Tag Archives: Confessed

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 relation of the diabolical practices

Brief summary:
A group of men and women being examined for witchcraft reported having needles stuck in them without any blood being drawn, one who didn’t have visible marks was stripped naked and examined, a man who confessed was choked to death by the devil in prison, an Elizabeth Anderson admitted to inviting her father and friends to a meeting with the Devil, they were subsequently arrested, they often saw him in the shape of a black man, the group of witches would make pictures and poke them with pins, a young boy James Lindsay was begging and called a woman a witch, later a Black Grim Man came to him and promised him to be his servant and to clothe him, he said yes, includes other crimes the group committed, several were executed.

Fuller summary:
February 5th 1697
On touching Iames Lindsay, Christian Shaw’s body stiffened and she collapsed, appearing dead. When she recovered she recalled being confronted by Catherine Campbell, an old servant of her father’s, who had cursed her. Catherine was then interrogated. She adamantly insisted that she was innocent but refused to answer the question to why she wouldn’t pray. She offered to touch the child to prove her innocence, but Christian refused. The bystanders forced Christian to let Catherine touch her and she immediately fell to the ground in a fit. However, this seemed to have loosened Catherine’s tongue and she could now utter prayers. Christian stated that after the fit and hearing Catherine’s prayer she felt free of the fear of Catherine’s touch or that of any of her other tormentors. The Commissioners then asked Catherine why she would not or could not pray prior to touching the child but she could not give a satisfactory answer.

The next person called by the Commissioners was Elizabeth Anderson who had been invited by her father and other people to their rendezvouses with the Devil. The individuals who had been accused by Christian were confirmed by Elizabeth as witches and were sent to prison. Elizabeth however recalled another name however she could only recall the first name (Margaret) and not the last. She was encouraged to write it down but all she could manage was Margaret and the letter L of the surname. Following this she fell into a violent fit and collapsed, appearing dead. When she awoke the ministers presented her with a bible and asked her to read a passage from it. Instead of reading she began singing a melodious tune, she then had a fit and fell to the ground appearing dead. However, the singing continued even when her lips and tongue weren’t moving.

Elizabeth Anderson declared that 20 days prior to this meeting she had accompanied him to Bargarrin’s Yeard at noon. On their way back they met a Black Man whom her father and Agnes Nasmith who was with them at the time told her was the devil. She heard them along with a few hours discussing Christian Shaw who health was unwell and whose life they’d promised to take. Her father told her that she was not meant to tell anybody what she heard or she would be torn to pieces. She declared that both the devil and her father had invited her several times to the devil’s service but she refused them.

February 18th 1697
Elizabeth Anderson was with her grandmother when she saw the man whom she believed to be the devils, enter her house to converse with her grandmother. Her grandmother called her in and asked her to take the man’s hand and in return gave her a new black coat. About a month later when she was with her grandmother in her house, the man returned and spoke to her grandmother in words, which she did not understand. Her grandmother then told her to take the man’s hand but she refused saying that it was the devil. The grandmother tried to convince her but she stuck to her beliefs.
Her father then forced her to accompany him to get meat but instead took her to a meeting where they tried to convince her to do the devil’s work. They offered her better meat and clothes if she did but she refused.

She claims to have been present at many discussions relating to matters of witchcraft. She was present when they called for the destruction of Christian Shaw where some individuals, namely Agnes Nasmith, wanted to stab her with a touck. They told her that if she were to confess, they would tear her to pieces. She also declared to have flown with her father.

James Lindsay confessed to joining ranks with the devil. When he was begging one day he came across his grandmother when a man (fitting the description of Elizabeth’s devil) appeared before him. His grandmother asked him to take his hand and he did, he noted that it was exceedingly cold. The devil asked him to serve him and that he would provide him with many clothes, so he agreed. He claims to have attended many meetings, and in particular being at the putting down of a child in Parklands. It seems that the main group who did this act included Agnes Nasmith and Alexander Anderson.

Thomas Lindsay declared that he too met the devil (in circumstances similar to the other two). He was given a red coat in exchange for him agreeing to give himself to the devil’s services. Awhile later he saw and spoke to his dead grandmother. Late one night, he was awoken and flown to Parkland for the murder of the child. He also recalls being at the meeting where the planning of the murder of Christian Shaw was present.

The Letter
Christian saw the devil in the likeness of a man. She was told to rebuke him but she could not speak. She recovered but was then seized by a fit and she went deaf and blind. The devil then appeared in her bed where she conversed with him, as she returned she was bitten with teeth on her hands and had nail impressions on them. This occurred 24 times, each time she cried. She said in her fit that Margaret Lang had cursed her. Her fit ceased at five that night.

A Collection of modern relations of matter of fact concerning witches

Brief summary:
Theoretical discussion of witches, includes other reports, a discovery of thirty-two witches in the cloister of Madam Anthoinette Bourignon at Lisle, told be herself, born deformed in the face, she was told by a man to start a school for poor children instead of a nunnery, had a vision of little black children with wings floating above her children at work, a girl shut up in the prison for punishment was released by a man suspected to be the Devil, many of the children were exercised and examined, they reported to having known the Devil carnally in the appearance of the opposite sex, one especially devious girl was expected in retrospect to be a witch, they all confessed to having given their souls to the devil, didn’t want to dismiss all of them to have them commit evil across the world, she began examining them after exorcisms failed, they continued to get through locked doors and feces was found in their beds, they were sick in the morning from feasting with the Devil at night; includes also: sixteen witches in Yarmouth convicted and executed for signing the Devil’s book and having Familiars in 1644, a single witch convicted and executed at Oxford, a single witch of Lancashire tried at Wrcester in 1649, another from Teuksburry tried at Gloucester, the story of Faith Corbet afflicted by an Alice Huson and Dol. Bilby of Burton in York 1660-4, they confessed.

Fuller summary:
The pamphlet written by Sir Matthew Hale begins with a reflection by the author on “the great mercy of god, in preserving us from the power and malice of evil angels”. He asserts that “evil spirits” have “likewise a great measure of power and a greater measure of malice” and goes onto explain why. He says that evil spirits are more powerful and humans or animals because they are unencumbered by bodies therefore they have more energy to put towards influencing man. Their malice, he says, is even more extensive than their power because they can move about invisibly in order to “insinuate” himself with the victim.

He later goes into an examination of several trials he attended. The first of which is a man (Dr. John Portage) who confessed to seeing visions; first of a man, second of a giant, and third, of a dragon spitting fire in his bedroom.

The second story her relates is that of Madam Antoinette Bourignon and the 32 young girls found to be witches in her cloister. Mme. Bourignon, with the advice of a “Stranger” decided to open a cloister for poor girls to “educate them for their childhood in religion and virtue”. She claimed at her trial to have always suspected that the children “without the Grace of God” and claimed to have seen “little black children with wings fly about their heads”. She then goes on to tell several stories of odd happenings within the cloister including girls claiming that “the devil” made them commit thievery and other mischievous acts.

She spent 8 months hearing confessions from the girls and trying to convince them to repent to no avail so she called in three pastors to examine the girls and demanded that they be taken from her house so as not to corrupt the other girls. The pastors told her that the girls were witches but that she should not turn them out of her house until she discovered where the misfortune had come from, insisting that there must have been a witch in the house indoctrinating the girls.

The pastors determined that there was no witch in the house but that each girl, individually, had brought this “wickedness” with her. Mme. Bourignon attempted to convert the girls back to god and away from the devil with prayer and exorcism but they told her that the devil “laughed at these performances”. After several more incidents including falling ill herself, Mme. Bourignon came to believe that the girls were trying to kill her. One day the devil in the form of an old women appeared to Mme. Bourignon offering her, her service in the house, which Mme. Bourignon refuses. She then disappears and the girls/witches tell Mme. Bourignon that she was an apparition of the devil. In the end, one of the girls tells Mme. Bourignon of a plot to kill her, and how she stopped the plot because of her love for “Madam B”. She told Madam B that she wished someone would “kill [her] out of charity” because the devil was always with her and she was in misery. Due to her repentance she was put in jail instead of being put to death but it was “never known what became of her since.”

The next trial Hale recounts is that of one of 16 “Yarmouth witches” convicted and executed based upon their own confessions. This particular witch went to a man, Mr. Moulton and his maid in search of work and both refused her. That night in bed she saw a tall black man rising through her window asking her what she would like done. He told her to write her name in blood and left her with some money that night. When he returned he told her he could not get revenge for her against the man because he went to church so she asked him to get revenge against the maid. He returned and told her that the maid was also out of his reach but that there was a sick child in the house whom they could take revenge on. So, he brought her a wax figure of the child, which they buried, in the churchyard. She later confessed to what she had done and the child rose up from the bed seemingly healthy.

The next several accounts follow the same general thread where a person or persons insult or otherwise wrong a woman thought to be a witch and then fall into some sort of illness or other misfortune.

The life and conversation of Temperance Floyd

Does not discuss Susanna and Mary, Temperance sees the devil in the shape of a black man, and an ox, bewitched Madam Thomas, the devil struck Temperance on the face and left his mark, she was arrested and put into prison and did not confess for a month, she destroyed many ships, all three pleaded guilty.

A true and impartial relation of the informations

Brief summary:
A woman testified to feeling intense pains, and seeing Susanna Edwards in her bedroom, she bewitched another woman who also had pains and swelled in her stomach, once Temperance was apprehended one testified to her pains subsiding, another woman testified to having pricks all over her legs, Temperance admitted to knowing the devil in the form of black man, she and the devil tormented a Grace Thomas to death, she confessed to many other murders, includes many examinations and a dialogue between Temperance and the judges, they were executed.

Fuller summary:
The pamphlet “A True and Impartial Relation of the Informations against Three Witches” by Temperance Lloyd, Mary Trembles, and Susanna Edwards gives several accounts of witchcraft through testimonies of the accused witches as well as victim’s family and friends. These testimonies take place during a 1682 trial, which ends in the executions of the three authors as witches. The pamphlet begins with Dorcas Coleman as a victim of Susanna Edwards’ bewitchment. Dorcas reports that in August of 1680, she felt painful pricks in her arms, abdomen, and heart. A doctor, Beare, visits Dorcas only to declare her, at first glance, bewitched. Other testimonies, including that of her husband, and Thomas Bremin confirm these events, and add that while sitting in a chair at home, Dorcas is visited by Susanna. Dorcas becomes paralyzed and struggles to stand up. The help of her husband is not enough to release Dorcas from the chair, until Susanna leaves the room and Dorcas is released.

Another victim by the name of Grace Barnes reports similar symptoms of painful pricks in her breasts, arms, and heart. Grace suffers periodically from these pains. Prior to the pains, the Barnes family is visited by Susanna Edwards and Mary Trembles, who begged for bread but were refused because the Barnes family lacked bread. It is thought by the family that the two women bewitched Grace because they were refused bread. Other testimonies also confirm the sighting of Mary and Susanna outside the Barnes home. Later, Mary and Susanna confess to bewitching Grace, Dorcas, and murdering several other victims. Mary claims to have been converted to witchcraft by Susanna. Both women state that they confronted the devil in a form of a lion or black man, which then proceeded to persuade them to hurt victims, even though he did not promise the women anything. The devil did not allow neither women to pray, although both claim to wanting to ask God for help. The devil is also said, by the women, to have partaken in sexual acts with them. The women also confess to refusing to kill the victims, but were tormented by the devil at this refusal.

The third witch is named Temperance Lloyd. The victim of the accused is Grace Thomas, who, similarly to the previous cases, experiences pricks in her knee, and her abdomen swells. Temperance also confesses to using witchcraft after being persuaded by the devil in the form of a black man. The devil promises to cloak her in invisibility, so when Temperance enters the Thomas home, she reports continually pricking Grace without being seen. Several testimonies, including Temperance’s, confirm the story. The end of the pamphlet includes the dialogue between the three witches and an interrogator. The speech consists of their confessions and eventually the execution.

An account of what happen’d in the kingdom of Sweden

A Report of how the Devil had recruited hundred of children, the whole town was examined by the King’s Commission, many confessed and were sentenced to death, most those who pled not guilty were similarly executed, others were lashed, about 300 were seduced by the devil, the town used to go to ‘Blockula,’ where the witches and devil met, the devil had sons and daughters by the town, includes an account of a boy who had colored rocks voiding from his penis.