Temperance Floyd, Mary Floyd, and Susannah Edwards were arranged in Exeter for witchcraft, Temperance admitted to being in league with the devil for twenty years, and teaching the others tricks for five years, they bewitched the cattle of a minister Mr. Hann, she admitted to cause the crashing of several ships, and that the devil had been with her carnally, sucking from her teats, they squeezed to death several people, they were unable to say the Lord’s prayer in court unless backwards, the devil came to them as a hound, they were all executed.
A woman came into the house of a grazier when mutton was scarce and demanded some of his, he denied her to find a few days later that thirty of his sheep had been killed, he then burned one of his sheep according to the advice of the town and the witch appeared, he cut her thinking by popular opinion that taking her blood would take away her powers, she said she’d have him arrested and demanded money and set his house on fire later, she was apprehended, first pleaded guilty, and then confessed, she began to swell and mentioned the devil came to suck on her in the form of a rat, she was hanged.
In 1674, an unknown writer in London published a pamphlet describing the accusation and conviction of an elderly woman named Ann Foster for consorting with the devil and using witchcraft against her neighbor. The full title of this pamphlet is as follows: “A Full and True Relation of the Tryal, Condemnation, and Execution of Ann Foster, (Who was Arrained for a Witch) on Saturday the 22nd of this Instant August, at the place of Execution at Northampton. With the Manner how She by her Malice and Witchcraft set all the Barns and Corn on Fire belonging to one Joseph Weeden living in Eastcoat, and bewitched a whole Flock of Sheep in a most lamentable manner, and betwitching all his Horses, with his other Cattle, to the utter Ruin and undoing of the said Joseph Weeden. And also in what likeness the Devil appeared to Her while she was in Prison, and the manner of her Deportment at her Tryal”.
The pamphlet begins as an almost academic argument about the existence of witches and witchcraft. The writer reveals that he had previously not believed in such things, until he witnessed the damage Ann Foster had done. This tale is set in a town called Eastcoat in Northampton Shire in April.
It was the time of year in which mutton is scarce and precious. However, Joseph Weeden, referred to as the Grazier, choose to slaughter a sheep for his family. Knowing this, Ann Foster appeared at his house, asking for some charity. She did not want to pay the full worth of any of the meat, and thus Weeden declined. Elderly and already possessing the reputation of talking to herself, Ann left muttering threats. A couple days later, Weeden finds thirty of his sheep dismembered in their pasture.
The Grazier was so “amazed at the strangeness of the spectacle” that he called several of his neighbors over. They agreed that he was probably bewitched, and that burning one of the sheep carcasses would summon the witch who had cursed Weeden. Ann came running almost as soon as the sheep was on the fire. It was also general knowledge that “fetching the blood” from the witch would drain her of her powers. Thus, the Grazier also cut her above the hand. An infection formed within the cut, and Ann threated to have him arrested. Wanting to avoid trouble, Weeden offered to pay for her to go to a healer. The old woman took the money, claiming it to be “the Divils mony” and that it would allow her to punish him.
The next month (May), Weeden’s house and barns caught fire and could not be contained. One barn burned down completely and some of his wheat was lost. Foster was seen watching the blaze and telling the townsfolk that they would not be able to put out the fire. The townsfolk then brought these occurrences to the local Justice of the Peace and claimed Ann Foster was a witch and consorting with the devil.
Foster originally claimed she was not guilty, but confessed after hearing witness statements. “Seeing that Sentence of Death was past upon her”, the woman then tried to ask God and Weeden for forgiveness and asked that her life be spared. When it became clear that she was going to be executed, she asked to be burned at the stake. However, the court executed her in its usual manner, by hanging.
In this case, it appears that Ann Foster, an elderly and unpopular member of the community, may have practiced, or claimed to have practiced, witchcraft as a means of social power. When she does not get her way, she threatens Joseph Weeden. She threatens him with magic and legal action on two separate occasions and invokes the Devil’s name in her arguments. However, such evidence was done publicly and backfired for her when the villagers had her arrested. Here, Ann confesses, but claims to see God’s light and attempts to talk her way out of execution. Unfortunately for her, it does not work. As my research continues, it would be interesting to see if there are other instances in which women practice, or claim to practice, witchcraft in order to exert some power through intimidation or fear in their communities.
Mary Foster begged for money and food from a Joseph Weedon, and when he denied her he found his sheep to be dead, she was called before a Justice of the Peace multiple times but denied, a jury of women examined her to find teats on her body that were sucked on, she admitted to being carried into the air by the devil to light his barn on fire, she confessed to the crimes but not to being a witch, wanted to be burnt but was hanged, she was asked to do a trick by a citizen of London and almost escaped on a floating bason/basin?, a highway robber confessed and was also executed, along with another woman who killed her bastard child.
A short letter addressed to someone anonymous, a daughter has been afflicted by her father’s servant, she was apprehended but upon confessing about other witches tormenting her tongue would be drawn out of her mouth, she vomited hay and coal and hair, but was finally able to report other witches who were apprehended and confessed.
Joan Peterson was examined for the poisoning and bewitching of Lady Powel, for which she confessed, Giles Fender also confessed to making a blood covenant with the Devil through a Jesuit, and murdering his wife, he was given a ring that could make him disappear, the Devil appeared to him in the jail as a lawyer and gave him the means to escape, after which he was apprehended again when his covenant wore off, was hanged.
This pamphlet deals primarily with the 1652 trial of Giles Fenderlin, a soldier who made a pact of protection with the devil via a Jesuit priest. The pamphlet recounts Fenderlin’s confession, beginning with a cursory mention of his murder of a woman purported to be his wife. Fenderlin, a soldier in the Low Countries (Flanders at the time of the covenant) paid a Jesuit priest 45 shillings for protection provided by the Devil. He and the two other soldiers accompanying him asked for demonstrations on a rooster and a cat, and when they were satisfied with the results, paid the priest 45 shillings. For the next five years Fenderlin was protected in battle. Bullets bounced off of him. When the covenant expired he decided to renew it for the next 14. Fenderlin wrote his name in his own blood, and the Jesuit gave Fenderlin an enchanted ring that could reveal money hoards and transport the wearer miles away from danger.
Spirits visited Fenderlin several times while he was incarcerated. The Devil himself visited Fenderlin, who took the form of a lawyer and told Fenderlin to hang himself. A fellow inmate of Fenderlin’s reported seeing a spirit who took the form of a bishop. Fenderlin renounced it, telling the spirit that it should return if it was from hell. The spirit “spit fire in his face like a flame.” Other fellow inmates reported seeing Fenderlin’s familiar, who appeared at night as a man with no arms or head. An apparition of a dog also appeared, but Fenderlin rejected its affections (“saying ‘Avoid Satan’”).
On the eve of Fenderlin’s execution, he warned some inmates “of good repute” that they might be scared by the apparitions that would haunt him that night. The inmates declared they were afraid only of God. That night they heard rustling in the straw, and Fenderlin yelled at an apparent spirit. The inmates, however, asserted that it was not a spirit but “the guilt of your own Conscience, and nothing else; for we are all rational men, and cannot discern any thing.” Fenderlin then assured them that he was in his right mind. Fenderlin was hanged in
This section of the pamphlet brings up several interesting issues that I would like to explore: the treatment of male witches in the late 17th century, the allusions to mental illness, the appearance of a specifically Jesuit Catholic priest, the possible interactions between the representation of Fenderlin’s crime and his term as a soldier in the Low Countries, and the treatment (or lack thereof) of Fenderlin’s crime against his wife.
There is what seems to be a short addendum (or preview of an upcoming pamphlet) about Joan Peterson, who was a “practitioner of physick” accused of witchcraft because a woman she had given a potion died. However, Peterson denied any wrongdoing, as the patient was 80 years old, and insisted that she did not administer any potion and only provided the woman with “comfortable and nourishing” care. The author indicates that a pamphlet directly dealing with the trial is forthcoming.
Elizabeth Weed saw three spirits, a young boy and two puppies which told her to renounce God and make a blood covenant with Devil, which she did, her spirits had sex with her and killed livestock for her, a poor John Winnick acquiesced to renouncing Christ in exchange for spirits helping him financially, Weed than offered a white dog to Weed and similarly converted her, contains other examinations and confessions of other witches and related incidents.
The devil appeared to Joan Williford in the form a dog, she sold her soul and gave him blood, pled guilty and was executed, Joan Cariden also saw the devil in the form of a black dog, and he sucked her; Jane Hott reported a hedghog coming into her room at night when she was asleep and sucking her blood, she did not pass the water sinking test and was executed with the rest of them.
A Rebecca West went to a meeting of witches with her mother and others, they prayed on a book and spirits came out, after she renounced Christianity the devil came to her as a dog, and then later a young man asking to marry her to which she said yes, a Mr. Long reported trying to save a witch who the devil controlled, fourteen of the thirty witches were hanged.
a Mr. Lowes confessed he bewitch a ship, A Thomas Evered and his wife Mary confessed to bewitching beer, other witches who bewitched children and cattle, they found teats on many of the witches in shapes of thunderbolts and mice and snakes, 120 other suspected witches in prison, the described witches were executed
examination of an Anne Baker, a hand appeared to her and told her to kill her master, which she did with fire and a Crow spirit, and the examination of an Ioane Willimot who promised a spirit her soul, tried converted an Ellen Greene, discusses the trial of the Flower family, and of Margaret flower, but she wrote it