Category Archives: Possession

Pamphlets that deal primarily with possession.

The trial of Susannah Fowles of Hammersmith, that was try’d at London for blaspheming

Susannah was indicted for using blasphemous words against Jesus Christ, her husband said she was possessed by the Devil, she said unlawful things and was then visited by an apparition of a man and afterwards went into fits, some ministers thought her to be a cheat, Jordan a papist gave her a spell, a hot iron was put on her, and someone tricked her by dressing up as the devil, and she was therefore found to be a cheat, she confessed and was found guilty, and then jailed

The trial of Susannah Fowles of Hammersmith, for blaspheming Jesus Christ

Susannah’s husband reported her being bewitched, and seeing the Devil in the shape of man, going into fits, a spell had been put on her neck by Jordan a Papist, when touched with a hot iron she reacted, and was found to be counterfeiting, she was found guilty and sentenced to jail

The second part of the boy of Bilson

Summary of the Boy of Bilson, then relates the story of Susanna Fowles for comparison, she married John but wasn’t in as comfortable of a situation as she hoped, and then seemed to fall into fits as if possessed by the devil, a Dr. Jourdan gave her a ‘spell’ around her neck, that was found to be an ‘Exorcism,’ during one of her fits they put a hot iron on her, she cried out, and they found her to be an imposter, she confessed to impersonating the devil to get money, she was informed and encouraged by Roman Catholics, she now resides in Bridewell beating hemp until she is put on for her next trial

A full and true account of the life

Brief summary:

Susannah Fowles, wife of a laborer, was persuaded by Jesuits to feign possession, Jordan a Papist seemed to be the main person responsible, she saw the devil in the form of man, when examined by Protestants she was thought to be a cheat because she didn’t go into fits when hearing the Lords prayer in Latin, they confirmed this by burning her with a hot iron, she eventually confessed, she was found guilty and jailed.

Fuller summary:
The author begins with a condemnation of Catholicism and an expression of joy that it is no longer England’s religion. However, there remain sneaky, deceptive Papists who attempt to prove the supremacy of their faith, and impugn that of the Protestants, through schemes intended to prove that they have the power to cast out devils. He cites as an example Susannah Fowles, who claimed to have seen the devil, to have been possessed by it, and to have fallen into fits as a result of such possession.

Her fits and actions took the form of blasphemy: she claimed, upon hearing God’s name, to be herself the Lord, and she would respond to the Lord’s Prayer and to the name of Jesus with curses. However, some Protestants, suspecting her to be pretending, observed her and noted that her expression remained the same during her seizures, and that she responded not only to actual prayers, but to the appearance of them–a sign that human, not demonic, forces controlled her behavior.

It became still more clear that Fowles’ possession was a sham, and to what end she was manifesting these behaviors, when she claimed to have been given a spell by Jordan, a Catholic, which would cure her from her fits when emissaries came from the Portugal embassy. Clearly, she was to be an example of the power the Catholics claimed to have, that of performing exorcisms, which Protestants held to be blasphemy.

A series of tests were then administered to Fowles to determine whether she was lying. Although she responded with curses to the Lord’s Prayer in English, she had no reaction when it was recited in Latin, implying that she, not some supernatural force, was in control of her behaviors. Furthermore, when she was in fits during prayers, she responded to a hot iron by drawing her hand away from it, revealing her sensibility to external stimuli. And she ran away from a man in ugly clothing, claiming he was the Devil, when in fact he was one of those testing her claims.

When confronted with this evidence of her falsehoods, and threatened with bodily harm if she did not confess them, she admitted to having faked the fits to get money. She was tried at the Old Baily for blasphemy, and offered the defense of believing herself to be either possessed or bewitched, and redacted her confession; the jury declared her guilty, and she was ordered to pay a fine and to stand at the pillory three times, as well as to behave well for a year.

A faithful narrative of the wonderful and extraordinary fits

Thomas Spatchet fell down a well, was sick on and off from then on and later fell into fits, had difficulties expressing himself, fell in and out of fits, saw apparitions, an Abre Grinset eventually confessed to E. C. that she had bewitched Thomas, murdered Iohn Collet of Cookly and Hnry Winson of Walpool, made a blood covenant with the devil, he appeared as a man and then a cat and sucked her teat, she had an imp, his fits continued till her death in 1676 when she was similarly tortured by the devil, he misused her

Dreadful news from Wapping

Descriptions of the sky as proof for witchcraft, Sarah Brower was struck down with an invisible hand, numbed in half her body, and then taken over by fits the next day, a black gentleman appeared to her promising her gold if she gave him her blood, she was speechless for a while but then related her visions of heaven and hell, a good angel saved her and she called afterwards for England to repent, then she fell again into fits, includes a relation of several cures that worked on other cases of possession.

True account of a strange and wonderful relation of John Tonken

The young boy broke out into fits and reported seeing an apparition that warned him he would throw up pins, the next day he did so along with walnut shells, continued to be possessed and to throw up, now grains, he is feeling better now but two old women, Iane Noal and Betty Seeze, were put in jail and are to be arranged at the next Assizes

A strange and wonderful relation of Margaret Gurr

Brief summary:
A first person account of the Devil coming to Margaret Gurr in her sleep, giving her extreme pains, entering her and speaking through her with ugly sounds, a witch came and also entered her, Doctor Skinner told her to pray when they came but they overpowered her, she was tempted to kill herself, later she was able to read the Bible again, another young man was possessed by the devil in the shape of a greyhound.

Brief summary:
This pamphlet was purportedly written by Margaret Gurr and is, therefore, a first hand account of her possession. It begins in July 1681 when she is visited by two devils, one dressed in gray and the other dressed in black. The devils try to convince her to kill herself, first by hanging and in the case that she would not do that, by putting knitting needles in her ears. She does not kill herself. A week later the gray devil returns to her and holds her down on her bed so that she cannot move. The devil holds her so tight that her hands consequentially swell. The gray devil leaves her as soon as Margaret thinks about God. After the gray devil leaves her she feels a pain in her neck. The black devil then came, stared at her for a few moments, and then disappeared. When he disappeared the pain left her as well. On the fourth of August the devils return to Margaret. The black devil enters inside her and speaks through her, saying that if she does as he wants her to do she will be well. Then, on the fifth day of August a witch enters inside her as well and tells her the same thing, saying that if she follows the witch’s lead and acts the way she does she will be very healthy. Margaret was forced to do as the witch wanted her to do and if she tried to pray she was unable to speak. The next day she was once again visited by the devils. They took her flying through the air. She remembers the words of Doctor Skinner and prays. The witch threatens her for going to Doctor Skinner for help. After this, Doctor Skinner casts the devils and the witch out of Margaret’s body. He also cures her of the scurvy and gout so she is healthier than she has ever been before. She notes that before this possession took place she was unable to read and therefore could not read the word of God but after the possession she was blessed with the ability to read.

There is another shorter story included in this pamphlet about a 17 year old servant boy. A spirit in the form of a greyhound appears to him, telling him to go to Virginia. The boy starts getting seemingly unhealthy, his speech fails and all those around him notice and look for help. The author is the person that they found to help the boy. The author found that the boy was possessed by the devil and the author gave the boy medicines and the boy was cured as the devil was cast out of him.

The final story from this pamphlet is one of three miraculous cures. One girl had “evil in her eyes”, one had “evil in her throat” and the other had pain in her head, near her eyes. The author was able to cure all of them. As soon as they found the author they were cured.