Monthly Archives: January 1589

The apprehension and confession of three notorious witches

Brief summary:
Condemned and executed, Ioan Cunny taught by mother to draw circles in the ground for Satan, made frog spirits appear and sent them to hurt people, reported by two sons, Ioan Vpney had a mole and a toad spirit, sent the toad to kill wives of accusers, Ioan Prentice saw the devil appear to her in the form of a ferret which sucked her blood, executed together

Brief summary:
This pamphlet includes the confessions of three witches, as well as some of the evidence given against them and the result of their trial. The pamphlet begins with an address to the reader, warning against the seductiveness of having dealings with Satan. This address reminds the reader that God will not allow such actions, and no one should hide such offenders.

Following this warning, the first main section of the pamphlet contains the confession of Joan Cunny, a widow from Essex. Mother Cunny explains that she learned to be a witch from Mother Humfrye who instructed her to draw a circle on the ground and say a specific prayer to Satan. Mother Cunny says that when she first called on Satan two spirits appeared to her in the shape of frogs, and it is suggested that she had at least two more spirits. All four of the spirits have names, and notes in the margins explain their different abilities-one killed men, one killed women, one killed horses and one killed cattle. Mother Cunny also confesses that she had sent her spirits to hurt a variety of people in the village, and while some people were able to repel them by the force of their belief in God, other people were harmed by the spirits. She denies sending her spirits to hurt some specific people, but does say that her daughter Margaret may have sent out the spirits to hurt people as well.

Following this confession, Mother Cunny’s oldest grandson gives evidence against her, saying that she had cursed Harry Finches’ wife for not giving her anything to drink and that the woman died a week later. The grandson also explains that once he was sent to get wood but had it stolen from him by another boy, and that when he told Mother Cunny this she told her spirit to prick the thief in the foot and he became lame. Then, the boy continues, they went together to the Sheriff’s field and she had her spirit knock down an Oak tree, although there was no wind. This is the end of the confession of the first witch.

The second witch, Joan Upney, begins her confession by saying that a different witch came to her house and gave her something that looked like a mole and told her it would do her bidding. That Mole left her about a year later, but the same witch gave her another mole and a toad, and Mother Upney says she has always had a toad to do her bidding since that time. She admits that she send her toad to pinch a variety of people, and that her younger daughter used them as well. That is the end of her confession.

The confession of the final witch, Joan Prentice, begins with Mother Prentice saying that six years ago the devil appeared to her in the shape of a ferret as she was getting ready for bed. She recounts that the ferret asked her for her soul and when asked what he was said he was Satan but that she should not fear him as he just wanted her soul. Mother Prentice said that her soul belonged to Jesus and she could not give it to the ferret, so the ferret asked for her blood and drank from a finger on her left hand, and told her his name was Bidd. Mother Prentice recounts that the ferret came to her often, only as she was getting ready for bed, and that it drank blood from her left cheek and asked for her commands. Mother Prentice confesses that she asked the ferret to spoil a neighbors’ drink, and to nip one of Master Glascocks’ children, a girl named Sara. The ferret came back to report that it had bit the child and that the child would die, and Mother Prentice said she had told it not to kill the child, and states that she has not seen the ferret since. She explains that she wanted the ferret to nip the child because one of Master Glascock’s servants had turned her away when she was begging at his house. Mother Prentice also recounts what she said to call the ferret to her, and names two other women who also call upon the ferret, although she does not know what they have asked the ferret to do.

The pamphlet ends with a narration of the end of the women’s’ trials, and, as they are all found guilty, they are sent back to jail for a few hours before being taken to their execution. All three women were given the opportunity to repent and ask God for mercy, and Mother Upney did so before her death.

The pamphlet has a picture on the front and portions of that picture are recreated and spaced throughout the text. The picture shows the three women hanging, two of Mother Cunny’s sprites with name tags, the toads of Mother Upney, and Mother Prentice sitting in a chair letting the ferret drink blood from her cheek.