to eat
through the crust. And then Ales watched her home, and saw her go in alone
to her own house where no human soul was; but there she heard her say, as
to some one, "Yea, are you so sawsie; are yee so bolde; you were not best
to bee so bolde with mee: For if you will not bee ruled, you shall have
Symonds sawse; yea, saide the saide Joan, I perceive if I doe give you an
inch you will take an ell." All of which talk Ales Hunt found was to no
Christian creature, but to her foul and wicked imps. The which testimony
her sister, Margerie Sammon, confirmed, saying that old Joan was as clever
as their own mother (a noted witch, one Mother Barnes), or any one else
in S. Osees skilled in sorcery and magic. Another examinate then came
forward with a story of a bewitched cow unbewitched by a fire lighted
around it: which, however, does not apparently touch any of the accused.
And then the accuser, Ales Hunt, was made to take the place of the
accused, and listen to the catalogue of her own sins. The chief witness
against her was her little daughter-in-law (step-child?) Febey, of the age
of eight or thereabouts, who deposed to her having two little things like
horses, the one white the other black, which she kept by her bedside in a
little low earthern pot with wool, colour white and black, and which she
fed with milk out of a black "trening" dish. When the Commissioners went
to search the place they found indeed the board which Phoebe said was
used to cover them, and she pointed out the trening dish whence they were
fed; but the little things like horses were gone; when Phoebe said they
had been sent to Hayward of Frowicke. After a time Alice Hunt was brought
to confess not only to two, but four, imps; two like colts, black and
white, called Jack and Robbin; and two like toads, Tom and Robbyn. Mother
Barnes, her mother, gave them to her, she said, when she died; and she
gave her sister, Margerie Sammon, two also. When Margerie was confronted
with Alice and heard what she had deposed, she got very angry and denied
the whole tale, saying: "I defie thee, though thou art my sister," saying
that she had never any imps given to her on her mother's death-bed, or at
any other time. But Alice took her aside and whispered something in her
ear; after which Margerie, "with great submission" and many tears,
confessed that she had in truth these two imps, given to her by her mother
as her sister had said, and that she had carried them away that same
evening in a wicker basket filled with black and white wool. Her mother
had said that if she did not like to keep them old Joan Pechey would be
glad of them; but she did not part with them just then; and that she was
to feed them on bread and milk, otherwise they would suck her blood. Their
names were Tom and Robbin, and last evening she took them away--being
perhaps afraid to keep them longer, now that the scent was warm--and went
into Read's ground, where she bade them "go." Immediately they skipped out
of the wicker basket toward a barred gate going into Howe Lane, to Mother
Peachey's house, whereat she, Margerie, said, "All evill goe with you, and
the Lorde in heaven blesse mee from yee."

All of which Mother Peachy, who seems to have been an upright,
high-spirited old dame, stoutly denied. She was threescore year and
upwards, she said, and had lived forty years in S. Osees in honour and
good repute. She knew Mother Barnes, yet knew her for no witch, nor ever
heard her to be so accompted, or to have skill in any witchery; nor was
she at her death-bed; nor knew she of her imps. For her own part she
denied that she had any "puppettes, spyrites, or maumettes;" or had had
any spirits conveyed to her by Margery Sammon, or since Mother Barnes's
death. She denied all that Ales Hunt had said, as, "Yea, art thou so
bolde," &c., she denied that she had had any hand in Johnson's death, as
she had been accused of, but when he died said only he was a very honest
man: she also denied some very shocking passages with her son, which he,
however, had been brought to confess; and when questioned more closely
concerning her imps, said that she had only a kitten and a dog at home.
When asked of what colour were they? she answered tartly, "Ye may goe and

Ales Newman was also condemned and executed; being obstinate to the last;
denying the four counts with which she was charged, viz. her imps, the
slaughter of her own husband, of John Johnson, and of his wife. But
William Hoke deposed that on his death-bed her husband had been
perpetually crying out against her, saying, "Dost thou not see--dost thou
not see?" meaning the imp with which she tormented him, and which he
strove vainly to beat away. Seeing her obstinacy, Brian Darcy told her
that he would sever her and her spirits asunder; to which she answered
quickly, "Nay," sayth shee, "that shal ye not, for I will carry them with
mee." Then seeing that they took note of her words, she added, "if I have
any." The admission was enough, and she was hanged.

Elizabeth Bennet denied that she had had any hand in the bewitching to
death Johnson or his wife, saying that the aforesaid Ales had done it all.
But William Bonner had his stone ready for her on the other side, accusing
her of bewitching his wife, for "shee, being sickely and sore troubled,
the said Elizabeth vsed speeches unto her, saying, a goode woman howe art
thou loden, and then clasped her in her armes and kissed her. Wherevpon
presently after her vpper Lippe swelled and was very bigge, and her eyes
much sunked into her head, and shee hath lain sithence in a very strange
case." Yet these two women were familiar friends, and "did accompanie much
together;" which shows that friendship was as dangerous as enmity in those
mad times when the swelling of a lip, or the familiarity of a house pet,
could bring the best of a district to the gallows. And then Ursley Kemp's
testimony was remembered against Elizabeth, and the mysteries of Suckin
and Liard sought to be fathomed. Elizabeth at the first was obdurate and
would confess to nothing beyond that she had certainly a pot, but no wool
therein, and no imps to lay on it; but at last she too was persuaded by
Brian Darcy's fine false words; so falling on her knees, "distilling
tears," she made her public moan. William Byet and she dwelt as neighbours
together, she said, living as neighbours should, well and easily; but
latterly they had fallen out, because William called her "old Trot" and
"old witch," and "did ban and curse her and her cattle." So she replied
with calling him "knave," saying, "Wind it vp Byet, for it will light vpon
yourself." And Byet's beast died forthwith. Then Byet's wife beat her
swine with great "gybels," and made them sick; and once she ran a
pitchfork through the side of one so that it was dead, and when the
butcher who bought it came to dress and cut it up, it proved "a messel,"
so she had no money for it, for the butcher would not keep it and she was
forced to take it back again. So far was only the ordinary quarrelling of
ill-tempered country folk, and nothing very damaging to confess to; but
now Brian Darcy's fair words drew from her all about her imp Suckin, a he
and like a black dog, and Lierd, a she and like a hare or a lion, and red.
Suckin had first come to her a long time ago, as she was returning home
from the mill; he held her by the coats, she being amazed, but vanished
when she prayed. Again, when nigh hand at home, he tugged at her coats as
before, yet vanished when she prayed. The next day he came with Lierd, and
asked "why she was so snappish yesterday?" and thus they were for ever
troubling and visiting her, till at last she yielded to their
solicitations, and set them to the work she was accused of. This was the
second instance in which Brian Darcy found that old Ursley and her imp
Tiffin had spoken the truth.

Ales Manfielde bewitched John Sayer's cart, keeping it standing stock
still for above an hour, because she was offended that he would not let
his thatcher cover in an oven for her; and she lamed all Joan Chester's
cattle, because Joan refused her some curds. So Ales Manfielde was
condemned and executed; but not before she made her confession. She said
that Margaret Greuell (Greville), twelve years since, gave her four
imps--Robin, Jack, William, and Puppet or Mamet: they were like black
cats, two shes and two hes, and were put into a box with some wool, and
placed on a shelf by her bed. But Margaret denied it all, even when Ales
was confronted with her; denied too that queer tale of how she had
bewitched John Carter's two brewings, so that half a seame had to go to
the swill tub, all because he would not give her Godesgood. The brewing
was only unbewitched when John's son, a tall lusty man of thirty-six,
managed to stick his arrow in the brewing-vat. He had shot twice before,
but missed, though he was a good shot and stood close to the vat--which
was evident sorcery, somehow. Margaret denied also that she had bewitched
Nicholas Strickland's wife so that she could make no butter, because
Nicholas, who was a butcher, refused her a neck of mutton. But in spite of
all her denials, she, the hale woman of fifty-four, was condemned to
remain in prison, heaven knows for how long; escaping the gallows by a
greater miracle than any recorded of herself.

Elizabeth Ewstace, a year younger than Margaret Greville, was told that
she had bewitched Robert Sanneuer, drawing his mouth all awry so that it
could be got into its place again only with a sharp blow; and that she
had killed his brother Crosse, three years ago, and bewitched his wife
when with child and quite lusty and well, so that she had a most strange
sickness, and the child died soon after its birth; that she made his cows
give blood instead of milk; and caused his hogs "to skip and leap about
the yarde in a straunge sorte," because of the small bickerings to which
S. Osees seemed specially subject. And she hurt all Felice Okey's geese,
and in particular her favourite goose, because she, Felice, had turned
hers out of her yard; all of which Elizabeth Eustace denied to the face of
Alice Mansfield and her other accusers. And as, on being searched, she was
found to have no "bigges" or witch marks, she was mercifully kept in
prison--for the time. And Annis Glascocke, wife of John the sawyer, got
into the trouble that had its end only in the hangman's cord, because
Mychel the shoemaker charged her with being a "naughtie woman," and
because Ursley Kemp, informed by Tiffin, accused her of sundry things
about as true as all the rest of the story. Being found well supplied with
witch marks, her denial was not allowed to go for much; whereupon she
abused Ursley, and said she had bewitched her and made her like to
herself, she, Annis Glascocke, all the time ignorant and innocent of her
devilish arts.

Then came the sad story of Henry Celles (Selles) and his wife Cysley. They
were said to have killed Richard Ross's horses, because Richard had
refused Cicely a bushel of malt which she had come for, bringing a poke to
put it in. And to make the accusation stronger, little Henry their son,
only nine years old, affirmed that at Candlemas last past about midnight
there came to his brother John a spirit, which took him by the left leg
and also by the little toe, and which was like his little sister, only
that it was black. At which his brother cried out, "'Father, father, come
helpe me; there is a black thing that hath me by the legge as big as my
sister;' whereat his father saide to his mother, 'Why thou ----, cannot
you keepe your imps from my children?' Whereat she presently called it
away from her sonne, saying, 'Come away, come away.' At which speeche it
did depart." He further said that his mother fed her imps daily with milk
out of a black dish; that their names were Hercules, Sotheons, or Jacke
which was black and a he, and Mercurie, white and a she; that their eyes
were like goose eyes; and that they lay on some wool under a stack of
broom at the old crab-tree root. And also that his mother had sent
Hercules to Ross for revenge; at which his father, when he heard of it,
said, "She was a trim fool." As she very likely was; but for other things
than sending imps to her neighbours. John, a little fellow of six and
three-quarters, confirmed his brother's deposition, adding to it that "the
imps had eyes as big as himself," and that his mother fed them with thin
milk out of a spoon. He gave the names of other people whom his mother had
bewitched, and he showed his scarred leg, and the nail of the little toe
still imperfect. And Joan Smith deposed that one day, as she was making
ready to go to church, holding her babe in her arms, her mother, one
Redworth's wife, and Cicely were all at her door, ready to draw the latch
as she came out, "whereat the grandmother to the childe tooke it by the
hand, and shoke it, saying, 'A mother pugs, art thou coming to church?'
and Redworth's wife, looking on it, said, 'Here is a iolie and likely
childe--God blesse it.' After which speeches, Selles his wife saide,
'shee hath neuer the more children for that, but a little babe to play
withall for a time.' And she saith within a short time after her said
childe sickened and died. 'But,' she saith"--her womanly heart carrying it
over her superstition--"'that her conscience will not serve her to charge
the said Cysley or her husband to be the causers of any suche matter, but
prayeth God to forgive if they haue dealt in any such sorte.'" Then Thomas
Death accused Cicely Selles and one Barker's wife of bewitching George
Battell's wife and his own daughter Mary, who got such good of the witches
by a wise man's ministering that she saw her tormentor standing in bodily
shape before her; and Ales Baxter was pricked to the heart by a white imp
like a cat which then vanished into the bushes close by, and so badly
holden that she could neither go nor stand nor speak, and did not know her
own master when he came by, but was forced to be taken home in a chair by
two men. All of which Henry Selles and his wife Cicely denied; specially
the story of the imp and the children, who, if there were imps at all in
the matter, were the only imps afloat. But denial did them no good, for
Cicely had witch marks, so was condemned, and the two little lying varlets
made themselves orphans and homeless.

A very crowd of witnesses came to testify against Annis Herd. Of some she
had bewitched the cream, of others the milk; of some the cows or pigs or
wives; but all this was mere floating accusation until the Commissioners
got hold of her little "base" daughter of seven, who gave them plenty of
information. Asked if her mother had imps, she said "Yes;" in one box she
had six "auices," or blackbirds, and in another box six like cows as big
as rats, with short horns, lying in the boxes on white or black wool. And
she said that her mother gave her one of the cow imps, a black and white
one, called Crowe; and to her little brother one, red and white, called
Donne; and that she fed the avices or blackbirds with wheat and barley and
oats and bread and cheese; giving to the cows wheat straw, bean straw, oat
straw, or hay, with water or beer to drink. When her brother sees these
blackbird imps come a "tuitting and tetling" about him, added the little
base daughter, he takes and puts them in the boxes. Some of them sucked on
her mother's hands, and some on her brother's legs, and when they showed
her the marks she pointed them out one by one, saying, "Here sucked aves
and here blackbird." She was sharp enough though to shield herself, young
as she was; for when asked why one of her hands had the same kind of mark,
she said it was burnt. Anis Herd was kept in prison, but not hanged just
then, for she could not, luckily for her, be got to confess to anything
very damaging. She said that she was certainly angry with the churl
Cartwright for taking away a bough which she had laid over a flow in the
highway, but she had not bewitched him or his; and that she had, truly,
kept Lane's wife's dish fourteen days or more, as Lane's wife had said,
and that Lane's wife had sent for the twopence which she, Anis, owed her,
and that she had grumbled with her--also with this neighbour and that
neighbour, according to the habits of S. Osees--but that she had bewitched
none of them. And she denied the avices and the blackbirds and all and
sundry of the stories of Crow or Dun; which, indeed, with some others
spoken of by the children, seem to have been, _if existing at all_, toys
or treasures kept hoarded from them, to which they added these magical and
absurd conditions as their imaginations taught them or their examiners

Joan Robinson, another S. Osees witch, was to blame for various acts of
sorcery and witchcraft--hurting one woman's brood goose, and another's
litter of pigs, drowning cows, laming ambling mares, and the rest of the
witch's playful practices; all of which she, too, denied strenuously, but
nevertheless formed one of the thirteen victims whom the offended justice
of the times found necessary to condemn and execute. So this sad trial
came to an end, and Brian Darcy covered his name with infamy so long as
W. W. has a black letter copy extant.

The following singular table is drawn up at the end of the book:--

     "The names of XIII Witches and those that have been bewitched by

     The Names of those persons that have beene bewitched and thereof haue
     dyed, and by whome, and of them that haue receyved bodyly harme, &c.
     As appeareth vpon sundrye Enformations, Examinations, and Confessions
     taken by the worshipfull Bryan Darcey, Esquire; and by him certified
     at large vnto the Queene's Maiestie's Justices of Assise of the
     Countie of Essex, the XXIX of Marche, 1582.

     S. Osythes.      The Witches. }           {Kempes wife,
                   1. Ursley Kempe,} bewitched {Thorlowes Childe,
                       alias Gray  } to death  {and Strettons wife.

                   2. Ales Newman  }
                       and Ursley  } bewitched {Letherdalles childe,
                       Kempe       } to death  {and Strettons wife.

     Confessed by}    The said Ales}
       Ursley and}     and Ursley  } bewitched {Strattons Childe,}whereof
       Elizabeth.}     Kempe       }           {Grace Thorlowe,  }they did

                                               {William Byet, and Joan his
                   3. Elizabeth    } bewitched { wife, and iii of his
                       Bennet      } to death  { beasts.
                                               {The wife of William Willes,
                                               {  and William Wittingalle.

                      Elizabeth    }           {William Bonners Wife, John
                       Bennet      } bewitched { Butler, Fortunes Childe;
                                               { whereof they did languish.

                      Ales Newman  } bewitched {John Johnson and his Wife,
                                   }to death   { and her own Husband, as it
                                               { is thought.

     Confessed   } 4. Ales Hunt    } bewitched {Rebecca Durrant and vi
     the cattell.}                 } to death  { beasts of one Haywardes.

                   5. Cysley Celles} bewitched { Thomas Deaths Childe.
                                   } to death  {

     Little      }    Cysley Celles  bewitched {Rosses Mayde, Mary Death,
     Clapton.    }                             { whereof they did languish.

                      Cysley Celles} bewitched Richard Rosses horse and
                           and     }  beasts and caused their Impes to
     Thorpe.       6. Ales         }  burne a barne with much corne.
                       Manfielde   }

     Confessed by} 7. Ales         } bewitched {Robert Chesson, and
     Ales        }     Manfielde   } to death  { Greuell husband to
     Manfield.   }     and Margaret}           { Margaret.
                       Greuell     }

                      Ales         } bewitched the widdow Chesson, and her
                       Manfielde   }  husband, v beasts and one bullocke,
                       and Margaret}  and seuerall brewinges of beere, and
                       Greuell     }  batches of bread.

     Thorpe.       8. Elizabeth    } bewitched {Robert Stannevettes Childe,
                       Ewstace     } to death  { and Thomas Crosse.

                      Elizabeth    } bewitched Robert Stanneuet, vii milch
                       Ewstace     }  beasts, w{h} gaue blood in steede of
                                      milke, and seuerall of his Swine

     Little Okley. 9. Annys Herd   } bewitched {Richard Harrisons wife, and
                                   } to death  { two wives of William
                                               { Dowsinge, as it is
                                               { supposed.

                      Annys Herd   } bewitched Cartwright two beasts,
                                   }  made, sheepe, and lambes xx; West
                                   }  swine, and pigs; Diborne, a brewing
                                   }  of beere, and seuerall other losses
                                   }  of milke and creame.

     Walton.      10. Joan Robinson} bewitched beasts, horses, swine, and
                                   }  pigs, of seuerall men.

     "The sayd Ursley Kemp had foure spyrites, viz., their names Tettey a
     hee like a gray Cat, Jack a hee like a black Cat, Pygin a she like a
     black Toad, and Tyffin a she like a white Lambe. The hees were to
     plague to death, and the shees to punish with bodily harme, and to
     destroy cattell.

     "Tyffyn, Ursley's white Spirit, did tell her alwayes (when she asked)
     what the other witches had done: and by her the most part were
     appelled, which spirit telled her alwayes true. As is well approved
     by the other Witches confession.

     "The sayd Ales Newman had the sayd Ursley Kemps spirits to vse at her
     pleasure. Elizabeth Bennet had two spirits, viz., their names Suckyn,
     a hee like a blacke Dog: and Lyard, red lyke a Lyon or Hare.

     "Ales Hunt had two spirits lyke Colts, the one blacke, the other

     "11. Margery Sammon had two spirits lyke Toads, their Names Tom and

     "Cysley Celles had two spirits by seuerall names, viz., Sotheons,
     Hercules, Jack, or Mercury.

     "Ales Manfield and Margaret Greuell had in common by agreement, iiii
     Spirits, viz., their names Robin, Jack, Will, Puppet, alias Mamet,
     whereof two were hees, and two were shees, lyke vnto black Cats.

     "Elizabeth Ewstace had iii Impes or Spirits of colour white, grey,
     and black.

     "Annis Herd had vi Impes or Spirites, like auises and black byrdes,
     and vi other like Kine, of the bygnes of Rats, with short hornes; the
     Auises shee fed with wheat, barley, otes, and bread, the Kine with
     straw and hay.

        Annys Glascocke.  } These have not confessed any thing touching
        12. Joan Pechey.  }   the hauing of spirits.
        13. Joan Robinson.}

        Annis Glascocke   } bewitched  { Mychell Steuens Childe.
                          } to death   { The base Childe at Pages.
                                       {William Pages Childe.

Thus did W. W. and Bryan Darcey finish their respective works, in which,
perhaps, this formal tabular statement, this pretence at scientific
arrangement and accuracy, is the strangest and most revolting

Another rare and curious[106] black-letter pamphlet gives a marvellous
account of a woman's possession, as it happened in Somersetshire; which
perchance we of the light-minded and sceptical nineteenth century might
interpret differently to what the believing sixteenth held likely.


One Stephen Cooper, of Ditchet, a yeoman of honest reputation, good
wealth, and well beloved by his neighbours, being sick and weak, sent his
wife Margaret to a farm of his at Rockington, Gloucestershire, where she
remained a few days--not finding all to her liking, she said. When she
returned she found her husband somewhat better, but she herself was
strange and wild, using much idle talk to him concerning an old groat
which her little son had found and which she wanted to see, and raving
about the farm in Gloucestershire, as if she had been bewitched, and knew
not what she said. Then she began to change in very face, and to look on
her husband with "a sad and staring countenance;" and, one night, things
came to a climax, for she got very wild and bad, and shook so frightfully
that they could scarce keep her down in the bed; and then she began
talking of a headless bear, which, she said, she had been into the town to
beat away during the time of her fit, and which had followed her from
Rockington: as the sequel proved was true. Her friends and husband
exhorted her to prayer and patience, but she still continued marvellously
holden, the Devil getting quite the better of her until Sunday night, when
she seemed to come to her worst. Suddenly the candle, which they had not
been noticing, went out, and she set up a lamentable cry; they lighted
another, but it burnt so dim it was almost useless, and the friends and
neighbours themselves began to be disquieted. Wildly and hurriedly cried
Margaret, "Look! do you not see the Devil?" herself all terrified and
disturbed. They bade her be still and pray. Then said Margaret, "Well, if
you see nothing now, you shall see something by and bye;" and "forthwith
they heard a noise in the streete, as it had been the coming of two or
three carts, and presently they in the chamber cried out, 'Lord helpe us,
what manner of thing is this that commeth here!'" For up to the bedside
where the woman lay with heaving breasts and dilated eyes, came a thing
like a bear, only that it had no head and no tail; a thing "half a yard in
height and half a yard in length" (no bigger, Margaret? not so big as a
well-trussed man on all-fours?) which, when her husband saw, he took a
joyn'd stool, and "stroke" at it, and the blow sounded as though it had
fallen on a feather bed. But the creature took no notice of the man: it
wanted only Margaret. Slowly it paddled round the bed, then smote her
thrice on the feet, took her out of bed, and rolled her to and fro in the
chamber, round about the floor and under the bed; the husband and friends,
sore amazed and affrighted, only calling on God to assist them, not daring
to lift a hand for themselves or her. And all the while the candle grew
dimmer and dimmer, so that they could scarce see each other: which was
what Margaret and the headless bear, no doubt, desired. Then the creature
took her in its arms, thrust her head between her legs so that he made her
into a round ball, and "so roulled her in a rounde compasse like an Hoope
through three other Chambers, downe an highe paire of staires, in the
Hall, where he kept her for the space of a quarter of an hour." The people
above durst not come down, but remained above, weeping pitifully and
praying with loud and fervent prayer. And there was such a terrible stench
in the hall, and such fiery flames darting hither and thither, that they
were fain to stop their noses with clothes and napkins, expecting every
moment to find that hell was opening beneath their feet, and that they
would be no longer able to keep out of harm's way and the Devil's. Then
Margaret cried out, "He is gone. Now he is gone!" and her husband joyfully
bade her come up to him again; which she did, but so quickly that they
greatly marvelled at it, and thought to be sure the Devil had helped her.
Yet she proved to be none the worse for the encounter: which was singular,
as times went. They then put her in bed, and four of them kept down the
clothes, praying fervently. Suddenly the woman was got out of bed: she did
not move herself by nerves, muscles, or will, of course; but she was
carried out by a supernatural power, and taken to the window at the head
of the bed. But whether the devil or she opened the window, the pamphlet
does not determine. Then her legs were thrust out of the window, and the
people heard a thing knock at her feet as if it had been upon a tub; and
they saw a great fire, and they smelt a grievous smell; and then, by the
help of their prayers, they pulled Margaret into the room again, and set
her upon her feet. After a few moments she cried out, "O Lord, methinks I
see a little childe!" But they paid no heed to her. Twice or thrice she
said this, and ever more earnestly; and at last they all looked out at the
window, for they thought to be sure she must have some meaning for her
raving. And "loe, they espied a thing like unto a little child, with a
bright shining countenaunce casting a greate light in the chamber." And
then the candle, which had hitherto burnt blue and dim, gave out its
natural light so that they could all see each other. Whereupon they fell
to joyful prayer, and gave thanks to God for the deliverance. And Margaret
Cooper was laid in her bed again, calm, smiling, and collected, never more
to be troubled by a Headless Bear which rolled her about like a ball, or
by a bright shining child looking out from the chinks of a rude magic
lantern. As for the bear, I confess I think he was nearer akin to man than
devil; that he was known about Rockington in Gloucestershire; and that
Margaret Cooper understood the conduct of the plot from first to last. But
then this is the sceptical nineteenth century, wherein the wiles of human
cunning are more believed in than the power of the devil, or the miracles
of supernaturalism. Yet this was a case which, in spite of all its fraud
and folly so patently displayed, was cited as one of the most notorious
and striking instances of the power of Satan over the bodies as well as
the souls of those who gave themselves up to the things of the world.


In 1589, Robert Throckmorton, Esquire, lived at Warbois, in
Huntingdonshire. He had five daughters, the eldest of whom, Miss Joan, was
fifteen, while the rest came down in steps, two years or so between each,
in the ordinary manner. On the tenth of November, Mistress Jane, being
then near ten years of age, was suddenly seized with a kind of fit. She
"screeked" loud and often, lay as if in a trance for half an hour or more,
shook one leg or one arm and no other, "as if the Palsie had been in it,"
made her body so stiff and rigid that no man could bend her, and went
through the usual forms of a young girl's hysteria. A neighbour, one Alice
Samuel, who lived next door to the Throckmortons, went in to see the
afflicted child; for all the neighbours were flocking in to see her as a
kind of curiosity; and, stepping up into the chimney-side, sat hard down
by her, she being held in another woman's arms by the fire. Suddenly the
child cried out, "Did you ever see one more like a Witch than she is?"
pointing to Mother Samuel; "take off her black-thrumb'd cap, for I cannot
abide to look at her."

Nothing was thought of her words at the time, the mother merely chiding
her for her lightness of speech; but "the old woman hearing her, sat
still, without saying a word, yet looked very dismally, as those that saw
her remembered very well." And as well she might, poor old soul; for she
must have known that Mrs. Jane's light speech would in all probability be
heavy enough to bring her down to the grave.

Doctoring did the child no good. Dr. Barrow of Cambridge, the most noted
man of the district, gave the distemper no satisfactory name, and his
remedies were powerless to remove it; Mr. Butler, another skilful man, was
equally at fault; and when, about a month after Mrs. Jane had been
attacked, two other daughters were driven to the like extremity, and
"cry'd out upon Mother Samuel, 'Take her away, look where she standeth
there before us in a black thrumb'd Cap (which she commonly wore, though
not then); it's she that hath bewitched us, and she will kill us if you
don't take her away,'" the parents were moved to believe the whole thing
supernatural, and that Mother Samuel had indeed bewitched them as they
said. About a month after the affliction of these two, a younger child,
not quite nine years old, was taken like the rest; and soon after Mrs.
Joan, of fifteen, went the same way--only more severely handled than them
all. Mrs. Joan had a specialty in her fits. She was not only hysterical
like her sisters, but she had a Spirit, and this Spirit sounded in her
ears information of things to come: as, that the servants as well as the
five children should be bewitched--which they were, but did not become so
notorious as the little impostors of better blood; all recovering so soon
as they left the house for other situations, and nothing more being heard
of them. Things went on then in this manner, the children being
perpetually tormented with fits, and for ever crying out against old dame
Samuel, when, in February of the next year (1590), it was resolved to
bring her to the house that the children might "scratch" her, and so
relieve themselves somewhat. Whereupon she, her young daughter Agnes, and
one Cicely Burder--both of whom were accused of the same malpractices as
herself--were haled to Mr. Throckmorton's, there to undergo their
preliminary ordeal. Every care was taken to prevent the mother from
holding any communication with her daughter Agnes; but at the entry she
managed to lean over and whisper to her. Mr. Pickering, the children's
uncle, who had undertaken to conduct this Scratching, was ready to swear
that she said, "I charge thee do not confess anything;" but Mother Samuel
swore, in her turn, that she had only charged her to hasten home to get
her father his dinner; for that same father was a terrible old Turk, and
not likely to wait patiently for his dinner or aught else.

When the women went into the house the children were standing by the fire,
perfectly well; but the instant they saw Mother Samuel, they fell down in
their fits, leaping and springing about like fishes newly taken out of the
water, drawing their heads and heels backwards, and throwing out their
arms with great groans that were terrible and troublesome to those that
beheld them. They screamed and struggled to get at the old woman,
scratching at the bed-clothes, or the maids' aprons, or anything they
could touch, crying out, "O! that I had her! O! that I had her!" And when
Mr. Pickering forced Mother Samuel's hand within theirs, they scratched at
it with so much vehemence that one of them splintered her nails "with her
eager desire of revenge;" doing the same by Cicely Burder, who thus, we
are not told how or why, found herself in a dangerous and equivocal
position, but seems to have got well out of it in time. Or perhaps she
died between whiles, happily for herself.

For the next few months it was Mrs. Elizabeth Throckmorton who kept up the
ball. Mr. Pickering took her away with him to his own house, where she
fooled them all to the top of their bent, crying out to Mother Samuel to
take away her mouse, for she would have none of it, and exclaiming in
piteous tones that Mother Samuel was trying to force a cat, or a frog, or
sometimes a toad, into her mouth; hopping about on one leg, pretending to
be utterly incapable of putting the other to the ground; sometimes going
for two steps at a time, when "she would halt and give a beck with her
head as low as her knees;" asking if no one heard the spirit within her
lapping the milk she had just taken; playing at cards with her eyes shut,
or seemingly so; and falling into drowsy fits which took her even in the
midst of meals, or any while else specially untimely. Her bewitchment took
a certain controversial turn too, and witnessed for the Pope and the
Devil; for "on the Eleventh, one asked her if she loved the Word of God;
whereupon she was much troubled and tormented. When they asked, Love you
Witchcraft? she was content. Love you the Bible? it shaked her. Love you
Papistry? the Devil within her was quiet. Love you Prayer? it raged. Love
you the Mass? it was still. Love you the Gospel? it heaved up her Belly;
so that every good thing it disliked; but whatever concerned Popish
Idolatry it was pleased with." Mr. Pickering kept this sectarian young
lady from March to September, and then it pleased Mistress Elizabeth to
require change of air and scene, and she demanded to be taken back to her
father's house at Warbois. There she played off her tricks with new
vigour, when Lady Cromwell, wife of Sir Henry Cromwell, Knt., hearing of
these heavy afflictions came to visit the children and comfort the
parents. The children of course went off into their customary state; it
was not their game to disappoint my Lady; "and were so grievously
Tormented that it moved the good Lady's Heart with Pity, so that she could
not forbear Tears, and caused old Mother Samuel to be sent for, who durst
not deny to come, because her Husband was Tenant to Sir Henry Cromwell."
As soon as she came in, the children were so much worse that the Lady,
transported beyond herself, and exceedingly angry that Mother Samuel would
not confess to her crime, seized hold of her as she was struggling to get
free of their hands and slip out of the room, pulled off her kircher, and
cut off a lock of her hair, which she gave privately to Mrs. Throckmorton
together with the old dame's hairlace; bidding her burn them. The old
woman turning against the Lady, said, half sorrowfully, "Madam, why do you
use me thus? I never did you any harm as yet:" words to be remembered and
treasured up against her, when the hour came. That very night Lady
Cromwell had bad dreams concerning Mother Samuel and her cat, which she
said came to strip all the flesh from her--and awakened, crying mightily
and much distressed. From that time she had fits, and continued very
hardly holden till her dying day, which was one year and a quarter after
the visit to Warbois. So Mother Samuel's words were held to have been
witch's threats, and the whole country was convinced that Lady Cromwell
had died by her magic arts, and bewitched. As she was, poor lady, with
nervous fear and superstition and ignorance.

The next year, in the winter of 1591, Mr. Henry Pickering, a young student
at Cambridge, tried to make Dame Samuel confess, but she would not suffer
him or his companions to speak, and when they desired her to speak
softlier, answered: "She was born in a Mill, begot in a Kiln, and must
have her Will, and could speak no softlier." Then Mr. Henry began to
question her on her faith, but got only tart answers; so, losing patience,
he said that if she did not repent and confess to having worked that
wickedness on the children, he hoped one day to see her burn at the stake,
and that he would bring wood and faggots and the children should blow the
coals. To which old Dame Samuel replied that she "would rather see him
doused over head in the pond;" and so went away home, to be beaten for
gossiping and staying late, by that terrible old Turk of hers.

And now the children would be well only when the dame was with them; so
the parents sought to engage her to live with them, but the old Turk would
not give his consent, and beat her severely with a cudgel on the slightest
pretext. The whole thing angered him, and his dame could not do right let
her do what she would. However, he was prevailed on to spare her for eight
or nine days, during which time the lying little girls professed
themselves cured of all their haunting spirits--dun chickens, naked babes,
and the like; to the old woman's extreme consternation and passionate
assurances of innocence. Then the children turned against Agnes Samuel,
the daughter, declaring that she had bewitched them equally with the
mother: whereupon the father, Mr. Throckmorton, went to bring her to the
house; when she hid herself in an attic or loft, barricading herself in by
sacks of wool piled up on the trapdoor. She was forced to come down at
last, and her fear was made the chief evidence against her. The hour had
come round for her on Time's cruel dial, and she could not escape the
inevitable decree that had gone forth. All this while the old mother was
forcibly detained at Mr. Throckmorton's house; the children pretending
that they could be well only in her presence, and absolutely refusing to
let her go, though she was sick and fearful and weary, and cried to get
home again to her daughter and husband. That uncompromising oaken cudgel
of his was less terrible than the awful suspicion under which she was
living here; and the harassing uncertainty of her life--never knowing what
new lie the children might frame against her, nor how much nearer they
might bring her to the gallows by some wicked fancy or delusion--was
infinitely worse than all the oaths and ill-usage of home, of which she
knew at least the extent and end. She seems to have been a gentle-spirited
old creature in spite of her crusty tongue; and at the beck of every one
who chose to knock her about and require from her service and submission.
When Mr. Throckmorton had teased and threatened and exhorted her, till she
was completely "dazed and mazed" with all she heard--and when the children
had acted their fits with such power and accuracy that they simulated
nature to the life, and had impressed even her with all the wicked things
which their Spirits told them of her and of her daughter--her mind,
enfeebled by suffering and terror, gave way, and she was deluded into a
confession of sin and penitence; after which she obtained leave to go
home. As her husband gave her but a harsh welcome, angry with her for her
weakness in confessing, she recanted as of course; when Mr. Throckmorton,
getting hold of her by an open window beneath which his friends were
stationed, bullied and deluded her once more into making a confession
which they might hear; and on the strength of which he carried off both
dame and daughter, to be examined by the Bishop of Lincoln.

The Bishop found her easy. Yes, she had an imp; a dun chicken which sucked
on her chin, and which she had sent to torment the Throckmorton girls. The
dun chicken and the rest of the spirits were now at the bottom of her
stomach, and made her so full and heavy that she could not lace her coat,
nor was the horse on which she rode able to carry her all the way: she had
three spirits, all like dun chickens--Pluck, Catch, and White, which had
been given her by an "upright man," extremely hard, of the name of
Langland, of no particular dwelling and now gone beyond seas; and she had
sent all three to the children and had plagued them sorely. This she said
at various times, at each clause conjuring the devil and her spirits to
inform her of the facts required by the Right Reverend Father in God.
After her examination she and her daughter were committed to gaol; but Mr.
Throckmorton got Agnes out on bail that he might take her home to the
children, and see what they would say of her. This seemed to him the best
way to complete the evidences of guiltiness against her, which at present
were very slight and worthless. So the net closed tighter and tighter
round this hapless family, and soon the deep black waves, rolling onward,
dashed over their devoted heads.

When they heard that Agnes was brought back to Warbois, the children fell
into their fits again, each saying, "I am glad, I am glad; none so glad as
I." They knew the cruel sport preparing for them, and were in no hurry to
abandon the pleasant excitement of their Possession, during which they
were made so many centres of public interest, petted and commiserated and
looked at and talked about and made of more consequence than the finest
lady in the land. When the game was over they must sink down into the
humdrum lives of good little girls in a country town, of no possible
interest to living being outside their own house door. Surely an event to
be deferred to the latest moment possible! For the first three or four
days after Agnes' arrival they condescended to be well, but, being by that
time tired of their new companion, they fell back into their former state,
and cried out against her more bitterly than they had ever done against
her mother. She was more helpless, too, than the mother, and more entirely
in their power; so that the sport was greater, and the fear of opposition
or detection less. Specially did Mistress Joan, the eldest girl, torment
her; who, being at this time seventeen, had other ideas of spirits than
dun chickens, mice, or frogs, which were all very well in the days of her
infancy but quite uninteresting to her now. The manner in which she
introduced her Spirits was singular. One day, just after her nose had
bled, and she had said "it would be a good thing to throw her handkerchief
into the fire, and burn the young witch," she suddenly looked about her
smiling, and said, "What is this in God's Name that comes tumbling to me?
It tumbles like a Foot-bal, it looks like a puppit-player, and appears
much like its Dame's old thrumb Cap. 'What is your Name, I pray you?' said
she. The Thing answered, his Name was Blew. To which she answered, 'Mr.
Blew you are welcome, I never saw you before; I thought my Nose bled not
for nothing, what News have you brought? What,' says she, 'dost thou say I
shall be worse handled than ever I was? Ha! what dost thou say? that I
shall now have my Fits, when I shall both hear and see and know every
Body? that's a new Trick indeed. I think never any of my Sisters were so
used, but I care not for you: do your worst, and when you have done, you
will make an end.'" Then she cried out that Agnes Samuel had too much
liberty, and must be more strictly looked to; for that Mr. Blew had told
her she should have no peace till she and the old dame were hanged.

Mrs. Joan had opened a most prolific and amusing vein. Her imagination
stopped at nothing, and she showed herself no mean hand at romance. She
was very consecutive too, and kept up the likeness well. In the evening
Mr. Blew appeared again, chiefly for the purpose of telling her that young
Nan Samuel was his Dame, and to ask when the Spirit Smack, of whom he was
jealous, had been with her. Mrs. Joan said she knew of no Smack. "You do,"
says the Thing, "and it is he that tells you all these things, but I will
curse him for it." "Do your worst to me or him, I care not for you," says
she. "Farewel," says the Thing. "Do you bid me farewel?" says she;
"farewel, and be hanged; and come again when you are sent for." So then
she came out of her fit. The next day a strange gentleman coming, Mrs.
Elizabeth passed off into one of her wild states, and Mr. Throckmorton,
"to show the gentleman a wonder," sent for young Agnes, and made her say
after him, "I charge thee, thou Devil, as I love thee, and have Authority
over thee, and am a Witch, and guilty of this matter, that thou suffer
this Child to be well at this present." Upon which Mrs. Elizabeth wiped
her eyes, and was perfectly well; and the wretched young girl was by so
many steps nearer to her doom. The next day was a grand field-day for
Mrs. Joan. Her spirits were in admirable disorder. Mr. Smack came from
fighting with Pluck about her, for they were both in love with her, and
had fought with great cowl staves last night in old dame's back yard, and
Smack had broken Pluck's head, for which Mrs. Joan was not at all
thankful, but, when he looked for a little loving word of gratitude,
answered, scornfully, that she wished Pluck had broke his neck also, and
so bid him go and be hanged for she would have nought to do with him.
Presently in came Mr. Pluck, hanging down his broken head and looking very
sheepish, but jealous and angry with Smack who seemed to have the best
chance of them all with the young lady. Another day it was Catch who came
in limping, with a broken leg got from the redoubtable Smack; but when
Mrs. Joan tried to break his other leg with a stick she had in her
hand--for she was a very scornful young lady to them--she could not; for
ever as she struck at him he leaped over the stick, "just like a
Jack-an-apes," as she said. Mr. Blew's turn came next. He appeared before
her at supper with his arm in a sling: Smack had broken it. So Smack broke
Pluck's head, Catch's leg, and Blew's arm, and then came himself to tell
her that he would beat them all again, with the help of his cousin another
Smack, and one Hardname, whose "Name standeth upon eight Letters, and
every Letter standeth for a Word, but what his Name is otherwise we know
not." Then Smack and she conversed about the propriety of "scratching"
Agnes Samuel; and it was agreed between them that she should not scratch
her then, because her face would be healed by the Assizes, but just before
that time when all the world might see the marks.

And now began a scene of painful brutality. Whenever the children fell
into their fits, they would only consent to be got out of them by Agnes'
repeating a form of conjuration, in which she acknowledged herself to be a
witch and guilty of their disease, commanding the devil, whom she had sent
into them, to leave them. Then they came round, and were well until
strangers called, when they invariably went off into their fits--which we
can quite well understand--or until they got tired of the monotony of
health. The most terrible threats were held out against Nan Samuel; and
each child talked to its particular spirit with passion and fury of
scratching her. It came at last: the little diabolical tempers which rose
higher and higher with each fresh indulgence, getting weary of only fits
and muttered communications with spirits and the thirst for blood grew
into a frenzy. One of the younger children, Mrs. Mary, one day fell into a
"very troublesome Fit," which held her half an hour, and at the last,
growing better, she said, "Is it true? Do you say this is the day I must
scratch the young Witch? I am glad of it; I will pay her home both for
myself and Sisters." The young Pickering men who were standing by, hearing
this, sent for Agnes to come into the room; when she came in the child
cried out, "Art thou come, thou young Witch, who hath done all this
mischief?" At which Agnes seemed surprised, this being the first time Mrs.
Mary had abused her. Then one of the company told her to take Mary in her
arms, and carry her down stairs; but she had no sooner got hold of her
than the child fell to scratching her head and face with eager fierceness;
the poor girl standing still and holding down her head, not defending
herself but only crying out pitifully, while the child scratched on her
face a broad and bleeding wound. When she was out of breath and thus
forced to leave off, she cried and said "she was sorry for her cruelty,
but the Thing made her do it, so that she could not help herself." Another
day it was another of them who fell upon the maid, she not defending
herself or resenting, but "crying out sadly, desiring the Lord to pitty
her." Then they abused her, saying, "Thy Mother is a Witch, thy Father is
a Witch, and thou art a Witch, and the worst of all;" and then they
clamoured for the father, the old Turk, and would have him in to scratch
him too. Just at that moment old Samuel chanced to come in to see his
daughter--for he knew what kind of treatment she had to undergo--when a
great hubbub arose. The children cried out against him, and--wretched
young hypocrites!--exhorted him in the godliest terms to confess and
repent; called him witch and naughty man and all the rest of the injuries
then current; while he retorted fiercely and rudely, and told one of the
little baggages she lied--as she did. But Mr. Throckmorton got angry, and
would not let him go till he had pronounced the same conjuration as that
by which his poor daughter was forced to "fyle" herself; and when he had
said the words, the child came out of her fit, and acted amazement and
shame to the life. So it went on: the children having their fits, being
visited by their spirits, of whom there were nine now afloat--three
Smacks, Pluck, Blew, Catch, White, Callicot, and Hardname--and every day
or so scratching poor Nan till her face and back and hands were one mass
of scars and wounds. And then the Assize time came, and the three
Samuels--father, mother, and daughter--were put upon their trial for
bewitching Lady Cromwell to death, and tormenting Mrs. Joan Throckmorton
and her sisters. There could be no mistake about it now, for not only had
they all three convicted themselves by their own confessions in the
conjuration which they had been obliged to repeat, but even before the
judge, Mrs. Jane played off the like trick, falling into a terrible fit
which only old Samuel could get her out of by repeating the charm. At
first he was obstinate and sturdily refused to say the words; but on the
judge telling him that he should be brought in guilty if he did not, he
consented, and had no sooner said--"As I am a witch, and did consent to
the death of the Lady Cromwell, so I charge thee, Devil, to suffer Mrs.
Jane to come out of her Fit at this present"--than Mrs. Jane wiped her
eyes, looked round her, and said, "O Lord father where am I?" pretending
to be quite amazed at her position. No hand is wanting when there is
stoning to be done. Now that the Samuels were fairly convicted of
witchcraft in one instance, witnesses came forward to prove them guilty of
the like in others. It was remembered how certain persons had died who had
offended the old dame; how others had lost their cows and whole farm stock
in consequence of giving her rough language; how, even since she had been
in gaol, she had bewitched to his death one of the turnkeys who had
chained her to a bedpost, and had cruelly afflicted the gaoler's own son,
so that he could not be recovered but by "scratching" her; with the
further proof that when the grand jury returned a true bill, "billa vera,"
against them, old father Samuel burst out passionately to her with, "A
plague of God light on thee, for thou art she that has brought us all to
this, and we may thank thee for it." So the judge, "after good divine
counsel given to them, proceeded to Judgment, which was to death." But the
poor old woman set up a plea of being with child, though she was near
fourscore years of age; at which all the court laughed, and she herself
most of all, thinking it might save her. Some one standing near to Agnes
counselled her to try the like plea; but the brave young girl, who had
something of her father's spirit in her, indignantly refused. "No," said
Agnes, with the gallows straight before her, and this desperate plea
perhaps able to save her--"no; it shall never be said that I was both
Witch and ----." She died with the same haughty courage maintained to the
last: but old mother Samuel maundered through a vast number of
confessions--implicated her husband--confessed to her spirits--but with
one affecting touch of nature, through all her drivel and imbecility
steadily refused to criminate her daughter. No, her Nan was no witch; she
was clear and pure before God and towards man; and neither force nor
cajolery could make her forswear that bit of loving truth.

When those three helpless wretches were fairly dead, the children, upon
whose young souls lay the ineffaceable stain of Murder, and whose first
steps in life had been through innocent blood, gave up the game and
pronounced themselves cured: so we hear no more of their fits or their
spirits, or Mrs. Joan's ghostly lovers fighting with cowl staves and
breaking each other's heads out of jealousy and revenge: and the last
record of the case is, that Sir Henry Cromwell left an annual sum of forty
shillings to provide for a yearly sermon against witchcraft, to be
preached at Huntingdon by a B.D. or D.D. member of Queen's College,
Cambridge. How terrible to think that three human lives were sacrificed
for such wild and wilful nonsense, and that sane and thoughtful and
noble-minded people of this present day walk on the way towards the same
faith! Better by far the most chill and desolate scepticism, which at
least will light no Smithfield fires for any forms of creed or monstrous
imaginings of superstition, than beliefs which can only be expressed and
maintained by blood, and the culmination of which is in the suffering and
destruction of all dissentients.


A young lawyer, a Mr. Darrel, had a call to the ministry. He was made
aware of this by the extraordinary sluggishness that came upon him when he
turned to open a law book; so, as preaching puritanical sermons extempore
was less toilsome and cost less study than learning the intricacies of the
Codex Anglicanus, he became converted to extreme doctrines, and was
principally regarded as a Man of Hope, skilful in casting out devils and
marvellously apt at discovering witchcraft. His first essay at this work
was in 1587 with Katherine Green, a young girl of seventeen, who had some
hysterical affection which caused her to swell to an enormous size and led
her to fancies and delusions, as, that she saw shapes and apparitions, and
a young child without feet or legs looking at her from out a well. She
also had fits, which she afterwards confessed were simulated in order to
make her father-in-law, who was generally exceedingly severe with her,
more kind and pliable: but Mr. Darrel said they were the fits of
possession, and, as a proof, cast eight devils out of her; specially one
sturdy devil, called Middlecub, which had been sent into her by Margaret
Roper. Mr. Darrel at once seized Margaret Roper, accusing her of this
Middlecub imp, and sending her off to the magistrate, Mr. Fouliamb; and in
the meanwhile Katherine suffered herself to be repossessed, having been
imprudent enough to talk with the devil in the likeness of a handsome
young man who met her in the lanes, where he entertained her with
propositions of marriage, and gave her some bread to eat. Mr. Fouliamb
happened to be a man of sense, and discharged Margaret Roper, at the same
time threatening to send Darrel to prison in her stead if he took on
himself to calumniate honest folk without cause. This rebuff cooled the
young lawyer parson's ardour a little; but in 1594 the Starkies of
Lancashire announced themselves possessed, and Mr. Darrel must needs go
down to vex the foul fiend that had gotten them. For he was so holy a man
that the devils hated him mightily, being sorely vexed in his presence,
and crying out, "Now he is gone; now he is gone; now blacke coate is
gone," as soon as he quitted them, wearied with his wrestling. The story
of the Starkies was this:--

Anne, aged nine, and John, of ten, were taken with "dumpish heavie
countenances," and fearful startings of their bodies, loud shouting fits,
and convulsions. The father went to Hartley, a known conjuror, who came to
their aid with popish charms and certain herbs; and so stilled them for a
year and a half. But when he "fained as thought he would haue gone into
another countrey," the children fell ill again, and Mr. Starkie thought it
best to secure the perpetual services of the conjuror by a fee of forty
shillings yearly. But Hartley wanted more, and thereupon began a quarrel
which ended in the Possession of the children, of three scholars living at
the Starkies, of Margaret Byron, and lastly of Hartley himself. Now
Hartley had a devil, and whomsoever he kissed he inoculated with this
devil and breathed it into them. And as he was always kissing some
one--John for love often, the little wenches in jest, to Margaret Hardman
"promising a thraue of kisses," "wrestling with Johan Smyth, a maid, to
kiss her"--he had given the devil in rich proportion all through the
Starkies' house, and only Mr. Darrel could exorcise him. The possessed
leaped about like goats, and crawled on all fours like beasts, and barked
like dogs, and had communications from a white dove, and saw horned devils
under the beds, and had visions of big black dogs with monstrous tails and
bound with chains, and huge black cats and big mice that knocked them down
at a blow, and left them speechless, cold, and dead. And then they took to
"slossinge up their meat like greedy dogges or hogges," and they made the
same noises as a broken-winded horse; and they howled and shrieked; and
one of them, Jane Ashton the servant aged thirty, fell foul of Edmund
Hartley for all his kisses and promises of marriage; and they "yelled and
whupped;" and there was in very truth the devil to pay in that horrible
house when Mr. More and Mr. Darrel went to exorcise the fiends and restore
the possessed to their senses. After some days of prayer, and of fighting
with the devil who would cry out when Mr. Darrel was preaching, "Bible
bable, he will never have done prating, prittle prattle;" and "I must goe,
I must away; I cannot tarrie; whither shall I goe? I am hot, I am too hot,
I will not dye!" and such like, six of them were delivered, and visibly
and bodily dispossessed. With one, Mary Byron, the devil came up from her
stomach to her breast, then to her throat, when it gave her "a sore lug,"
whilst a mist dazzled her eyes. Then she felt it go out of her mouth,
leaving behind it a sore throat and a filthy smell, and it was in the
likeness of a crow's head, and it sat in a corner of the parlour in the
dark; but suddenly flashing out all a fire it flew out of the window, and
the whole place was in a blaze, according to her imagination. John Starkie
lost his in the shape of a man with a humpback and very ill-favoured, who,
when he had gone out wished much to re-enter, but Master John withstood
him, and had the best of it. He was like a "foule ugly man with a white
beard and a 'bulch' on his back." The same tale had little Ellin Holland
and Anne Starkie to tell, all save the white beard. Elinor Hardman lost
hers as an urchin, but presently returning through a little hole in the
parlour, he offered her gold and silver in any quantity if she would let
him enter again, and when she resisted he threatened to cast her into the
fire and the pit, and to break her neck; all of which threats being
unheeded by the little maid of ten, he left her again in his old form of
"urchin." The next day, and the next, all these devils came again, seeking
to repossess the children. They came in various forms--as a black raven; a
black boy, with his head bigger than his body; a black rough dog with a
firebrand in his mouth; five white doves; a brave fellow like a wooer; two
little whelps that played on the table, and ran into a dish of butter; an
ape; a bear with fire in his mouth; a haystack--all, haystack as well as
the rest, promising them bags of gold and silver if they might come into
them again, but threatening to break their necks and their backs, and
throw them into the pit and the fire, and out of the window, if denied.
But Messrs. More and Darrel were instant in prayer, and successfully
withstood them. The children were pronounced finally dispossessed: all
save Jane Ashton, who went away to a popish family and became popish
herself; wherefore the devil recovered her, says Mr. Darrel, and her last
state was worse than her first. As for Edmund Hartley, he was hanged at
Lancaster, chiefly through Mr. Darrel's exertions.

In 1596 Mr. Darrel had more work. Thomas Darling, "the Boy of Burton," had
offended old Alice Goodridge; so Alice possessed him, and Mr. Darrel was
sent for the undoing. His chief weapon in this case was a ranting tract
called "The Enemie of Securitie," which the devil could not abide any how,
and during the reading of which he would cry out--through the earthly
medium of the Boy of Burton--"Radulphus, Belzebub can doe no good, his
head is stricken off with a word."--"We cannot prevaile (against the
church and Mr. Darrel), for they will not be holpen by witches. Brother
Radulphus, we cannot prevaile; let us go to our mistress and torment her;
I have had a draught of her blood to-day." "Againe--'There is a woman
earnest at prayer, get her away.' 'Nay,' quoth John Alsop (a man that was
present), with a loude voice, 'we cannot spare her.' Thus the Boy graced
Mistress Wightman, his aunt. And againe, 'Brother Glassop (another devil),
we cannot prevaile, his faith is soe strong. And they fast and pray, and a
preacher prayeth as fast as they.'" And "I bayted my hooke often, and at
last I catcht him. Heere I was before, and heere I am againe, and heere I
must stay, though it be but for a short tyme. I leade them to drink,
carouse, and quaffe. I make them to sweare. I have leave given mee to doe
what I will for a time. What is wightier than a Kinge in his owne lande? A
King I am, in whome I raigne, heere I am King for a time." With much more
of the same kind. In the mean time old Alice Goodridge, who had wrought
all this mischief, died in prison, while her devilish spirit or imp,
Minnie, whom she had sent into the boy, racketed and rioted in his soul
and body, and Mr. Darrel wrestled against him with prayer and "the Enemie
of Securitie." He finally prevailed, and after Thomas Darling had been
possessed and dispossessed and repossessed again, delivered him from
Radulphus and Minnie and Glassop and Beelzebub, and so had leisure to turn
to some one else when needed.

That some one else was soon found; for there was Will Somers, a lad living
with Mr. Brakenbury at Ashby-de-la-Zouch during the time of Mr. Darrel's
ministry there, who was now at Nottingham, and one of the most
accomplished demoniacs of the day. Nothing would satisfy Will but that Mr.
Darrel should be sent for to cast the devil out of him. He had known of
his prowess with Katherine Wright, and the Starkies, and the Boy of
Burton, and why should he not glorify God and the Puritans as well in
Nottingham as in Lancashire? Accordingly, that gentleman was sent for on
the 5th of November, 1597, and the farce began. Before Mr. Darrel even saw
the lad he said he was possessed, and he said the same thing to
himself--counterfeiting or illness being of course put out of court; and
he described to the bystanders in what shape the devil would appear when
driven out of the lad--for he would make himself visible to them if they
had but faith and courage and patience to see the end, and if they would
not be terrified when the boy "scriehed or cryed aloude in a strange and
supernaturall manner; sometimes roaring fearfullye lyke a beare, and
crying like a swyne." The shapes, then, in which he would go were
these--"a Mouse, a Man with a Hunch-back higher than his Head, an ugly Man
with a white Beard, a Crow's Head round, a great Breath, ugly like a Toad,
an Urchin, &c." And he told them, also in the lad's hearing, of what other
possessed persons had done: how they had cast themselves into fire or
water, gnashed with their teeth, writhed with their necks, and drawn their
mouths awry, foaming. Then he said that Will Somers was afflicted for the
sins of Nottingham, and God had made even the devil a preacher to deter
them from them; whereat Will acted by signs all the sins of Nottingham,
and Mr. Darrel explained them to the people as he went on. With such a
master as this, it was no difficult matter for the pupil to succeed. Two
sermons were preached on his behalf. During Mr. Aldred's he lay still,
excepting a little struggle now and then: this was to show that Mr. Aldred
was not powerful as a Man of God. But when Mr. Darrel began, he roused
himself up, and on his describing the fourteen signs of Possession one
after the other, acted them all to the life as he told them off. "He tore;
he foamed; he wallowed; his Face was drawn awry; his Eyes would stare and
his Tongue hang out; he had a Swelling would seem to run from his Forehead
down by his Ear and Throat, and through his Belly and Thighs, to the Calf
of his Legs; he would speak with his Mouth scarce moving; and when they
looked his Tongue would seem drawn down his Throat; he would try to cast
himself into the Fire and Water; he would seem heavy that they could not
lift him, and his Joints stiff that they could not bend them." And when
Mr. Darrel further exhorted them all to stand firm, and they would see the
glory of God in the dispossession, he cried and rended and laid as if
dead, just in the order which the preacher desired. Then he rose up cured
and exorcised; but Mr. Darrel told him he might be possessed again, and he
must be very careful and watchful. Of course he was possessed again. He
had been too great a gainer by the first trial not to venture on a second.
If he had been bought off his apprenticeship, had large presents of
clothes, and kept in idleness at his father-in-law's, for a first trial,
what might not fall from the skies on this second occasion? So Will began
to talk wildly of a black dog that haunted him, offering him gold and
ginger, and of the devil who came with six more shapes to torment
him--namely, as a cock, a crane, a snake, an angel, a toad, a newt, a set
of viols, and dancers, and that he stood before him "with a foure-forked
cappe on his heade;" sometimes, too, making noises and motions like whelps
or "kitlings." Fourteen persons were thrown into prison, accused of
bewitching Master Will, of whom the most celebrated was Millicent Horslie,
whom no human skill could have saved had not the impostor betrayed himself
in time. For Will Somers had a revelation concerning her, which must be
told in the words of his "confession," as reported by Harsnet:--"Maister
Darrel told my father-in-law and others in my hearing, that he, the said
Maister Darrel, Maister Aldred, and some others, were going to carrie
Millicent Horsley (that present morning) to the said Maister Perkins, to
be examined. Whereupon, I gessing by the time of Maister Darrel's
departure, and by the distance of the way, and of the likelihood that she
woulde deny herselfe to bee a witche, said to those that were present by
mee in one of my fittes, about eleven of the clocke, that Millicent
Horsley was in examining, and that she denyed herselfe to be a witch."
This coincidence was too striking an instance of supernatural power to be
overlooked. Mr. Darrel worked on it as one of the most marvellous proofs
of the boy's undeniable possession, and Millicent Horsley lay in gaol,
together with thirteen others, to satisfy the craft of one and the
credulity of the other, and to prove the whole age sick, diseased, and
enfeebled by superstition.

Will's sister, Mary Cowper, seeing how pleasant and profitable a thing it
was to be bewitched, followed in her brother's steps, and cried out on
Alice Freeman, a poor old creature who thought to escape by saying she was
with child. The plea was not a very safe one, for Mr. Darrel told her if
she was, it was by the devil, and she had better have held her tongue. But
by this time the parish authorities got frightened, and interfered;
sending Will off to the workhouse, where he still continued his fits and
antics, until a rough fellow there, one John Shepheard, told him that if
he "did not leave and rise up he would set such a pair of Knip-knaps upon
him as should make him rue it"--when he gathered himself up and confessed
his imposture. Mr. Darrel would have none of this recantation. He said he
was more possessed than ever, and that it was the devil within him that
made him to lie. So Will wrote the following letter, as a kind of quietus
to his zealous friend:--

"Mr. Darrel, my hearty Commendations unto you. This is to desire you that
you would let me be at quiet: For whereas you said that I was Possessed, I
was not; and for those Tricks that I did before you came, was through
Folks Speeches that came to me: And those that I did since, was through
your Speeches, and others. For as you said I could not hear, I did hear
all Things that were done in the House, and all Things that I did were
counterfeit; And I pray you to let it pass; for the more you meddle in
it, the more discredit it will be for you: And I pray God, and you, and
all the World to forgive me."

Even this was not enough. Will was bribed over by the promise of a good
place in a gentleman's house if he would be properly demoniac again; and
consenting thereto, played again his old tricks; but the Lord Chief
Justice, Sir Edmund Anderson, not believing a word of it all, encouraged
him kindly to tell the truth, and not be afraid; so Will started up and
was perfectly well, and for the greater satisfaction of the gentlefolks
showed them how he worked.

And to prove how small was the value of evidence in those days, one
Richard Mee--who was held to have deposed "That he had seen William Somers
turn his Face directly backward, not moving his Body, and that his Eyes
were as great as Beasts' Eyes, and that his Tongue would be thrust out of
his Head to the bigness of a Calve's Tongue" when re-examined explained
himself thus:--"My Meaning was that he turned his Face a good Way towards
his Shoulder, and that his Eyes were something gogling; and by reason that
it was Candle-light when I saw his Tongue thrust out, and by reason of my
Conceit of the Strangeness of Somers's Troubles, it seemed somewhat bigger
than, if Somers had been well, I should have thought it to have been."
Again, a black dog which Will had cried out on as the devil, and which, by
reason of his words had actually been taken for the devil with eyes
glaring like fire, come back to repossess him, turned out to be nothing
but a spurrier's dog crouching in the background of the darkening chamber.
So, when carefully sifted, would the evidence of all such-like marvels
prove to be merest chaff scattered on the ground; and yet, a century
after, Mr. Richard Boulton is found repeating the story of Will Somers'
possession as if it had never been disproved; and there are some even now
living who would cite it as a case of proved spiritualism. Mr. Darrel was
degraded from the ministry, and committed to close prison: rather harsh
measures simply because he had more faith and a little less discretion
than his neighbours.


George Giffard, "minister of God's word in Maldon," put forth a little
book in 1603, containing a number of witch stories and anecdotes, without
names, dates, or places, yet written in a manner and style evidently
proving their reliability, and all seeming to have come within his own
personal knowledge as believed in by others. One, whom he knew, under the
assumed name of one of his characters was constantly troubled by a hare,
which his conscience accused him was a witch "she stared at him so;" and
sometimes an ugly weasel would run through his yard; and sometimes a foul
big cat sit upon his barn, for which he had no manner of liking; and an
old woman of the place, whom he had been as careful to please as if she
had been his mother, still frowned upon him to his exceeding discomfort;
and a hog which overnight had eaten his meat with his fellows, quite
hearty and well, in the morning was stark dead; and five or six hens died
too, in a manner no one could understand, save by the power of witchcraft.
And once another of his friends went to a cunning man who lived twenty
miles off, complaining of his farm-yard losses: so the cunning man took a
glass, and bidding him look in it, showed him a certain suspected witch
therein, telling him that she had three or four imps, "some call them
puckrels," one of which was like a gray cat, another like a weasel, a
third like a mouse. There was also another cunning person--a woman--to
whom a father took a child that had long been lame and pained. The woman
told the man he had an ill neighbour, and that the child was forespoken.
"Marie, if he would go home and bring her some of the clothes which the
child lay in all night, she would tell him certainely." The father went
home and did as he was bid, when the wise woman informed him that the girl
was bewitched, counselled him what to do, and the "girle is well at this
day, and a pretie quicke girle," says George Giffard, with a sneer at his
neighbour's easy faith. Another had his wife much troubled; so he, too,
went off to a wise woman, who told him that his wife was haunted by a
fairy. As a counter-charm she was bidden to wear a part of St. John's
Gospel ever about her, against which the fairies could not stand, so fled.
Another good wife could not make her butter come: it was bewitched, and
for a whole week obstinately disregarded the laws of butter nature:
wherefore they heated a spit, red hot, and thrust it into the cream--and
it came at once. The next morning the good wife met the suspected
witch--"the old filth," she calls her with more emphasis than euphony.
"Lord, how sowerly she looked upon me, and mumbled as she went! Ah, quoth
she, you have an honest man to your husband. I hear how he doth use me!"
The wife longed to scratch the witch, her stomach rose so against her, but
she was afraid she would prove the stronger, for she was "a lustie old
quean," and let her pass unmolested.

In a certain village a wealthy man was suddenly reduced to comparative
poverty by extraordinary losses in his farm; he himself fell ill, and his
child of seven years of age sickened and died. He sent to the same wise
woman at R. H., who told him that he was bewitched, and moreover, that
there were three witches and one wizard in the town where he lived. The
forespoken farmer caused the one whom he most suspected to be seized and
examined, who at last confessed, after making "much ado," and taking up
the time of the worshipful justice to no good. She said that she had three
imps, a cat Lightfoot, a toad Lunch, a weasel Makeshift. Lightfoot had
been given to her sixteen years ago, by one Mother Barlie of W. in return
for an oven cake; the toad and the weasel came of their own accord and
offered their services gratuitously. The cat killed kine, the weasel
killed horses, and the toad plagued men; so the poor old creature was sent
to the county gaol, where she died before the assizes. Another woman, old
Mother W. of Great T., had an imp like a weasel. "She was offended highly
with one H. M.; home she went, and called forth her spirit, which lay in a
pot of woole under her bed: she willed him to go plague the man: he
inquired what she would give him, and he would kill H. M. She said she
would give him a cocke, which she did, and he went, and the man fell sicke
with a greate paine in his belly, languished and died; the witch was
arraigned, condemned, and hanged, and did confesse all this."

Seven miles hence, at W. B., a man in good health suddenly fell sick,
pined for half a year, and then died. His wife, suspecting evil doings,
went to a cunning woman, who showed her in a glass the likeness of the
witch who had destroyed him, wearing an old red cap with corners, such as
women were used to wear. The old red-capped woman was taken, tried, soon
brought to confess to the bewitching of the man, and executed. But before
she died she told them all, how that she had a spirit in the likeness of a
yellow dun cat, which came to her one night as she sat by the fire nursing
angry thoughts against a neighbour with whom she had fallen out. She was
frightened, she said, but the cat bid her not be afraid, for it had served
an old dame, that was now dead, for five years down in Kent, and would
serve her now, an she would. The woman took the cat at its word, and by it
killed many a cow and hog of those who angered her: at last she sent it to
this man, and the cat killed him. She was hanged, and the yellow dun imp
was never more seen.

Mr. Giffard knew a church which had been robbed of its communion service:
a wise man told the churchwardens what to do and the thief would surely
ride in all haste to confess. As it proved. Another case was that of a
child taken piteously ill. Under the cunning man's advice the father burnt
its clothes, and while they were burning, the witch came running in,
grievously pained. The child was well within two days. A butcher had a
son, John, terribly afflicted with sores. Salves and plasters would not
heal him; but when a cunning man showed him in a glass the form of the
witch who had laid this harmful thing upon him, and they had cut off some
of the boy's hair and burnt it, the old woman came to the house in all
speed, crying, "John, John, scratch me!" So John scratched her till the
blood came, and his sores all healed of themselves, without salve or
plaster helping. A woman had blear eyes that were watery; a knave lodging
at the house wrote a charm which she was always to wear about her neck,
and never lose or look at. She wore her charm, and her eyes got quite
well; but one day, prompted by Eve's sin, she opened the packet, and found
a piece of paper on which was written, in the German tongue, "The devil
plucke out thine eyes and fill their holes with dirt." Terrified at the
unholy nature of her cure, the woman flung the charm away, and her eyes
immediately became bleared and watery as before.[110] A woman suspected of
witchcraft was taken in hand by a gentleman, who undertook to induce her
to confess. She was very stiff about the matter, and denied all dealings
with the devil in any way. Suddenly, at some distance from them, appeared
a weasel or a lobster, looking straight at them. "Look!" said the
gentleman, "yonder same is thy spirit!" "Oh, master," said she, "that is a
vermine. There be many of them everywhere." But as they went towards it,
the weasel or lobster vanished clean out of sight. "Surely," said the
gentleman, "it is thy spirit." But still she denied, "and with that her
mouth was drawn all awrie." When a little further pressed she allowed all,
and the gentleman, being no justice, sent her home, exhorting her to go to
a magistrate and ease her soul by confession. As she got home she was met
by another witch who came violently enraged against her. "Ah, thou beast!
what hast thou done? thou hast bewrayed us all!" she said. "What remedy
now?" said she. "What remedy?" saith the other, "send thy spirit and touch
him." At that moment the gentleman felt, as it were, a flash of fire about
him; but he lifted his hat and prayed, and the spirit came back and said
it could do him no hurt, because he had faith. So then they sent it
against his child, and the child was taken ill with great pain and died.
The witches confessed and were hanged. Another witch had her spirit hidden
in the boll of a tree; and there she held long conversations with this
ghastly Ariel, he answering in a hollow ghoustie voice, as might be
expected. When any offended her, she would go to the tree and release her
imp to do them harm. She had killed many hogs, horses, and the like by
this spirit; but at last justice got hold of her with its mailed hand and
killed her. Another friend of Giffard's, also under the disguise of one of
his characters, was twice on a jury, when certain old women were charged
with harming their neighbours' goods and lives. There was no proof in
either case, and the old women protested their innocence passionately; but
the jury brought them in guilty, which was perfectly logical and right
according to their notions of the law of that God who suffers the devil to
torment the sons of men, and to delude old women into the possession of
unholy powers. What, indeed, could be done with them when, by a look or a
word, they could afflict even unto death the most beautiful of God's
creatures, and send the devil to inhabit the purest of souls? The mischief
lay in the fundamental creed, not so much in the application of it,
terrible and bloody as it was; and it is against this creed, that I would
most earnestly insist. It must be remembered, too, that Giffard writes
ironically, and brings together all these cases as evidence of the
foolishness and wickedness of the faith.


In 1603, Mary Glover, a merchant's daughter in Thames Street, gave herself
out as bewitched, and said that Mother Jackson had done it. A little
glimmering of reason made the physician Dr. Boncraft tell the Lord Chief
Justice Anderson that Mother Jackson was wrongfully accused, and the girl
was counterfeiting. So the Lord Chief Justice caused the Recorder of
London, Sir John Crook, have her to him in his chambers in the Temple. The
maid went with her mother and some neighbours, and in an hour's time came
Mother Jackson, disguised like a country market woman, with a muffler
hiding her face, an old hat, and a short cloak bespattered with mire. As
soon as she entered the maid fell backward on the floor; "her Eyes drawn
into her Head, her Tongue toward her Throat, her Mouth drawn up to her
Ear, her Bodie became stiff and senseless, Her Lips being shut closs a
plain and audible Voice came out from her Nostrils saying 'Hang her, hang
her.'" The Recorder, willing to try her, called for a candle at which to
light a sheet of paper, then held the burning paper to her hand till a
blister came, rising and breaking and the water running down on the floor.
But still the maid lay as if dead, with the Voice coming out of her
Nostrils, saying, "Hang her, hang her." Not satisfied with the trial of
burning, the Recorder got a long pin, which he made hot and thrust up her
nostrils to see if she would "neese," wink, bend her brows, or stir her
head; but still she lay as before, stiff, senseless, and as one dead. The
minister, one Lewis Hughes, who tells this story which Sinclair quotes,
told the Recorder that he had often prayed with the maid, and that when
he concluded with the Lord's Prayer and came to "but deliver us from all
evil," the maid would be tost and shaken as a mastiff might shake a cur.
Then the Recorder bade the witch say the Lord's Prayer, but she could not
say it: she kept on all right until the clause "deliver us from evil," and
this she skipped over; neither would she confess that Jesus Christ was our
Lord in the Articles of the Christian Faith. When Mary was in her fits, if
the witch but so much as laid her hand upon her she was tost and shaken
fearfully. This the Recorder wished to verify: so he bade first one, then
another, of the neighbours come forward and touch her; which they did; but
she never stirred till Mother Jackson touched her, when she was shaken as
before. Then the Recorder said, "Lord, have mercy upon the woman!" for he
was now fully convinced; and sent poor old Mother Jackson off to Newgate.
As soon as she was sent off the maid came to herself, the voice ceased out
of her nostrils, and she went home with her mother. Three weeks or more
after the witch was condemned, the maid had the same fits, strange and
fearful to behold, and the Recorder told the minister, and all the
ministers of London, "that we might be ashamed to see a Child of God in
the Claws of the Devil without any hope of deliverance but by such means
as God had appointed--Fasting and Prayer." Then five ministers, all good
Christians and sound believers, assembled and prayed from morning to
candle-light, when Mary suddenly started out of her chair--they crying
"Jesus help, Jesus save!"--and came up to Lewis Hughes, in a state of
wildness and dismay. As he stood behind her holding her by the arms, she
lifted both herself and him off the ground, foaming at the mouth and
struggling thus all over the chamber; and then her strength gave way, and
she fell as if dead, her head hanging down and her limbs, which had been
so stiff and frozen, now supple and limber. In a short time her eyes came
back into their place and her tongue came out of her throat, and she
looked round and said cheerfully, "Oh! he is come, he is come! The
Comforter is come! the Comforter is come! I am delivered, I am delivered!"
Her father hearing these words wept and said, "These were her
grandfather's words when he was at the stake, the fire crackling about
him," for he died a martyr to the Reformed Faith in Queen Mary's time.
Then she prayed and thanked God till her voice was weak, and so the
company separated, and Mary went home. Afterwards she was put with Lewis
Hughes for a year, lest Satan should assault her again, and Mr. John Swan
wrote the most canting and nauseating book on her "case" that ever fanatic
penned or the duped and the gulled believed. But poor old Mother Jackson
was dead: and those who mourned for her, mourned in secret and silence and

There was another case of possession, this same year--Thomas Harrison, the
Boy of Norwich--chiefly remarkable for having procured such attention from
the ecclesiastical authorities that seven persons were formally licensed
to have private prayers and fasting for his deliverance. But the bishop
and commissioners who had seen his fits thought him an impostor, so his
case died out for want of public support.[112]

And now we have the master of kingcraft on the throne, with his mania
against witches, his private vices, and public follies, treacherous,
cruel, narrow-minded, and cowardly beyond anything that has ever
disgraced the English throne before or since. And one of the first trials
for witchcraft during his reign was that disgraceful affair in which
Somerset and his wife, Foreman, Sir Thomas Overbury, and Mrs. Turner were
all mixed up together.


That Carr and Lady Essex should have an intrigue together was not so bad,
but that Mrs. Turner should have recourse to charms and conjurations, "to
inchant the Viscount's affection towards her," that "much time should be
spent, many words of witchcraft, great cost in making pictures of wax,
crosses of silver, and little babies for that use," that specially, there
should be among the images of wax, one "very sumptuously apparrelled in
silke and sattin, as alsoe another sitting in forme of a naked woman
spreading and laying forth her haires in a glass," was terrible misdoing
against both God and the king. The murder of Sir Thomas Overbury was
venial; the intrigue between his favourite and another man's wife was
venial too; his own vices were mere kindly flea-bites on his dignity; but
charms and conjurations, and my Lady Essex calling that old wizard Foreman
her "sweet father"--this was more than the British Solomon could well
digest. So when he had got tired of Carr and wanted to be rid of him, he
suddenly remembered sweet Father Foreman, disciple of Dr. Dee, and Mrs.
Turner, inventor of yellow starch for ruffs and falling bands, and not
only smote Somerset straight in the face for his own share, but sent a
side shaft after him, through his "creatures." Well for himself was it
that sweet Father Foreman was dead and buried deep; so there only remained
Mrs. Turner and one or two inferior agents in the matter--just enough to
keep the people amused, and satisfy the royal lust for witch blood.
Somerset came to the block on another count, about as false as the rest;
and Mrs. Turner swung from the gibbet in her yellow ruff on every plea but
the right one, and for any sin but those of her real and actual life.
After her death was found her black scarf full of white crosses: and the
mould in which Father Foreman had cast his leaden images of women; and
written charms spread out on fair white parchment; and, worst of all, a
list of all the ladies who had gone to consult the sorcerer as to how they
might gain the love of other lords than their own; which list the Lord
Chief Justice would not read out in court because, said the gossips, his
own wife's name was the first that caught his eye.


"Of poor parentage, and poor education," old Agnes Browne had but a sorry
life of it in the little town of Gilsborough where she lived. She had one
daughter, Joan Vaughan, or Varnham, "a maide, or at least unmarried," says
the old black-letter book maliciously; "as gratious as the mother, and
both of them as farre from grace as Heaven from hell;" which Joan was "so
well brought up vnder her mother's elbow, that she hangd with her for
company vnder her mother's nose." It seems that one day, Joan, being in
the company of a certain Mistress Belcher, "a virtuous and godly
Gentlewoman of the same towne of Gilsborough, whether of purpose to giue
occasion of anger to the saide Mistris Belcher, or but to continue her
vilde and ordinary custome of behauiour, committed something either in
speech or gesture so vnfitting, and vnseeming the nature of womanhood"
that Mistress Belcher's patience could bear with her no longer. She got
up, beat Joan Vaughan, and "forced her to avoid the company." Joan went
away muttering that she would be revenged; to which replied Mrs. Belcher
stoutly, that she feared neither her nor her mother, and bade her do her
worst. Then Joan went home to her mother, and both together devised such a
punishment that Mrs. Belcher was griped and gnawed of her body, her mouth
drawn all awry, and in such powerful fits that she could scarce be held,
crying out incessantly in her fits, "Here comes Joane Vaughan, away with
Joane Vaughan!" till all the world knew that she was bewitched, and that
old Agnes Browne and her daughter had caused the trouble. Mistress
Belcher's brother, one Master Avery, hearing of his sister's sickness and
extremity, came to see her; and when he saw her, was moved to such anguish
and indignation that he must needs go to the house of the witches to hale
them to his sister, that she might draw their blood. But though he twice
essayed, he was twice arrested by some miraculous agency, spell-bound, and
unable to move hand or foot; he could not, by any possibility, advance
beyond a certain spot, whereby the witches were safe for this time at
least, "the devil, who was standing sentinel," being stronger than he.
Wherefore sorrowfully he turned back, and went home to his own place. But
these "imps of the devil" had longer arms than he, and in a very short
time he was as grievously tormented as his sister, his torments enduring
until the witches were arrested and taken to Northampton gaol. When there,
nothing would satisfy Mistress Belcher and her brother Master Avery but
that they should go to the prison and "scratch" the witches; which they
did, and both recovered of their pains marvellously on the instant.
"Howbeit they were no sooner out of sight, but they fell againe into their
old traunces, and were more violently tormented than before; for when
Mischiefe is once a foote, she grows in short time so headstrong, that she
is hardly curbed." Mistress Belcher and Master Avery returning home from
Northampton in a coach, after their godly exercise of drawing blood from
these two wretched women, saw suddenly a man and woman riding both upon a
black horse. At which Master Avery cried out that either they or their
horses should presently miscarry; and he had no sooner spoken than both
their horses fell down dead. Wherefore, for all these crimes, as well as
for bewitching a young child to death, Agnes Browne and her daughter Joan
were adjudged guilty, and hanged on that 22nd of July, protesting their
innocence to the last. And then it came out that about a fortnight before
her apprehension Agnes Browne, Katherine Gardiner, and Joan Lucas, "all
birds of a winge," had been seen riding on a sow's back to a place called
Ravenstrop, to see one Mother Rhoades, an old witch that dwelt there. But
before they got there old Mother Rhoades had died, "and in her last cast
cried out that there were three of her old friends comming to see her, but
they came too late. Howbeit she would meet with them in another place
within a month after. And thus much concerning Agnes Browne and her
daughter Joane Vaughan," says the old black-letter book contemptuously.

The son of witches, Arthur Bill could not control his appointed fate.
Suspected by the authorities, but without proof, he and his father and
mother were swum for trial, tied cross bound and flung into the water,
where they floated and did not sink. Arthur was accused of bewitching to
her death one Martha Aspine, as also of having bewitched sundry cattle;
and as the parents had a bad name, it was thought best to try them all.
After this trial of the water, Arthur was afraid, says the black-letter
book, lest his father should relent and betray him and them all; whereupon
he sent for his mother, and both together bewitched a round ball into his
father's throat, so that he could not speak a word. When the ball was got
out, the father proved the principal witness against them. The poor
mother, who seems to have been a loving, sensitive, downcast woman,
fainted many times during this terrible period; "Many times complaining to
her spirit," says the bitter, uncharitable, anonymous author, "that the
power of the Law would bee stronger than the power of her art, and that
shee saw no other likelihood but that shee should be hanged as her Sonne
was like to bee: To whom her spirit answered, giuing this sorry comfort,
that shee should not bee hanged, but to preuent that shee should cut her
owne throatt. Shee, hearing this sentence and holding it definitive, in
great agony and horror of minde and conscience fell a rauing, crying out
that the irreuocable Iudgement of her death was giuen, and that shee was
damned perpetually; cursing and banning the time wherein shee was borne,
and the houre wherein shee was conceiued." A short time after "shee made
good the Deuil's worde, and to preuent the Iustice of the Law, and to
saue the hangman a labour, cut her owne throate." The poor boy was in
great misery when he heard of his mother's death, and knew now that what
despair had done for her, the tyranny of superstition would do for him;
yet "he stood out stiffly for his innocence," and when found guilty, broke
out into grievous cries, saying that he had now found the Law to have a
power above Justice, for that it had condemned an Innocent. At the gallows
he said the same thing, refusing to confess to Martha Aspine's murder, and
"thus with a dissembling Tongue, and a corrupted conscience, hee ended his
course in this world, with little hope or respect (as it seemed) of the
world to come." What became of his three familiars, Grissil, Ball, and
Jack, we are not informed, neither of what forms or functions they were,
nor of what colours or dimensions.

Grievously did Mistress Moulsho offend Ellen Jenkinson, when she caused
her to be searched for witch-marks, which of course were found; for
Helen's character was notorious, and there is no smoke without a little
fire. So Helen, in revenge, played Mistress Moulsho a trick that brought
herself to the gallows. For "at that time Mistris Moulsho had a Bucke of
clothes to be washt out. The next morning, the Mayd, when shee came to
hang them forth to dry, spyed the Cloathes, but especially Mistris
Moulsho's Smocke, to bee all bespotted with the pictures of Toades,
Snakes, and other ougly Creatures, which making her agast, she went
presently and told her mistris, who, looking on them, smild, saying
nothing else but this: 'Here are fine Hobgoblins indeede.' And being a
Gentlewoman of a stout courage, went immediately to the house of the sayd
Hellen Ienkinson, and with an angry countenance told her of this matter,
threatening her that if her Linnen were not shortly cleered from those
foule spots shee would scratch out both her eyes; and so not staying for
any answere, went home and found her linnen as white as it was at first."
Helen was soon after arraigned for the death of a child, by witchcraft,
but this story of Mrs. Moulsho's clothes all bespotted with the figures of
toads and snakes stood in the stead of any more rational evidence. When
found guilty, the poor creature cried out, "Woe is me, I now cast away!"
And when at the place of execution, she "made no other Confession but
this. That shee was guiltlesse, and neuer shewed signe of Contrition for
what was past, nor any sorrow at all, more than did accompany the feare of
death. Thus ended this Woman her miserable life, after shee had lived many
yeares poore, wretched, scorned, and forsaken of the world."

Of Mary Barber, the last of the sad crew hanged at Northampton on those
bloody assizes, the author gives no special account, but plenty of abuse,
mixed up with the strangely cruel and immoral morality of the day. He says
that "as shee was of meane Parents, so was she monstrous and hideous both
in her life and actions. Her education and barbarous Nature neuer
promising to the world anything but what was rude, violent, and without
any hope of proportion more than only in the square of uitiousnesse. For
out of the oblyuion and blindnesse of her seduced senses, she gaue way to
all the passionate and earthly faculties of the flesh, and followed all
the Fantazmas Vanities and Chimeras of her polluted and vnreasonable
delights, forsaking the Society of Grace, and growing enamored vpon all
the euill that Malice or Frenzy could minister to her vicious desires and
intendments." She was put in prison on the charge of bewitching a man to
death, but "the prison (which makes men bee fellowes and chambermates with
theeves and murtherers) the common guests of such dispised Innes, and
should cause the Imprisoned Party (like a Christian Arithmetician) to
number and cast vp the amount of his own Life, neuer put her in minde of
the hatefull transgressions shee had committed, and to consider the filth
and leprosie of her soule, and intreate heaven's mercy for the release
thereof. Prison put her not in minde of her graue, nor the grates and
lockes put her in remembrance of hell, which depriued her of the ioy of
liberty, which shee saw others possesse. The iangling of irons did not put
her in minde of the chaines wherewith shee should be bound in eternall
torments, vnlesse heaven's mercy vnloosed them, nor of the howling terrors
and gnashing of teeth which in hel euery soule shall receiue for the
particular offences committed in this life, without vnfained and hearty
contrition. Shee neuer remembered or thought shee must die, or trembled
for feare of what should come to her after death. But as her use was
alwaies knowne to be deuilish, so her death was at last found to be
desperate. For shee (and the rest before named) being brought from the
common gaole of Northampton to Northampton Castle, where the Assizes are
vsually held, were seuerally arraigned and indited for the offences they
had formerly committed, but to the inditement they pleaded not guilty.
Putting therefore their causes to the triall of the Countrey, they were
found guilty, and deserved death by the verdit of a credible Iury
returned. So without any confession or contrition, like birds of a feather
they all held and hangd together for company at Abington gallowes hard by
Northampton the two and twintieth day of Iuly last past; Leauing behinde
them in prison many others tainted with the same corruption, who without
much mercy and repentance are likely to follow them in the same tract of


In Pendle Forest, a wild tract of land on the borders of Yorkshire, lived
an old woman about the age of fourscore, who had been a witch for fifty
years, and had brought up her own children, and instructed her
grandchildren, to be witches. "She was a generall agent for the Deuill in
all these partes;" her name was Elizabeth Southernes, usually called
Mother Demdike; the date of her arraignment 1612. She was the first tried
of this celebrated "coven," twenty of whom stood before Sir James Altham
and Sir Edward Bromley, charged with all the crimes lying in sorcery,
magic, and witchcraft. Old Mother Demdike died in prison before her trial,
but on her being taken before the magistrate who convicted them all, Roger
Nowell, Esq., she made such a confession as effectually insured her due
share of execration, and hedged in the consciences of all who had assailed
her from any possible pangs of self-reproach or doubt.

About fifty years ago, she said, she was returning home from begging,
when, near a stone pit in the Pendle Forest, she met a spirit or devil in
the shape of a boy, with one half of his coat brown and the other half
black, who said to her, if she would give him her soul, she should have
all that she might desire. After a little further talk, during which he
told her that his name was Tibb, he vanished away, and she saw him no more
for this time. For five or six years Mother Demdike never asked any kind
of help or harm of Tibb, who always came to her at "daylight gate"
(twilight); but one Sabbath morning, she having her little child on her
knee, and being in a light slumber, Tibb came to her in the likeness of a
brown dog, and forced himself on her knee, trying to get blood from under
her left arm. Mother Demdike awoke sore troubled and amazed, and strove to
say, "Jesus, save my child," but could not, neither could she say, "Jesus,
save myself." In a short time the brown dog vanished away, and she was
"almost starke madde for the space of eight weekes." She and Tibb had
never done much harm, she said; not even to Richard Baldwin, for all that
he had put them off his land, and taken her daughter's day's work at his
mill without fee or reward, and when she, led by her grandchild Alison
(for she was quite blind), went to ask for pay, gave them only hard words
and insolence for their pains, saying, "he would burn the one, and hang
the other," and bidding them begone for a couple of witches--and worse.
She confessed though, after a little pressing, that at that moment Tibb
called out to her, "Revenge thee of him!" to whom she answered, "Revenge
thou either of him or his!" on which he vanished away, and she saw him no
more. She would not say what was the vengeance done, or if any. But if she
was silent, and not prone to confession, there were others, and those of
her own blood, not so reticent. Elizabeth Device her daughter, and Alison
and James and Jennet Device, her grandchildren, testified against her and
each other in a wonderful manner, and filled up all the blanks in the
most masterly and graphic style.

Alison said that her grandmother had seduced her to the service of the
devil, by giving her a great black dog as her imp or spirit, with which
dog she had lamed one John Law, a petit chapman or pedlar, as he was going
through Colnefield with his pack at his back. Alison wanted to buy pins of
him, but John Law refused to loose his pack or sell them to her; so Alison
in a rage called for her black dog, to see if revenge could not do what
fair words had failed in. When the black dog came he said, "What wouldst
thou have me to do with yonder man?" To whom she answered, "What canst
thou do at him?" and the dog answered again, "I can lame him." "Lame him,"
says Alison Device; and before the pedlar went forty yards he fell lame.
When questioned, he, on his side, said, that as he was going through
Colnefield he met a big black dog with very fearful fiery eyes, great
teeth, and a terrible countenance, which looked at him steadily then
passed away; and immediately after he was bewitched into lameness and
deformity. And this took place after having met Alison Device and refused
to sell her any pins. Then Alison fell to weeping and praying, beseeching
God and that worshipful company to pardon her sins. She said further that
her grandmother had bewitched John Nutter's cow to death, and Richard
Baldwin's woman-child on account of the quarrel before reported, saying
that she would pray for Baldwin himself, "both still and loud," and that
she was always after some matter of devilry and enchantment, if not for
the bad of others then for the good of herself. For once, Alison got a
piggin full of blue milk by begging, and when she came to look into it,
she found a quarter of a pound of butter there, which was not there
before, and which she verily believed old Mother Demdike had procured by
her enchantments. Then Alison turned against the rival Hecate, Anne
Whittle, _alias_ Chattox, between whom and her family raged a deadly feud
with Mother Demdike and her family; accusing her of having bewitched her
father, John Device, to death, because he had neglected to pay her the
yearly tax of an aghen dole (eight pounds) of meal, which he had
covenanted to give her on consideration that she would not harm him. For
they had been robbed, these poor people, of a quarter of a peck of cut
oatmeal and linens worth some twenty shillings, and they had found a coif
and band belonging to them on Anne Whittle's daughter; so John Device was
afraid that old Chattox would do them some grievous injury by her
sorceries if they cried out about it, therefore made that covenant for the
aghen dole of meal, the non-payment of which for one year set Chattox free
from her side of the bargain and cost John's life. She said, too, that
Chattox had bewitched sundry persons and cattle, killing John Nutter's cow
because he, John Nutter, had kicked over her canfull of milk, misliking
her devilish way of placing two sticks across it; and slaying Anne Nutter
because she laughed and mocked at her; slaying John Morris' child, too, by
a picture of clay--with other misdeeds to be hereafter verified and
substantiated. So Alison Device was hanged, weeping bitterly, and very

James Device, her brother, testified to meeting a brown dog coming from
his grandmother's about a month ago, and to hearing a noise as of a number
of children shrieking and crying, "near daylight gate." Another time he
heard a foul yelling as of a multitude of cats, and soon after this there
came into his bed a thing like a cat or a hare, and coloured black, which
lay heavily on him for about an hour. He said that his sister Alison had
bewitched Bullock's child, and that old Mother Chattox had dug up three
skulls, and taken out eight teeth, four of which she kept for herself and
gave four to Mother Demdike; and that Demdike had made a picture of clay
of Anne Nutter, and had burned it, by which the said Anne had been
bewitched to death. Also she had bewitched to death one Mitton, because he
would not give her a penny; with other iniquities of the same sort. He
said that his mother, Elizabeth Device, had a spirit like a brown dog
called Ball, and that they all met at Malking Tower; all the witches of
Pendle--and they were not a few--going out in their own shapes, and
finding foals of different colours ready for their riding when they got
out: Jennet Preston was the last: when they all vanished. He then
confessed, for his own part, that his grandmother Demdike told him not to
eat the communion bread one day when he went to church, but to give it to
the first thing he met on the road on his way homewards. He did not obey
her, but ate the bread as a good Christian should; and on the way he met
with a thing like a hare which asked him for the bread; but he said he had
not got it; whereupon the hare got very angry and threatened to tear him
in pieces, but James "sained" himself, and the devil vanished. This,
repeated in various forms, was about the pith of what James Device
confessed, his confession not including any remarkable betrayal of
himself, or admission of any practical and positive evil. His young sister
Jennet, a little lassie of nine, supplied the deficiencies. She had
evidently been suborned, says Wright, and gave evidence enough to have
hanged half Lancashire. She said that James had sold himself to the devil,
and that his spirit was a black dog called Dandy, by whom he had bewitched
many people to death; and she confirmed what he had said of Jennet
Preston's spirit, which was a white foal with a black spot in its
forehead. And then she said that she had seen the witches' meetings, but
had taken no part in them; and that on Good Friday they had all dined off
a roasted wether which James had stolen from Christian Swyers; and that
John Bulcocke turned the spit. She said that her mother Elizabeth had
taught her two prayers, the one to get drink and the other to cure the
bewitched. The one to get drink was a very short one, simply--"Crucifixus,
hoc signum vitam eternam, Amen;" but this would bring good drink into the
house in a very strange manner. The other, the prayer to cure the
bewitched, was longer:--

  "Vpon Good Friday, I will fast while I may,
  Vntill I heare them knell,
  Our Lord's owne Bell,
  Lord in his messe
  With his twelve Apostles good,
  What hath he in his hand?
  Ligh in[115] Leath[116] wand:
  What hath he in his other hand?
  Heauen's doore key.
  Open, open, Heauen doore keyes,
  Steck, steck, hell doore.
  Let Crizum[117] child
  Go to it Mother mild.
  What is yonder that casts a light so farrandly?[118]
  Mine owne deare Sone that's nail'd to the Tree,
  He is nail'd sore by the heart and hand,
  And holy harne Panne.[119]
  Well is that man
  That Fryday spell can,
  His Childe to learne
  A Crosse of Blewe, and another of Red,
  As good Lord was to the Roode.
  Gabriel laid him downe to sleepe
  Vpon the grounde[120] of holy weepe;
  Good Lord came walking by,
  Sleep'st thou, wak'st thou, Gabriel?
  No, Lord, I am sted with stick and stake,
  That I can neither sleepe nor wake:
  Rise vp, Gabriel, and goe with me,
  The stick nor the stake shall neuer deere[121] thee,
  Sweete Jesus our Lorde. Amen."

On such conclusive testimony as this, and for such fearful crimes, James
Device was condemned for "as dangerous and malicious a witch as ever lived
in these parts of Lancashire, of his time, and spotted with as much
Innocent bloud as euer any witch of his yeares." Poor lad!

"O Barbarous and inhumane Monster, beyond example; so farre from sensible
vnderstanding of thy owne miserie as to bring thy owne naturall children
into mischiefe and bondage, and thyselfe to be a witnesse vpone the
gallowes, to see thy owne children, by thy deuillish instructions, hatcht
vp in villanie and witchcraft, to suffer with thee, euen in the beginning
of their time, a shamefull and untimely Death!" These are the words which
Thomas Potts addresses to Elizabeth Device, widow of John the bewitched,
daughter to old Demdike the "rankest hag that ever troubled daylight,"
and mother of Alison and James the confessing witches; mother, also, of
young Jennet of nine, their accuser and hers, by whose testimony she was
mainly condemned. Elizabeth was charged with having bewitched sundry
people to death, by means and aid of her spirit, the brown dog Ball,
spoken of by James; also she had gone to the Sabbath held at Malking
Tower, where they had assembled to consult how they could get old Mother
Demdike, their leader, out of prison, by killing her gaoler and blowing up
the castle, and where they had beef and bacon and roasted mutton--the
mutton that same wether of Christopher Swyers' of Barley, which James had
stolen and killed; with other things as damnable and insignificant. So
Elizabeth Device, "this odious witch, who was branded with a preposterous
marke in Nature even from her Birth, which was her left Eye standing lower
than the other, the one looking down the other looking up," was condemned
to die because she was poor and ugly, and had a little lying jade for a
daughter, who made up fine stories for the gentlefolks.

Anne Whittle, _alias_ Chattox, was next in influence, power, and age to
Mother Demdike, and she began her confession by saying that old Demdike
had originally seduced her by giving her the devil in the shape and
proportion of a man, who got her, body and soul, and sucked on her left
ribs, and was called Fancie. Afterwards she had another spirit like a
spotted bitch, called Tibbe, who gave them all to eat and to drink, and
said they should have gold and silver as much as they wanted. But they
never got the gold and silver at all, and what they ate and drank did not
satisfy them. "This Anne Whittle, _alias_ Chattox, was a very old
withered, spent, decrepid creature, her Sight almost gone; A dangerous
Witch of very long continuance; always opposite to old Demdike; For whom
the one fauoured the other hated deadly: and how they curse and accuse one
an other in their Examinations may appear. In her Witchcraft always more
ready to doe mischiefe to men's goods than themselves; Her lippes ever
chattering and talking; but no man knew what. She lived in the Forrest of
Pendle amongst this wicked Company of dangerous Witches. Yet in her
Examination and Confession she dealt always very plainely and truely; for
vpon a speciall occasion, being oftentimes examined in open Court, she was
neuer found to vary, but alwayes to agree in one and the selfe same thing.
I place her in order next to that wicked Firebrand of mischiefe, old
Demdike, because from these two sprung all the rest in order; and even the
Children and Friendes of these two notorious Witches."

Nothing special or very graphic was elicited about old Chattox. She had
certainly bewitched to death sundry of the neighbourhood, lately deceased;
but then they all did that; and her devil, Fancie, came to her in various
shapes--sometimes like a bear, gaping as though he would worry her, which
was not a pleasant manner of fulfilling his contract--but generally as a
man, in whom she took great delight. She confessed to a charm for blessing
forespoken drink; which she had chanted for John Moore's wife, she said,
whose beer had been spoilt by Mother Demdike or some of her crew:--

  "Three Biters hast thou bitten,
    The Hart, ill Eye, ill Tonge;
  Three Bitter shall be thy boote,
    Father, Sonne, and Holy Ghost,
    a God's Name
  Fiue Paternosters, fiue Auies,
    and a Creede,
  For worship of fiue woundes
    of our Lord."

Of course there was no help or hope for old Chattox if she said such
wicked things as these. The righteous justice of England must be
satisfied, and Anne Whittle was hung--one of the twelve who sorrowed the
sunlight in Lancaster on that bloody assize.

Her daughter, Ann Redfearne, was then taken, accused of making pictures of
clay and other maleficent arts; and she, too, was hanged; and then
well-born, well-bred, but unfortunate Alice Nutter--a gentlewoman of
fortune living at Rough Lee, whose relatives were anxious for her death
that they might come into some property, out of which she kept them while
living, and between whom and Mr. Justice Nowell there was a long-standing
grudge on the question of a boundary-line between their several
properties--Alice Nutter, whom one would have thought far removed from any
such possibility, was accused by young Jennet of complicity and
companionship, and put upon her trial with but a faint chance of escape
behind her. For Elizabeth Device swore that she had joined with her and
old Demdike in bewitching the man Mitton, because of that twopence so
fatally refused; and young Jennet swore that she was one of the party who
went on many-coloured foals to the great witch meeting at Malking Tower;
and so poor Alice Nutter, of Rough Lee, the well-born, well-bred
gentlewoman, was hanged with the rest of that ragged crew; and her
relations stood in her place, quite satisfied with their dexterity.

Then there was Katherine Hewitt, _alias_ Mouldheels, accused by James
Device, who seemed to think that if he had to be hanged for nothing he
would be hanged in brave company, and, by sharing with as many as could be
found, lessen the obloquy he could not escape; and John Bulcocke, who
turned the spit, and Jane his mother, for the same crimes and on the same
testimony; for the added crime, too, of helping in the bewitching of
Master Leslie, about which nefarious deed other hands were also busy; and
Margaret Pearson, delated by Chattox as entertaining a man spirit
cloven-footed, with whom she went by a loophole into Dodson's stable, and
sat all night, on his mare until it died. She was also accused by Jennet
Booth, who went into her house and begged some milk for her child;
Margaret good-naturedly gave her some, and boiled it in a pan, but all her
reward was, that Jennet accused her of witchcraft, for there was, said
she, a toad, or something very like a toad, at the bottom of the pan when
the milk was boiled, which Margaret took up with a pair of tongs and
carried out of the house. Of course the toad was an imp, and Jennet Booth
was quite right to repay an act of neighbourly generosity by accusation
and slander. Margaret got off with standing in the pillory in open market,
at four market towns on four market days, bearing a paper on her head
setting forth her offence written in great letters, about which there
could be no mistake; after which she was to confess, and afterwards be
taken to prison, where she was to lie for a year, and then be only
released when good and responsible sureties would come forward to answer
for her good behaviour.

And there was Isabel Roby, who bewitched Peter Chaddock for jilting her,
and in the spirit pinched and buffeted Jane Williams, so that she fell
sick with the impression of a thumb and four fingers on her thigh; and
Jennet Preston, she who had the white foal spirit, and who was afterwards
hung at York for the murder of Master Thomas Lister--for Master Thomas in
his last illness had been for ever crying out that Jennet Preston was
lying on him, and when she was brought to see the body it gushed out fresh
blood on her, which settled all doubts, if haply there had been any. So
the famous trial of the Pendle Witches came to an end; and of the twenty
who were accused twelve were hanged while the rest escaped only for the
present, many of them meeting with their doom a few years afterwards.


At the same time and place, namely, "at the Assizes and Generall
Gaole-delivery, holden at Lancaster, before Sir Edward Bromley," old
Jennet Bierly, Ellen Bierly her daughter-in-law, and Jane Southworth, were
accused by Grace Sowerbuts of bewitching her, so that her "bodie wasted
and was consumed." Grace was fourteen years old--a very ripe time for
bewitchment and possession--and her evidence ran that for some years past
she had been fearfully tormented by these women, for that "they did
violently draw her by the Haire of the Head, and layd her on the toppe of
a Hay-mowe;" and that Jennet Bierly appeared to her, first under her own
shape and form, then as a black dog, and that as she was going over a
style "she picked her off," but did not hurt her much, for soon she was
enabled to rouse herself up, and go on her way without any great damage.
But often the women came to her as black dogs, tempting her to cast
herself into the water, or dragging her into the hay-loft where they
covered her with hay on her head and with straw on her body, they, the
black dogs, lying on the top of the straw till they took away all sense
and feeling and she knew not where she was; and oft they "carried her
where they met black things like men that danced with them and did abuse
their bodies, and they brought her to one Thomas Walsham's House in the
Night, and there they killed his Child, by putting a Nail into the Navil,
and after took it forth of the Grave, and did boil it, and eat some of it,
and made Oyl of the bones; and such like horrid lies," says honest
Webster, indignantly. But fortunately for the three accused, Grace
Sowerbuts was a popish pet, and suspected of decided papistical leanings;
and it was said that she was put up to all this by one Thomson, a popish
priest, whose real name was Southworth, and who was a relation of old Sir
John Southworth the great popish lord of the district; to whom also Jane,
one of the accused, was a near relative, but a hated enemy, as is often
the case--Sir John having been known to ride miles round to avoid passing
by her house. Jane Southworth was a Protestant and a convert, therefore
likely to receive the protection of public opinion in those parts; likely,
too, to be doubly hated by her relative, first for herself, and secondly
for her apostacy. So Grace Sowerbuts, an excitable young maid with but a
slender regard to truth, was hit upon as the person best fitted to carry
confusion into the enemy's camp, and it was resolved to prove her
bewitched by the devilish arts of the two Bierlys and the popish recusant.
But Sir Edward Bromley, who cared nothing for the protestations of the
Pendle witches, and hung every one of them with the most placid belief
that he was doing a just and righteous work, gave a very different
countenance to these Samesbury witches, all of whom would have been strung
up like dogs had not the taint of papistry rested on Grace and her
supporters. Leading her quietly to a denial of all she had asserted, Sir
Edward got her to confess that she was an impostor, and that every article
of her accusation was a lie and a fallacy from beginning to end. She had
never known nor seen any devils; she had never been cast upon the henroof
nor upon the hay-mow, but when she was found there she had gone of her own
accord, and had covered herself with hay and straw to better prove the
witches' despite against her; she knew nothing of any child done to death
by nails in its body; and all that she had said about the bones, and the
oil, and the tender flesh roasted at the fire, was as false as the rest.
She had never been possessed, but had flung herself into these fits by her
own will and independent power; and what she did in them was a mere trick,
which she could show their worships if they liked. In short, Grace
Sowerbuts was forced to play the losing game in as masterly a manner as
might be, and to own herself a cheat and an impostor while yet there was
time for pardon. So the three Samesbury witches got off with a stern
exhortation from the judge, who scarcely seemed to relish the release of
even Protestant witches delated by papistical accusers.


Mary Smith of Lynn, wife of Henry Smith, glover, was envious of her
neighbours for their greater skill in making cheese: in the midst of her
discontents, and while her mind, by its passion and evil thoughts, was in
a fit condition for the devil to enter therein, Satan came to her as a
black man, provoking her in a "lowe murmuring and hissing Voyce," to
forsake God and follow him; to which she "condescended" in express terms.
The devil then constantly appeared to her--sometimes as a mist; sometimes
as a ball of fire, with dispersed spangles of black; but chiefly as a
black man; and sometimes as a horned man, in which shape he came to her
when in prison. Mary was a good hand at banning. She cursed John Orkton,
and wished his fingers might rot off, and they did so; she cursed
Elizabeth Hancock, whom she accused of stealing her hen, wishing that the
bones might stick in her throat, calling her a "prowde linny, prowde
flurts, and shaking the hand bade her go in, for she should repent it;"
and incontinently Elizabeth Hancock was taken with a pinching at the
heart, and sudden weakness of all her body, and fainting fits, and racking
pains, and madness, and raving, so that she tore the hair off her head as
she tossed about distracted. Her father went to a wise man, who showed him
Mary Smith's face in a glass, and bade him make a cake according to
certain directions, which then he was to lay, half on Bessie's head and
half on her back, and which would infallibly cure her, as she was not ill
but bewitched. The father did so, and the daughter mended. Soon after
this she married one James Scot, who, having a mortal hatred against Mary
Smith, killed her cat, and threatened that if his wife had any such fits
as she had before they married, he would hang Mary Smith without mercy. At
this Mary clapped her hands, and cried "They had killed her cat!" and the
next day Elizabeth had the old nipping round her heart. So James went to
Mary and said he would most certainly take her before the magistrates, if
she did not amend her ways and heal his wife at once. Fortunately for Mary
the woman got better, and the evil day was staved off for a time. To
Cecily Balye, the maid-servant next door, she sent her cat to sit upon her
breast when she slept, in revenge at the maid's sweeping a little dust
awry; and Cicely gave awful evidence how, through the thin partition which
divided them, she used to see Mary Smith adoring her imp in a submissive
manner--down on her knees, using strange gestures and uttering many
murmuring and broken speeches; and if she had listened, and looked more
attentively, she might have seen and heard more: "but she was with the
present spectacle so affrighted, that she hurried away in much feare and

"The fourth endammaged by this Hagge," says Roberts, was one Edmund
Newton. He was a cheesemonger, like herself, and she thought he got the
best of the trade; so she, or her imp in her likeness, came to him as he
was lying in bed, and "whisked about his face a wet cloath of very
loathsome savour; after which he did see one clothed in russet, with a
little bush beard, who told him he was sent to looke vpon his sore legge,
and would heale it." When Newton rose to take a fairer look, he saw that
the russet man with a little bush beard had cloven feet, so refused his
offer of chirurgery. After this Mary was constantly sending her imps to
him--a toad and crabs--which crawled about the house, "which was a shoppe
planchered with boords, where his seruants (hee being a shoo maker) did
worke;" and one of them took the toad and flung it into the fire, during
which time the witch was grievously tormented. So nothing would serve
Edmund Newton's turn but he must "scratch her;" yet when he strove to do
so his nails turned like feathers, and he had no power over her, not even
to raise the skin so much as a nine weeks' old babe might have done. At
another time a great water-dog ran over his bed--the chamber door being
shut--and he fell lame in his hand, and did not recover the use of it
again. And then the law interfered, and Mary Smith was brought before the
magistrates to answer to the charge of witchcraft--by them committed to
the assizes--found guilty by judge and jury--and hanged by the neck till
she was dead, as a warning to the time and her own kind. This murder was
done 1616.


The Earl and Countess of Rutland had shown much kindness to the widow Joan
Flower, and her two daughters Philip and Margaret. Joan and Philip were
employed at the castle pretty constantly as charwomen, and Margaret was
taken into the castle itself, "looking both to the poultrey abroad and the
washhouse within doores," and evidently a great favourite with my Lady,
who trusted her much. Their good fortune raised them up a host of
enemies, as is always the case; and backbiters went with tales to the Lord
and Lady, saying, "First, that Ioane Flower the Mother was a monstrous
malicious woman, full of oathes, curses, and imprecations, irreligious,
and, for any thing they saw by her, a plaine Atheist; besides of late days
her very countenance was estranged, her eyes were fiery and hollow, her
speech fell and enuious, her demeanour strange and exoticke, and her
conuersation sequestered; so that the whole course of her life gaue great
suspition that she was a notorious witch, yea some of her neighbours dared
to affirme that she dealt with familiar Spirits, and terrified them all
with curses and threatening of reuenge, if there were neuer so little
cause of displeasure and vnkindnesse. Concerning Margaret, that she often
resorted from the Castle to her Mother, bringing such Provision as they
thought was vnbefitting for a seruant to purloyne, and coming at such
unseasonable houres, that they could not but coniecture some mischeife
between them, and that their extraordinary ryot and expences tended both
to rob the Lady, and to maintaine certaine deboist and base company which
frequented this Ioane Flower's house the mother, and especially her
youngest Daughter. Concerning Philip that she was lewdly transported with
the loue of one Th. Simpson, who presumed to say, that she had bewitched
him: for he had no power to leaue, and was as he supposed maruellously
altered both in minde and body, since her acquainted company: these
complaints began many yeares before either their conuiction or publique
apprehension: Notwithstanding such was the honour of this Earle and his
Lady; such was the cunning of this monstrous woman in her obseruation
towards them; such was the subtilty of the Diuell to bring his purposes
to passe; such was the pleasure of God to make tryall of his seruants; and
such was the effect of a damnable womans wit and malitious enuy, that all
things were carried away in the smooth Channell of liking and good
entertainment on euery side, untill the Earle by degrees conceiued some
mislike against; and so peraduenture estranged himself from that
familiarity and accustomed conferences he was wont to haue with her;
untill one Peate offered her some wrong; against whom she complained, but
found that my Lord did affect her clamours and malicious information,
vntill one Mr. Vauasor abandoned her company, as either suspicious of her
lewd life, or distasted with his oun misliking of such base and poore
Creatures, whom nobody loued but the Earle's household; vntill the
Countesse misconceiuing of her daughter Margaret and discovering some
vndecencies both in her life and neglect of her businesse, discharged her
from lying any more in the Castle, yet gave her 40_s._, a bolster, and a
mattresse of wooll; commanding her to go home vntill the slacknesse of her
repayring to the Castle, as she was wont, did turne her loue and liking
toward this honourable Earle and his family into hate and rancor;
wherevpon despighted to bee so neglected, and exprobated by her neighbours
for her Daughters casting out of doores, and other conceiued displeasures,
she grew past all shame and womanhood, and many times cursed them all that
were the cause of this discontentment, and made her so loathsome to her
former familiar friends and beneficial acquaintance."

Things being come to this pass, it was not difficult to persuade the Earl
and his Countess that, when their eldest son Henry, Lord Ross, sickened
very strangely, and after a while died,--when their second son Francis
was also tortured by a strange sickness--and the Lady Katherine their
daughter was in danger of her life "through extreame maladies and vnusuall
fits"--it was all done by Joan Flower's witchcraft, and that the quickest
way out of their troubles was to arrest the widow and her two daughters
and see what could be done with them, both by their own confessions and
the neighbours' relations. They were arrested accordingly, and carried
before the magistrates where witnesses were not awanting. The first
evidence given was that of Philip Flower, sister to Margaret, and daughter
of poor old Joan. On the 4th of February she confessed that her mother and
sister "maliced" the Earl of Rutland, his countess, and their children,
because they were put out of the Castle; wherefore her sister Margaret, by
desire of her mother, got Lord Henry's right-hand glove which she found on
the rushes in the nursery, and delivered it to Joan, who presently rubbed
it on the back of her spirit Rutterkin, bidding him "height and goe and
doe some hurt to Henry Lord Rosse," then put it into boiling water,
pricking it many times with a knife, and burying it in the yard with a
wish that Lord Henry might never thrive. Whereupon he fell sick and
shortly after died. She also said that she often saw the spirit Rutterkin
leap on her sister Margaret's shoulder and suck her neck, and that her
mother had often cursed the earl and his lady, and boiled feathers and
blood together, "vsing many Deuillish speeches and strange gestures." On
the 22nd of the same month Margaret was examined, and she also gave no
trouble. She confessed that truly she had got Lord Henry's glove, and that
her mother had done with it in all particulars of stroking Rutterkin's
back, and putting it into boiling water, and pricking, and burying it,
according to the words of Philip; also that some two or three years ago
she had found a glove of the Lord Francis', which her mother rubbed on
Rutterkin the cat and bade him go upward, and which, by her incantations
and sorceries, caused a grievous illness to light on the little nobleman.
And she got a piece of Lady Katherine's handkercher, which her mother put
into hot water, "and then taking it out rubbed it on Rutterkin, bidding
him 'flye and go;' whereupon Rutterkin whined and cryed 'Mew,'" and the
mother said he had no power over Lady Katherine to hurt her. A few days
later both sisters were examined again, when Philip confessed that she had
a spirit which sucked her in the form of a white rat, and which she had
entertained for the space of two or three years, on condition that it
should cause Thomas Simpson to love her; and Margaret allowed that she had
two spirits, one white, the other black-spotted, to whom she had given her
soul, they covenanting to do all that she commanded them. Then she rambled
off into a wild statement of how on the thirtieth of January last, she,
being in Lincoln gaol, four devils appeared to her at eleven or twelve
o'clock at night; the one stood at her bed's foot, and had a black head
like an ape, and spake unto her; but what she could not well remember; at
which she was very angry that he would not speak plainer and let her
understand his meaning. She said that the other three were Rutterkin,
Little Robin, and Spirit, "but shee never mistrusted them nor suspected
herselfe till then." This closed the examinations of the two younger
women: for poor old Joan had died on her way to gaol "with a horrible
excruciation of soul and body," and so an end was come to of her. But if
there was nothing more to be got out of the Flower family, their
neighbours were not backward to help them with a bad word, when handy.
Anne Baker, evidently mad, Joan Willimot, and Ellen Greene, were brought
to say their say in the face of the country and before the county
justices. Joan Willimott gave evidence that Joan Flower had oftentimes
complained to her of the unfriendly conduct of my Lord of Rutland, in
turning her daughter out of the house, adding that though she could not
have her will of my Lord himself, she had spied his son and stricken him
to the heart--stricken him with a white spirit, which yet could be cured
if she so willed. Joan Willimott then "fyled" herself for a witch, saying
that she had a spirit called Pretty, given to her by her master, William
Berry of Langholme, in Rutlandshire, whom she had served three years. When
he gave it to her, he bade her open her mouth and he would blow into her a
Fairy which should do her good; and she did so; and he blew into her
mouth, and presently after there came out of her mouth a spirit which
stood upon the ground in the shape and form of a woman, and asked of her
her soul--which Joan granted--being willed thereto by her master. She did
not own to having ever hurt anyone, but said instead that she had helped
divers who had been stricken and forespoken, and that the use she made of
her spirit was to know how those did whom she had undertaken to mend. She
said, too, that her spirit came to her last night, in the form of a woman
mumbling something, but she could not understand what; and that she was
not asleep, but was as waking as at this present. On another occasion she
fyled two of her neighbours, saying how Cooke's wife had said that John
Patchet might have had his child alive, if he had asked for it,
insinuating that Cooke's wife had forespoken the said child, and that
Patchet's wife had an evil thing within her, and she knew it by her
girdle. Also that Gamaliel Greete, of Waltham, had a spirit like a white
mouse put into him in his swearing, and that those on whom he looked with
intent to hurt were hurt; and that he had a mark on his left arm, which
had been cut away; and that her own spirit had told her all this. And that
she, and Joan, and Margaret Flower, had met in Blackborrow hill, the week
before Joan's apprehension; and that she had seen in Joan's house two
spirits, the one like a rat, and the other like an owl, and that one of
them had sucked under her left ear--as she thought; and that Joan Flower
said her spirits had informed her she should be neither burnt nor hanged.

On this same day Ellen Green gave in her account, saying that some six
years since Joan Willimott had come to her in the wolds, persuading her to
forsake God and betake her to the devil, and she would give her two
spirits: which this Examinate consented unto. Whereupon Joan called two
spirits, one in the likeness of a "kittin," the other of a "moldiwarp,"
the first of which was called "pusse," and the second "hiffe hiffe;" and
they leapt on her shoulder, and sucked her. And that she sent the kittin
to a baker in the town who had offended her, but whose name she had
forgotten, and bade it bewitch him to death; and the moldiwarp she
despatched to Ann Dawse, for the same purpose and the same offence. And of
other deaths by the like means did Ellen Green accuse herself; adding that
Joan Willimott's spirit was in the form of a white dog, and that she had
seen it suck her in Barley harvest last.

And then came mad Ann Baker, who started with informing her audience that
there are four colours of planets, black, yellow, green, and blue, and
that black is always death, and that she saw the blue planet strike
William Fairbairn's son, but when William Fairbairn did beat her and break
her head, his said son Thomas did mend. Yet she sent not the blue planet.
She said that she saw a hand appear to her, and a voice in the air say,
"Anne Baker, save thyself, for to-morrow thou and thy maister must be
slain;" and that the next day, as she and her master were together in a
cart, suddenly she saw a flash of fire, but when she said her prayers the
fire went away, and then a crow came and pecked her clothes; whereat she
said her prayers again, and bade the crow go to whom it was sent, "and the
Crow went vnto her Maister and did beat him to death, and shee with her
prayers recouered him to life: but he was sick a fortnight after and saith
that if shee had not had more knowledge than her Maister, both he and shee
and all the Cattell had beene slaine." The rest of her confessions turned
upon the histories of the various deaths and bewitchments with which she
was charged, and most of which she denied; saying, that she had merely
lain Ann Stannidge's child on her skirt, but had done it no harm, and that
when the mother had burnt the little one's hair and nail parings, and she,
Ann Baker, had gone in to the house in great pain and suffering, she knew
nothing whatever of this burning, but that she was sick and knew not
whither she went. Of the Rutland case all she knew was, that when she came
back from Northamptonshire, whither she had gone three years ago, two good
wives had told her that my young Lord Henry was dead, and that there was a
glove of the said Lord buried underground, and that "as his glove did rot
and wast, so did the liver of the young Lord rot and wast;" and that her
spirit was a good spirit and in the shape of a white dog. The tract does
not inform us what was done with these three wretched women. The two
Flowers were hanged, the old mother having died as I have said: but
whether the untimely death of a sickly lad was revenged by more innocent
blood than this remains unknown. The death-sacrifices of savages, the
witches of Africa, and the Red Indian "Medicine-men," are not so very far
removed from our own forefathers that we should quite ignore the likeness
between them and the recent past at home.


The war between Papists and Protestants still went on, and the favourite
weapon with each was the old one of Possession, and its result--exorcism.
The patient in the present case was William Perry, a youth of twelve,
generally called the Boy of Bilston, whom Joan Cock bewitched for the
better showing forth the glory of God and the Church, and to the hurt of
her own soul and body. One day William Perry met old Joan as he returned
from school, and forbore to give her good time of the day, as a well-bred
youth should: whereat the old woman was angry, and called him "a foul
thing," saying "that it had been better for him if he had saluted her." At
which words the boy felt something prick him to his heart, and when he
came home fell into fits of the most demoniac kind. The parents seeing his
extremity went cap and knee to some Catholics in the neighbourhood, and
they, after long solicitation, proceeded to the exorcising. They poured
holy water and holy oil in goodly quantity upon him, and left supplies of
both to be used in their absence. The devil was sore afflicted by the
holy water and the holy oil, and made the boy cast up pins, and wool, and
knotted thread, and rosemary leaves, and walnut leaves, and feathers, and
"thrums." For there were three devils inside him, he said, and they had
uncommon power. On Corpus Christi day he brought up eleven pins, and a
knitting needle folded in divers folds; all after extreme fits and
heavings; and then the spirit told him not to listen to the exorcising
priest--which was a great compliment from the devil--and that the witch
had said she would make an end of him. When told to pray for the witch,
the boy and the devils were furious; but afterwards calmed down on the
exorciser getting extra power; and then the boy prayed his prayer and grew
better. Then he demanded that everything about him should be blessed, and
that all his family should be Catholics; but when any Puritans came in, he
said the devil assaulted him in the shape of a black bird. So it was a
vastly pretty little case of witness and conversion, and the Catholics
made the most of it. Joan must now be arrested; for the fits continued,
and the young gentleman was not to be pacified with anything short of the
witch's blood. When brought into his presence the boy had extreme fits,
crying out: "'Now she comes, now my Tormentor comes!' writhing and tearing
and twisting himself into such Shapes as bred at once Amazement and Pity
in the Spectators:" so the old woman was sent to Stafford gaol, but,
because this was a Popish matter, acquitted without long delay. Then the
Bishop of Coventry and Lichfield, desirous of testing the matter, and
unwilling that the Catholics should take any glory to themselves for their
holy oils and their anointings which were said to have calmed the most
"sounding fits," took William Perry home to the Castle, and there had him
watched: and watched so well that certain dirty tricks not to be spoken of
here were found out, and the physiological part of the "miracle" set at
rest. But before this the Bishop tried the devils with Greek. For they
could not abide the first verse of the first chapter of St. John, and
always fell on the boy with fury when it was read; so, said the Bishop,
whose wits sectarian hatred had sharpened--one bigotry driving out
another--"Boy, it is either thou or the Devil that abhorrest those Words
of the Gospel: and if it be the Devil (he being so ancient a Scholar, as
of almost six Thousand Years' standing) knows, and understands all
Languages; so that he cannot but know when I recite the same sentence out
of the Greek Text: But if it be thyself then art thou an execrable Wretch,
who plays the Devil's part; wherefore look to thyself, for now thou art to
be put to Trial, and mark diligently, whether it be that same Scripture
which shall be read." Then was read the twelfth verse of the first
chapter, at which William, supposing it to be the abhorred first, fell
into his customary fits; but when, immediately after, the first verse was
read, he, supposing it was another, was not moved at all. By which means
this part of the fraud was discovered also; and when, moving his eyes and
staring about him wildly, he declared that he saw mice running round the
bed, no one gave any credit to his words. When the whole thing was blown
to the winds, and the Greek test had failed, and the dirty tricks had been
found out, the boy made a pretended confession, which was evidently no
more true than anything else had been. He said that one day as he was
coming home, an old man called Thomas, with gray hair and a cradle of
glasses on his shoulders, met him, and after asking him if he went to
school and how he liked it, told him that he could teach him a few tricks
which should prevent his going to school any more, and would instead lead
all people to pity and lament him, holding him to be bewitched. But it was
shrewdly suspected that the old man Thomas, with his gray hair and cradle
of glass, was but a pleasant phantasy of the imagination; and that the
real secret had lain with the Catholic priests, who, finding the boy apt
and handy, thought they could make good capital out of him for their
Church, and put him forth as a witness for its divine power and holy
office, seeing that it could dispossess the demoniac and drive away evil
spirits. Fortunately they reckoned without their host--the host of
"reformed" bigotry and hatred: for we need not congratulate ourselves on
any clearsightedness or common sense in the matter. Had the Boy of Bilston
been a sound Protestant, he would have been held as indubitably Possessed
by the Devil, and some poor wretch would have been found as a convenient
sacrifice to the stupidity of that devil.


The next year saw Mr. Fairfax of Knaresborough--Edward Fairfax, the
scholar, the gentleman, the classic, our best translator of Tasso,
graceful, learned, elegant Edward Fairfax--pursuing with incredible zeal
six of his neighbours for supposed witchcraft on his children. The
children had fits and were afflicted with imps, so Edward Fairfax thought
his paternal duty consisted in getting the lives of six supposed witches,
the hanging of whom would infallibly cure his children, and drive away the
evil spirits possessing them. But fortunately for the accused the judge
had more sense than Mr. Fairfax; and, though the women were sent back
again for another assize, suffered them to escape with only the terror of
death twice repeated. It is strange to find ourselves face to face with
such stupid bigotry as this in a man so estimable and so refined as


Lady Jennings and her young daughter Elizabeth, of thirteen, lived at
Thistlewood in the year 1622. One day an old woman, coming no one knew
whence, perhaps from the bowels of the earth, appeared suddenly before the
girl, demanding a pin. The child was frightened, and had fits soon
after--fits of the usual hysteric character, but quite sufficiently severe
to alarm Lady Jennings. A doctor was sent for; but also, as well as the
doctor, came a clever shrewd woman called Margaret Russill, or "Countess,"
a bit of a doctress in her way, perhaps a bit of a white witch too, who
thought she could do the afflicted child some good, and had beside a love
of putting her fingers into everybody's pie. At the end of one of her fits
the child began to cry out wildly, then mentioned Margaret and three
others as the persons who had bewitched her. And then she went on,
incoherently, "These have bewitched all my mother's children--east, west,
north, and south all these lie--all these are witches. Set up a great
sprig of rosemary in the middle of the house--I have sent this child to
speak, to show all these witches--Put Countess in prison, this child will
be well--If she had been long ago, all together had been alive--Them she
bewitched with a cat-stick--Till then I shall be in great pain--Till
then, by fits, I shall be in great extremity--They died in great misery."
No mother's heart could resist the appeal contained in these wild words;
poor Countess was arrested, and taken before Mr. Slingsby, a magistrate.
When there she said, though heaven knows what prompted her to tell such
falsehoods, "Yesterday she went to Mrs. Dromondbye in Black-and-White
Court, in the Old Baylye; and told her that the Lady Jennings had a
daughter strangely sicke, whereuppon the said Dromondbye wished her to goe
to inquire at Clerkenwell for a minister's wiffe that cold helpe people
that were sicke, but she must not aske for a witch or a cunning woman, but
for one that is a phisition woman; and then this examinate found her and a
woman sitting with her and told her in what case the child was, and shee
said shee wold come this day, but shee ought her noe service, and said
shee had bin there before and left receiptes there, but the child did not
take them. And she said further that there was two children that her Lady
Jennins had by this husband, that were bewitched and dead, for there was
controversie betweene two howses, and that as long as they dwelt there,
they cold not prosper, and that there shold be noe blessing in that howse
by this man." When asked what was this "difference," she answered,
"Between the house of God and the house of the world:" but when told that
this was no answer, and that she must explain herself more clearly, she
said that "she meant the apothecary Higgins and my Lady Jennings." "And
shee further confessed that above a moneth agoe she went to Mrs. Saxey in
Gunpouder Alley, who was forespoken herself, and that had a boke that cold
helpe all those that were forespoken, and that shee wold come and shewe
her the booke and help her under God. And further said to this examinate,
that none but a seminary priest cold cure her." So here again we have the
constantly recurring element of sectarianism, without which, indeed, we
should be at a loss how to understand much that meets us. "Countess" was
committed to Newgate, and the bewitched child cried out more and more
against her, making new revelations with each fit, when the pitiful farce
was brought to a close by the minister's wife, Mrs. Goodcole, who, when
confronted with Countess, denied point blank the more important parts of
her evidence. And then all this evil--this much ado about nothing--was
found to have arisen from a private quarrel; and when Dr. Napier was sent
for, he unbewitched the possessed child with some very simple remedies,
and the great balloon burst and fell to the ground in hopeless collapse.


On the 13th of August, 1626, Edward Bull and Joan Greedie were indicted at
Taunton for bewitching Edward Dinham. Dinham was a capital ventriloquist,
and could speak in two different voices beside his own, as well as
counterfeit fits and play the possessed to the life. One of his two
feigned voices was pleasant and shrill, and belonged to a good spirit; the
other was deadly and hollow, and belonged to an evil spirit. And when he
spoke his lips did not move, and he lay as if in a trance, and both he and
the voices said that he was bewitched, and all the people believed them.
And the good voice asked who had bewitched him, to which the bad replied,
"A woman in greene cloathes and a blacke hatt with long poll, and a man
in gray srite, with blewe stockings." When asked where she was now, the
bad spirit answered, "At her own house," while he was at a tavern in
"Yeohull," Ireland. Then after some pressing the bad spirit said that the
name of one was "Johan," of the other "Edward;" and after more pressing
still, confessed to the surnames, "Greedie and Bull." So in consequence of
this reliable report messengers were sent off to find old Joan, and when
found arrest her. Then the good spirit, who played the part of a
benevolent Pry, asked how these two became witches, to which the bad
answered, "By descent." "But how by descent?" says the good spirit,
anxious not to leave a lock unfastened or a problem unsolved. "From the
grandmother to the mother, and from the mother to the children," says the
bad. "But howe were they soe?" says Goody. "They were bound to us and we
to them," answered the bad, with more words than explanation.

Good Spirit--"Lett me see the bond."

Bad Spirit--"Thou shalt not."

Good Spirit--"Lett me see it, and if I like it I will seale it alsoe."

Bad Spirit--"Thou shalt, if thou wilt not reveale the contentes thereof."

Good Spirit--"I will not."

At this point it was pretended that a spectral bond was passed from the
bad to the good ghost; and then broke out the "sweet and shrill voice" of
the ventriloquist with "Alas! oh, pittifull, pittifull, pittifull! What!
eight seales? bloody seales! four dead and four alive; oh, miserable!"
Then came in the man's natural voice, addressing the spirit: "Come, come,
prithee tell me why did they bewitch me?" Bad Spirit--"Because thou
didst call Johan Greedie witche." Man--"Why, is shee not a witche?" Bad
Spirit--"Yes, but thou shouldst not have said so," which was a fine bit of
worldly policy in the bad ghost. Good Spirit--"But why did Bull bewitche
him?" Bad--"Because Greedie was not strong enough."

On this evidence further messengers were sent off for Edward Bull, but
whether to Yeohull or not I cannot say. They were disappointed for the
moment, for Bull had run away; and then, in a future interview, and to
fill up the time until braver sport should be provided, the bad and the
good spirits had a wrestle for Dinham's soul, which, judging from what
evidence we have had left us, was not worth the struggle, and would be no
great gain to either party. In the struggle the good spirit speaks Latin.
"Laudes, laudes, laudes," says he, being well educated and not ashamed.
But the bad was, as befitted his nature, churlish and ill-taught, and did
not understand his opponent's talk, but translated it into "ladies," which
made a laugh among them all. Then they struggled for the Prayer Book; but
here again the bad was discomfited, and the man kept the talisman; after
which the good spirit made "the sweetest musicke that ever was heard."
When they set out to catch Bull again, they found him in bed; and now,
when both the Possessors were safe, Dinham was freed and his voices dumb
for ever. Perhaps he had caught cold. I do not know the fate of these poor
wretches, but I should not think it doubtful.

In 1627 Mr. Rothnell exorcised an evil spirit out of one John Fox; but
notwithstanding this John continued dumb for three years after; which was
rather an unfortunate comment on the exorcism, but not at all likely to
open the eyes of any one willing to be blind.


We have seen what Lancashire was in sixteen hundred and twelve: it was not
much better twenty-one years later; for in 1633 we find that Pendle Forest
was still of bad repute, and that traditions of old Demdike and her rival
Mother Chattox yet floated round the Malkin Tower, and hid, spectre-like,
in the rough and desert places of the barren waste. Who ever knew of evil
example waiting for its followers? What Mothers Demdike and Chattox had
done in their day, their children and grandchildren were ready to do after
them. The world will never lose its old women, "toothless, blear-eyed,
foul-tongued, malicious," for whom love died out and sin came in long
years ago; and Edmund Robinson, son of Ned of Roughs, was one of those
specially appointed by Providence to bring such evildoers to their reward.

Edmund, then about eleven years of age (how many of these sad stories come
from children and young creatures!), lived with his father in Pendle
Forest; lived poorly enough, but not without some kind of romance and
interest; for on the 10th day of February, 1633, he made the following

"Who upon oath informeth, being examined concerning the great meeting of
the Witches of Pendle, saith that upon All Saints' Day last past, he, this
Informer, being with one Henry Parker, a near-door neighbour to him in
Wheatley-lane, desired the said Parker to give him leave to gather some
Bulloes, which he did. In gathering whereof he saw two Grayhounds, viz., a
black and a brown one, come running over the next field towards him, he
verily thinking the one of them to be Mr. Nutter's, and the other to be
Mr. Robinson's, the said Gentlemen then having such like. And saith, the
said Grayhounds came to him, and fawned on him, they having about their
necks either of them a Collar, unto each of which was tied a String; which
Collars (as this Informer affirmeth) did shine like Gold. And he thinking
that some either of Mr. Nutters or Mr. Robinsons Family should have
followed them; yet seeing no body to follow them, he took the same
Grayhounds, thinking to course with them. And presently a Hare did rise
very near before him. At the sight whereof he cried Loo, Loo, Loo: but the
Doggs would not run. Whereupon he being very angry took them, and with the
strings that were about their Collars, tied them to a little bush at the
next hedge, and with a switch that he had in his hand he beat them. And in
stead of the black Grayhound, one Dickensons Wife stood up, a Neighbour,
whom this Informer knoweth. And in stead of the brown one a little Boy,
whom this Informer knoweth not. At which sight this Informer, being
afraid, endeavoured to run away; but being stayed by the Woman, (viz.) by
Dickensons Wife, she put her hand into her pocket, and pulled forth a
piece of Silver much like to a fair shilling, and offered to give him it
to hold his tongue and not to tell; which he refused, saying, Nay, thou
art a Witch. Whereupon she put her hand into her pocket again, and pulled
out a thing like unto a Bridle that gingled, which she put on the little
Boyes head; which said Boy stood up in the likeness of a white Horse, and
in the brown Grayhounds stead. Then immediately Dickensons wife took this
Informer before her upon the said Horse and carried him to a new house
called Hoarstones, being about a quarter of a mile off. Whither when they
were come, there were divers persons about the door, and he saw divers
others riding on Horses of several colours towards the said House, who
tied their Horses to a hedge near to the said House. Which persons went
into the said House, to the number of three score or thereabouts, as this
Informer thinketh, where they had a fire, and meat roasting in the said
House, whereof a young Woman (whom this Informer knoweth not) gave him
Flesh and Bread upon a Trencher, and Drink in a Glass, which after the
first taste he refused, and would have no more, but said it was nought.

"And presently after, seeing divers of the said company going into a Barn
near adjoining, he followed after them, and there he saw six of them
kneeling, and pulling all six of them six several ropes, which were
fastened or tied to the top of the Barn. Presently after which pulling,
there came into this Informers sight flesh smoaking, butter in lumps, and
milk as it were syleing (straining) from the said ropes. All which fell
into basons which were placed under the said ropes. And after that these
six had done, there came other six which did so likewise. And during all
the time of their several pulling, they made such ugly faces as scared
this Informer, so that he was glad to run out and steal homewards; who
immediately finding they wanted one that was in their company, some of
them ran after him near to a place in a Highway called Boggard-hole, where
he, this Informer, met two Horsemen. At the sight whereof the said persons
left following of him. But the foremost of those persons that followed him
he knew to be one Loinds Wife; which said Wife, together with one
Dickensons Wife, and one Jennet Davies, he hath seen since at several
times in a Croft or Close adjoining to his Fathers house, which put him in
great fear. And further this Informer saith, upon Thursday after New
Years Day last past he saw the said Loinds Wife sitting upon a cross piece
of wood being within the Chimney of his Fathers dwelling-house; and he,
calling to her, said, Come down, thou Loynds Wife. And immediately the
said Loynds Wife went up out of his sight. And further this Informer
saith, that after he was come from the company aforesaid to his Fathers
house, being towards evening, his Father bad him go and fetch home two
kine to seal (tie up). And in the way, in a field called the Ellers, he
chanced to hap upon a Boy, who began to quarrel with him, and they fought
together, till the Informer had his ears and face made up very bloody by
fighting, and looking down he saw the Boy had a cloven foot. At which
sight, he being greatly affrighted, came away from him to seek the kine.
And in the way he saw a light like to a Lanthorn, towards which he made
haste, supposing it to be carried by some of Mr. Robinson's people; but
when he came to the place he only found a Woman standing on a Bridge,
whom, when he saw, he knew her to be Loinds Wife, and knowing her he
turned back again; and immediately he met the aforesaid Boy, from whom he
offered to run, which Boy gave him a blow on the back that made him to
cry. And further this Informer saith, that when he was in the Barn, he saw
three Women take six Pictures from off the beam, in which Pictures were
many Thorns or such like things sticked in them, and that Loynds Wife took
one of the Pictures down, but the other two Women that took down the rest
he knoweth not. And being further asked what persons were at the aforesaid
meeting, he nominated these persons following." Here follows a list of
names of no interest to the modern reader. At the end of this deposition
is one from the Father.

"Edmund Robinson of Pendle, Father of the aforesaid Edmund Robinson,
Mason, informeth,

"That upon All Saints-day last he sent his Son the aforesaid Informer, to
fetch home two kine to seal, and saith that his Son, staying longer than
he thought he should have done, he went to seek him, and in seeking of him
heard him cry pitifully, and found him so affrighted and distracted that
he neither knew his Father nor did know where he was, and so continued
very near a quarter of an hour before he came to himself. And he told this
Informer his Father all the particular passages that are before declared
in the said Robinson his Son's Information.

           "JOHN STARKEY."

Who would dare to doubt such testimony as this? Here was another child of
God grievously mishandled; and what might not be done to the servants of
the devil who had so evilly intreated him? And was not Edmund Robinson
evidently raised up and directed by God to be the scourge of all witches,
and the great discoverer of their naughty pranks? So the lad was elevated
to the post of witch-finder, and was taken about from church to
church--accusing any who might strike his fancy or his fears, and sending
them off to prison at the impulse of his childish will. Among other places
he was brought to the parish church of Kildwick, where Webster was then
curate. It was during the afternoon service, and the lad was put upon a
stall to look the better about him, and discern the witches more clearly.
After service Webster went to him and found him with "two very unlikely
persons that did conduct him and manage the business:" the curate of
Kildwick would have drawn him aside, but the men would not suffer this.
Then said Webster, "'Good boy, tell me truly and in earnest, didst thou
hear and see such strange things of the meeting of witches as is reported
by many that thou dost relate, or did some person teach thee to say such
things of thyself?' But the two men, not giving the boy leave to answer,
did pluck him from me, and said he had been examined by two able Justices
of the Peace, and they did never ask him such a question; to whom I
replied, 'The persons accused had therefore the more wrong.'" So Webster
got nothing by this, and the boy was not damaged nor his credit shaken.
Very many persons were arrested on this young imp's accusations, beside
those seventeen whom he had seen "syleing" butter and bacon from
witch-ropes in the magic barn. And among the rest Jennet Device, (was she
our old acquaintance of perjured memory?) who was charged with killing
Isabelle, the wife of William Nutter; and Mary Spencer, who was in
imminent danger for having "caused a pale or cellocke to come to her, full
of water, fourteen yards up a hill from a well;" and Margaret Johnson,
accused of killing Henry Heape, and wasting and impairing the body of
Jennet Shackleton--but there was no proof against her, save certain witch
marks, which, however, were indisputable, and on the finding of which she
was soon brought to confess. She said that, seven or eight years since,
she was in a mighty rage against life and the world in general, when there
appeared to her the devil like a man, dressed all in black tied about with
silk points, who offered her all she might wish or want in return for her
soul; telling her that she might kill man or beast as she should desire,
and take her revenge when she would; and that if she did but call
"Mamillion" when she wanted him, he would come on the instant and do as he
was bid. So "after a sollicitacion or two, she contracted and condicioned
with the said devill or spiritt for her soul," and henceforth became one
of the most notorious of the Lancashire witches. She confessed that she
was at the great witch-meeting held at Harestones, in Pendle, on All
Saints'-day last past, and again at another the Sunday after; and that all
the witches rode there on horses, and went to consult on the killing of
men and beasts; and that "there was one devill or spiritt that was more
greate and grand devill than the rest, and yf anie witch desired to have
such an one, they might have such an one to kill or hurt anie body." She
said, too, which was a new idea on her part, that the sharp-boned witches
were more powerful and malignant than those with "biggs" only; and then
she wandered off, and accused certain of her neighbours, of whom one,
"Pickhamer's wife, was the most greate, grand, and auncyent witch." Then
she told her audience that if any witch desired to be carried to any
place, a cat, or a dog, or a rod would convey them away; but not their
bodies, only their souls in the likeness of their bodies. The judge was
not quite satisfied with either Edmund Robinson's depositions or
Margaret's confessions, and for all that the jury brought in a verdict of
guilty, managed to get a reprieve, and to send up some of the accused to
London. He managed also to interest the king, Charles I., who had not his
father's craze on the subject; and Charles ordered the bishop to make a
special examination of the case, and send in his report. By this time,
too, Edmund and his father were separated, and the boy fully examined;
when at last he confessed to the entire worthlessness and fraud of all he
had said. He had been robbing an orchard of bullees (plums) more than a
mile off the barn at the day and hour named; and, counselled by his
father, had made up those wicked lies to screen himself. And then, finding
the game profitable--for in a short time they made so good a thing by it
that the father bought a couple of cows--he flew further a-field, and
attacked every one within reach. Fortunately for his victims, the judge
was a man of sense and independent judgment; so the judiciary records of
England are stained with one crime the less, and the neighbours lost the
excitement of an execution.


"Many are in a belief that this silly sex of women can by no means attaine
to that so vile and damned a practise of Sorcery and Witchcraft, in regard
of their illiteratenesse and want of learning, which many men have by
great learning done;" nevertheless the Earl of Essex and his army,
marching through Newberry, saw a feat done by a woman which not the most
learned man of them all could have accomplished by natural means. Two
soldiers were loitering behind the main body, gathering nuts,
blackberries, and the like, when one climbed up a tree for sport, and the
other followed him, jesting. From their vantage place, looking on the
river, they there espied a "tall, lean, slender woman treading of the
water with her feet with as much ease and firmnesse as if one should walk
or trample on the earth." The soldier called to his companion, and he to
the rest; and soon they all--captains, privates, and commanders alike--saw
this marvellous lean woman, who now they perceived was standing on a thin
plank, "which she pushed this way and that at her pleasure, making it a
pastime to her, little perceiving who was on her tracks." Then she crossed
the river, and the army after her; but there they lost her for a time, and
when they found her all were too cowardly to seize her. At last one
dare-devil went up and boldly caught her, demanding what she was. The poor
wretch was dumb--perhaps with terror--and spoke nothing; so they dragged
her before the commanders, "to whom, though she was mightily urged, she
did reply as little." As they could bethink themselves of nothing better
to do with her, they set her upright against a mud bank or wall, and two
of the soldiers, at their captain's command, made ready and fired. "But
with a deriding and loud laughter at them, she caught their bullets in her
hands and chew'd them, which was a stronger testimony than her treading
water that she was the same that their imagination thought her for to be."
Then one of the men set his carbine against her breast and fired; but the
bullet rebounded like a ball, and narrowly missed the face of the shooter,
which "so enraged the Gentleman, that one drew out his sword and manfully
run at her with all the force his strength had power to make, but it
prevailed no more than did the shot, the woman though still speechlesse,
yet in a most contemptible way of Scorn still laughing at them, which did
the more exhaust their furie against her life; yet one amongst the rest
had heard that piercing or drawing bloud from forth the veines that
crosse the temples of the head, it would prevail against the strongest
sorcery, and quell the force of Witchcraft, which was allowed for Triall:
the woman, hearing this, knew then the Devill had left her, and her power
was gone; wherefore she began alowd to cry and roare, tearing her haire,
and making pitious moan, which in these words expressed were: And is it
come to passe that I must dye indeed? Why then his Excellency the Earle of
Essex shall be fortunate and win the field. After which no more words
could be got from her; wherewith they immediately discharged a Pistoll
underneath her eare, at which she straight sunk down and dyed, leaving her
legacy of a detested carcasse to the wormes, her soul we ought not to
iudge of, though the euills of her wicked life and death can scape no
censure. Finis. This Book is not Printed according to order."


And now the reign of Matthew Hopkins, of Mannington, gent., begins--that
most infamous follower of an infamous trade--the witch-finder general of
England. It was Hopkins who first reduced the practice of witch-finding to
a science, and established rules as precise as any to be made for
mathematics or logic. His method of proceeding was to "walk" a suspected
witch between two inquisitors, who kept her from food and sleep, and
incessantly walking, for four-and-twenty hours; or if she could not be
thus walked she was cross-bound--her right toe fastened to her left thumb,
and her left toe to her right thumb--care being taken to draw the cords as
tightly as possible, and to keep her as uneasily, and in this state she
was placed on a high stool or chair, kept without food or sleep for the
prescribed four-and-twenty hours, and vigilantly watched. And Hopkins
recommended that a hole be made in the door, through which her imps were
sure to come to be fed, and that her watchers be careful to kill
everything they saw--fly, spider, lice, mouse, what not; for none knew
when and under what form her familiars might appear; and if by any chance
they missed or could not kill them, then they might be sure that they were
imps, and so another proof be indisputably established. If neither of
these ways would do, then, still cross-bound, she was to be "swum." If she
sank, she was drowned; if she floated--and by putting her carefully on the
water she generally would float--then she was a witch, and to be taken out
and hung. For water, being the sacred element used in baptism, thus
manifestly refused to hold such an accursed thing as a witch within its
bosom; so that, when she swam, it was a proof that this "sacred element"
rejected her for the more potent keeping of the fire. This was the
explanation which, it seemed to King James the First, was a rational and
religious manner of accounting for a certain physical fact.

This, then, was the wise and liberal manner in which an impossible sin was
discovered, and judgment executed, in those fatal years when Matthew
Hopkins ruled the mind of England; yet years wherein Harvey was patiently
at work on his grand physiological discovery, and when Wallis, and
Wilkins, and Boyle were founding the Royal Society of liberal art and free
discussion. It was only a piece of poetical justice that in the future he
should be "swum" cross-bound in his own manner, and found to float
according to the hydrostatics of witches. The shame and fear of this trial
hastened the consumption to which he was hereditarily predisposed; and
after this stringent test we hear no more of this vile impostor and
impudent deceiver, this canting hypocrite, who cloaked his cruelty and
covetousness under the garb of religion, and professed to be serving God
and delivering man from the power of the devil when he was pandering to
the worst passions of the time, and sacrificing to his own corrupt heart.
The blood money, for which he sent so many hapless wretches to the gallows
(he charged twenty shillings a town for his labours), though not an
exceeding bribe, as he himself boasts, was money pleasantly earned and
pleasantly spent; for what man would object to travel through a beautiful
country, surrounded by friends, and carrying influence and importance
wherever he went, and have all his expenses paid into the bargain?

In 1664[130] we find him at Yarmouth, accusing sixteen women in a batch,
among whom was an old woman easily got to confess. She said she used to
work for Mr. Moulton, a stocking merchant and alderman of the town; but
one day, going for work, she found him from home, and his man refused to
let her have any till his return, which would not be for a fortnight. She,
being exasperated against the man, applied to the maid to let her have
some knitting to do, but the maid gave her the like answer: upon which she
went home sorely discontented with both. In the middle of the night some
one knocked at the door: on her rising to open it she saw a tall black
man, who told her that she should have as much work from him as she would,
if she would write her name in his book. He then scratched her hand with a
penknife, and filled the pen with her blood--guiding her hand while she
made her mark. This done, he asked what he could do for her: but when she
desired to have her revenge on Mr. Moulton's man, he told her he had no
power over him, because he went constantly to church to hear Whitfield and
Brinsley, and said his prayers morning and evening. The same of the maid;
but there was a young child in the house more easy to be dealt with, for
whom he would make an image of wax which then they must bury in the
churchyard, and as the waxen image wasted and consumed, so would the
child; which was done, and the child thrown into a languishing condition
in consequence; so bad, indeed, that they all thought it was dying. But as
soon as the witch confessed, the little one lifted up its head and
laughed, and from that instant began to recover. The waxen image was found
where she said she and the devil had buried it, and thus the whole of the
charm was destroyed, and the child was saved; but the poor old crazy woman
with her blackbird imp, and her fifteen compeers with their whole
menagerie of imps, were hung at Yarmouth, amid the rejoicings of the

At Edmonsbury, that same year, another witch had a little black smooth imp
dog, which she sent to play with the only child of some people she hated.
At first the child refused to play with its questionable companion, but
soon got used to its daily appearance, and lost all fear. So the dog-imp,
watching its opportunity, got the boy one day to the water, when it
dragged him underneath and drowned him. The witch was hanged: could they
do less in such a clear case as this?

Another woman was hanged at Oxford for a story as wild as any to be found
in Grimm or Mother Bunch. There were two sisters, left orphans but well
provided for. The eldest, somewhat prodigal, married a man as bad or
worse than herself, who spent her money and afterwards deserted her,
leaving her with one child and in extreme poverty. The younger, being very
serious and religious, waited for two or three years before she settled
herself, then married a good, honest, sober farmer, with whom she lived
well and prosperously; her gear increasing yearly, and herself the happy
mother of a pretty child. Her sister was moved to envy to see all this
prosperity and contentment, and in her passion made a compact with the
devil, by which she became a witch for the purpose of killing her sister's
child as the greatest despite she could do them. For this purpose she used
to mount a bedstaff, which, by the uttering of certain magical words,
carried her to her sister's room; but she could never harm the child,
because it was so well protected by the prayers of its parents. Her own
daughter, a little one of about seven, watched her mother in her antics
with the bedstaff, and from watching took to imitating--going through the
air one night after its dame, and in like fashion. However, it chanced
that she was left behind in her uncle's house; so presently she fell
a-crying, her powers being apparently limited to going, not including the
magic words that insured the return. Her uncle and aunt, hearing a child
cry where never a child should be, took a candle and discovered the whole
matter. Next day the child was taken before the magistrate, to whom it
told its tale, and the mother was apprehended. On the trial this little
creature of seven years old was admitted as the chief evidence against her
mother; and after they had made the poor woman mad among them, she
confessed, and was hanged quite quietly. These were only two out of the
hundreds whom that miserable man, Matthew Hopkins, gent., contrived to
send to the gallows. Beaumont, in his Treatise on Spirits, mentions that
"thirty-six were arraigned at the same time before Judge Coniers, An.
1645, and fourteen of them hanged, and an hundred more detained in several
prisons in Suffolk and Essex." But the most celebrated and the saddest of
all the trials in which Hopkins played a part was that of


held before Sir Matthew Hale in 1645--Hopkins's great witch-year.

In a very scarce tract called 'A true and exact relation of the severall
Informations, Examinations, and Confessions of the Late Witches Arraigned
and Executed in the county of Essex, Published by Authoritie, and Printed
by M. S. for Henry Overton and Benj. Allen, and are to be sold at their
shops in Popes-head-alley, 1645,' is an account of these Manningtree
witches. One John Rivet's wife, living in Manningtree, was taken sick and
lame and with violent fits, and John swore before Sir Harbottel Grimston,
one of the justices of the peace, that a cunning woman--wife of one Hovye
at Hadleigh--told him that his wife was cursed by two women, near
neighbours; of whom one was Elizabeth Clarke, _alias_ Bedingfield.
Elizabeth's mother, and others of her kinsfolk, had been hanged for
witchcraft in the bygone years: so it ran in the blood, and it was not to
be wondered at if it broke out afresh now. Sir Harbottel Grimston and Sir
Thomas Bowes, the two Justices before whom this deposition was taken, then
admitted the evidence of Matthew Hopkins of Manningtree, gentleman and
witch-finder, who deposed to having watched Elizabeth Clarke last night,
being the 24th of March, 1645, when he and one Master Sterne, who watched
with him, saw some strange things which he would presently tell their
worships of. Elizabeth told this deponent and his companion that if they
would stay and do her no harm, she would call one of her imps, and play
with it in her lap; which at first they refused, but afterwards
consenting, there appeared to them "an Impe like to a Dog, which was
white, with some sandy spots, and seemed to be very fat and plump, with
very short legges, who forthwith vanished away." This was Jarmara. Then
came Vinegar Tom, in the shape of a greyhound with very long legs; and
then for a moment only came one for Master Sterne, a black imp which
vanished instantly; then one like a polecat, only bigger.[131] Elizabeth
now told them that she had five imps of her own, and two of Beldam West's,
and that they sucked turn and turn about: now she was sucked by Beldam
West's and now Beldam West by hers. She further said that Satan, whom she
knew very much too well as "a proper Gentleman with a laced band, having
the whole proportion of a Man," would never let her have any peace till
she slew the hogs of Mr. Edwards of Manningtree, and Mr. Taylor's horse.
When she had slain them Satan let her be quiet. Then of his own accord,
Mr. Hopkins said that going from Mr. Edwards's house to his own, that
night at nine or ten, he saw the greyhound which he had with him jump as
if after a hare; and coming up hurriedly, there was a white thing like a
"kitlyn," and his greyhound standing aloof from it; but by-and-by the
white kitlyn came dancing round and about the greyhound, "and by all
likelihood bit off a piece of the flesh of the shoulder of the greyhound;
for the greyhound came shrieking and crying to this Informant, with a
piece of fleshe torne from her shoulder." To crown all, coming into his
own yard, Mr. Hopkins saw a thing like a black cat, only three times as
big, sitting on the strawberry-bed glaring at him; but when he went
towards it, it leaped over the pale, ran right through the yard--his
greyhound after it--then flung open a gate which was "underset with a
paire of Tumbrell strings," and so vanished, leaving the greyhound in a
state of extreme terror. Which, if there was any truth at all in these
depositions, and they were not merely arbitrary lies, would make one
suspect that Master Matthew Hopkins had been drinking, and knew a few of
the phenomena of delirium tremens.

John Sterne, Matthew's slavey or attendant, then gave information.
Watching with Matthew Hopkins, he asked Elizabeth Clarke if she were never
afraid of her imps? to whom she made this notable answer, "What, doe you
thinke I am afraid of my children?" His tale of imps was rather different
to his patron's: they had consulted hurriedly, or John's memory was bad.
The white imp was Hoult; Jarmara had red spots; Vinegar Tom was like a
"dumbe Dogge;" and Sack-and-Sugar was a hard-working imp, which would tear
Master John Sterne when it came. And it was well that Master Sterne was so
quick, else this imp would have "soon skipped upon his face, and perchance
had got into his throate, and then there would have been a feast of toades
in this Informant's belly." Elizabeth had one imp, she said, for which she
would fight up to her knees in blood before she would lose it; and when
asked what the devil was like as a man, said he was a "proper man," a deal
"properer" than Matthew Hopkins.

Other witnesses affirmed that if Elizabeth smacked with her mouth then a
white cat-like imp, would come, and that they saw five more imps, named as
above. And furthermore that she confessed that old Beldam, meaning Ann
West--which was a very disrespectful way of speaking of her gossip--had
killed Robert Oakes' wife and a clothier's child of Dedham, both of whom
had died about a week since; and also that "the said old Beldam Weste had
the wife of one William Cole of Mannintree in handling, who deid not long
since of a pining and languishing disease," and that she had raised the
wind which sunk the hoy in which was Tom Turner's brother thirty months
agone. She also said that Beldam West had taught her all she knew; for
that one day as she was pitying her for her lameness--she had but one
leg--and for her poverty, she told her how she might get imps and be rich,
for that the imps would help her to a husband who would keep her ever
after, so that she need not be put to such miserable shifts as gathering
sticks for a living. Elizabeth Clarke then accused Elizabeth Gooding of
being one of the tribe: and Robert Taylor came forward to give
corroborative evidence against her. He said that nine weeks since,
Elizabeth Gooding came to his shop for half a pound of cheese, on trust;
that he denied it to her; whereupon she went away, "muttering and
mumbling" to herself, and soon came back with the money. That very night
his horse, which was in the stable, sound and in good condition, fell lame
and in four days' time died of a strange disease, and Elizabeth Gooding
was the cause thereof. Elizabeth Gooding "is a lewd woman, and to this
Informant's knowledge, hath kept company with the said Elizabeth Clarke,
Anne Leech, and Anne West, which Anne West hath been suspected for a Witch
many years since, and suffered imprisonment for the same." Elizabeth
Gooding contented herself with saying quietly that she was not guilty of
any one particular charged upon her in the examination of the said Robert
Taylor. Nevertheless she was executed at Chelmsford.

Richard Edwards said that twelve months since he was driving his cows near
to the house of Anne Leech, widow, when they both fell down and died in
two days; the next day his white cow fell down within a rod of the same
place, and died in a week after. In August last his child was out at nurse
at goodwife Wyles', who lived near Elizabeth Gooding and Elizabeth Clarke;
which said child was taken very sick, with rolling of the eyes, strange
fits, extending of the limbs, and in two days it died: and Elizabeth
Gooding and Anne Leech were the cause of its death.

And now poor old Anne Leech was brought on the scene, to "confess," as so
many wretched victims did. She said that she and Elizabeth Clarke and
Elizabeth Gooding sent their imps to kill Mr. Edwards's black cow, and his
white cow; she sent a grey imp, Elizabeth Clarke a black one, and Gooding
a white; also that thirty years since she sent her grey imp to kill Mr.
Bragge's two horses, because he had called her a naughty woman--and that
the imps did their work without fear of failure. When these imps were
abroad, she said, and after mischief, she had her health, but when they
were unemployed and for ever hanging about her, she was sick. They often
spoke to her in a hollow voice which she easily understood, and told her
that she should never feel hell's torments: which it is very sure the poor
old maniac never did. She and Gooding killed Mr. Edwards's child too; she
with her white imp, and Elizabeth with her black one. She had her white
imp about thirty years since, and a grey and a black as well, from "one
Anne, the wife of Robert Pearce of Stoak in Suffolk, being her brother."
Three years since she sent her grey imp to kill Elizabeth Kirk; and
Elizabeth languished for about a year after and then died; the cause of
her, Anne Leech's, malice being that she had asked of Elizabeth a coif,
which she refused. The grey imp killed the daughter of Widow Rawlyns,
because Widow Rawlyns had put her out of her farm; and she knew that
Gooding had sent her imp to vex and torment Mary Taylor, because Mary
refused her some beregood; but when she wanted to warn her, the devil
would not let her. Lastly, she said, that about eight weeks ago she had
met West and Gooding at Elizabeth Clarke's house "where there was a book
read wherein she thinks there was no goodnesse."

So all these wretched creatures were hanged at Chelmsford, and the
informants plumed themselves greatly on their evidence. But before their
execution, poor Hellen Clark, wife of Thomas Clark, and daughter of Anne
Leech, was "fyled." On the 4th of April, 1645, Richard Glascock gave
information that he had heard a falling out between Hellen, and Mary wife
of Edward Parsley, and that he "heard the said Hellen to say as the said
Hellen passed by this Informant's door in the street, that Mary the
daughter of the said Edward and Mary Parsley should rue for all, whereupon
presently the said Mary, the daughter, fell sick and died within six weeks
after." When Helen was arrested she made her confession glibly. She said
that about six weeks since the devil came to her house in the likeness of
a white dog by name Elimanzer, and that she fed him with milk porridge;
that he spoke to her audibly, bidding her deny Christ and she should never
want; which she did: but she did not kill Mary Parsley nevertheless. She
was executed at Manningtree all the same as if she had spoken sober truth.

On the 23rd of the same month Prudence Hart came to the magistrates with
an accusation. About eight weeks since, she said, being at church very
well and healthful--some twenty weeks gone with child--she was suddenly
taken with pains, and miscarried before she could be got home: and about
two months since, being in bed, something fell upon her right side, but
being dark she could not tell of what shape it was: but presently she was
taken lame on that side, and with extraordinary pains and burning, and she
believed that Anne West and Rebecca West, the daughter, were the cause of
her pains. John Edes also swelled the count of accusations. He said that
Rebecca had confessed to him that seven years since her mother incited her
to intercourse with the devil, who had since appeared to her at divers
times and in various shapes, but chiefly as a proper young man, desiring
of her such things as proper young men are wont to desire of women;
promising her that if she would yield to his wishes she should have what
she would, and especially should be avenged of her enemies; and that then
Rebecca had demanded the death of Hart's son of Lawford, who, not long
after, was taken sick and died. At which Rebecca had said "that shee
conceived hee could do as God." And furthermore, that Rebecca said, while
she lived at Rivenall her mother Anne came to her and said, "the Barley
Corn was picked up," meaning one George Francis; and that shortly after
George's father said his son was bewitched to death; to which Anne
replied, "Be it unto him according to his faith." When Rebecca was called
on the 21st of March, to answer to these charges, she confirmed all that
John Edes had said, adding a few unimportant particulars which insured the
execution of her mother in the August following; but in spite of her own
confession she herself, though found guilty by the grand jury, was
acquitted for life and death. Matthew Hopkins struck a few dashes of
colour over the canvas, telling the judges that Rebecca had told him she
was made a witch by her mother; and that when she met the four other
goodies in Clarke's house, the devil, or their familiars, had come, now in
the shape of a dog, then of two kittyns, then of two dogs--and that they
first did homage to Elizabeth Clarke, skipping up into her lap and kissing
her, and then to all the rest, kissing each one of them save Rebecca.
Afterwards, when Satan came as a man, he gave her kisses enough: and not
quite so innocently as the "kittyns and the dogges."

Susan Sparrow and Mary Greenliefe lived together. Each had a daughter
thirteen or fourteen years old; and one night Susan Sparrow, being awake,
heard Mary's child cry out, "Oh mother, now it comes, it comes! Oh helpe,
mother, it hurts me, it hurts me!" So Susan said, "Goodwife Greenliefe,
Goodwife Greenliefe, if your childe be asleep awaken it, for if anybody
comes by and heare it make such moans (you having an ill name already),
they will say you are suckling your Impes upon it." To which Mary replied
that this was just what she was doing, and that she would "fee" with them
(meaning her Imps), that one night they should suck her daughter, and one
night Susan Sparrow's; which fell out as she said. For the very next night
Susan's child cried out in the same manner as Mary's had done, and clasped
her mother round the neck, much affrighted and shrieking pitifully. She
complained of being pinched and nipped on her thigh; and in the morning
there was a black and blue spot as broad and long as her hand. Susan
Sparrow also said that the house where they lived was haunted by a
leveret, which came and sat before the door; and knowing that Anthony
Sharlock had a capital courser, she went and asked him to banish it for
her. Whether the dog killed it or not she did not know; all that she did
know was, that Goodman Merrill's dog coursed it but a short time before,
but the leveret never stirred, and "just when the dog came at it he
skipped over it, and turned about and stood still, and looked on it, and
shortly after that dog languished and dyed. But whether this was an Impe
in the shape of a Leveret, or had any relation to the said Mary, this
Informant knows not, but does confesse shee wondered very much to see a
Leveret, wilde by nature, to come so frequently and sit openly before the
dore in such a familiar way." Mary was searched, and found marked with
witch marks, but contented herself with quietly denying all knowledge of
familiars, witchcraft, "bigges," and the like.

Mary Johnson was accused of having a familiar, in shape like a rat
"without tayl or eares," which she used to carry about in her pocket, and
set to rock the cradle. She kissed Elizabeth Otley's child, and gave it an
apple, and the child sickened and died of fits; and Elizabeth herself had
extraordinary pains, which left her when she had scuffled with Mary
Johnson and gotten her blood. And she killed Annabell Durant's child by
commending it as a pretty thing, stroking its face, and giving it a piece
of bread and butter; and Annabell knew that she had been the death of the
child, because, "setting up of broome in the outhouse after the little one
had been taken, she saw the perfect representation of a shape just like
Mary Johnson, and was struck with such a lamenesse in her Arms that she
was not able to bow her arms, and so continued speechless all that day and
night following. Mary came also as the noise of a Hornet, to the room
where Annabell's husband lay sick, for he cried out, 'It comes, it comes!
Now Goodwife Johnson's Impe is come! Now she hath my life!'" And
immediately a great part of the wall fell down. So was not Mary Johnson an
undoubted witch with all this testimony against her?

Anne Cooper was executed at Manningtree because she had three black imps,
by name Wynow, Jeso, and Panu; because she gave her daughter Sarah a grey
imp like a kite, and called Tomboy, telling her there was a cat for her to
play with; because she cursed a colt and it broke its neck directly after;
and because she sent one of her imps to kill little Mary Rous--which it
did. Elizabeth Hare was condemned, but afterwards reprieved, for giving
two imps to Mary Smith. The poor old woman "praying to God with her hands
upward, that if she was guilty of any such thing, He would show some
example on her, presently after she shaked and quivered, and fell to the
ground backward, and tumbled up and down the ground, and hath continued
sick ever since."

Old Margaret Moone had twelve imps, but her informants could only remember
the names of "Jesus, Jockey, Sandy, Mrs. Elizabeth, and Collyn." Her imps
killed cows and babes; spoiled brewings; broke horses' necks; bewitched
"aples" so that the eaters thereof died; sent Rawbodd's wife such a plague
of lice that they might have been swept off her clothes with a stick; and
did other maleficent things, proper to imps and witches. When searched she
was found to have "bigges" where the imps sucked; and confessed the same,
saying that "if she might have some bread and beere she would call her
said Impes; which being given unto her, she put the bread into the beere
and set it against a hole in the wall, and made a circle round about the
pot, and then cried, Come Christ, come Christ, come Mounsier, come
Mounsier." No imps appearing, she said her daughters had carried them off
in a white bag, and demanded that the said daughters might be "searched,"
"for they were naught." They were searched, and were found witch-marked.
Margaret denied all the charges against herself, but was condemned
nevertheless; and only escaped the executioner's hands by dying on her way
to the gallows.

Judith Moone helped her mother a step gallowsward by a rambling, pointless
confession about some wood, and how her mother threatened her, and how
something seemed to come about her legs that night; but when she searched
she found nothing; so Judith Moone probably died because she did not know
how to distinguish a false sensation from a true one.

Elizabeth Harvey, widow, Sarah Hating, wife, Marian Hocket, widow, were
"searched:" the first two were marked, the last not, but yet was the worst
witch of all, for she had made Elizabeth Harvey as bad as herself by
bringing her three things the bigness of mouses, which she said were
"pretty things," and to be made use of. As for Sarah Hating, she had sent
Francis Stock's wife a snake, which the said wife espied lying on a shelf,
and strove to kill with a spade, but the snake was too quick for her and
vanished away; so Francis Stock's wife was taken sick, and within one week
died. A daughter was taken ill immediately after her mother, and she also
died, and then another child; all because Francis Stock had impressed
Sarah Hating's husband for a soldier, and Sarah Hating was angered. Marian
Hocket was told on by her own sister, Sarah Barton, who said that she had
given her three imps, "Littleman, Prettyman, and Dainty." They were all
executed, Sarah and Marian denying their guilt, but Elizabeth Harvey
sticking to her tale of the three mouses which Marian had brought her, and
which sucked her.

Rose Hallybread bewitched Robert Turner's servant so that he crowed like a
cock, barked like a dog; groaned beyond the ordinary course of nature,
and, though but a youth, struggled with such strength that four or five
men could not hold him. Says Rose, fifteen or sixteen years ago, Goodwife
Hagtree brought an imp to her house which she nourished on oatmeal, and
suckled according to the manner of witches, for the space of a year and a
half--when she lost it; then Joyce Boanes brought her another, as a small
grey bird, which she carried to Thomas Toakley's house in St. Osyth,
putting it into a cranny of the door, so that his son should die, as he
did--crying out all the time that Rose Hallybread had killed him. She then
accused Susan Cocks and Margaret Landish, and died in prison, cheating the

Old Joyce Boanes now took up the tale. She had two imps like mouses she
said, and they killed the lambs at the farm-house called Cocket-wick, and
one of these imps called "Rug" she took to Rose Hallybread, that they
might torment Turner's servant. Wherefore her imp made him bark like a
dog; Rose Hallybread's "inforced him to sing sundry tunes in his great
extremity of paines;" Susan Cock's compelled him to crow like a cock; and
Margaret Landish's made him groan. Poor old Joyce Boanes was hanged in
return for her drivelling ravings.

So was Susan Cock; who confirmed all that had gone before, adding only
that the night her mother died she gave her two imps, one like a mouse
"Susan," the other yellow and like a cat "Besse," with which she did
sundry acts of spite and damage. Wherefore Susan was put out of the way of
further harm. Margaret Landish knew not much about the matter, but was
executed nevertheless, for having bewitched Thomas Hart's child--incited
thereto by the girl's pointing at her and crying "There goes Pegg the
witch!" upon which Peg turned back and clapped her hands in a threatening
manner, saying "she should smart for it," and that very night the child
fell sick in a raving manner, and died within three weeks after; often in
its fits crying out that "Pegg the witch was by the bedside making strange
mouths at her."

Rebecca Jones owned to knowing the devil as a handsome young man, who
pricked her wrist and made her his in soul and body. This was about four
or five and twenty years ago, when living with John Bishop as his servant.
About three months since too, going to St. Osyth to sell her master's
butter, she met a man in a ragged suit and with such great eyes that she
was afraid of him, and he gave her three things like "moules," having four
feet apiece but no tails, and black, which he told her to nurse carefully
and feed on milk. Their names were Margaret, Anie, and Susan, and they
killed cows and sheep and hogs, and revenged her on her enemies. So
Rebecca was hanged as befitted.

Johan Cooper, widow, had three imps, two like mouses and one like a frog;
their names were "Prickeare, Robyn, and Frog," and they killed men and
beasts. Wherefore she too was hanged like the rest.

Anne Cate had four, given her by her mother twenty years ago, "James,
Prickeare, Robyn, and Sparrow:" the first three like mouses, and the
fourth like a sparrow; and they did evil and mischief and killed all whom
she would. She was hanged too.

At the end of the tract is a very curious bit of evidence, given by an
honest man of Manningtree, one Goff, a glover, concerning old Anne West,
then on her trial. He said that one moonlight morning, about four o'clock,
as he was passing Anne West's house, the door being open, he looked in and
saw three or four little things like black rabbits which came skipping
towards him. He struck at them, but missed; when, by better luck, he
caught one in his hand and tried to wring its head off; but "as he wrung
and stretched the neck of it, it came out betweene his hands like a lock
of wooll," so he went to drown it at a spring not far off. But still as he
went he could not hinder himself from falling down, so that at last he
was obliged to creep on his hands and knees, till he came to the water,
when he held the imp for a long space underneath, till he conceived it was
drowned, but, "letting goe his hand, it sprang out of the water up into
the aire, and so vanished away." Coming back to Anne West's, he found her
standing at her door in terrible undress, and to his complaint of why did
she send her imps to molest him? she answered "that they were not sent out
to trouble him, but as Scouts upon another designe."

But one of the most painful murders of the Hopkins Session was that of old
Mr. Lewis,[132] the "Reading Parson" of Franlingham; a fine old man of
good character, but generally regarded as a Malignant, because he
preferred to read Queen Elizabeth's Homilies instead of composing nasal
discourses of his own, of the kind so dear to the Puritan party: wherefore
the authorities and Matthew Hopkins--who was a devout Puritan--had their
eyes upon him, and were not disposed to be lenient. He was swum in
Hopkins's manner, cross-bound; set on a table cross-legged; kept several
nights without sleep, and twenty-four hours without food; run backwards
and forwards in the room, two men holding him, until he was out of breath;
"pricked" and searched for marks; after all which barbarity it is not
surprising to find that the poor old Reading Parson of eighty-five
"confessed." Yes, he had made a compact with the devil and sealed it with
his blood; and he had two imps that sucked him, one of which, the yellow
dun imp, was always urging him to do some mischief, but the other was more
amiable. Accordingly, to please the yellow dun he had one day sent it to
sink an Ipswich ship, which he spied out in the offing: a commission
which the imp executed with zeal and precision before the eyes of a whole
beach full of spectators. This Ipswich ship was one of many that rode
safely enough in the calm sea, but the imp troubled the waters immediately
about her, and down she went like a stone, as all present could testify.
Asked if he had not grieved to make so many--they were fourteen--widows in
a few moments he said "No, he was glad to have pleased his imp." This
confession and various witch "bigges" found on him were held proofs
conclusive; and Mr. Lewis was condemned to be hanged; his eighty years,
and his gown, protecting him nowise. As soon as he was a little refreshed
he denied all the ravings he had been induced to utter, read the burial
service for himself with cheerfulness and courage, and met his death
calmly and composedly; perhaps not sorry to resign into God's keeping a
life which Matthew Hopkins and the Puritans were rendering intolerable.

A Penitent Woman[133] of the same time confessed that when her mother lay
sick a thing like a mole ran into bed to her. She, the Penitent Woman,
started, but her mother told her not to fear, but to take the mole and
keep it, saying, "Keep this in a pot by the fire, and thou shalt never
want." The daughter did as she was bid, and made the mole comfortable in
its pot. And after she had done this, a seemingly poor boy came in and
asked leave to warm himself by the fire. When he went away she found some
money under the stool whereon he had sat. This happened many times, and so
her mother's promise and her imp brought the poor penitent romancer
Barmecidal good luck. It could not have been much, for Hopkins, or at
least his friend and comrade John Sterne, says in the examination of Joan
Ruccalver, of Powstead, Suffolk, that "six shillings was the largest
amount he had ever known given by an imp to its dame."

That all this seemed right and rational in the eyes of sane men is one of
the most marvellous things connected with the delusion: that well-educated
Englishmen should send such a wretch as Matthew Hopkins with legal
authorisation to prick witches, associating with him Mr. Calamy "to see
that there was no fraud:" that they should arraign miserable old women by
scores, and hang them by dozens: and that Baxter should gravely argue for
the validity of ghosts and spectres on the plea that "various Creatures
must have a various Situation, Reception, and Operation: the Fishes must
not dwell in our cities nor be acquainted with our affairs"--strikes me
chiefly with amazement at the marvellous imbecility of superstition. It is
well for the leaders of sects to bid us cast down our reason before blind
faith; for, assuredly, our reason, which is the greatest gift of God,
pleads loudly against the follies of belief and the vital absurdities into
which religionists fall when unchecked by common sense. It was only the
"Atheists" and "Sadducees," as they were called, who at last managed to
put a stop to this hideous delusion: all the pious believers upheld the
holy need of searching for witches, and of not suffering them to live
wherever they might be found. All sects and denominations of Christians
joined in this, and found a meeting-place of brotherly love and concord
beneath the witches' gallows. And though one's soul revolts most at the
so-called "Reformed Party," because of the greater unctuousness of their
piety, and their mighty professions, yet they were all equally guilty, one
with the other; all equally steeped to the lips in insanest superstition.
The temper of the times has so far changed now that men and women are no
longer hung because they have mesmeric powers, or because hysterical and
epileptic patients utter wild ravings: but the thing remains the same;
there is the same amount of superstition still afloat, if somewhat altered
in its direction; and modern Spiritualism, which has come to supersede
Witchcraft, is, when it is true at all and not mere legerdemain, as little
understood and as falsely catalogued as was ever the art of magic and


In another very scarce tract by "J. D." (John Davenport) "present at the
trial," we come to a strange and mournful group of judicial murders that
took place in Huntingdon, 1646. First, there was Elizabeth Weed, of Great
Catworth, who confessed that twenty-one years ago, as she was saying her
prayers, three spirits came suddenly to her, one of which was like a man
or youth, and the other two like puppies, of which one was white and the
other black. The young man asked her if she would renounce God and Christ:
to which she assented, her faith being weak; and then the devil promised
that she should do all the mischief she would, if she would covenant to
give him her soul at the end of twenty-one years. She assented to this
too; and sealed the bargain with her blood. He drew the blood from under
her left arm, and "a great lump of flesh did rise there, and has increased
ever since;" and the devil scribbled with her blood, and the covenant was
signed and sealed. The name of her white imp, like a puppy, was "Lilly,"
of the black "Priscille;" and the office of the white was to hurt man,
woman, and child, but of the black to hurt cattle. The man spirit's
function was that of her husband, in which relation she lived with him to
her great satisfaction. Lilly killed Mr. Henry Bedell's child, and
Priscille sundry cattle; but she had not had much good of the bargain, for
the twenty-one years were to be out next Low Sunday, when her soul would
be required of her and the devil would take her away; and she desired to
be rid of the burden of her life before then. The judges acquiesced in her
desire: which a little good food and careful watching would have proved to
them was but the phantasy of disease; and the hangman had her body, though
no devil took her soul, and her sufferings and her sins vexed the universe
no more.

John Winnick's confession is one of the most graphic and extraordinary of
any in the tract. I give it word for word as I found it.

"The examination of John Winnick, of Molseworth in the said County,
Labourer, taken upon the 11th day of Aprill, 1646, before Robert Bernard,
Esquire, one of His Majesties Justices of the Peace for this County. Hee
saith, that about 29 yeares since, the 29th yeare ending about Midsommer
last past, he being a Batchellour, lived at Thropston with one Buteman,
who then kept the Inne at the George, and withall kept Husbandry: this
Examinate being a servant to him in his Husbandry, did then loose a purse
with 7_s._ in it, for which he suspected one in the Family. He saith that
on a Friday being in the barne, making hay-bottles for his horses about
noon, swearing, cursing, raging, and wishing to himselfe that some wise
body (or Wizzard) would helpe him to his purse and money again: there
appeared unto him a Spirit, blacke and shaggy, and having pawes like a
Beare, but in bulk not fully so big as a Coney. The Spirit asked him what
he ailed to be so sorrowfull, this Examinate answered that he had lost a
purse and money, and knew not how to come by it again. The Spirit replied,
if you will forsake God and Christ and fall down and worship me for your
God, I will help you to your purse and money again. This Examinate said he
would, and thereupon fell down upon his knees and held up his hands. Then
the Spirit said, to-morrow about this time of the day, you shall find your
purse upon the floor where you are now making bottles, I will send it to
you, and will also come my selfe. Whereupon this Examinate told the Spirit
he would meete him there, and receive it, and worship him. Whereupon at
the time prefixed, this Examinate went unto the place, and found his purse
upon the floore, and tooke it up, and looking afterwards into it, he found
there all the money that was formerly lost: but before he had looked into
it, the same Spirit appears unto him and said, there is your purse and
your money in it: and then this Examinate fell downe upon his knees and
said, My Lord and God I thanke you. The said Spirit at that time brought
with him two other Spirits for shape, bignesse, and colour, the one like a
white Cat, the other like a grey Coney; and while this Examinate was upon
his knees, the Beare Spirit spake to him, saying, you must worship these
two Spirits as you worship me, and take them for your Gods also: then this
Examinate directed his bodie towards them, and called them his Lords and
Gods. Then the Beare Spirit told him that when he dyed he must have his
soule, whereunto this Examinate yielded. Hee told him then also that they
must suck of his body, to which this Examinate also yielded; but they did
not sucke at that time. The Beare Spirit promised him that he should never
want victuals. The Cat Spirit that it would hurt Cattel when he would
desire it. And the Coney-like Spirit that it would hurt men when he
desired. The Bear Spirit told him that it must have some of his blood
wherewith to seale the Covenant, whereunto this Examinate yielded, and
then the beare Spirit leapt upon his shoulder, and prickt him on the head,
and from thence tooke blood; and after thus doing, the said three spirits
vanisht away. The next day about noone, the said Spirits came to him while
hee was in the field, and told him they were come to suck of his body, to
which he yielded, and they suckt his body at the places where the marks
are found, and from that time to this, they have come constantly to him
once every 24 hours, sometimes by day, and most commonly by night. And
being demanded what mischiefe he caused any of the said spirits to do, he
answered never any, onely hee sent his beare Spirit to provoke the
maid-servant of Mr. Say of Molmesworth, to steale victualls for him out of
her Master's house, which she did, and this Examinate received the same.

  The marke of
  John Winnicke
          Rob. Bernard.

He was hanged, 1646.

Eight years before this--namely, in 1638--Frances Moore had a black puppy
imp of Margaret Simson of Great Catworth, which she called Pretty, and
whose office was to harm cattle. Then Goodwife Weed gave her a thing like
a white cat, called Tissy, saying, if she would deny God and affirm the
same by her blood, to whomsoever she sent this cat, and cursed, would die.
So she cursed William Foster, who, sixteen years ago would have hanged two
of her children because they offered to take a piece of bread; and he
died: but she could not remember what the cat imp did to him. Poor old
creature! such naïve little bits of truth and scientific direction come
out in the midst of all the wildness and raving of the "examined!"--such
little quiet bits of unconscious common sense, to redeem the whole account
from the mere maunderings of lunacy! Frances Moore did not remember what
her imp did to William Foster, yet she went on to say that she got tired
of having them about her, and killed them both a year since; but they
haunted her still, and when she was apprehended crept up her clothes and
tortured her so that she could not speak.

Elizabeth Chandler, widow, had something that came to her in a "puffing
and roaring manner," and that now hurt her sorely. She denied that she
ever spoiled Goodwife Darnell's furmety, but Goodwife Darnell, by causing
her to be ducked, she did heartily desire to be revenged on. She had been
troubled with these roaring things for a quarter of a year, and had two
imps besides, one called "Beelzebub," and the other "Trullibub." This she
denied when asked, while sane and awake, saying that "Beelzebub was a logg
of wood and Trullibub a stick." But the neighbours testified against her,
so her denial went for naught.

Ellen Shepheard had four iron-grey rat imps that sucked her; and Anne
Desborough had two--mouses--Tib and Jone, one brown and the other white.
She had been told to forsake God and Christ, and that she would then have
her will on men and cattle; as she did, and got her mouse imps in

Jane Wallis saw a man in black clothes, about six weeks since, as she was
making her bed. She bid him civilly good morning, and asked him his name.
He told her it was "Blackeman," and, in turn, asked her if she was poor.
Yes, she said "she was." Then he would send her two imps said he, Grissel
and Greedigut, that should do anything for her she would. At this moment,
Jane, looking up, saw he had ugly feet, and was fearful; still more
fearful when he became at one moment bigger and at another less, and then
suddenly vanished. Grissel and Greedigut came in the shape of "dogges,
with great brisles of hogges hair upon their backs." They said they came
from Blackeman to do whatever she might command: and sometimes all three
of them--the two dogs and the man--brought her two or three shillings at a
time; and once they robbed a man and pulled him from his horse.

On September 25, 1645,[134] Joan Walliford confessed before the major and
other jurates, "that the divell, about seven yeares agoe did appeare to
her in the shape of a little dog, and bid her to forsake God and leane to
him; who replied, that she was loath to forsake him." Still, she wished to
be revenged on Thomas Letherland and Mary Woodrufe, now his wife; and as
"Bunne," the devil, promised she should not lack, and did actually send
her money, she knew not whence--sometimes a shilling and sometimes
eightpence, "never more"--devil-worship did not seem such a bad trade
after all. She further said that her retainer, Bunne, once carried Thomas
Gardler out of a window; and that twenty years ago she promised her soul
to the devil, and that he wrote the covenant between them in her blood,
promising to be her servant for that space of time, which time was now
almost expired; that Jane Hot, Elizabeth Harris, and Joan Argoll, were her
fellows; that Elizabeth Harris curst the boat of one John Woodcott, "and
so it came to passe;" that Goodwife Argoll, curst Mr. Major and John
Mannington, and so it came to pass in these cases too; and that Bunne had
come to her twice since in prison, and sucked her "in the forme of a
muce." So poor Joan Walliford was hanged, and at the place of execution
exhorted all good people to take warning by her, and not to suffer
themselves to be deceived by the divell, neither for love of money,
malice, or anything else, as she had done, but to sticke fast to God; for
if she had not first forsaken God, God would not have forsaken her.

Joan Cariden, widow, said that about three quarters of a year since, "as
she was in the bed about twelve or one of the clocke in the night, there
lay a 'rugged soft thing' upon her bosome which was very soft, and she
thrust it off with her hand; and she saith that when she had thrust it
away she thought God forsooke her, and she could never pray so well since
as she could before; and further saith that shee verily thinks it was
alive." On a second examination she said that the divell came to her in
the shape of a "black rugged Dog in the night time, and crept into the bed
to her, and spake to her in a mumbling tongue." Two days after she made
further revelations of how "within these two daies," she had gone to
Goodwife Pantery's house, where were other good wives, and where the
divell sat at the upper end of the table.

Jane Hot said that a thing like a "hedg-hog" had usually visited her for
these twenty years. It sucked her in her sleep, and pained her, so that
she awoke: and lay on her breast, when she would strike it off. It was as
soft as a cat. On coming into the gaol she was very urgent on the others
to confess, but stood out sturdily for her own innocence; saying, "that
she would lay twenty shillings that if she was swum she would sink." She
was swum and she floated; whereat a gentleman asked her "how it was
possible that she could be so impudent as not to confesse herselfe?" to
whom she answered, "That the Divell went with her all the way, and told
her that she should sinke; but when she was in the Water he sat upon a
Crosse beame, and laughed at her." "_These three were executed on Munday
last_," says the tract in emphatic italics.

It now came to the turn of Elizabeth Harris. She said that nineteen years
ago the devil came to her in the form of a muse (mouse) and told her she
should be revenged. And she was revenged on all who offended her; on
Goodman Chilman, who said she had stolen a pigge, and who therefore she
wished might die--and her Impe destroyed him; on Goodman Woodcot, in whose
High (hoy?) her son had been drowned, when "she wished that God might be
her revenger, which was her watchword to the Divell"--and the hoy was cast
away, as she conceived, in consequence of her wish. And did not Joan
Williford's imp tell her that "though the Boate went chearfully oute it
should not come so chearfully home?" She said further that sundry good
wives, named, had "ill tongues;" and that she had made a covenant with the
devil, written in the blood which she had scratched with her nails from
out her breast.

Alexander Sussums of Melford, Sussex, said he had things which drew his
marks, and that he could not help being a witch, for all his kindred were
naught--his mother and aunt hanged, his grandmother burnt, and ten others
questioned and hanged. At Faversham about this time, three witches were
hanged, one of whom had an imp-dog, Bun; and on the 9th of September[135]
Jane Lakeland was burnt at Ipswich for having bewitched to death her
husband, and Mrs. Jennings' maid, who once refused her a needle and dunned
her for a shilling. Jane Lakeland had contracted with the devil twenty
years ago. He came to her when between sleeping and waking, speaking to
her in a hollow voice, and offering her her will if she would covenant
with him. To which she, assenting, he then stroke his claw into her hand
and with her blood wrote out the covenant. She had bewitched men and women
and cows and corn, and sunk ships, and played all the devilries of her
art, but remained ever unsuspected, holding the character of a pious
woman, and going regularly to church and sacrament. She had three
imps--two little dogs and a mole--and Hopkins burnt her as the best way of
settling the question of her sanity or disease.

It would have been well for all these poor people if their respective
judges--Sir Matthew Hale included--had had only as much liberality and
common sense as Mr. Gaule, the minister of Stoughton in Huntingdonshire;
for though Gaule was no wise minded to give up his belief either in the
devil or in witches, he utterly repudiated Matthew Hopkins and his tribe
and his ways, and condemned his whole manner of proceeding, from first to
last. He preached against him, and when he heard a rumour of his visiting
Stoughton he strongly opposed him, whereupon Matthew wrote this insolent
letter, which Mr. Gaule printed as a kind of preface to his book of
"Select Cases," put out soon after.

"My Service to your Worship presented. I have this Day received a letter,
&c., to come to a Town called Great Stoughton, to search for evil disposed
Persons, called Witches (though I heare your Minister is farre against us
through Ignorance:) I intend to come the sooner to heare his singular
Judgement in the Behalfe of such Parties; I have known a Minister in
Suffolk preach as much against this Discovery in a Pulpit, and forced to
recant it, (by the Committee) in the same place. I much marvaile such evil
Members should have any (much more any of the Clergy) who should dayly
preach Terrour to convince such Offenders, stand up to take their Parts,
against such as are Complainants for the King and Sufferers themselves,
with their Families and Estates. I intend to give your Towne a visite
suddenly. I am to come to Kimbolton this Week, and it shall be tenne to
one, but I will come to your Town first, but I would certainly know afore,
whether your Town affords many Sticklers for such Cattell, or willing to
give and afford as good Welcome and Entertainment, as other where I have
beene, else I shall wave your Shire, (not as yet beginning in any Part of
it myself) and betake me to such Places, where I doe, and may persist
without Controle, but with Thanks and Recompense. So I humbly take my
leave and rest, Your Servant to be Commanded,


I have not been able to find what was the result of this letter, but I do
not suppose that Hopkins, who was a great coward like all tyrants, cared
to brave even the small danger of one minister's opposition, not knowing
how many "sticklers for such cattle" might be at his back. In his Apology,
or "Certaine Queries Answered, which have been and are likely to be
objected against Matthew Hopkins, in his way of finding out Witches," he
says that "he never went to any towne or place, but they rode, writ, or
sent often for him, and were (for ought he knew) glad of him;" and if this
was true, Mr. Gaule most likely was rid of him at Great Stoughton, and
one rood of English land left undefiled. Besides, his hands were full
elsewhere; for when we think that at Bury St. Edmunds eighteen persons
were hanged on one day alone, and a hundred and twenty more left lying in
prison, all through his instrumentality, we must imagine that he had
enough to do in places where he was caressed and desired, not to forbear
troubling those where he was abhorred and might run some danger.


A few other men, too, were about as sane as Mr. Gaule on this maddest of
all mad subjects. Mr. Clark, a minister--and the ministers were generally
the worst--had a marvellous allowance of common sense, remembering the
times. A certain parishioner of his cried out that she was grievously
beset by a neighbour who came in the spirit, that is, as an apparition, to
teaze and torment her. Mr. Clark, the minister, knew the accused woman,
and believed in her innocency; but it happened one day, by one of those
curious coincidences which, by-the-bye, are so often exaggerated into far
more significance than they deserve, that the suspected woman while
milking her cow was struck by it on the forehead, and naturally fell
a-bleeding. At that moment, or said to be at that moment, her "spectre"
appeared to the afflicted person, and she, pointing out the place where it
stood, desired some of those who were with her to strike at it. They did
so, and she said they fetched blood. Hereupon a posse of them went to the
supposed witch, and found her with her forehead bleeding, just as the
afflicted had said. There was no question now of doubt, and they rushed
off to Mr. Clark to tell them what they had seen, and demand that she be
put to the proof. Mr. Clark went to the woman and asked what had made her
forehead bleed? She told him, a blow from her cow's horn; "whereby he was
satisfy'd that it was a Design of Satan to render an innocent person
suspected." Another instance of the same kind of thing happened at
Cambridge. A man believed that a certain widow sent her imps, as cats, to
bewitch and torment him. One night as he lay in bed one of these imps came
within reach, and he struck it on the back: when it vanished away, as was
to be expected. The next day the man sent to inquire of his old enemy, and
found that she had a sore back; at which he rejoiced exceedingly, having
now in his hands the clew which would guide him to revenge and her to
justice and the scaffold. But Mr. Day, her surgeon, stopped his triumph
before it was ripe, and cut the clew before it had spun out; telling him
that the sore back was nothing but a boil, which had gathered, headed, and
healed, like any other boil, and that it could have had no connexion
whatever with the blow which he had so valiantly given the cat-imp when in
bed. So this bit of cruelty was put a stop to, and the poor old creature,
with a boil on her back, slept her last sleep unhastened by the hangman.
Another wretched being who had been kept without sleep or food for
twenty-four hours, pricked, tried, and tortured into a state of temporary
imbecility, at last confessed to her imp Nan; but a gentleman in the
neighbourhood, very indignant at the folly and barbarity of the whole
thing, rescued the poor victim, and made her eat some meat and go to
sleep. When she woke up she said she knew nothing of what she had
confessed, but that she had a pullet which she sometimes called Nan, and
which of a surety was no imp, but an honest little hen that had to lay
good eggs some day, and be eaten at table when her work was done.


Hopkins was not the only one of his trade in England, for Ralph Gardner,
in his "England's Grievance Discovered" (1655), speaks of two prickers,
Thomas Shovel and Cuthbert Nicholson, who, in 1649 and 1650, were sent by
the Newcastle magistrates into Scotland, there to confer with a very able
man in that line, and bring him back to Newcastle. They were to have
twenty shillings, but the Scotchman three pounds, per head of all they
could convict, and a free passage there and back. When these wretches got
to any town--for they tried all the chief market towns of the
district--the crier used to go round with his bell, desiring "all people
that would bring in any complaint against any woman for a witch, they
should be sent for and tryed by the person appointed." As many as thirty
women were brought at once into the Newcastle town-hall, stript, pricked,
and twenty-seven set aside as guilty. This said witch-finder told
Lieut.-Colonel Hobson that "he knew women, whether they were witches or
no, by their looks; and when the said person was searching of a personable
and good-like woman, the said Colonel replyed and said, Surely this woman
is none, and need not be tried; but the Scotchman said she was, for all
the Town said she was, and therefore he would try her: and presently, in
sight of all the people, laid her body naked to the Waste, with her
cloaths over her head, by which Fright and Shame all her bloud contracted
into one part of her body, and then he ran a Pin into her Thigh, and then
suddenly let her Coats fall, and then demanded whether she had nothing of
his in her body, but did not bleed, but she, being amazed, replied little,
and then he put his hand up her coats and pulled out the pin and set her
aside as a guilty person and child of the Devil, and fell to try others,
whom he made guilty. Lieut.-Colonel Hobson, perceiving the alteration of
the foresaid woman by her blood settling in her right parts, caused that
woman to be brought again, and her cloaths pulled up to her Thigh, and
required the Scot to run the pin in the same place, and then it gushed out
of blood, and the said Scot cleared her, and said she was not a child of
the Devil."

If this Scotch witch-finder had not been stopped he would have found half
the women in the north country witches; at last Henry Ogle got hold of
him, and "required Bond of him to answer the Sessions;" but he got away to
Scotland, and so escaped for the time. Fifteen women lay in prison,
charged by him, and were executed--all protesting their innocence; and
"one of them, by name Margaret Brown, beseeched God that some remarkable
sign might be seen at the time of their execution, to evidence their
innocency; and as soon as ever she was turned off the Ladder her blood
gushed out upon the people to the admiration of the beholders." Which
touching little history we must relegate to the realms of fable and
delusion, like others just as sad and supernatural. This precious wretch
(was it John Kincaid?) was hung in Scotland, when the magistrates and
people had got tired of him and his cruelty, and at "the gallows he
confessed that he had been the death of two hundred and twenty men and
women in England and Scotland, simply for the sake of the twenty
shillings a head blood-money." Truly it was time for brave Ralph Gardner
to write his bold and scorching "England's Grievance Discovered," when
such monstrous crimes as these might be done without even the colour of a
monstrous law.

In "Sykes's Local Records" mention is made of a curious little entry in
the parish books of Gateshead, near Newcastle: "Paid as M{ris} Watson's
when the Justices call to examine witches, 3{s} 4{d}; for a graue for a
witch, 6{d}; for trying the witches, £1. 5." This was in 1649, in which
year Jean Martin, "the myller's wyfe of Chattim," was executed for a
witch, and the authorities of Berwick sent for the witch-finder to come
and try witches there, promising that no violence should be done him by
the townspeople. In the parish register of Hart, under the date of July
28, 1582, the office of Master Chancellor against Allison Lawe, of Hart,
was brought into requisition. Allison was "a notourious sorcerer and
enchanter," but was pulled up in the midst of her evil career, and
sentenced to a milder punishment than she would have had a century later.
Notorious witch and enchanter as she was, all she had to suffer was open
penance once in the market-place at Durham, with a paper on her head
setting forth her offences, once in Hart church, and once in Norton
church; but what was the award to Janet Bainbridge and Jannet Allinson, of
Stockton, "for asking counsell of witches, and resorting to Allison Lawe
for the cure of the sicke," we are not told. The madness which possessed
all men's minds in the next century had not then begun to rage: the storm
that was to burst over the world was then giving forth only its warning
mutterings, and it was reserved for a later age, with all its progress in
art and science and freedom of thought and religious knowledge, to lay
the coping-stone to the most monstrous temple of iniquity which fear has
ever raised to ignorance. It is a humiliating thought; humiliating, too,
the milder phases of this same fury which have so often possessed society;
but it must be remembered that, though each wave of the tide recedes, each
succeeding wave dashes farther over the reach, and the long lines of
sea-wrack mark the point of progress as well as the point of declension.


At Droitwich, in Worcestershire, a boy, looking for his mother's cow, saw
a bush in a brake move as if something was there. Thinking it to be his
mother's cow he went to the place, but found no cow, only an old woman who
cried "Ooh!" and so frightened the lad that he could not speak
intelligibly. But no one knew what he meant by his strange mouthings and
mutterings, until one day, seeing the old woman eating porridge before Sir
Edward Barret's door, he rushed up to her, and flung her porridge in her
face, and otherwise behaved violently and ill. The neighbours, thinking
there was something in it, apprehended her as a witch, and took her to the
Checker Prison. At night, the mother of the boy, hearing a great noise
overhead, ran up stairs and found her son with the leg of a form in his
hand, fighting furiously with something in the window; but what it was she
could not see. He then put on his clothes and ran to the prison, midway
recovering his speech. When he got there he found that the gaoler had kept
the witch without food or sleep till she would say the Lord's Prayer and
"God bless the boy:" which pious exercise she had completed at the very
moment when his speech was restored. When the boy complained to the gaoler
of his negligence in letting her out to hurt and annoy him, the gaoler
answered that he had kept her very safe. "Nay," says the boy, "for she
came and sat in my chamber window, and grinned at me; whereupon I took up
a form and banged her:" the gaoler looked and they found the marks. She
was a Lancashire woman, who, when Duke Hamilton was defeated, and there
was a scarcity in those parts, "wandred abroad to get victuals." She was
hanged, poor half-starved vagrant!


About the same time a Tewkesbury man had a sow and a litter of pigs: the
sow with abundance of milk, but the pigs lean and miserable. He concluded
that something which had no right to it came and robbed his piglings of
their milk; so he watched; and sure enough a "black four-footed Creature
like a Pole-Cat" came and beat away the pigs and sucked the sow; but the
farmer got a pitchfork and ran it into the thigh of the pole-cat, which
struggled so mightily that, though it was nailed to the ground, it got
away and made off. When he asked some neighbours, standing near, what they
had seen, they said they had only seen a wench go by, with blood falling
from her as she went. They caught the wench and searched her, and, sure
enough, found her wounded as the man said he had wounded the thing sucking
his sow. She was apprehended, tried, and hanged, because she made herself
into a creature like a black pole-cat, and went and sucked the farmers'
sows. "These two Relations, I received from a Person of Quality, of good
Ability and of unquestionable Credit, who was present at both the Tryals,
and wrote them in his Presence, and afterwards read them to him; and he
assured me they were very true in all the Particulars, as they were given
in Evidence," says the author of the "Collection of Modern Relations"


That same year, in the month of July, a man and woman, John Palmer and
Elizabeth Knott, were hanged at St. Albans for curing folks of disease
without the leave and license of the authorities, and by the aid of the
devil. John made some curious revelations. He said, first of all, that
Marsh of Dunstable was the head of the whole college of witches, and that
he could do more than all the rest. Then he went on to say that he, John
Palmer, had held a blood covenant with the devil for sixty years, and that
he bore his brand; also that he had two imps, "George," a dog, and
"Jezabell," a woman, who did what he would. He had seduced to himself and
his arts Elizabeth Knott, his kinswoman; and both together they made a
clay picture of goodwife Pearls of Norton, which they put under some
embers, and as the picture consumed away, so did goodwife
Pearls--miserably and fatally. This was out of revenge for hanging a lock
on his door because he did not pay his rent. Then he sent "George" to kill
Cleaver's horses; and Elizabeth killed John Laman's cow by sending her
imp, which was a cat. The cat had promised that she should have all she
wanted, save money; but poor Elizabeth Knott did not add that puss had
promised to give them a halter and the gallows at the end of their
revenge: which would have been the only truth in the whole relation. She
killed Laman's cow, she said, because she had been teazed for money due to
him, or rather to his wife. When she was swum, her cat imp came up to her
and sucked upon her breast; so she said, poor raving creature: but when
she was taken out of the water she never saw it more. Palmer also
confessed that once he lay as a toad in the way of a young man he hated,
to get himself hurt. The young man kicked the toad, and Palmer had a sore
shin; but he bewitched the youth, so that he languished for years in woe
and torment. Then is given the list of all the people bedevilled and
bewitched by these two persons, and the account is signed, "Yours,
Misodaimon." Misodaimon would have done better if he could have called
himself Philalethes.


In April, 1652, Joan Peterson, the witch of Wapping, was hanged at Tyburn
in just retribution of her sins. Joan had long had an ugly name in that
mean house of hers on the small island near Shadwell; for she was known to
heal the sick in a manner more suggestive than satisfactory, and she had a
black beast that used to suck her: which every one knew was the art and
function of an imp. That this was true of her who could doubt, for a man
said he had seen it, and it took even less direct testimony than this to
prove a woman a witch. Let the sceptical read the "Country Justice" to see
what subtle threads were strong enough for a witch-halter! One evening a
neighbour woman was watching by the cradle of a child who was strangely
distempered. In jumped a black cat, coming no one knew whence, and stopped
her cradling. This woman, and another watching with her, flung the
fire-fork at the cat, when it vanished as quickly as it had come. In an
hour's time it came again from the other side: one of the women raised her
foot and kicked it; and immediately her foot and leg swelled, and were
very sore and painful. Then, terrified, they called the master of the
house, told him that they could not watch in a place so beset with evil
spirits, and left him and the child to get on as they could. On their way
home they lighted on a baker, who told them that he had just met a big
black cat which had affrighted him so that his hair stood all on end; and
when the women told their tale, he said "on his conscience he thought it
was Mother Peterson, for he had met her going towards the island a little
while before." When on his oath, under examination, this valiant baker
declared that he had never been afraid of any cat before in his life; and
to a further question answered, "No, he had never seen such a cat before,
and he hoped in God he should never see the like again." But what
connection old Joan Peterson was assumed to have with this mysterious
black cat remains a mystery to this day: it was none to the judge and
jury, who condemned her to be hanged with safe and tranquil minds.


In April, 1652, Mary Ellins, aged nine years, daughter of Edward Ellins,
of Evesham in the county of Worcester, was playing in the fields with some
neighbours' children. They were gathering cowslips in a pretty innocent
way, in which it would have been well if they had been contented to
remain; but on passing by a ditch they saw crouching therein one Catherine
Huxley, an old woman of no very good repute, generally supposed to be a
witch of the worst kind, and quick at casting an evil eye when offended.
The children seeing her, took up stones to throw at her, calling her
"witch" and other opprobrious names; whereat old Catherine cursed them,
and especially Mary Ellins, who made herself conspicuous as the chief
tormentor. Her curses had the desired effect. Mary went home, bewitched,
and who but Catherine had done it? For ever from that day she had strange
and troublesome passages with stones, so that it seemed as if the child
had fed upon stones, and nothing but stones, of all kinds of geological
formation. Scores of people went to see them: they were handled, and
looked at, and reasoned about, and discussed, and yet so many as ever
might come away, more still remained behind, and the supply was never
failing. When Mary's extraordinary power of elaborating flint and granite
and boulder and pebble in her young body had become troublesome and
expensive, and the parents wanted to get rid of the whole concern, they
undertook the prosecution of old Catherine, and _on this evidence alone,
that she had cursed their daughter, and that their daughter had since
then had extraordinary discharges of stones_, the old woman was condemned
and executed--hung up as a public show at Worcester in the bonny summer
months of 1652. As soon as she was hanged Mary had instant and complete
relief; and hid no more pebbles in her pockets to delude good, credulous,
prayerful Mr. Baxter into the profound belief that she was bewitched.


Brightling of Sussex, too, where now we have our sea-side London, was
under a cloud, with the devil in actual human form possessing the place
and haunting good folk out of their proper wits; for Joseph Cruttenden's
house was bewitched, and they were sore holden how to restore the spirit
of grace within it, and exorcise the spirit of evil. Joseph Cruttenden had
a young servant girl, to whom one day came an old woman, unknown, saying
to her that sad calamities were coming on her master's family by-and-bye,
but that she was not to speak of them to any one; for he and his dame
should be haunted, and their house fired and bewitched. She was to be
particularly careful not to give warning of this to any, for if she did,
the devil would tear her in pieces. The girl kept her own counsel; of
course she did; there would have been no sport else: and that very night
the troubles began. As Joseph and his wife lay in bed, dirt and dust and
rubbish of all kinds were thrown at them, so that there was no way of
escaping the handfuls of filth flung fast and furiously, and all the doors
and windows shook as with a storm, though the air was still outside. On
another night the house was set on fire in many places at once, flashing
out like gunpowder; and as fast as one corner was extinguished another
began; for they had no sooner trodden out the ashes and gone to another
part, than they flamed up afresh, and they had all their work to do over
again. Some said that a thing like a black bull was seen tumbling about in
the flames; but Mr. Baxter halts at this, and declines to endorse it. At
another time the furniture was all flung about, and a wooden "tut" came
flying through the air, and a horseshoe struck the man on the breast, and
there was no peace night or day for the black bull, the fire, and all the
other things besetting. And then the man confessed that he had been a
thief long time agone, whereby Satan had this extraordinary power over
him; and the girl, despising the threat of the devil's tearing her to
pieces, confessed to her mistress what the old woman had said. So the
country was searched for an old woman answering the maid's description,
and a poor old wretch was pitched upon as being most like. She was sent
for and examined--watched for twenty-four hours; but nothing seems to have
come of it this time. The girl "thought" she was "like" the same woman as
had spoken to her, yet declined to swear positively. But the old woman had
a bad name. She had been suspected as a witch before, "and been had to
Maidstone to clear herself," which it seems she had done, for she got off,
and had been living near Brightling ever since. She had a narrow escape
now, for the country people were much excited against her, and naturally
did not wish the presence of one who could haunt their houses with fire
and dirt, and a big black bull tumbling about at his will. Had the maid
had one grain less of conscience, this nameless wretch would have closed
her earthly career a few years too soon; as it was she got off, and
"lived miserably about Burwast ever since." It was a small sign of grace
in that young jade that she would not swear away the life of an innocent
woman to conceal her own childish tricks. It was not often that the
accusing witnesses showed even this scant mercy to their victims, for the
excitement of the game seemed to be in the largest amount of cruelty that
could be perpetrated within the rules.


"Kent, the first Christian, last conquered, and one of the most
flourishing and fruitful Provinces of England, is the Scene, and the
beautiful Town of Maidstone, the Stage, whereon this Tragicall Story was
publicly acted at Maidstone Assizes, last past."

In this Christian province and most beautiful country, Anne Ashby, Anne
Martyn, Mary Browne, Mildred Wright, and Anne Wilson, all of Cranbrooke,
and Mary Reade, of Lenham, were brought before Sir Peter Warburton,
charged with "the Execrable and Diabolicall crime of Witchcraft." Anne
Ashby, "who was the chiefe Actresse, and who had the greatest part in this
Tragedy," and Anne Martyn were "confessing" witches; but their confessions
did not amount to much, compared with the more highly spiced accounts of
other witches. That they had both known the devil as a man, and in
dishonesty and sin, was of course one of the chief items of their
confession, as it was of most witches; but Anne Ashby further informed the
Bench that the devil had given them each a piece of flesh, which,
whensoever they should touch, would give them their desires; and that this
piece of flesh was hid somewhere among the grass. As was proved: for upon
search it was found. Of a sinewy substance and scorched was this
redoubtable talisman, for it was both seen and felt by this Observator,
E. G., and reserved for public view at the sign of the Swan in Maidstone.
Anne Ashby had an imp too, called "Rug," which sometimes came out of her
mouth like a mouse, and was of so malicious and venificall a nature that a
certain groom belonging to Colonel Humfrey's regiment, for sport, said,
"Come Rug into my mouth," and the said groom was dead in a fortnight
after: "as it is reported," adds E. G. with saving grace. Anne was
hysterical, poor soul: and "in view of this Observation, fell into an
extasie before the Bench, and swell'd into a monstrous and vast bigness,
screeching and crying out dolefully." When she recovered they asked her if
she had been possessed by the devil at that time, to which she made answer
"that she did not know that, but that her Spirit Rug had come out of her
mouth like a mouse." After they were "cast" and judgment had been
pronounced against them she and Anne Martyn pleaded that they were with
child: but, being pressed on this point, they confessed that it was by no
man of honest flesh and blood, but by the devil, their customary spouse.
The plea was not suffered to stand. For proof against the rest, all that
is recorded by E. G. is, that when pricked neither Mary Browne, nor Anne
Wilson, nor yet Mildred Wright felt pain, or lost blood; and that Mary
Read had a visible teat under her tongue which she did show to this
Observator as well as to many others. But they were all hanged, at the
common place of execution; though some there were who wished that they
might be burnt instead, for burning had such virtue, that it prevented the
blood of a witch "becomming hereditary to her Progeny in the same evill,
which by hanging is not." The hangers, however, carried the day, and the
blood of the progeny was left to take its chance of hereditary evil. It
was supposed that these six witches, to whom were added five other
persons, had bewitched nine children, one man, and one woman, lost five
hundred pounds' worth of cattle, and wrecked much corn at sea.


That same month and year saw a strange matter of witchcraft at Warwick.
"In Warwick Town one Mrs. Katherine Atkins, a Mercer's Wife, standing at
her Door on Saturday night, the 24 July 1652. A certain unknown Woman came
to her and sayd, Mistris, pray give me two-pence, she answered, two-pences
are not so plentifull, and that she would give her no Mony. Pray Mistress,
sayd she, then give me that Pin, so she took the Pin off her sleeve and
gave her, for which she was very thankfull, and was going away. Mistress
Atkins seeing her so thankfull for a Pin, called her again, and told her
if she would stay, she would fetch some victuals for her, or give her
some thread, or something out of the shop. She answered, she would have
nothing else, and bid a pox of her victuals, and swore (by God) saying,
You shall be an hundred miles off within this week, when you shall want
two-pence as much as I, and so she went grumbling away.

"Hereupon the sayd Mistress Atkins was much troubled in mind, and did
advise with some Friends what were best to be done in such a case, but
receiving no resolution from any one what to do, she attended the Event
what might befall within such a time, and upon the 29 of July she exprest
to a kinsman, Mr. Nicholas Bikar, that she was much troubled about the
forsayd businesse, but hoped the time was so much expired, that it would
come to nothing.

"But the sayd Thursday night, betwixt the hours of 8 and 9, She, going
into the Shop, and returning thence in the Entry adjoyning to the sayd
Shop, she was immediately gone, by what means and whither we do not know,
nor can we hear of upon enquiry made to this present.

"The desire of her Husband and Friends is of all the Inhabitants of this
Nation, That if they hear of any such Party in such a lost condition as is
before expressed, That there may be speedy Notice given thereof to her
Husband in Warwick, and that all convenient Provisions, both of Horse and
Mony may be made for the conveying of her to the place aforesayd, and such
as shall take pains, or be at expences herein shall be sufficiently
recompenced for the same, with many thanks.

"It's likewise desired that Ministers in London, and elsewhere, when the
notice of these presents shall come, would be pleased to present her sad
condition to God in their severall Congregations. The truth hereof we
testifie, whose names are subscribed.

                  { Richard Vennour.
  John Halleford. { Hen. Butler, Ministers of Warwick.
                  { Joseph Fisher, Minister.


Dr. Lamb, Buckingham's domestic physician in times past, and his maid Anne
Bodenham, both met with a tragical fate, though not in the same year, for
Dr. Lamb was brutally murdered for a conjuror and wizard by a mob in 1640,
while Anne Bodenham was not executed until 1653. That Lamb was a terrible
necromancer is testified by Richard Baxter, in his 'World of Spirits,' a
book "written for the conviction of Sadducees and Infidels," but which now
would convince none but the weak or half crazed of anything beyond Richard
Baxter's own exceeding credulity and want of critical faculty. His story
of Dr. Lamb's necromancy is so curious, it had better be given verbatim,
for to translate would be to ruin it.

"Dr. Lamb, who was killed by the Mob for a Conjuror about 1640, met one
Morning Sir Miles Sands and Mr. Barbor in the Street, and invited them to
go and drink their Mornings Draught at his House: Discoursing about his
Art, he told them that if they would hold their Tongues, and their Hands
from medling with any thing, he would shew them some Sport. So falling to
his Practice in the middle of the Room springs up a Tree; sone after
appeared three little Fellows, with Axes on their Shoulders, and Baskets
in their Hands, who presently fell to work, cut down the Tree, and carried
all away. But Mr. Barbor observing one Chip to fall on his Velvet Coat, he
slips it into his Pocket, That Night when he and his Family were in Bed,
and asleep, all the Doors and Windows in the House opened and clattered,
so as to awaken and affright them all. His Wife said, _Husband, you told
me you was at Dr. Lamb's this Day, and I fear you medled with something_.
He replied, _I put a Chip into my Pocket_. _I pray you_, said she, _fling
it out, or we shall have no Quiet_. He did so, and all the Windows and
Doors were presently shut, and all quiet, so they went to sleep."

With such powers of conjuration and sorcery as these, it is not surprising
if Dr. Lamb's character tainted that of Anne Bodenham his maid; for the
very fact of their living together under the same roof was inimical enough
to Anne's reputation. We hear nothing of her for some years, beyond that
she lived near New Sarum, was married to one Edward Bodenham, "clothyer,"
and that she was eighty years of age at the time of her trial. So at least
says Edmund Bower, in his "Doctor Lamb revived." But her getting into
trouble at all proves that she had long lived under the suspicion of
commonly practising witchcraft and sorcery; for Anne Styles, the accuser,
had been backwards and forwards to her on her own account scores of times,
and thought nothing of it; neither was it considered wonderful when Mr.
Mason, son-in-law of Richard Goddard, Anne Styles's master, sent her to
Anne Bodenham to learn now their lawsuit would turn. Bodenham, who had a
knack of "foretelling things to come, and helping men to their stolen
goods, and other such like feats," expressed no surprise, but at once
began her conjurations. "She took her staff, and there drew it about the
house, making a kinde of a Circle, and then took a book, and carrying it
over the Circle with her hands, and taking a green glasse, did lay it upon
the book, and placed in the Circle an earthern Pan of Coals, wherein she
threw something, which burning caused a very noisome stink, and told the
Maid she should not be afraid of what she should then see, for now they
would come (they are the words she used), and so calling Belzebub,
Tormentor, Satan, and Lucifer appear, there suddenly arose a very high
wind, which made the house shake, and presently the back door of the house
flying open, there came five Spirits, as the Maid supposed, in the
likenesse of ragged Boyes, some bigger than others, and ran about the
House, where she had drawn the staff: and the witch threw down upon the
ground crums of bread, which the Spirits picked up, and leapt over the Pan
of Coals oftentimes, which she set in the midst of the Circle, and a Dog
and a Cat of the witches danced with them; and after some time the witch
looked again in her book, and threw some great white Seeds upon the
ground, which the said Spirits picked up, and so in a short time the wind
was laid and the witch going forth at the back door the Spirits vanished."
After which Anne told the girl that Mr. Mason should demand fifteen
hundred pounds, and one hundred and fifty pounds per annum of Mr. Goddard,
and if it was denied he was to take the law and prosecute. For all which
Anne Bodenham received the sum of three shillings: little enough too,
considering the charges she must have been at for noisome roots and magic
lanthorns, not to speak of the chance of being haled off to prison
whenever the maid Anne Styles might choose to accuse her.

Another time Anne Styles was sent to her by Mrs. Goddard, to find where
was hidden the poison which she said her two young step-daughters were
designing to give her, but which Anne Styles herself had bought, as she
said, by the witch's request. This Anne Bodenham denied. The witch took
her stick as before, going through the same forms of conjuration; when on
her adjuring "Belzebub, Tormentor, Lucifer, Satan," to appear, there came
out of the mist first a little boy, who then turned into a snake, and then
into "a shagged dog with great eyes, which went about in the Circle." And
after she had burnt her noisome herbs again, and looked in her Magic
book--her Book of Charms as she called it--she took a glass and showed in
that "Mistress Sarah Goddard's Chamber, the colour of the Curtains, and
the bed turned up the wrong way, and under that part of the bed where the
Bolster laye she shewed the poison in a white paper." It was no discredit
to maid or witch that this poisoning matter was found a mere suspicion and
delusion, and that the young ladies never designed to poison their
mother-in-law; though she, on the other hand, sent to Bodenham for charms
and poisons against them. This time Anne got vervain and dill, which the
little ragged boys (spectres, or spirits, or imps) gathered for her, in
return for which she threw them bread which they ate, dancing about, then
vanished on their mistress reading in her book. The witch gave the maid
the leaves powdered, and dried--one packet of each--while, in a third
packet, she put the parings of her nails; all of which the maid was to
give to her mistress. The powder was to be put into Mistresses Sarah and
Anne Goddard's drink or broth, to give them hideous indigestion rather too
coarsely expressed for modern reading; the leaves were to rub about the
rim of the pot, to make their teeth fall out of their heads; and the
paring of the nails to make them drunk and mad. But Mrs. Goddard only
laughed when she got these charms, and said "they were brave things:" she
did not use them, luckily for her; though the young ladies would not have
been much the worse, save for the white poison before mentioned.

Anne Bodenham had taken a great fancy to this servant girl, and wanted her
to live with her, telling her that she would teach her all she knew, and
enable her to do as she did; asking her, too, whether she would go to
London high or low: for if high she should be carried through the air and
be there in two hours, if low she should be taken at Sutton's town end,
and before, "unless she had help." When she thus sought to seduce the
girl, Anne Styles asked what she could do, whereupon Bodenham
incontinently appeared in the form of a great black cat, and lay along by
the chimney; but the girl being much frightened, she appeared in her own
shape again, and tempted her no more. But first, before she would let her
go, she made her swear to seal with her body and blood a vow that she
would never discover what she had seen; so she took her forefinger and
pricked it, and filled a pen with the blood, and made her write in a book,
one of the imps--like "great boys with long shagged black hair," this
time--having his hand or claw on the witch's, while Anne Styles wrote. And
when she had done writing, the witch said "Amen," and the maid said
"Amen," and the spirits said "Amen" each: and the spirit gave the witch a
bit of silver for the maid, which he first bit. The maid's hand touched
his, and she found that his was cold. Then Bodenham stuck two pins in her
head-dress, which she bid her keep, and be gone; saying, "I will vex the
Gentlewoman well enough, as I did the man in Clarington Park; which I made
walk about with a bundle of Pales on his back all night in a pond of
water, and could not lay them down till the next morning." The piece of
silver, and the hole in her forefinger, the maid showed the judge and jury
in the trial; and both were held to be conclusive evidence against Dr.
Lamb's unfortunate "Darling." How far Anne Styles may be believed is not
difficult to determine; for as to the conjurations about poisoning Mrs.
Goddard, it came out that she, the maid, had gone to the apothecary's for
an ounce of arsenic; and then set abroad the report that the two young
ladies had bought it for the purpose of poisoning their step-mother. As
the young ladies were not disposed to sit down quietly under this
suspicion, they had the report sifted to the bottom, and Anne Styles fled
in fear; which was the meaning of the witch's demanding how she would like
to go to London--high or low--by witch's art, or justice's power. Mr.
Chandler, Mr. Goddard's son-in-law, pursued her, and overtook her at
Sutton-town end; when, to save herself from the unpleasant consequences of
her various misdeeds, beginning with stealing a silver spoon and ending
with buying arsenic, she made this "confession," which was safety to her
but death to old Anne. Anne earnestly and passionately denied every word
the girl said: whereupon Anne Styles, to give greater colour to her story,
fell into fits, so strong that six men could not hold her. She was drawn
up high into the air--so at least runs the report--her feet as high as the
spectators' breasts; and she had scuffles with a black man with no head,
who came and tumbled her about, as a little boy deposed. The little boy
was sleeping in the same room with her, and he said that the black spirit
came to her, and wanted her soul, but the maid answered her soul was none
of hers to give; that he had got her blood already, but should never have
her soul; and after a tumbling and throwing of her about rarely, he
vanished away. At another time the witch was brought to the maid suddenly,
when she instantly closed her eyes and fell back in so deep a sleep that
they could not by any means awaken her; but so soon as the witch had gone,
she woke up of herself, and was quite well. Anne Bodenham was condemned to
die, and there was no help for her; but when sentence was passed, Anne
Styles fell to bitter weeping and wailing, lamenting her own wickedness,
and willing that the witch should be reprieved, if possible to the law.
This was taken as a sign of her sweet and loving Christian spirit of
forgiveness; we, who read such signs more clearly by the light of a better
knowledge, know that it meant simply the weak pity of a selfish
conscience, grieving for its sin, yet afraid to retract and make amends.
Beside all this evidence, and its lies, Anne Bodenham had a tame toad
which she wore in a green bag round her neck; and she had a great deal of
natural clairvoyance and mesmeric power; and she was evidently a highly
superstitious woman, who believed in her own powers, and was not unwilling
to aid them by a little extra supernaturalism and good mechanical tricks.
But she would confess to no witchcraft; knew nothing of a Red Book half
written over in blood, which red book with its bloody writing contained a
catalogue of those who had sold themselves to the devil; though she
acknowledged that she had a Book of Charms, much as a servant maid of
to-day might have a Book of Dreams: and that she could say the Creed
backwards as well as forwards; and that she sometimes prayed to the
planet Jupiter. The time-honoured belief in astrology and the power of the
planets might well linger in the brain of an old country woman, who had a
smattering of knowledge far beyond her station, and who had dabbled in
mechanics and the art of conjuring; who could not, moreover, understand
her own sensitive condition; and who had the alternative, as one of the
witnesses said, of passing for a witch or a woman of God. The judge and
jury had a very distinct idea as to which category she ought to be placed
in; and fully believed what James Bower reports, that she could turn
herself into a "mastive Dog, a black Lyon, a white Bear, a Woolf, a
Monkey, a Horse, a Bull, and a Calf." Such a woman as this had no business
here on this solid earth, so she was hanged at Salisbury, 1653, dying very
hard and completely crazed. Before the hour came she wrote a letter to her
husband desiring him never to live in his own house again; and she asked
the woman who was to "shroud" her, to root up all her garden herbs and
flowers when she should be dead; and she clamoured for a knife to stick
into her heart; and she wanted to die drunk, calling for beer on her way
to execution, and giving her gaolers much trouble to hold her in at all;
and she would have no psalm sung, and no prayer read, and would forgive
none of them, but cursed them all fiercely as she stood on the rungs of
the ladder despairing and defying. So miserably she died, poor old wretch!
and Anne Styles never looked up again into the fair face of heaven without
the stain of blood across her hand, and the brand of Cain on her brow.


One certain Sunday afternoon, in November 1657, Richard Jones, "a
sprightly youth of twelve," living at Shepton Mallet, in Somersetshire,
being left at home alone, and looking abroad as sprightly youth will, saw
an old woman of the place, by name Jane Brooks, look in at the window. He
went to the door to see what she wanted, when she asked him to give her a
piece of "close bread," and she would give him an apple. He did so, and
she thanked him, stroked him down the right side, shook him by the hand,
and bade him good night. When the father and our coz. Gibson came back,
they found the sprightly youth ill, and complaining of pain in the right
side. He continued in the same state through the night, and on the
following day became much worse, falling into fits of speechlessness, &c.,
immediately after having roasted and eaten the apple which Jane Brooks had
given him. He then told the father that an old woman of the place, name
unknown but person remembered, had stroked his right side, and thus had
caused his illness; whereupon his father decided that all the women of
Shepton Mallet should come to see him, and that in case he was in his fit,
and not able to speak when the true witch came, he should give a "jogg,"
which would be sufficiently expressive. All the women of Shepton Mallet
were brought in by turns; but the boy remained quiet until Jane Brooks
appeared, when he fell into a fit, and was for some time unable to see or
speak. Recovering himself, "he gave his father the Item," and drew towards
Jane. She was standing behind her two sisters, but the boy singled her
out and put his hand upon her; which the father seeing, he flew on the
poor creature, scratched her face "above her breath," and drew blood.
After this rather rough manner of exorcism, Master Richard Jones cried out
that he was well, and condescended to remain well for seven or eight days.
But at the end of this time, Alice Coward, sister to Jane, happening to
meet him and to say, "How do you do, my Honey?" he fell ill again, and
"cried out" on them without intermission. One Sunday he was in his fits,
his father and cousin Gibson with him as usual, when he suddenly exclaimed
that he "saw Jane Brooks there"--pointing to the wall. Cousin Gibson at
once struck a knife into the spot; whereupon the sprightly youth cried, "O
father, couz Gibson hath cut Jane Brooks's hand, and 'tis Bloody." The
father and Gibson on this went to the constable, "a discreet Person," and
telling him what had happened, took him with them to Jane's house, where
they found her sitting on a stool, with one hand over the other. After a
few questions they drew her hand away, and found that which was underneath
all bloody; which appearance she explained away as well as she could, by
saying that it was scratched with a great pin. This kind of thing going on
for some time, the pitiful plot grew ripe for execution, and on the 8th of
December Jane Brooks and her sister, Alice Coward, were taken to Castle
Cary to be examined by the justices, Mr. Hunt and Mr. Cary. Here Richard
performed all the usual tricks of the bewitched, lying speechless and
motionless while the suspected women were in the room; springing up into
tetanic fits if they laid their hands upon him, or so much as looked
towards him; bringing on himself, by his own will, convulsive fits and
catalepsy, and many of the more violent symptoms of hysteria, and
insisting that the two women came constantly to see him--as
apparitions--"their Hands cold, their Eyes staring, and their Lips and
Cheeks looking pale." "In this manner on a Thursday about Noon, the Boy
being newly laid in his Bed, Jane Brooks and Alice Coward appeared to him,
and told him that what they had begun they could not perform. But if he
would say no more of it, they would give him Money, and so put a Twopence
into his Pocket. After which they took him out of his Bed and laid him on
the ground and vanished, and the Boy was found by those that came next
into the Room lying on the Floor as if he had been dead." This twopence
had odd properties. When put upon the fire and made hot, the boy fell ill;
when taken out and cooled, he was all right again. The trick was tried in
the presence of many, and was found to answer admirably. Between the 8th
of December and the 17th of February, he practised another variation of
the same air. "Divers persons at sundry times" heard a croaking, as of a
toad, proceed from the boy, and though they held a candle to his face they
could not discern any movement of tongue, teeth, or lips. And this
croaking as of a toad repeated incessantly, "Jane Brooks, Alice Coward,
Jane Brooks, Alice Coward." On the 25th of February he performed his
greatest feat of all; or was reported to have done so--which did quite as
well in those days; for Richard Isles's wife said she saw him raised up
from the ground, mounting gradually higher and higher till he was carried
full thirty yards over the garden wall, when, falling at last at one
Jordan's door, he was there found as if dead. Coming to himself, he
declared that Jane Brooks had taken him by the arm, and carried him up, as
Isles's wife had seen; which fact was told and believed in as a fearful
instance of her malicious and wicked sorcery against the sprightly youth.
At another time, as many as nine people at once saw him hanging from a
beam, his hands placed flat against the wood, and his whole body raised
two or three feet from the ground. He continued to play these
extraordinary tricks from the 15th of November to the 10th of March; when,
being much wasted and worn, it was deemed advisable to save his life if
yet there might be time. Jane Brooks was sent to gaol, condemned, and
hanged at Charde assizes, March 26th, 1658; and Richard Jones, having no
longer any inducement to act the possessed, consented to remain with his
feet on the ground and his head in the air, according to the laws of
nature and Newton, and took no more fits, real or simulated, to extort
compassion or obtain revenge.


The poor witches were always seeing troublous times. At about the time of
the Lord Protector's death one was hanged in Norwich and several in
Cornwall. In 1659 two suffered at Lancaster, for crimes which I cannot
discover; while in 1660, on the 14th of May, the Restoration had its
victims in the persons of a widow, her two daughters, and a man, who were
carried to Worcester gaol on the double charge of witchcraft and high
treason. For the eldest daughter had been heard to say that if they had
not been taken the king would never have come to England: which was enough
to frighten all the court into fits. And when they were taken, and tried,
and condemned, she said further that "though he now doth come, yet he
shall not live long but shall die as ill a death as they" adding that had
they not been taken "they would have made corn like pepper:" that is, they
would have blighted it. As there were many other charges against them,
they were swum: when they floated like ducks--or witches; and then they
were searched: when the man was found to have five "bigges," two of the
women three, but the eldest daughter only one. When first searched, none
of these marks were visible on any of the women, whereat the inquisitors
were advised to put them flat on their backs and keep their mouths open,
until they should appear; which advice was taken, with the happiest and
most palpable results.


Sometimes knavery defeated itself, though unhappily not often, as in the
case of the famous witch-finder Mother Baker[144] and the young maid
Stuppeny, of New Romsey in Kent. The young maid Stuppeny was sick, and as
sickness in those days never meant the natural consequence of filthy
habits, filthy food, and filthy habitations, but was by the supernatural
devilry of witches and wizards, the parents concluded that their young
maid must be bewitched, so set off to old Mother Baker to learn who was
the guilty person. Old Mother Baker asked whom they suspected? and they
mentioned a near neighbour of theirs--particulars not given. "Yes," says
the hag, "it is she, and she has made a heart of wax, which she daily
pricks with pins and knitting-needles, and which is now concealed in the
house, for the destruction of the young maid your daughter." So the
parents Stuppeny searched their house, but found no heart of wax;
whereupon old Mother Baker, with big pockets to her sides, said she
herself must search. And she did search, and turned out the charm from the
very spot where she said it was. But certain prying neighbours, whose eyes
were sharp and wits clear, had watched old Baker and her pockets; and as
she laid the image in a corner that had been most diligently searched and
looked into, her cheat was discovered, and the anonymous wretch living
next door escaped, while Mother Baker suffered the penalties awarded in
Scot's time to cozenage and deceit with intent to defraud or do ill.


Burton Agnes, in the county of York, was troubled; for Faith Corbet, the
young daughter of Henry Corbet, was taken violently ill, and Alice Huson
and Doll Bilby had bewitched her. Good Mrs. Corbet--beyond her age in
generous unbelief--refused to entertain her daughter's suspicions; indeed
she had chidden her some years ago for calling old Alice a witch, for she
had a liking to the poor widow, and kept her about the house, looking
after her young turkeys, &c., and was kind and liberal to her, and sought
to make her wasting life pass as easily as might be. But Miss Faith hated
the old woman, and cried out against her as a witch; and when she lost her
gloves, swore that Alice had taken them to play cantrips with, and that
she should never be well again. Then she began to fall into fits, when she
would be so terribly tormented that it took two or three to hold her; and
she would screech and cry out vehemently, and bite and scratch anything
she could lay hold of, all the while exclaiming, "Ah, Alice, old witch,
have I gotten thee!" And sometimes she would lie down, all drawn together
in a round, and be speechless and half swooning for days together; and
then she would be wildly merry, and as full of antics as a monkey.
Physicians were consulted, but none came near to her disorder; and though
her father carried her about hither and thither, for change of air,
nothing would cure her, she said, so long as Alice Huson and Doll Bilby
remained at liberty. Still the father and mother held out, until, one day,
before a whole concourse of people come to look at her in her fits, she
cried out, "Oh Faithless and incredulous People! shall I never be believed
till it be past Time? For I am as near Death as possibly may be, and when
they have got my Life you will repent when it is past Time." On hearing
this the father went to the minister of Burton Agnes, Mr. Wellfet, and he,
Sir Fr. Boynton--a justice of the peace--and Mr. Corbet himself at last
dragged the old woman Huson into Faith's chamber. At which Miss Faith gave
a great screech, but presently called for toast and beer; then for
cordials; and having taken a somewhat large quantity of both, she got up,
dressed herself, and came down stairs. This, too, after she had been so
weak that she could not turn herself in bed: which proved that Mother
Huson had some extraordinary influence over the girl--an influence more
potent than holy said the bystanders. This happy state did not continue.
Faith said she should never be well while the two women were at liberty;
and so it proved; for when they were at last arrested, and held in strict
security and durance, the young lady pronounced herself healed, and gave
no one any more trouble. Then Alice Huson was got to make confession to
Mr. Wellfet, the minister, and thus sealed her own doom, and saved the
prosecution the pain of conviction.

She said that for three years she had had intercourse with the devil, who,
one day as she was on the moor, appeared to her in the form of a black man
riding on horseback. He told her she should never want if she would follow
his ways and give herself up to him: which Alice promised to do. Then he
sealed the bargain by giving her five shillings; at another time he gave
her seven; and often--indeed six or seven times--repeating his gifts to
the like munificent extent. He was like a black man with cloven feet,
riding on a black horse, and Alice fell down and worshipped him, as she
had covenanted. And she had hurt Faith Corbet by her evil spirit, for she
did, in her apprehension, ride her; and when Mr. Wellfet examined her once
before, the devil stood by, and gave her answers; and she was under the
Corbets' window as a cat when Mrs. Corbet said she was--for even her
kindly faith was shaken at last; and Doll Bilby had a hand in all this
evil too; for Doll wanted to kill Faith outright, but old Alice
interposed, thinking they had done enough harm already. She confessed to
killing Dick Warmers "by my wicked heart and wicked eyes;" and to having
lent Lancelot Harrison eight shillings of the ten which the devil had
given her at Baxter's door, a fortnight ago, "about twilight or daygate;"
and she had a bigge, or witch mark, where the devil sucked from
supper-time till after cockcrowing, twitching at her heart as if it was
drawn with pincers the while; and she meant to practise witchcraft four
years ago, when she begged old clothes of Mrs. Corbet, and the children
refused her; and the devil told her not to tell of Doll Bilby. And to all
this raving Timothy Wellfet, minister of Burton Agnes, set his name, and
so hanged Alice Huson and Doll Bilby at the next York assizes: after which
Miss Faith Corbet was for ever rid of her fits and fancies.


Can we wonder at anything which it might please those servants of the
devil, the witches, to do, when even a spirit--a disembodied ghost--a mere
appearance--a spectre--an apparition--could audibly box a lad's ears
before a whole room full of spectators, and at last box them so soundly as
to break his neck, and kill him? Baxter's "World of Spirits" gives this
story as happening to a barber's apprentice in Cambridge, in the year
1662. The spectre who killed the boy was in the garb and appearance of a
gentlewoman; and at about the same hour, as near as they could guess, when
it boxed the boy's ears and broke his neck at Cambridge, while the father
was sitting at dinner with the boy's master at Ely, "the appearance of a
Gentlewoman comes in, looking very angrily, taking a Turn or two,
disappeared." It seems that the spectre had that night been endeavouring
to persuade the boy to leave his apprenticeship and return home to Ely,
where she and he were very free and had long been wont to disport
together, even while company was in the room, and while the father, a
minister named Franklin, was sitting there. After some treaty the boy
resolutely said he would not go home, whereupon the spirit gave him a
sounding box on the ear, which made him very ill; but he rose as usual
when the morning came, though unfit for work or even play. When the master
heard the story, he rode over to Ely to see Mr. Franklin, and confer with
him respecting the uncomfortable and inconvenient desires of the spirit;
and in the forenoon of the day, the boy sitting by the kitchen fire, his
mistress being by, suddenly cried out, "O, mistress, look: there's the
gentlewoman!" The mistress looked, but saw nothing, yet soon after heard a
noise as of a great box on the ears, and turning round saw the boy bending
down his neck: and presently he died. This is the story gravely told by
Baxter, in the fullest faith that all was as he narrated, and that there
was no natural explanation possible to a circumstance which derived its
only importance from its supernaturalism.

Another spirit, a few years later--in 1667--took to haunting a man's house
at Kinton, six miles from Worcester; and boxed his ears as he sat by the
fire over against the maid. At which the man cried out, and went away to
his son's in the town, not caring to continue where a ghost could make
itself equal to a living body with bones and muscles, and give him
undeniable proofs of the same. A minister of the place, Charles Hatt, went
to the house to exorcise the ghost by prayer, and had not been there long
before "there was a great noise in the said room, of groaning, or rather
gruntling, like a Hog, and then a lowd Shriek." Mr. Charles Hatt prayed
on; and after the spectre had done its best to frighten him with noises,
but finding that the louder it gruntled the louder he prayed, it died
away, and the man was troubled no more to the day of his death, which
happened about two years after.

If this was a book on spirits instead of on witchcraft many stories from
Baxter could be given bearing on the question; but, fascinating as they
are, they are somewhat foreign to my design; so I must pass them by, and
go on to the more material, and more guilty, records of the witchcraft
superstition. All the mere spectre or ghost stories are both tame and
innocent compared to the witch delusions. At least they caused no
bloodshed; and if they broke hearts it was not through shame and despair
and ruin.


At the Taunton assizes, in 1663, Julian Cox, about seventy years old, was
indicted before Judge Archer for practising her arts of witchcraft upon a
"young Maid, whereby her Body languished, and was impaired of Health." And
first were taken proofs of her witchcraft. One witness, a huntsman, swore
that one day, as he was hunting not far from Julian's house, he started a
hare, which the dogs ran very close till it came to a bush; when, going
round to the other side to keep it from the dogs, he perceived Julian Cox
grovelling on the ground, panting and out of breath. She was the hare, and
had had just time enough to say the magic stave which changed her back to
woman's form again, ere the dogs had caught her. Another man swore that
one day, passing her house as "she was taking a Pipe of Tobacco upon the
Threshold of the Door," she invited him to come in and join her; which he
did; when presently she cried out, "Neighbour, look what a pretty thing
there is!" and there was "a monstrous great Toad betwixt his Legs, staring
him in the Face." He tried to hit it, but could not, whereupon Julian told
him to desist striking it and it would do him no hurt; but he was
frightened, and went off to his family, telling them that he had seen one
of Julian Cox her devils. Yet even when he was at home this same toad
appeared again betwixt his legs, and though he took it out, and cut it in
several pieces, still, when he returned to his pipe, there was the toad.
He tried to burn it, but could not; then to beat it with a switch, but the
toad ran about the room to escape him; presently it gave a cry and
vanished, and he was never after troubled with it. A third witness swore
that one day, when milking, Julian Cox passed by the yard where he was,
and "stooping down scored upon the ground for some small time, during
which time his Cattle ran Mad, and some of them ran their Heads against
the Trees, and most of them died speedily." Concluding by which signs that
they were bewitched, he cut off their ears to burn them, and, while they
were on the fire, Julian Cox came in a great heat and rage, crying out
that they abused her without cause; but, going slily up to the fire, she
took off the ears, and then was quiet. By the laws of witchcraft it was
she who was burning, not the beasts' ears. A fourth, as veracious as the
former, swore to having seen her "fly into her own Chamber-window in her
full proportion;" all of which testimony gave weight and substance to the
maid's charge.

The maid was servant at a certain house, where Julian came one day to ask
for alms; but the maid gave her a cross answer, and said she should have
none; so Julian told the maid she should repent her incivility before
night. And she did; for she was taken with convulsions, and cried out to
the people of the house to save her from Julian, for she saw her following
her. In the night she became worse, saying that she saw Julian Cox and the
black man by her bedside, and that they tempted her to drink, but "she
defy'd the Devil's Drenches." The next night, expecting the same kind of
conflict, she took up a knife and laid it at the head of her bed. In the
middle of the night came the spiritual Julian and the black man, as
before, so the maid took the knife, and stabbed at Julian, whom she said
she had wounded in the leg. The people, riding out to see, found Julian in
her own house with a fresh wound on her leg, and blood was also on the
maid's bed. The next day Julian appeared to the maid and forced her to eat
pins. Her apparition was on the house wall; and "all the Day the Maid was
observ'd to convey her Hand to the House wall, and from the Wall to her
Mouth, and she seem'd by the motion of her Mouth as if she did eat
something." So towards night, still crying out on Julian, she was
undressed, and all over her body were seen great swellings and bunches in
which were huge pins--as many as thirty or more--which she said Julian
Cox, when in the house wall, had forced her to eat. Was not all this
enough to hang a dozen Julian Coxes? Judge Archer thought so; especially
when was added to this testimony Julian's own enforced confession, of how
she had been often tempted by the devil to become a witch, but would never
consent; yet how one evening, walking about a mile from her house, she met
three persons riding on broom-staves, borne up about a yard and a half
from the ground, two of whom she knew--a witch and a wizard, hanged for
witchcraft several years ago--but the third, a black man, she did not then
know. He however tempted her to give up her soul, which she did by
pricking her finger and signing her name with her blood. So that, by her
own showing, as well as by the unimpeachable testimony of reputable
witnesses, she was a witch and one coming under the provisions of the
Awful Verse. And further, as she could not repeat the Lord's Prayer, but
stumbled over the clause "And lead us not into Temptation," which she made
into "And lead us into temptation," or "And lead us not into no
temptation," but could in no manner repeat correctly, the judge and jury
had but one conclusion to come to, which was that she be hanged four days
after her trial. But some of the less blind and besotted spoke harsh words
of Judge Archer for his zeal and precipitancy, and openly declared poor
Julian's innocence when advocacy could do her strangled corpse no good.


About this time, too, or rather two years before old Julian Cox had been
seen flying in at her window in full proportion, one Florence Newton, of
Youghal, was overhauled for her misdeeds towards Mary Longdon. Mary was
John Pyne's servant, and deposed that one day Florence came to where she
lived and asked her for a bit of beef out of the powdering tub, to which
Mary would not consent (these witnessing servants were always so moral and
honest!), saying she had no right to give away her master's beef. The
witch, being angry, muttered, "Thou had'st as good have given it me," and
went away grumbling. A few days after, meeting with Mary going to the
water with a pail of cloth on her head, she came full against her, and
violently kissed her, and said, "Mary, I pray thee let thee and I be
friends, for I bear thee no ill will, and I pray thee do thou bear me
none." Mary does not give her reply, but says that she went home, and in a
few days after "saw a Woman with a Vail over her Face stand by her
bedside, and one standing by her like a little old Man in silk Cloaths,
and that this Man, whom she took to be a Spirit, drew the Vail from off
the Woman's Face, and then she knew it to be Goody Newton; and that the
Spirit spake to the Deponent, and would have had her promise him to follow
his Advice, and she should have all things after her own Heart; to which
she says she answered 'That she would have nothing to say to him, for her
Trust was in the Lord.'" After this Mary Longdon was taken very ill,
vomiting pins and needles and horse-nails and stubbs and wool and straw,
while small stones followed her about the room, and from place to place,
striking her sharply on her head and shoulders and arms, then vanishing
away. She was also strangely put upon by beds, and other such assailants.
Sometimes she was forcibly carried from one bed to another; sometimes
taken to the top of the house, or laid on a board betwixt two sollar
beams, or put into a chest, or laid under a parcel of wool, or betwixt two
feather beds, or (in the day time) between the bed and the mat in her
master's room. All of these pranks done by Florence Newton's Astral
Spirit, by which Mary maid was bewitched. Florence Newton also bewitched
to his death David Jones, who had constituted himself one of her watchers
while she was in "bolts" in prison. David took great pains to teach her
the Lord's Prayer, but Florence, being a witch, could not repeat it
correctly; at last she called out to him, "David! David! come hither; I
can say the Lord's Prayer now." Not that she could, for when she came to
the clause "Forgive us our Trespasses," she skipped over it, or boggled at
it, or got round it in some way or other that was not holy; then seizing
David's hand between the bars of the grate she kissed it thankfully; and
thus and there possessed him, so that he died fourteen days after of that
strange languishing disease known to all the world as a bewitchment.


Elizabeth Hill, aged thirteen, had strange fits. She was much convulsed
and contorted; she writhed, foamed, and could with difficulty be held or
mastered; she had moreover swellings and holes in her flesh, which were
made she said by thorns, and whence the bystanders averred they saw the
child hook out thorns. Even the clergyman of the parish, William Parsons
rector of Stoke Trister, added his testimony to the rest: and on the 26th
of January, 1664, in an examination taken before Robert Hunt, vouched for
the truth of the fits, and the swellings, and the black thorns in the
midst of the swellings; but he did not add to this testimony the further
assertion that it was Elizabeth Styles who had bewitched the child, though
she herself "cried out" on her, and said that she tormented her in her
fits. Elizabeth Styles was further accused of causing Richard Hill's horse
to sit down and paw with his fore feet when attempted to be crossed, and
of having bewitched Agnes Vining by means of a rosy-cheeked apple, which
was no sooner eaten than it caused a grievous pricking in Agnes' thigh,
who forthwith languished and died, "her hip rotted, and one of her eyes
swelled out." These are signs of a worse bewitchment than poor old Mother
Styles's rosy-cheeked apple--signs of the deadly sorcery of scrofula
induced by the poverty, dirt, bad food and worse lodging of the times; for
the effects of which many a poor wretch lost her life who yet had done no
more harm than the nursling at the breast. Robert Hunt the Justice, and
one of our fine old English gentlemen, did not take this materialistic
view of the matter. When told of Agnes Vining's illness and manner of
disease, and seeing Elizabeth Styles looking appalled and concerned, he
said to her: "You have been an old sinner, you deserve little mercy." To
which the poor soul answered, humbly, "I have asked God for it." She then
said that the devil had seduced her, and so began her confession on the
26th of January--three days after the first accusation by the Hills. She
said that about ten years ago the devil appeared to her as a handsome man
changing afterwards to the shape of a black dog; "that he promised her
money, and that she should live gallantly, and have the Pleasures of the
World for twelve years," if only she would sign a certain bond with her
blood, give him her soul, obey his laws, and let him suck her blood. To
all of which she consented after four solicitations, whereupon he pricked
her finger--the mark thereof to be seen at this time--and she, with her
own blood signed the paper with an O, when the devil gave her sixpence and
vanished with the bond. Since then he appeared to her constantly, under
the forms of a man, a cat, a dog, or a "fly like a millar" (a large white
moth), as which last he usually sucked her poll about four in the morning;
and hurt her terribly in doing so. She also said that when she wanted him
to do anything for her, she called him by the name of "Robin," adding, "O
Satan give me my purpose!" which he never failed to do. It was he who
stuck the thorns into Elizabeth Hill; but then she implicated three other
women, Alice Duke, Ann Bishop, and Mary Penny, saying that they too had
stuck thorns into an enchanted picture meant for Elizabeth Hill, one
night when they had all met the devil on the common, he, as a man in black
clothes with a little band, first anointing its forehead with oil, saying,
"I baptize thee with this oyl." After which they had a supper of wine,
cakes, and roast meat, all brought by the man in black, and they ate and
drank and danced and were merry. This they did always, whenever they would
destroy any one obnoxious; and so had a merry time of it upon the whole.
When they wanted to go to their meetings "they would anoint their wrists
and foreheads with an oyl the spirit brings them, which smells raw," after
which they were carried off, saying: "Thout, tout, a tout, tout,
throughout and about:" on their return changing the stave to "Rentum
Tormentum," which was the shibboleth to bring them back. But before they
left they used to make obeisance to the man in black, who usually played
to their dancing, saying, "A Boy! merry meet, merry part;" on which he
vanished, and the conclave was broken up. She then told the "several grave
and orthodox divines" who assisted Robert Hunt to take her examination,
that Alice Duke's familiar was a cat, and Ann Bishop's a rat. Her own was
a millar; concerning which Nicholas Lambert made some strange revelations.
He said that as he and two others, hired to watch Elizabeth Styles in
prison, were sitting near her as she crouched by the fire--he, Nicholas
Lambert, reading in "The Practise of Piety"--about three in the morning
they saw a "glistering bright fly," about an inch in length, come from her
head and pitch on the chimney: then instantly vanish. In less than a
quarter of an hour after, in came two other flies and seemed to strike at
his hand, but which dodged him cleverly when he struck at them with his
book. At this, Styles's countenance became very black and ghastly, and
the fire also changed its colour; so the watchers, conceiving that her
familiar was about her, and seeing also her hair shake very strangely,
went to examine her poll, when out flew a great millar, which pitched on a
table board and then vanished away. Her poll was red like raw beef, but
presently regained its natural colour. Upon which Elizabeth confessed that
it was her familiar, and that she had felt it tickle her poll. She was
condemned, after having inculpated thirteen other persons, but "prevented
execution by dying in gaol, a little before the expiring of the term her
confederate dæmon had set for her enjoyment of Diabolical Pleasures."

Alice Duke, "another witch of Styles's Knot," a widow living in
Wincaunton, county of Somerset, was then apprehended and examined. She
seems to have given no trouble, but to have come frankly to the point, and
to have admitted whatever they liked to demand. She said that, eleven or
twelve years ago, Ann Bishop persuaded her to go one night to the
churchyard, and "being come thither to go backward round the church, which
they did three times." In their first round they met a man in black
clothes who accompanied them: in their second a thing like a great black
toad, which leaped up against Duke's apron: in the third, "somewhat in the
shape of a rat" which vanished away. After which they both went home, but
before they went the man in black said something softly to Ann Bishop, yet
what it was Alice did not hear. Soon after this she signed herself away in
the same manner and for the same purposes as Elizabeth Styles had done;
and the devil gave her sixpence as he had given Styles, and vanished away
with the fatal paper. She confirmed all that Styles had said concerning
the meetings on the common, the enchanted pictures and the greenish oil,
the devil, the wine, and cakes, and music; she gave information, though,
of many more such pictures which were to doom the unfortunate likenesses
to death; and she said farther that Ann Bishop was the devil's favourite,
and that she sat next him, and wore "a green Apron, a French Waistcoat,
and a red Petticoat." She gave the same phrase that Elizabeth Styles had
given, as the magic password which took them to and from the devil's
meetings; and she confessed that her familiar came to her each night,
about seven o'clock, "in the shape of a little Cat of a dunnish colour,
which is as smooth as a Want, and when she is suck'd she is in a kind of
Trance." She had hurt several people; specially Thomas Hanway's daughter
by giving her a pewter dish for a "good handsel" in the time of her lying
in. This pewter dish was of such a malicious and venefical nature that
when Thomas Hanway's daughter used it to heat some deer suet and rose
water for her breasts, she was put to extreme pain; which pain she had not
when she heated the same deer suet and the same rose water in a common
spoon. So, suspecting harm in the dish, she put it into the fire, "which
then presently vanished, and nothing of it was afterwards to be found."
Alice Duke also said that she called the devil "Robin," and demanded of
him aid and help in her undertakings. Like Styles and many others, she
said that when the devil vanished he left an ill smell behind him; which
is explained as, "Those ascititious Particles he held together in his
visible vehicle, being loosened at his vanishing, and so offending the
Nostrils by their floating and diffusing themselves in the open air."


Somersetshire was sorely afflicted at this time. On the 2nd of March still
in the year of grace, 1664, Christian Green, aged about thirty-three, and
wife of Robert Green of Brewham, was taken before Robert Hunt, Esq., to be
examined and induced to confess. She did confess, without torture as it
would appear; at all events without more than the ordinary torture of
"pricking" and sleeplessness always applied to witches. She said that
about a year and a half ago, she being in great poverty, was induced by
one Catherine Green (her husband's sister?) to give her body and soul to
the devil on condition that he would give her clothes, victuals, and
money, as she might desire. She was to keep his secrets, and suffer him to
suck her once in the twenty-four hours; to which at last she consented,
the devil giving her fourpence-halfpenny as earnest money wherewith to buy
bread in Brewham. Since this time he came to her ever at five o'clock in
the morning, much in the likeness of a hedgehog bending, and sucked her
left breast: a painful process, though she was generally in a kind of
trance at the time. Christian Green gave no new particulars relative to
the devil and his works. He was always as a man in black clothes; and he
charmed pictures to the undoing of those for whom they were designed; and
when he vanished he left an ill smell behind him; and he spake them very
low when they arrived; and they did three horses to death by saying
simply, "A Murrain on them Horses to death;" and they bewitched unlikely
sinners by mere word or look: all of which processes we have read of
twenty times before. Nor was there much more to be got out of "the
villainous Feats of that rampant hag Margaret Agar," of Brewham, tried
also in 1664, whom poor hysterical Christian Green had delated, for she
did nothing beyond curse her enemies and those who offended her, whereupon
they died "as if stabbed with daggers," or were "consumed and pined away;"
some with one disease, some with another; but all dying without reprieve
because of her curse. She also, in company with many others, was proved to
have met "a little man in black clothes," whom they called "Robin," and to
whom they all made obeisance, the little man putting his hand to his head,
saying, "How do ye?" speaking low, but big. And they made "pictures" of
wax into which the little black man stuck thorns, one in the crown,
another in the breast, and a third in the side, which then Margaret would
fling down saying, "This is Cornish's figure with a murrain to it," and
Elizabeth Cornish would languish and die; or "This is Bess Hill's;" or any
other person's whom it was desired to "forespeak" and destroy; who of
course were forespoken and destroyed from that hour. Margaret Agar was a
"rampant hag" indeed in one sense, being evidently an ill-conditioned old
woman, quick at a curse, and passionately eager to avenge herself, but her
magical arts appear to have been of the lowest possible order, and pale
and lifeless compared with the more highly-coloured doings of others.
Anything, however, was sufficient for the worshipful Master Robert Hunt
and his fellow justices, and curses did as well as the rest; so poor old
Margaret Agar was taken to the tree whereon grew the fatal fruit of death,
to meditate there on Christian charity and the wise compassionateness of
men, before learning by what steps the weary soul passes from earth to
immortality. She was probably no great loss to the community, but her
death placed her among the martyrs to superstition, and left her for ever
as an object of historic pity.


At Bury St. Edmonds, in the county of Suffolk, a remarkable "Tryal of
witches" was held on the tenth day of March, 1664, before Sir Matthew
Hale, Lord Chief Baron of the Court of Exchequer. Rose Cullender and Amy
Duny, both widows and both of Leystoff, were indicted for bewitching
Elizabeth and Ann Durent, Jane Bocking, Susan Chandler, William Durent,
and Elizabeth and Deborah Pacy. William Durent, being an infant, was sworn
by grace of his mother Dorothy, and she deposed that some little time ago,
having occasion to go from home, she desired Amy, who was her neighbour,
to look after her child, but expressly forbade her to suckle it in her
absence. When asked by the court why she gave this caution to an old woman
far past the age of performing such an office, Dorothy answered that Amy
had long had the character of a witch who might suckle the devil himself
or any of his imps; and that moreover old women were apt to give the
breast to a crying child, to please it during its mother's absence; a
habit that made the children ill. But it seems that Amy disobeyed her, for
when she came home the old woman told her that she had given the breast to
her infant, which made Dorothy very cross, and a high quarrel ensued. And
that very night her child was taken with "strange fits of swounding," and
was held in such a terrible manner that she expected to lose it every
moment. Not knowing what to do or where to get it relief, she went to a
certain Doctor Jacob, well known through the country for skill in helping
children that were bewitched, and this Dr. Jacob advised her to hang up
the child's blanket in the chimney corner all the day, and to put the
child into it at night, and not be afraid at anything she might see, but
to throw it at once into the fire. Dorothy did as she was bid, and when
she took the blanket from the chimney-corner, down fell a great toad,
"which ran up and down the hearth, and she having a young youth only with
her in the House, desired him to catch the Toad and throw it into the
Fire; which the youth did accordingly, and held it there with the Tongs;
and as soon as it was in the Fire it made a great and horrible noise, and
after a space there was a flashing in the Fire like Gunpowder, making a
noise like the discharge of a Pistol, and thereupon the Toad was no more
seen nor heard." But Amy Duny sat by her fireside all smirched and
scorched, and in revenge bewitched the little daughter Elizabeth to death,
and further afflicted Dorothy herself with a lameness in both her legs, so
that she was forced to go upon crutches. About which the strangest thing
was, that though she had gone on them for three years now, no sooner was
Amy Duny condemned than she cast them away and went home without them, "to
the great admiration of all persons." This was the first count completed.

The second was made by Samuel Pacy, "a Merchant of Leystoff aforesaid (a
Man who carried himself with so much soberness during the Tryal, from whom
proceeded no words either of Passion or Malice, though his Children were
so greatly Afflicted)," on behalf of his daughters, Elizabeth and
Deborah; the one aged about eleven, the other nine. Elizabeth had fits.
She remained as one wholly senseless or in a deep sleep, the only sign of
life being that, as she lay on cushions in the court, her stomach was
raised to a great height on the drawing of her breath. After she had
remained there for some time she came somewhat to herself, and then "laid
her Head on the Bar of the Court with a Cushion under it, and her hand and
her Apron upon that;" when Amy Duny was brought privately to touch her.
She had no sooner done so than the child, although not seeing her,
suddenly leaped up and caught her by the hand and face, and scratched her
till the blood came: after which she was easier. Samuel deposed that his
younger daughter, Deborah, was suddenly taken with a lameness in her legs,
which continued from the 10th to the 17th of October; when the day, being
fair and sunshiny, she desired to be carried to the east part of the
house, and then set upon a bank which looks towards the sea. While sitting
there, came Amy Duny to buy some herrings; but being denied she went away
grumbling, and on the instant "the Child was taken with the most violent
Fits, feeling most extream Pain in her Stomach, like the pricking of Pins,
and shreeking out in a most dreadful manner, like unto a Whelp, and not
like unto a sensible Creature." The doctor, not understanding this
disorder, and Amy Duny being under ill fame for a witch, Samuel Pacy
caused her to be set in the stocks, as the most powerful remedy he knew of
for his child's disorder. Being in the stocks, a neighbour told her that
she was suspected of being the cause of Mr. Pacy's trouble: whereupon Amy
answered, "Mr. Pacy keeps a great stir about his Child; let him stay until
he has done as much by his Children as I have by mine." And being further
examined what she had done to her children, she answered, "That she had
been fain to open her Child's Mouth with a Tap to give it victuals." When,
therefore, Elizabeth, the elder girl, fell ill within two days after this,
and could by no means be made to open her mouth without a good-sized tap
being put into it, the thing was certain, and might no longer be
gainsayed. And when they both vomited crooked pins, and as many as forty
broad-headed nails, and were deprived of sight and hearing, and cried out
perpetually against Amy Duny and Rose Cullender, and could not be got to
say the names "Jesus," "Lord," or "Christ," but when they came to "Satan"
or "Devil," would clap their fingers on the book (the New Testament),
crying out, "This bites, but makes me speak right well," what sane person
could doubt the truth? Other strange things beside happened to them. They
used to see creatures of the appearance of mice run up and down the house,
and one of them "suddainly snapt one with the Tongs, and threw it into the
Fire, and it screeched out like a Rat." At another time a thing like a bee
flew into Deborah's face, and would have got into her mouth, had she not
gone shrieking into the house; when, with much apparent pain and effort,
she brought up a twopenny nail with a broad head, which she said the bee
had forced into her mouth. Again, another time, Elizabeth cried out that
she saw a mouse under the table, which she caught up in her apron and
flung into the fire. Deponent, her aunt, confessed that she saw nothing in
the child's hand, nevertheless the fire flashed as if gunpowder had been
flung in; also "at another time, the said Child being speechless, but
otherwise of perfect understanding, ran round about the House, holding
her Apron, crying 'Hush, hush,' as if there had been Poultry in the House;
but this Deponent could perceive nothing; but at last she saw the Child
stoop as if she had catch't at something, and put it into her Apron, and
afterwards made as if she had thrown it into the Fire; but this Deponent
could not discover any thing; but the Child afterwards being restored to
her speech, she, this Deponent, demanded of her what she saw at the time
she used such a posture? who answered, That she saw a Duck."

Others deposed to the same kind of things: as Edmund Durent, father to the
girl Ann, whom Rose Cullender had bewitched--also because denied the right
of buying herrings; and Diana Bocking, mother to Jane likewise afflicted
with crooked pins and tenpenny nails; and Mary Chandler, mother of Susan,
who was stricken blind and dumb, and had the plague of pins upon her too,
and who cried out "in a miserable manner, 'Burn her, burn her,'" which
were all the words she could speak, and which meant that poor old Rose was
to be burnt that Susan Chandler might be dispossessed. And there was Dr.
Brown, of Norwich, a person of great knowledge, who gave it as his
deliberate opinion that the girls were bewitched, every one of them, and
that "the Devil in such cases did work upon the Bodies of Men and Women
upon a Natural Foundation, (that is) to stir up and excite such Humours
superabounding in their Bodies to a great Excess, whereby he did in an
Extraordinary Manner Afflict them with such Distempers as their Bodies
were most subject to, as particularly appeared in these Children; for he
considered that these swooning Fits were Natural, and nothing else but
that they call the Mother, but only heightened to a great excess by the
subtilty of the Devil co-operating with the Malice of these which we term
Witches, at whose instance he doth these Villanies." Such an argument as
this was then held quite as pertinent and irresistible as would now be the
evidence of the microscope and the test of chemical experiment. It is
refreshing, in the midst of all this wild nonsense, to find that some
gentlemen--Lord Cornwallis, Sir Edmund Bacon, and Mr. Serjeant Keeling,
who had been directed by the Lord Chief Justice to make an experiment with
these girls--openly protested against the whole thing, affirming it to be
an imposture from first to last; and that when the children covered up
their heads in their aprons, and shrieked and writhed when Rose Cullender
or Amy Duny touched them, they did it in full possession of their senses,
and perfectly understanding what they were about. For when they tried them
with other women whom they made believe were the two, cried out on, and
took care that their eyes were held, so that they should not see, the
children shrieked and howled, and went off into their fits all the same;
which double experiment satisfied the gentlemen of the fraudulent
character of it all. But this little nucleus of rationality was not strong
enough to disperse the thick darkness gathered round the minds of all
present--gathered round the mind of even Sir Thomas Brown and the "good"
Sir Matthew Hale; and when one witness had deposed that his cart had stuck
fast between some posts, and that the haymakers could not unload the hay
until the next morning, because Rose Cullender had threatened him; and
another that his pigs and cattle died in a most extraordinary manner, and
he himself swarmed with vermin which he could not get rid of, because he
also had been threatened by her; and a third that she had lost her geese
because Amy Duny had said she should; and that a chimney had fallen down
because Amy Duny had said it would--when all these things had been sworn
to and proved, then the minds of the judge and jury admitted of no further
doubt. Amy Duny and Rose Cullender were brought in guilty, and hanged at
Cambridge on Monday, March 17, confessing nothing.

"The next morning the children came with their Parents to the Lodgings of
the Lord Chief Justice, and were in as good Health as ever they were in
their lives, being restored within half an hour after the witches were
convicted." A fact then sufficiently conclusive, but which now is the
strongest proof that could be offered of the wicked deception of the whole


In 1665 Elizabeth Brooker, servant to Mrs. Hieron, of Honiton, in
Devonshire, waiting at table one Lord's day, suddenly felt a pricking as
of a pin in her thigh, and, on looking, found indeed a pin there, but
inside her skin, drawing no blood nor breaking the skin, and thrust in so
far that she could scarce feel the head of it with her finger. By Tuesday
it had worked so far inwards that she could no longer feel it at all; and
the day after she went to Mr. Anthony Smith, a surgeon of great repute,
who was obliged to have recourse to incisions and cataplasms, and all the
appliances of the surgery, in order to extract this obstinate and
malevolent pin. For it was a bewitched pin; and either Agnes Richardson,
who had been angry with Elizabeth "about miscarriage in an errand that she
sent her on," or an unknown woman who had lately been near her, was
suspected of the crime of sticking it into her. Mrs. Hieron was a widow,
and kept a draper's shop in Honiton, and Elizabeth Brooker, her servant,
sold small wares in a stall before her mistress's door. On market day,
which was Saturday, came a certain woman and asked Elizabeth for a pin.
She took one from her sleeve readily enough; but the woman was
dissatisfied, and demanded one of a bigger sort hung up in a paper to
sell. The maid said they were not hers to give; they were her mistress's:
if she would ask her mistress for one, and get her leave to have it, she,
Elizabeth, would then give her one willingly. This woman went away in a
great fume, saying "she should hear farther from her, and that she would
wish e'er long she had given the pin as desired." The next day a pin was
thrust into her thigh as she was waiting at table, and no Christian person
could doubt whence it came or why it was sent. Mr. Anthony Smith, the
"Chirurgeon of great Reputation," who could not extract a pin without a
fortnight's illness supervening, wrote a detailed account of the whole
matter; but whether the unknown woman was traced and found, or whether
Agnes Richardson got any mishandling for the suspicion cast on her, or
whether, again, the trick passed off without result, and no one was the
worse because a maid-servant chose to run a pin into her thigh, I can find
no record to inform me. As not much harm was done, perhaps the devil was
let off easy this time, and the hags, his mistresses, suffered to extend
their trade a little longer.


Jane Stretton and her parents lived at Ware in the year 1669, Jane being
then a young maid of about twenty, generally out at service. It chanced
that Thomas, her father, lost a Bible, and must needs go to a cunning man
to ask where it was, and who had it--a thing which, as a good Christian,
he should have been ashamed of: to which the cunning man replied darkly,
"he could tell him if he would." Whereupon Stretton, not in the least
grateful for such a doubtful reply, broke out with, "Then thou must be
either a witch or a devil, seeing thou canst neither read nor write." This
was all that passed, and it seems but scant substance for a deadly
quarrel; but a few days afterwards this cunning man's wife went slily to
Stretton's, and asked daughter Jane for a pot of drink. This was to
establish direct communication. "Innocency dreads no danger: the child
will play with the Bee for his gaudy Coat, and mistrusts not his sting,"
says this flowery tract; but soon after Jane had thus committed herself to
transfers and communication with the witch, the "devil, who is a sly
thief, and though he keeps his servants poor, yet indues them, with a
plentifull stock of malice, revenge, and dissimulation," suffered this bad
woman, or this cunning man, to afflict Jane, but not so grievously as they
were suffered to do hereafter. In about a week's time the cunning man's
wife went and desired a pin of her, which Jane, granting, became suddenly
beset with fits, most terrible to behold. "But her misery ends not here:
the squib is not run out to the end of the rope. When the Devil has an
inch given to him he will take an ell;" so poor Jane was not only troubled
with fits, but must needs have her mouth stopped so that she ate nothing
for weeks and months, and was forced to live like a chameleon, on air.
Besides this, she was made to perpetually vomit flax and hair and
thread-ends and crooked pins; while blue, white, and red flames came in
the intervals out of her mouth, and her body was continually slashed and
cut with a knife, and imps in the shape of frogs, and toads, and mice, and
the like, for ever haunted her; and the wise man's wife was the cause of
all. Then the neighbours took some of the foam which Jane had always
hanging round her mouth, and burnt it for a counter charm, and to hurt the
besetting witch; and chancing to light on the woman, they told her they
would take her to the maid to be scratched. To which she made answer,
"That if they had not come she could not have stayed any longer from her:"
so great was the potency of the burnt foam. For nine months did this girl
befool her world, and then--the cunning man and his wife being probably
put to death--she managed to get well of all her ailments, and to find
meat and milk more sustaining diet than crooked pins, hair, or wool;
though, indeed, the meat and milk had never been wanting in the dark hours
undiscovered, for Jane had taken care to live as usual when the night had
blinded prying eyes, and there was no one to count off the tale of slices
cut and devoured.

Fortunately for the sanity of society, every one did not believe these
monstrous stories. Webster's book, published about this time, was one of
those brave few which openly discredited the truth of the witch stories
afloat in the world, and made as great a sensation, or even greater, than
the grand old work of Reginald Scot. Like him, Webster doubted the truth
of the witch of Endor's enchantments, which the upholders of the faith
rested on as the very keystone of their position. The witch herself he
calls "a cozening quean," "a crafty subtile quean," "an idolatrous,
wicked, and couzening witch:" for they understood the value of forcible
language in those days: Saul is "a drowned puppet"--to Glanvil's intense
wrath at this rude mishandling of a "noble prince;" Samuel but "a
confederate knave," or "but a lying phantasie;" in the conjurations the
witch, "casting herself into a feigned Trance, lay grovelling upon the
Earth with her face downwards, and so changing her voice did mutter, and
murmur, and peep, and chirp, like a bird coming forth of the shell;" with
other knockdown assertions of common sense not afraid, by which the curate
of Kildwick demolished the whole argument of supernaturalism, and left the
poor witch of Endor and Saul himself not an inch of ground to stand on. So
with all the other stories that came into his hands; so with the special
points of faith, peculiar to the creed of witchcraft, such as communion
and covenant with the devil, transportation through the air on sticks,
straws, or bedstaves; transformation into the shapes of cat, dog, wolf,
raven, &c.; intercourse with imps and familiars; witches' sabbaths;
charms; conjurations; weeping the prescribed three tears with the left eye
only, or not weeping at all; swimming on the surface of the water, because
of the Christian character of that element, which refused to admit a
devil-devoted soul within its bosom; apparitions, or spectres of witches
troubling the afflicted--souls quitting their bodies, but taking with them
the spiritual substance even of woven garments; with the whole course of
lies and delusions belonging to the subject, from the devil's baptism to
the imps' bigges. All this seemed but so much delusion to plain John
Webster, with his unidealising common sense and kindly heart; yet a
delusion so fraught with sin and danger as to make it a Christian man's
first duty to combat and destroy it. Wherefore was he most barbarously and
evilly entreated by Glanvil in his "Saducismus Triumphatus"--the answer to
the "Displaying of Supposed Witchcraft"--and a mighty pretty quarrel, full
of the choicest amenities, was the result. But as Glanvil had error and
credulity, and Webster reason and right judgment on his side, it mattered
little who was assumed to have the best of it for the moment. Time and
education gradually settled the question, and buried it for a time out of
sight; yet it has sprung up anew of late, and now needs settling again.


In the July of 1682, Temperance Lloyd, of Bideford, or "Bytheford," was
accused of bewitching Mrs. Grace Thomas. Temperance, being a little crazy,
had cried one day on meeting Mrs. Grace, who had been for long months but
a poor, "dunt," feckless body; and when asked why she wept had made
answer, "For joy to see her who had been so ill, walk abroad again without
disaster." But that very same night Mrs. Grace was taken with fresh pains,
"sticking and pricking Pains, as if Pins and Awls had been thrust into her
Body, from the Crown of her Head to the Soles of her Feet, and she lay as
if she had been upon a rack;" and none but Temperance Lloyd the cause
thereof, despite all her hypocritical tears. And did not Elizabeth
Eastcheap see her knee, which looked as if it had been pricked in nine
places with a thorn? And when Temperance was asked if she had any clay or
wax wherewith to torment Mrs. Grace, did she not confess to a bit of
leather which she had pricked nine times, and which was as full of venom
and sorcery as any wax or clay in the world? Besides, it came out
afterwards, that she had gone to Thomas Eastcheap's shop in the form of a
gray or "braget cat," and thence taken out a "puppit or picture, commonly
called a child's baby," which she stuck full of pins, whereby to prick
Grace to death. When asked in what part of the house the said puppet or
picture was hidden, she refused to tell, saying the devil would tear her
in pieces if she confessed. Anne Wakely, too, the neighbour who went to
nurse poor Grace, had her word to say; for one morning--it was on a bonny
day in June--she saw "something in the shape of a magpye come at the
chamber window;" and when Temperance was questioned as to what she knew of
this fluttering thing, she made answer that it was the Black Man in the
shape of a bird which she had sent to trouble poor rheumatic pain-racked
Grace. For Temperance was not stiff. She was easily brought to confess how
she had given herself over to the service of a black man, who made her do
all manner of hurt to her neighbours--made her pinch Grace Thomas, and
bewitch William Herbert to his death twelve years ago, and destroy Anne
Fellows three years since--for both of which crimes she had been arraigned
and questioned at the time, but had managed to get clear. Now, however,
she confessed that she had been guilty of them. The dread and evil fame
and poverty under which she had lived so long had done their appointed
work on her poor old brain; and she was ready to confess to anything
which it was desired she should allow. Yes, she had bewitched the eyes of
Jane Dalbin, but so secretly that no one had suspected her: and she had
destroyed one woman by kissing her, holding her so tight that she squeezed
her to death--the blood gushing out of her mouth and nose: and she hunted
with the devil, he going before her in the shape of a hound; "doubtless he
hunted for souls," says a very odd tract which gives this additional trait
of diabolical management and the economy of time. Being asked of what
stature was her black man, she said "he was above the Length of her Arm;
and that his Eyes were very big; and that he hopped, or leaped in the way
before her;" but when asked if she had made any contract with him she said
"No; neither had she gone through the keyhole when she went to harm Grace
Thomas, but through the door, the devil leading her, and both invisible;
and that she had been made to pinch and torment Grace; and that the devil
beat her about the head grievously because she would not kill her." She
had never bewitched any ships or boats, nor done a child to death; for the
child who stole her apple died of the small-pox, and she was guiltless of
its decease; nor had she ever ridden over an arm of the sea on a cow--"No,
master, never; it was she," meaning another delated witch, Susanna
Edwards, who did this. The worst thing she had ever done was to Grace
Thomas, and then the devil made her do it, beating her about the head and
back in shape and form, "black like a bullock." Temperance Lloyd was
executed; and died penitent and crazy.

Mary Trembles was another delated witch. She bewitched Agnes Whitefield
with all manner of pains; and Grace Barnes deposed to pricks and pains
like awls and pins thrust into her, which evil Mary Trembles and Susanna
Edwards had done together; for they were comrades and cronies, and would
go hand-in-hand about the world, invisible to all save themselves and
their master the devil. It was Susanna Edwards who had seduced Mary and
got her to accept the service of the devil, who came to her as a lion; at
which she was much frightened, though not hurt; and made her bewitch Grace
Barnes, because said Grace would give her no meat. She was also executed,
very penitent and quite resigned.

Susanna Edwards was active and powerful in forespeaking. She sent pains to
Dorcas Coleman--tormenting pains, and very grievous--so that Dr. George
Bear could do her no good, but openly proclaimed her beyond his power for
that she was bewitched; and she held Anthony Jones pretty hardly, as Joane
his wife deposed. For when Susan was apprehended, Anthony "observing her
to gripe and twinkle her Hands upon her own Body, said to her, 'Thou
Devil, thou art now tormenting some Person or other.'" Upon which the said
Susanna was displeased with him, and said, "Well enough I will fit thee."
And fit him she did, for on his making one of the rabble that dragged her
before the magistrates, Susanna turned round and looked at him, "so that
he cried out, 'I am now bewitched with this Devil, wife,' meaning Susanna
Edwards, and presently leaped and capered like a madman, and fell
a-shaking, quivering, and foaming, and for the space of half an Hour like
a dying or dead Man." Susan knew the devil as a gentleman dressed in black
clothes, and also as a little boy; but could not be induced to confess to
any of the more striking monstrosities beyond what might have well
belonged to an ordinary case of hallucination. She was executed as the
other two; but we are not told if Grace Thomas, or Dorcas Coleman, or
Grace Barnes, or Anthony Jones recovered their health now that the witches
were dead, or if hysteria and rheumatism and neuralgia and scrofula were
found more troublesome enemies to conquer than three crazy old women. It
would be curious as well as interesting to know the condition of the
honestly deceived and actually diseased after the death of the possessing
witch. In those instances where crutches were thrown away, and fits
suddenly brought to a close, the instant the law had laid its gripe on the
neck of the unfortunate accused, we have no choice but to refer the whole
proceedings to imposture quickened by enmity or the desire of notoriety;
but there were cases where a strange and sudden disease did really appear
as bewitchment to the afflicted, and of these one would be glad to know
the after mental condition when the obsessing witch was killed, yet the
obsessing sickness unconquered. Did experience ever open their eyes or
shake their faith? or did they die in their belief that the stake and the
gallows were the finest remedies known for disordered functions or organic
mischief? No one of the time was sufficiently accurate, or sufficiently
unprejudiced, to be able to give us reliable information, and thus we have
lost a most valuable indication of the absolute power exercised by the
mind over the body.


Mr. May Hill, minister of Beckington, in Somersetshire (near Frome), had a
servant, one Mary Hill, whom Satan and the malice of his servants had
grievously bewitched. Mr. Baxter had brought to him a bag of iron, nails,
and brass which the girl had vomited, and he kept some of them to show his
friends. "Nails about three or four inches long, doubled, crooked at the
end, and pieces of old Brass doubled, about an Inch broad and two Inches
long, with crooked edges," all of which Mary had brought up, together with
about two hundred crooked pins. Elizabeth Carrier was first committed on
the charge of having bewitched her; but a fortnight after, Mary, whom this
sacrifice had temporarily appeased, went back to her old ways, and began
to vomit nails and pieces of nails, brass, and handles of spoons, and so
continued to do for six months and more; all the while crying out against
Margery Coombes and Ann More, who, she said, appeared to her and tormented
her. These two poor creatures were immediately apprehended and committed
to the county gaol; but Margery died as soon as she was imprisoned: and
when my Lord Chief Justice Holt came to try old Ann, he said there was not
sufficient evidence against her, so directed the jury to acquit her. But
the maid was worse than ever after this acquittal, and took to vomiting
pieces of glass, and several pieces of bread and butter besmeared with a
poisonous matter, adjudged to be white mercury, and a great board nail,
and, in short, Mr. May Hill and the neighbours did not know what she might
not throw up at last, her mouth was so capacious, and the space against
her gums so flexible. But as it was observed that she never vomited these
things save in the morning, and that in the afternoon she was quiet; and
when, upon inquiry, it was found that she always slept with her mouth wide
open, and slept so soundly, that she could not be awakened by pulling, or
jogging, or calling; then Mr. Hill commanded that some one should sit up
with her, and keep her mouth rigidly and pertinaciously shut. And when
they did this she vomited nothing, for the witches had not been able to
convey their trash into her mouth. This experiment was satisfactorily
tried for thirteen nights; but as soon as she was left to sleep by
herself, and with her mouth open, the wicked witches were sure to come to
her and force all kinds of trash into it. But at last she wearied of her
work; and, Sir John Holt not holding out much inducement to ill-tempered
young women to declare themselves possessed because they had a
disagreeable neighbour or two, she owned herself quite cured, and no more
was heard of her fits or her nails.

Poor old Widow Chambers,[154] of Upaston, in Suffolk, "a diligent,
industrious, poor woman," was accused of witchcraft, upon what grounds
does not appear. "After she had been walk'd betwixt two," and, we may
naturally suppose, pressed and plied with questions, she became confused
and overwrought, and began to confess a great many things of herself. She
said that she had killed both her husband and Lady Blois, though the last
had died a fair and evident death, "without any Hurt from that poor
Woman:" and then some, to make trial of her wits, asked her if she had not
killed such and such persons then living? to which old Widow Chambers
maundered out yes, she had killed them sure enough. She was committed to
Beccles Gaol, even after this; but died before her trial, happily for her.

This was in 1693. The following year was a busy one for the witch-finders,
but fortunate for such of the witches as came before Lord Chief Justice
Holt, a man of clear, well-balanced mind, evidently not given to
superstitious beliefs, or to much veneration for the Black Art. Mother
Munnings, of Hartis, in Suffolk, was one of those brought before him at
Bury St. Edmunds. She came with a bad character enough, accused of
bewitching men to their death, spoiling brewings and churnings, and
hurting cattle and corn--of being, in fact, a terrible pest to the whole
neighbourhood. She killed Thomas Pannel her landlord, who had offended her
by a rather summary method of ejectment, namely, taking her door off the
hinges, since he could not get her out of his house any other way. Mother
Munnings was angry: who would not have been? "Go thy way," she cried to
him passionately; "thy Nose shall lie upward in the Churchyard before
Saturday next." This was enough. Thomas Pannel sickened on Monday and died
on Tuesday, and was buried within the week according to her word. That
this was true was attested by a certain witness, a doctor, who said also
that Mother Munnings "was a dangerous woman: she could touch the Line of
Life." Mother Munnings had an imp, a thing like a polecat; and a man swore
that one night, coming from the alehouse--a rather important
circumstance--he saw her lift out of her basket two imps, a black one and
a white; and it was well known that Sarah Wager was taken both dumb and
lame after a quarrel with her, and was in that condition even at the time
of trial. But in the face of all these tremendous accusations the Lord
Chief Justice Holt directed the jury to bring her in Not Guilty, and poor
old Mother Munnings lived in peace and quietness for about two years
longer, doing no harm to anybody, and when dying declaring her innocence.
Dr. Hutchinson gives a very rational, but somewhat quaint, explanation of
two of the charges against her. On the death of her landlord, he says,
that he, Thomas Pannel, "was a consumptive spent Man, and the Words not
exactly as they swore them, and the whole Thing 17 years before;" and as
to the imps--"the White Imp is believed to have been a Lock of Wool taken
out of her Basket to spin; and its Shadow, it is supposed, was the Black
one." Not an impossibility with an ignorant country clown, reeling home
half drunk from the alehouse, and disposed to make a miracle out of the
plainest matter before him seen through a witch's window.

At the Ipswich assizes of that same year the Lord Chief Justice had to
hold the sword of judgment unsheathed between Margaret Elnore and her
accusers. Margaret belonged to a family of witches, her grandmother and
her aunt having been both hanged for that rational offence; and now, when
Mrs. Rudge had been for three years in a languishing condition--ever since
her husband had refused to take Elnore for his tenant--what so likely as
that she was bewitched, and that the enraged witch and relative of witches
had done it? Besides, women who had quarrelled with Margaret had found
themselves suddenly covered with vermin, not at all due to their own
uncleanly habits, but to the diabolical power of old Elnore, who would
send lice or locusts, disease or death, just as it suited her. For she had
eight or nine imps, and she was plainly branded with the witch marks. Lord
Chief Justice Holt pooh-poohed the imps and the vermin, and directed again
a verdict of Not Guilty. So Margaret Elnore was suffered to live out the
natural term of her life, and Mrs. Rudge recovered her health for a
certain time; but--some years after Margaret was peaceably laid in her
grave--"fell again into the same Kind of Pains (supposed from the Salt
Humour), and died of the same Distemper."

The next year Mary Guy was tried at Launceston for bewitching Philadelphia
Row, who swore to her apparition perpetually troubling her, and who had
the uncomfortable habit of vomiting pins, straws, and feathers. But the
Lord Chief Justice turned a deaf ear to Philadelphia Row also, and Mary
Guy was acquitted. So was Elizabeth Horner, who, in 1696, was brought
before him at Exeter, charged with having bewitched three children
belonging to William Bovet, whereof one was dead: "another had her Legs
twisted, and yet from her Hands and Knees she would spring Five Foot
high." The children brought up crooked pins, and were grievously bitten,
and pinched, and pricked, and bruised--the marks of all this ill usage
appearing plainly on the flesh; and they swore that Bess Horner's head
would go off her shoulders and walk quietly into their stomachs: and the
mother deposed "that one of them walked up a smooth plastered Wall, till
her Feet were nine Foot high, her Head standing off from it." This she did
five or six times, laughing and saying that Bess Horner held her up. Old
Bess had a kind of wart or excrescence on her shoulder, which William
Bovet's children said was her witch-mark, and where her imp--a
toad--sucked; but the Lord Chief Justice shook his head, and Bess Horner
was let to live on in her own way, taking off her head at will, and
sending it into children's bodies, and nourishing a devil in shape of a
toad on her shoulder--the law and judgment not interposing. The Lord Chief
Justice had very many cases of witchcraft brought before him--about eleven
places in all being supposed to be so infected--but he brought in every
one "not guilty."

One of the most celebrated cases tried by him was that of Richard
Hathaway, who came before him at the Guildford Assize of 1701 with a
pitiful tale of possession and bewitchment, all owing to Sarah Morduck, of
Southwark, in which parish he too was living as apprentice to Thomas
Wellyn, blacksmith. Richard had fits and convulsions, in all probability
real enough, for he was sent to the hospital, where he lay for seven weeks
in a pitiable condition, sometimes bent double, and at all times strangely
and fearfully contorted. This began in September, 1690,[155] he said, when
the first appearances of being bewitched manifested themselves. For then
he vomited crooked pins in great numbers, and lumps of tin, and loose
nails, and nut-shells, and stones; and he foamed at the mouth; and bowed
himself into an arch; and lay as if dead; and barked like a dog; and burnt
as if with fire; and in the midst of all signed that Sarah Morduck had
bewitched him, and that he should never be well till he had "scratched"
her. So she was brought to him to be scratched; after which he ate and
drank and had his sight and was perfectly well for six weeks together.
Then he fell ill again, and must needs scratch her for this attack; and
this time with more unction, for Sarah "was assaulted in her own House,
and grievously abused; her Hair and Face torn; she was kicked, thrown to
the Ground, stamped on, and threatened to be put into a Horse Pond, to be
tried by Swimming, and very hardly escaped with her Life." To avoid being
absolutely murdered, she left Southwark and went into London; but still
was not safe, for she was constantly being followed in the streets, and
was often in danger of being pulled to pieces by a mob which credited all
that Richard Hathaway said and did. In 1701 she was taken before one Sir
Thomas Lane, who ordered her to be stript and searched, and let Hathaway
loose again on her to scratch her. After which he was well as before; and
then Sarah Morduck was committed, and prayers were offered up in the
churches for Hathaway, and collections made for him in the congregations,
and six or seven pounds at a time got for him, besides various other sums,
to bear his charges at the Assizes, and indemnify him for the evil the
witch had inflicted. At the Assizes (Guildford, July, 1701) Sarah Morduck
was brought out of prison to be tried for her life by the Lord Chief
Justice: with the usual result in his trials of witches: she was released,
but Hathaway took her place, and was committed to the Marshalsea as a
cheat and impostor, lying, for the first part of the time, well and
hearty, but afterwards falling into his fits again as if bewitched. He was
then experimented with; given another woman to scratch, under the idea
that it was Sarah; whom he scratched quite contentedly, and as well after
he had done so. When he found out his mistake he was blind and dumb again.
But now, it being specially desired to know the truth, when he brought up
his crooked pins, his hands were kept carefully out of his pockets, which
then were searched, and found plentifully supplied; and all the strange
noises which had been heard to issue out of his bed were discovered to
have been made by his own feet scratching the bedposts; and his miraculous
fasting was proved a cheat, for Mrs. Kensy's maid, who had got into his
confidence by a stratagem, brought him meat and drink privately, and Mr.
Kensy and his friends peeping through a private hole saw him eat it quite
composedly. So one by one his pretences were destroyed, and he was openly
convicted of cozening and imposture. The Lord Chief Justice thought this a
more cognizable crime than witchcraft, and condemned Richard Hathaway to
be imprisoned for a year, and to stand in the pillory thrice during the
period. Thus he was made a warning to all hysterical youths and maidens
who took to possession as a good trade, and who liked the prayers of the
faithful, and the money of the credulous, and the luxury of ill-treating
any one specially spited, and the attentions of the gentry, and the pity
of the commonalty, and all manner of petting and cossiting better than
coarse hard fare and the scanty pleasures wrung from horny-handed labour.
This Lord Chief Justice, Sir John Holt, may be taken as one of the
greatest, if of the less noisy and notorious, benefactors of England
known; setting himself so firmly as he did against this cruel and debasing
superstition, and so manfully upholding the claims of humanity and common
sense against all the "possibilities" of idealism, and the wild errings of
credulity. From his time the witch madness sensibly declined, and folks
woke gradually to the possession of their ordinary faculties.


"What, Satan! is this the Dancing that Richard gave himself to thee for?
Can'st thou Dance no better? Ransack the old Records of all past Times and
Places in thy Memory: Can'st thou not there find out some better way of
Trampling? Pump thine Invention dry: Cannot that universal Seed-plot of
subtile Wiles and Stratagems spring up one new Method of Cutting Capers?
Is this the top of Skill and Pride, to shuffle Feet, and brandish Knees
thus, and to trip like a Doe, and skip like a Squirrel? And wherein
differs thy Leapings from the Hoppings of a Frog, or Bouncings of a Goat,
or Friskings of a Dog, or Gesticulations of a Monkey? And cannot a Palsy
shake such a loose Leg as that? Dost thou not twirl like a Calf that hath
the Turn, and twitch up thy Houghs just like a Spring-hault Tit?" This was
one of the conversations, or rather exhortations, which the dissenting
ministers had with the devil inhabiting Richard Dugdale--he who was called
by some the Surrey demoniac,[157] by others the impostor, as faith or
reason was the stronger. Richard drew largely upon the faith of his
generation, largely even for the credulous generation flourishing in the
year of our Lord 1695: for Richard the "possessed" vomited gold, silver,
and brass rings, hair buttons, blue stones like flints, and once a big
stone bloody at the edges; and he was transformed sometimes to the manner
of a horse, when he would gallop round the barn on all fours, quite as
quickly as any cob ever foaled, and whinny like a cob, and eat provender
like a cob; and sometimes he was like a dog, "harring" and snarling and
growling and barking so like a mastiff, that once a dog, a real mastiff
and no counterfeit, set upon him, and would have given him rather an
undesirable taste of canine fraternity had he not been prevented. Then he
would be heavy or light in the same fit--now so heavy that six men could
not lift him, now so light that he did not weigh six pounds: "sometimes
light as a Feather-Boulster, but before he came out heavier than a Load of
Corn," says a husbandman; "as light as a Chip, and as heavy as a horse,"
says a carpenter: and he had fits of leaping, as fast as a man could
count; and he would dance on his toes and his knees, with marvellous
agility--dance more quickly than ordinary men, not possessed, could do on
their honest feet; then he would lie as if dead; or he would gape and
snatch with his mouth, catching at flies; and he had noises in his mouth
and breast, as if a family of young whelps were lapping, snarling, or
sucking in his inside; and he rolled up his tongue into a lump and turned
his eyes inward; and talked gibberish, which some one said was Latin; and
played with rushes as if they had been dice and bowls. "And when he had
thrown the 'Jack,' he said, 'I must now throw my Gill;' then running a
good way, as if he had been running after a bowl, swearing, 'Run, Run,
Flee, Flee, Hold a Biass;' and sometimes he catched up rushes, as if they
had been bowls, swearing, 'Sirrah, stand out of the Way, or I'll knock out
your Brains,' adding, 'I never was a Bowler, But don't Gentlemen do
thus?'" which is scarcely evidence to us that he was possessed, or in any
abnormal condition whatsoever. Neither was his habit of swearing and
cursing, "so that he would have affrighted ordinary men," any very
distinct sign of supernaturalism; nor yet his insolence in saying to Mr.
Carrington, who had adjured the devil in him mightily, "Thou shalt be
Porter of Hell-Gates, Thou'st have Brewis and Toad Broath." Any bold-faced
lad of eighteen might have said the same under cover of what he chose to
call a fit. And as for the strange swelling, as big as a turkey's egg,
which ran like a mouse about his body, whatever in that account was
naturally impossible was either trick on his part, or self-deception on
the part of those who gave their testimony. Besides, they were all
inclined to believe. Why, John Fletcher, who slept one night with
Richard, and felt something come up towards his knees, creeping higher and
higher till it got to his heart--something about the bigness of a little
cat or dog, which when he thought to catch "slipped through his hands like
a Snig"--even that most unterrifying occurrence was transformed into a
demoniacal visitant, and the thing that slipped through John Fletcher's
hands like a snig was no other than Richard Dugdale's devil come to pay
him a midnight visit. Then Richard laid stones like hens' eggs, and in the
manner of hens; and he flung them to incredible distances when newly laid,
and they felt warm as milk; and he showed a slight amount of power in the
matter of clairvoyance; but, oh faithless, feeble devil! when Drs. Chew
and Crabtree got hold of him, and bled him well, and gave him physic, the
devil, who hates blue pill and black draught worse than holy water, flew
away, and what all the prayers and fastings and exhortations of the
ministry could not do, the lancet and a good dose of calomel and aloes
effected without trouble. And then Richard Dugdale confessed that he had
never been possessed, but only ill, in consequence of a fight he had had
with a man at a rush-bearing at Whalley, while he, Master Richard, was in
drink. The next day he was heavy and troubled in his mind, and drank a
quantity of cold water while in the hay field making hay; but being
advised to go up to the hall and get a drink of something more nourishing,
he took the advice, and went into the house, where the cook maid gave him
some drink; and then he went into his own room and lay down. While thus on
the bed the chamber door seemed to him to open of itself, and there came a
thick smoke or mist, which on vanishing left him in extreme fear and
horror; then appeared one Hindle, a fellow servant, with his hair cropped
close to his ears, and he lay very heavy on his breast, but soon turned
himself into the likeness of a naked child, which he caught by the knee;
but the child became a "filmet" (foumart, pole-cat?), and went away with a
shrill shriek. After this he raved, and was delirious; but when Dr. Chew
physicked him, and Dr. Crabtree bled him, and Dr. Chew physicked him
again, he had no more "fits," no more "obsessions" or "possessions," was
no longer the demoniac of Surrey, half maniac, half impostor, but went
quietly back to ordinary life, and the whole tribe of exorcising ministers
were for once discomfited. It was a singular mercy to his friends and
acquaintances that Master Richard did not take it into his head to delate
any of them as witches, for assuredly he might have hanged half Lancashire
on the strength of the whelps inside his body, and his galloping on all
fours like a horse. He would not have been the first to shed innocent
blood for the sake of keeping up a notoriety which, originally begun in
very ordinary and natural disease, was afterwards continued in deception,
fraud, and lies.


A few years after (1704) Sarah Griffiths lay suspected for a witch, and a
bad one, for all the children in her neighbourhood were afflicted with
strange distempers, and had visions of cats and the like, so that no one
coveted poor Sarah's company, and many removed because of her. Her guilt
was discovered at last by a jolly young grocer's lad, who was one day
weighing her out some soap, but the scales would not hang right, whereat
he laughed and cried out they were bewitched. Sarah Griffiths did not
understand joking. She got very angry, and ran out of the shop threatening
revenge; and the next night all the goods in the shop were turned
topsy-turvy, and the day after the jolly young fellow was troubled with a
strange disease--but by prayer released. Meeting her by chance some time
after, as he and some friends were walking up to New River Head, they
resolved to swim her. They tossed her in, and she swam like a cork. They
kept her there for some time, but at last she got out, and struck the
young man on the arm, telling him he should pay dearly for what he had
done. He looked at his arm and found it black as a coal, with the exact
mark of her hand and fingers on it. He went home much tormented, vomiting
old nails, pins, and the like, afflicted with fits and strange
contortions, and for ever calling out against Mother Griffiths as he lay
sickening and disabled. And then his arm gangrened and rotted off: whereby
he died. Mother Griffith was taken by the constable, who, on her
attempting to escape, knocked her down. She was secured more firmly, taken
before the judge, and committed to Bridewell, whence--though I find no
sequel to this strange little page--there is very little doubt that she
was haled forth at the assizes only to be convicted and hanged.

We are coming now (1712) to the last authentic trial for witchcraft where
the accused was condemned to death for an impossible crime by a jury of
sane, decent, respectable Englishmen. Jane Wenham was this latest offshoot
of the old tree of judicial bigotry; not the latest fruit, but the last
instance of the law and judgment. There is a report current in most witch
books of a case at a later period--but I can find no _authentic_ account
of it--that, in 1716, of a Mrs. Hicks and her little daughter of nine,
hanged at Huntingdon for selling their souls to the devil, bewitching
their neighbours to death and their crops to ruin, and, as a climax to
all, taking off their stockings to raise a storm. It may well be so, but I
have not met with it in any reliable shape, so meanwhile we must accept
Jane Wenham as the last officially condemned.


Jane Wenham was the witch of Walkerne, a little village in the north of
Hertford. She had long lived under ill fame, and her neighbours were
resolved to get rid of her at the earliest opportunity. That opportunity
presented itself in the person of John Chapman's man, one Matthew Gilson,
whom Jane sent into a daft state by asking him for a pennyworth of straw,
which he refused to give her. The old woman went away, muttering and
complaining, whereupon Matthew, impelled by he knew not what impulse, ran
out of the barn for a distance of three miles, asking as he went for
pennyworths of straw. Not getting any, he went on to some dirt heaps, and
gathered up straw from them, which he put in his shirt and brought home. A
witness testified that he had seen Gilson come back with his shirt stuffed
full of straw, that he moved along quickly, and walked straight through
the water, instead of passing over the bridge like any other decent man.
For this odd behaviour of his servant, John Chapman, who had all along
suspected Jane of more cunning than was good for him or her--called her a
witch the next time he saw her; and Jane took him before the magistrate,
Sir Herbert Chauncey, to answer to the charge of defamation. But the
magistrate recommended them to go to Mr. Gardiner the minister, and a
great believer in witchcraft, and get their matter settled without more
trouble or vexation. Mr. Gardiner was too zealous to be just. He scolded
poor old Jane roundly, and advised her to live more peaceably with her
neighbours--which was just what she wanted to do--and gave as his award
that Chapman do pay the fine of one shilling. While this bit of one-sided
justice was going on, Anne Thorne, Mr. Gardiner's servant, was sitting by
the fire with a dislocated knee. Jane, not able to compass her wicked will
on Chapman, and angry that Mr. Gardiner had spoken so harshly to her,
turned her malice on the girl, and bewitched her, so that as soon as they
all left the kitchen Anne felt a strange "Roaming in her Head, and she
thought she must of Necessity run somewhere." In spite then of her
dislocated knee, she started off and ran up the close, and away over a
five-barred gate "as nimbly as a greyhound," along the highway and up a
hill. And there she met two of John Chapman's men, who wanted her to go
home with them; and one took her hand; but she was forced away from them,
speechless, and not of her own volition, and so was driven on, on, towards
Cromer, where the great sea would have either stopped or received her. But
when she came to Hockney Lane, she met there a "little Old Woman muffled
up in a Riding-Hood," who asked her whither she was going. "To Cromer,"
says Anne, "for sticks to make me a fire." "There be no sticks at Cromer,"
says the little old woman in the riding hood: "here be sticks enow; go to
that oak tree and pluck them there." Which Anne did, laying them on the
ground as they were gathered. Then the old woman bade her pull off her
gown and apron, and wrap the sticks in them; asking her if she had ne'er a
pin about her; but finding that she had not, she gave her a large crooked
pin, with which she bade her pin her bundle, then vanished away. So Anne
Thorne ran home half naked, with her bundle of leaves and sticks in her
hand, and sat down in the kitchen, crying out "I am ruined and undone!"

When Mrs. Gardiner had opened the bundle, and seen all the twigs and
leaves, she said they would burn the witch, and not wait long about it; so
they flung the twigs and leaves into the fire; and while they were burning
in came Jane Wenham, asking for Anne's mother, for she had, she said, a
message to her, how that she was to go and wash next day at Ardley Bury,
Sir Herbert Chauncey's place: which on inquiry turned out to be a
falsehood: consequently Jane Wenham was set down doubly as a witch, the
charm of burning her in the sticks having proved so effectual. John
Chapman and his men then told their tale. Mr. Gardiner was not slow in
fanning the flame into a fire, and poor old Jane was examined, searched
for marks but none found, and committed to gaol, there to wait her trial
at the next assizes. She earnestly entreated not to go to prison;
protested her innocence, and appealed to Mrs. Gardiner to help her,
woman-like, and not to swear against her; offering to submit to be
swum--anything they would--so that she might be kept free of jail. But Sir
Herbert Chauncey was just manly and rational enough not to allow of this
test, though the Vicar of Ardeley tried her with the Lord's Prayer, which
she could not repeat: and terrified and tortured her into a kind of
confession, wherein she implicated three other women, who were
immediately put under arrest, though they came to no harm in the end. When
she was brought to trial, sixteen witnesses, including three clergymen,
were standing there ready to testify against her, how that she had
bewitched this one's cattle, and that one's sheep; and taken all the power
from this one's body, and all the good from that one's gear; and
slaughtered this child, and that man, by her evil eye and her curses; and
in fact how that she had done all the mischief that had happened in the
neighbourhood for years past. And there was Matthew Gilson, who had been
sent mad, and forced to wander about the country with his shirt stuffed
full of straw like a scarecrow; and Anne Thorne, who had had fits ever
since her marvellous journey with the dislocated knee; and another Anne,
very nearly as hardly holden as the first; and others beside, whom her
malice had rendered sick and lame, and unfit for decent life: moreover,
two veracious witnesses deposed positively to her taking the form of a cat
when she would, and to hearing her converse with the devil when under the
form of a cat, he also as a cat; together with Anne Thorne's distinct
accusation that she was beset with cats--tormented exceedingly--and that
all the cats had the face and the voice of Jane Wenham.

The lawyers, who believed little in the devil and less in witchcraft,
refused to draw up the indictment on any other charge save that of
"conversing familiarly with the devil in the form of a cat." But in spite
of Mr. Bragge's earnest appeals against such profanation, and the ridicule
which it threw over the whole matter, the jury found the poor old creature
guilty, and the judge passed sentence of death against her. The evidence
was too strong. Even one of the Mr. Chaunceys deposed that a cat came
knocking at his door, and that he killed it--when it vanished away, for it
was no other than one of Jane Wenham's imps; and all Mr. Gardiner's house
went mad, some in one way and some in another: and credible witnesses
deposed that they had seen pins come jumping through the air into Anne
Thorne's mouth, and when George Chapman clapped his hand before her mouth
to prevent them skipping in, he felt one stick against his hand, as sharp
as might be; and every night Anne's pincushion was left full, and every
morning found empty, and who but Jane could have conveyed them all from
the pincushion into her mouth, where they were to be found all crooked and
bent? But though the jury could not resist the tremendous weight of all
this evidence, and the judge could not resist the jury, he managed to get
a reprieve which left the people time to cool and reflect, and then he got
a pardon for her--quietly and kindly done. And Colonel Plummer, of
Gilston, took her under his protection, and gave her a small cottage near
his house, where she lived, poor soul, in peace and safety for the end of
her days, doing harm to no one and feared by none. As for Anne Thorne, the
doctor, who had ordered her, as part of his remedy, to wash her hands and
face twice a day in fair water, and who, as another part, had her watched
and sat with by a "lusty young fellow" who asked nothing better, managed
matters so well, that in a short time Anne and her brisk bachelor were
married; and from that time we hear no more of her vomiting crooked pins,
or being tormented with visions of cats wearing Jane Wenham's face, and
speaking with Jane Wenham's voice. But though all the rest got well off
with their frights and follies, no public compensation was given to poor
old Jane for the brutal attacks of the mob upon her, for the hauling and
maiming and scratching and tearing, by which they proved to their own
satisfaction that she was a witch, and deserved only the treatment
accorded to witches.


But if the last officially condemned, Jane was not the last actually
destroyed, for a curious MS. letter to be found in the British Museum
"From Mr. Manning, Dissenting Teacher, at Halstead, in Essex, to John
Morley, Esq., Halstead," gives us a strange garbled account of a reputed
sacrifice; and the sadder and more brutal story of Ruth Osborne follows a
few years after.

"Halstead, August 2, 1732.

"SIR--The narrative which I gave you in relation to witchcraft, and which
you are pleased to lay your commands upon me to repeat, is as
follows:--There was one Master Collett, a smith by trade, of Haveningham,
in the county of Suffolk, who, as 'twas customary with him, assisting the
maide to churne, and not being able (as the phrase is) to make the butter
come, threw a hot iron into the churn, under the notion of witchcraft in
the case, upon which a poore labourer, then employed in carrying of dung
in the yard, cried out in a terrible manner, 'They have killed me, they
have killed me;' still keeping his hand upon his back, intimating where
the pain was, and died upon the spot.

"Mr. Collett, with the rest of the servants then present, took off the
poor man's clothes, and found to their great surprise, the mark of the
iron that was heated and thrown into the churn, deeply impressed upon his
back. This account I had from Mr. Collett's own mouth, who being a man of
unblemished character, I verily believe to be matter of fact.

"I am, Sir, your obliged humble Servant,


The only falsehood, probably, in the history is the manner of the poor
fellow's death, for either he was foully murdered on a wild suspicion of
being concerned in the witching of a dirty milk vessel, or he died
suddenly of some ordinary organic complaint, and the circumstances of the
horse-shoe and the scarred back were purely imaginary. But again in 1751
was witch blood actually poured out on English soil, and the cry of the
innocent murdered sent up to heaven in vain for mercy. At Tring, in
Hertfordshire, lived an old man, one Osborne, and his wife; poor as
witches always were; old--past seventy both of them--and obliged to beg
from door to door for what, if the popular superstition was true, the
devil had given them power to possess at any moment for themselves. But
this was a point of view no one ever took. In the rebellion of '45, just
six years ago, old Mother Osborne had gone to one Butterfield, a dairyman
living at Gubblecot, to beg for buttermilk. Butterfield was a churlish
fellow, and told her roughly that he had not enough for his hogs, still
less for her. Says old Mother Osborne, grumbling, "The Pretender will soon
have thee and thy hogs too." Now the Pretender and the devil were in
league together, according to the belief of many, and old Mother Osborne
might just as well have told the dairyman at once that he was going to the
devil, or that she would send her imps to bewitch him; for soon
Butterfield's calves became distempered, and soon his cows died, and his
affairs went so far to the bad that he left his dairy and took a public
house, in hopes that the imps which could bewitch the one might be
powerless against the other. But he reckoned without his host, for in 1751
he himself was bewitched; he had fits--bad fits--and sent for a white
witch all the way from Northamptonshire to tell him what ailed him. The
white witch told him he was bewitched, and bade six men, with staves and
pitchforks hanging round their necks as counter charms for their own
safety, watch his house night and day. Doubtless they discovered all they
were set there to seek.

Suddenly there appeared a notice that certain and various witches were to
be ducked at Longmarston the 22nd day of April. A crowd assembled at Tring
to watch the sport; and but one thought went through that crowd--the
Osbornes were to be the ducked witches, and the sport they would have
would be rare. The parish officers had taken the old couple into the
workhouse for safety, but the mob broke through the gates, and crushed
down the doors, and searched the whole place through, from end to end,
even to the salt box, "lest the witch should have made herself little,"
and have hidden in the corners. But they could not find her, not even
there; so, in a rage, they broke the windows, smashed the furniture, and
then heaped up straw high against the house, threatening to burn it down,
and every living soul within it, if the Osbornes were not given up them.
The master was frightened; he had never faced such a scene before, and his
nerve forsook him--not unreasonably. He brought the old people from their
hiding place, and gave them up to that wild, tossing, furious mob. In a
moment they were stripped stark naked, then cross-bound in the prescribed
manner, wrapped loosely in a sheet, and dragged two miles along the road
to a small pond or river, where with many a curse and many a kick they
were thrown in, to prove whether they were witches or not. A chimney
sweeper, called Colley, was the most active of the crew. Seeing that
Mother Osborne did not sink, he waded into the water and turned her over
with his stick. She slipped out of the sheet, and thus lay exposed, naked,
and half choked with mud, before the brutal crowd, who saw nothing
pitiful, and nothing shameful, in her state. After a time they dragged her
out, flung her on the bank, and kicked and beat her till she died. Her
husband died also, but not on the spot. The man who had arranged this rare
diversion then went round among the crowd collecting money in return for
his amusement. But government took the matter up. A coroner's inquest was
held, and a verdict of wilful murder returned against Colley, the chimney
sweep, who, much to his own surprise and the indignation of the
people--many ranking him as a martyr--was hanged by the neck till he was
dead, for the murder of the witch of Tring, poor old Ruth Osborne. The act
against witchcraft, under colour and favour of which all the judicial
murders had been done, had been repealed a few years before, namely, in
1736, and Colley's comrades bewailed piteously the degenerate times that
were at hand, when a witch was no longer held fit sport for the public,
but was protected and defended like ordinary folk, and let to live on to
work her wicked will unchecked.

But the snake is scotched, not killed. So far are we in advance of the men
of the ruder past, inasmuch as our superstitions, though quite as silly,
are less cruel than theirs, and hurt no one but ourselves. Yet still we
have our wizards and witches lurking round area gates and prowling through
the lanes and yards of the remoter country districts; still we have our
necromancers, who call up the dead from their graves to talk to us more
trivial nonsense than ever they talked while living, and who reconcile us
with earth and humanity by showing us how infinitely inferior are heaven
and spirituality; still we have the unknown mapped out in clear lines
sharp and firm; and still the impossible is asserted as existing, and men
are ready to give their lives in attestation of what contravenes every law
of reason and of nature; still we are not content to watch and wait and
collect and fathom before deciding, but for every new group of facts or
appearances must at once draw up a code of laws and reasons, and prove, to
a mathematical certainty, the properties of a chimera, and the divine life
and beauty--of a lie. Even the mere vulgar belief in witchcraft remains
among the lower classes; as witness the old gentleman who died at Polstead
not so long ago, and who, when a boy, had seen a witch swum in Polstead
Ponds, "and she went over the water like a cork;" who had also watched
another witch feeding her three imps like blackbirds; and who only wanted
five pounds to have seen all the witches in the parish dance on a knoll
together: as witness also the strange letter of the magistrate, in the
'Times' of April 7, 1857; and the stranger trial at Stafford, concerning
the bewitched condition of the Charlesworths, small farmers living at
Rugely, which trial is to be found in the 'Times' of March 28, 1857; the
case reported by the clergyman of East Thorpe, Essex, who had actually to
mount guard against the door of an old Trot accused of witchcraft; while
the instances of silly servant maids, and fortune tellers whose hands are
to be crossed with silver, and the stars propitiated with cast off dresses
and broken meat, are as numerous as ever. And, indeed, so long as
conviction without examination, and belief without proof, pass as the
righteous operations of faith, so long will superstition and credulity
reign supreme over the mind, and the functions of critical reason be
abandoned and foresworn. And as it seems to me that credulity is even a
less desirable frame of mind than scepticism, I have set forth this
collection of witch stories as landmarks of the excesses to which a blind
belief may hurry and impel humanity, and perhaps as some slight aids to
that much misused common sense which the holders of impossible theories
generally consider "enthusiastic," and of "a nobler life" to tread under
foot, and loftily ignore.




[1] Pitcairn's 'Scottish Criminal Trials.'

[2] Pitcairn's 'Scottish Criminal Trials.'

[3] Pitcairn.

[4] Pitcairn.

[5] Pitcairn.

[6] Pitcairn.

[7] An iron instrument so constructed, that by means of a hoop which
passed over the head, a piece of iron having four prongs or points, was
forcibly thrust into the mouth, two of these being directed to the tongue
and palate, the others pointing outwards to each cheek. This infernal
machine was secured by a padlock. At the back of the collar was fixed a
ring, by which to attach to a staple in the wall of her cell.--_Pitcairn's
'Scottish Criminal Trials.'_

[8] Fountainhall says that she was convict and burnt; but is this not a
mistake? Pitcairn gives the actual trial, and King James's angry letter
against the contumacious assisa.

[9] Pitcairn.

[10] Dr. Jamieson conjectures the word to signify "warm hose." After
encircling the leg with an iron framework, it was put into a moveable
furnace or chauffer, and during the progress of heating the iron, the
intended questions were successively put.--_Note in Pitcairn's 'Scottish
Criminal Trials.'_

[11] Pitcairn's 'Scottish Criminal Trials.'

[12] Chambers' 'Domestic Annals of Scotland.'

[13] 'Antiquarian Researches of Aberdeen, by Gavin Turriff: Spalding Club
Miscellany. Chambers' 'Domestic Annals,' to the end of the Aberdeen

[14] Apparently untranslateable.

[15] Patrick Anderson's MS. history of Scotland, quoted by Robert
Chambers, in his 'Domestic Annals of Scotland.'

[16] Pitcairn.

[17] Pitcairn and Chambers.

[18] Pitcairn.

[19] Pitcairn.

[20] Dalyell's 'Darker Superstitions of Scotland.'

[21] Scott's 'Demonology and Witchcraft.'

[22] Pitcairn.

[23] Pitcairn and Chambers.

[24] Star-grass, queries Pitcairn; but is it not rather

[25] Chambers, Dalyell, Pitcairn.

[26] Dalyell, quoting the judiciary records of Orkney.

[27] Hibbert, quoting the Orkney Records.

[28] Pitcairn. Sharpe's Introduction to Law's 'Memorials.'

[29] Dalyell.

[30] Law's 'Memorials,' (Sharpe's Introduction,) and Dalyell.

[31] Chambers, Sinclair, Dalyell.

[32] Dalyell's 'Darker Superstitions.'

[33] Pitcairn. Law's 'Memorials.' Chambers.

[34] Dalyell.

[35] Chambers.

[36] Chambers.

[37] Dalyell.

[38] Chambers and Law; Sharpe's Introduction.

[39] Hibbert's 'Description of the Shetland Islands.'

[40] Dalyell. Evidently the same thing with a different reading:--_red_,
rode; _sool-soot_, stirrup; _sled_, slipped; _shinew_, sinew.

[41] Hibbert, &c.

[42] Sinclair's 'Invisible World Discovered.'

[43] Pitcairn.

[44] Sinclair.

[45] To the outer room.

[46] To the inner room.

[47] Chambers.

[48] Chambers.

[49] Pitcairn and Sinclair.

[50] Chambers' 'Domestic Annals.'

[51] Law--Sharp's Introduction.

[52] Dalyell.

[53] Chambers.

[54] Law's 'Memorials'--Sharp's Introductory Notice.

[55] Pitcairn.

[56] On life: alive.

[57] Chambers. Sinclair. Various tracts.

[58] Chambers. Dickie. Tracts.

[59] Law's 'Memorials.'

[60] Chambers.

[61] Law's 'Memorials.'

[62] Scots' Magazine.

[63] Sinclair's 'Invisible World.'

[64] Sinclair.

[65] Hibbert's 'Shetland Islands.'

[66] Hibbert and Sinclair.

[67] Fountainhall.

[68] Hibbert.

[69] Chambers.

[70] Watson's Tract, printed 1698. Chambers, Dickie, and various other

[71] Chambers.

[72] Chambers.

[73] Chambers; Sinclair; and an anonymous tract.

[74] Chambers.

[75] Hibbert.

[76] Law's 'Memorials;' and Chambers.

[77] A crazy old Illuminatus, who had a "call," and wrote the Tinkler's

[78] Scott. Dickie. Chambers, &c.

[79] Dickie's 'Philosophy of Magic.'

[80] 'Select Cases of Conscience.'

[81] 'Discoverie of Witchcraft.'

[82] 'Discoverie of Witchcraft,' 1584.

[83] 'Dialogue concerning Witches,' 1603.

[84] 'Select Cases of Conscience touching Witches and Witchcraft,' 1646.

[85] 'Advertisement to the Jurymen of England,' 1653.

[86] 'A Candle in the Dark,' 1656.

[87] 'Question of Witchcraft debated,' 1669. "Wagstaffe was a little
crooked man, of a despicable presence. He was laughed at by the boys of
Oxford because they said he himself looked like a wizard."

[88] 'Displaying of Witchcraft,' 1677.

[89] 'Historical Essay concerning Witchcraft,' 1720.

[90] Introduction to Potts's 'Discovery of Witches,' edited by James
Crossley, Esq. Chetham Society. 1845.

[91] Conjuration or invocation of any evil spirit was felony without
benefit of clergy; so also to consult, covenant with, entertain, feed, or
reward any evil spirit, or to take up any dead body for charms or spells;
to use or practise witchcrafts, enchantment, charm, or sorcery, so that
any one was lamed, killed, or pined, was felony without benefit of clergy,
to be followed up by burning. Then 'The Country Justice' goes on to give
the legal signs of a witch, and those on which a magistrate might safely
act, as legal "discoveries." She was to be found and proved by insensible
marks; by teats; by imps in various shapes, such as toads, mice, flies,
spiders, cats, dogs, &c.; by pictures of wax or clay; by the accusations
of the afflicted; by her apparition seen by the afflicted as coming to
torment them; by her own sudden or frequent inquiries at the house of the
sick; by common report; by the accusations of the dying; and the bleeding
of the corpse at her touch; by the testimony of children; by the afflicted
vomiting pins, needles, straw, &c.; in short, by all the foolery, gravely
formularized, to be found in the lies and deceptions hereafter related.

[92] Thomas Wright's 'Narrative of Sorcery and Magic.' Southey's Ballad.

[93] Thomas Wright's 'Narrative of Sorcery and Magic,' and 'Trial of Dame
Alice Kyteler.'

[94] Idem.

[95] 'Introduction to the Narrative of the Proceedings against Dame Alice
Kyteler.' By Thomas Wright. 1843.

[96] Wright's 'Narrative of Sorcery and Magic.' 1851.

[97] Reginald Scot.

[98] Reginald Scot. Dr. Hutchinson.

[99] Stow.

[100] Scot, quoting a little pamphlet, without a title, which I cannot

[101] From an extremely rare black-letter book, entitled 'A Detection of
damnable driftes, practized by three Witches arraigned at Chelmsforde, in
Essex, at the laste Assizes there holden, whiche were executed in Aprill
1579. Set forthe to discouer the Ambushementes of Sathan, whereby he would
surprise us lulled in securitie, and hardened with contempte of God's
vengeance threatened for our offences. Imprinted at London, for Edward
White, at the little North-dore of Paules.'

[102] Scot.

[103] 'A true and just Recorde of the Information, Examination, and
Confession of all the Witches, taken at S. Osees in the countie of Essex;
whereof some were executed, and other some entreated according to the
determination of lawe. Wherein all men may see what a pestilent people
Witches are, and how vnworthy to lyve in a Christian Commonwealth. Written
orderly, as the cases were tryed by euidence by W. W. Imprinted in London
at the three Cranes, in the Vinetree, by Thomas Dawson. 1582.'

[104] This was his manner of dealing with the accused, and its falsehood,
iniquity, and injustice need no comment.

[105] The names of the imps which haunted various persons was curious. A
Dutch boy had Pretty Betty, Cuckow, Longtail; and Bernard gives us his
list:--"Mephistophiles, Lucifer, Little Lord, Fimodes, David, Jude, Little
Robin, Smack, Litefoote, Nonesuch, Lunch, Makeshift, Swash, Pluck, Blue,
Catch, White, Collins, Hardname, Tibb, Hiff, Ball, Puss, Rutterkin,
Dickie, Prettie, Grissel, and Jacke;" together with "Pippin, Philpot,
Modu, Soforce, Hilco, Smolkin, Hillio, Hiaclito, Lustie, Huffe, Cap,
Killico, Hob, Fratello, Fliberdigibbet, Hoberdidance, Tocobatto, and
Lustie Jollie Jenkin." We have seen some of these already, and those who
read farther will find a few more, and some quite as quaint and odd not
set down in this list.

[106] 'A true and most dreadfull discourse of a Woman possessed with the
Deuill; who, in the likenesse of a headlesse Beare, fetched her oute of
her Bedde, in the presence of seven persons, most straungely roulled her
thorow three Chambers, and downe a high paire of stairres on the fower and
twentie of May last, 1584. At Ditchet, in Somersetshire. A matter as
miraculous as ever was seen in our time. Imprinted at London for Thomas

[107] 'A compleat History of Magick, Sorcery, and Witchcraft.' By Richard
Boulton. 1715.

[108] Hutchinson's 'Historical Essay concerning Witchcraft.' Boulton's
'History of Magic.' Harsent's 'Discovery of the Fravdvlent Practises of J.
Darrel.' 'A True Relation of the Strange and Grevovs Vexation by the Devil
of 7 Persons in Lancashire, and William Somers of Nottingham.' By John
Darrel. 1600.

[109] 'A Dialogue concerning Witches and Witchcrafts.' 1603.

[110] This is an old story, found in all books on witchcraft.

[111] George Sinclair's 'Satan's Invisible World Displayed.'

[112] Hutchinson's 'Essay on Witchcraft.'

[113] 'The Witches of Northamptonshire.'

      Agnes Browne, } Arthur Bill,     }
                    }                  } Witches.
      Ioane Vaughan,} Hellen Ienkinson,}

                Mary Barber.

Who were all executed at Northampton the 22 of Iuly last, 1612.

'London. Printed by Tho. Purfoot for Arthur Iohnson. 1612.' A rare and
valuable little black-letter tract.

[114] 'The Wonderful Discoverie of Witches in the County of Lancaster.' By
Thomas Potts. 1613. Thomas Wright's 'Narrative of Sorcery and Magic.'

[115] "Ligh in," perhaps lykinge, lusty, or craske.

[116] "Leath," flexible.

[117] The chrism was the white cloth placed over the brow of a
newly-baptized child in the Roman Catholic service. When children died
within the month they were called chrisoms.

[118] "Farrandly," fair, handsome.

[119] "Harne panne," brain case, cranium.

[120] Gethsemane.

[121] "Deere," hurt.

[122] Potts's 'Discovery.' Webster's 'Displaying.'

[123] A 'Treatise of Witchcraft.' By Alexander Roberts, B.D., and Preacher
of God's word at King's Linne in Norfolk. 1616.

[124] Tract. Printed at London by G. Eld for I. Barnes, dwelling in the
long Walke, neare Christ-Church. 1619.

[125] Wright and Hutchinson.

[126] Wright, quoting Lord Londesborough's MSS.

[127] Wright.

[128] Webster. Wright. Harleian MSS.

[129] 'A most Certain Strange and true Discovery of a witch, being taken
by some Parliamentary Forces as she was standing on a small planck-board
and sayling on it over the River of Newberry. 1643.' Evidently a political
matter, and perhaps with no substratum of truth in the story at all.

[130] A collection of Modern Relations. 1693.

[131] Matthew's own account of them in a little tract called 'Certaine
Queries Answered, which have been and are likely to be objected against
Matthew Hopkins, in his way of finding out witches,' was slightly
different.--1. Holt, like a white kitling.--2. Jarmara, a fat spaniel
without any legs at all, which she said she kept fat, for he sucked good
blood from her body.--3. Vinegar Tom, a long-legged greyhound with an head
like an ox, a long tail and broad eyes, who, when Hopkins spoke to, and
bade him go to the place provided for him and his angels, transformed
himself into the shape of a child of foure years without a head, and gave
half a dozen turns about the house and vanished at the door.--4.
Sack-and-sugar, like a black rabbit; and 5. Newes, like a polecat. Also he
said that no mortal could invent such names as Elemauzer, Pyewacket, Peck
in the Crown, Griezel Greedigut, &c., which, however, one of our great
word-masters, Charles Dickens, would find no difficulty in doing, and
which certainly have no very infernal sound in them.

[132] Baxter, Hutchinson, &c.

[133] Baxter.

[134] Tract.

[135] 'The Laws against Witches.' Published by Authority, 1645.

[136] 'Collection of Modern Relations.'

[137] 'The Devil's Delusion.' 1649.

[138] Baxter.

[139] Baxter's 'Certainty of the World of Spirits.'

[140] 'A Prodigious and Tragicall History of the Arraignment, Tryall,
Confession, and Condemnation of six Witches at Maidstone, in Kent, at the
Assizes held there in July, Fryday 30, this present year 1652. Before the
Right Honourable Peter Warburton, one of the Justices of the Common Pleas.
Collected from the Observations of E. G. Gent, a learned Person, present
at their Conviction and Condemnation, and digested by H. F. Gent.' London:
Printed for Richard Harper in Smithfield, 1652.

[141] A true Relation of one Mrs. Atkins, a Mercer's Wife in Warwick, who
was strangely carried away from her house in July last, and hath not since
been heard of.

[142] Dr. George More's 'Antidote to Atheism.' Dr. Lamb's 'Darling.' By
James Bower. 1653.

[143] Glanvil's 'Saducismus Triumphatus.'

[144] Reginald Scot.

[145] 'Collection of Modern Relations.'

[146] Glanvil

[147] Glanvil.

[148] Glanvil.

[149] Tract; Published 1682.

[150] Baxter's 'World of Spirits.'

[151] 'Hartfordshire Wonder; or, Strange News from Ware.' London. Printed
for John Clark, at the Bible and Harp, in West-Smith-Field, near the
Hospital Gate. 1669.

[152] Boulton's 'Compleat History of Magick.'

[153] Baxter, Hutchinson.

[154] Dr. Hutchinson.

[155] That date seems wrong: ought it not to be 1699?

[156] Boulton's 'Compleat History of Magick.' Dr. Hutchinson's 'Historical

[157] Surrey in Lancashire.

[158] A Tract of one leaf in a collection of trials.

[159] Various Tracts--and 'Thomas Wright's Narrative.'

[160] Thomas Wright.

      *      *      *      *      *      *

Transcriber's note:

Text in italics is enclosed by underscores (_italics_).

Superscripted letters are enclosed within brackets (example:
y{e} indicates the "e" is superscripted).

Additional spacing after some of the quotes is intentional to
indicate both the end of a quotation and the beginning of a new
paragraph as presented in the original text.

Some quotation marks are not paired in the original. Obvious
errors have been corrected without comment, while those requiring
interpretation have been left as they were.

Footnote 160 (page 424) has no in-text marker in the original.

The following misprints have been corrected:
  "withcraft" corrected to "witchcraft" (page 163)
  "hat" corrected to "that" (page 218)
  "cying" corrected to "crying" (page 242)
  "expeperience" corrected to "experience" (page 404)
  "sen" corrected to "sent" (page 418)

Other than the corrections listed above, inconsistencies in spelling
and hyphenation have been retained from the original text.

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Witch Stories" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.