Tag Archives: 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

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.

The kingdom of darkness: or the history of daemons

Brief summary:
The Kingdom of Darkness argues first that the Devil acts in this world through “daemons, specters, witches, apparitions, possessions, disturbances.” Devil performs “malicious” and “supernatural” deeds. The author, R.B., is arguing against “atheists” who dismiss possession as nothing more than fantasies of the mind or diseases or natural causes.

In the long, second section the author recounts seventy-nine case studies of demonic possession. These case studies are related to R.B. by “credible Historians.” For each case study, R.B. explains how it was clearly the work of the Devil and not simply a disease.

The conclusion reiterates his main point about possession being the work of the Devil. Nobody, not even atheists he claims, can deny the reality of witches and possessed people. And this alone demonstrates the Devil’s actions in the world.

A full and true account of the proceedings at the sessions

Includes accounts of robberies and other crimes, in addition to the trial of Iane Kent, who bewitched to death a five-year old after first bewitching her father’s swine, tried to make a business transaction with him but wouldn’t pay, after which his daughter’s body started swelling, he was advised by a doctor to boil his wife’s hair and other things, which caused the witch pain and made her swell the next day, one women found a teat on her back and holes behind her ears but she was found not guilty.

Strange and wonderful news from Yowel

Ioan Butts came to the house of Mr. Tuers when only his servant Elizabeth Burgiss was home, first asking for gloves and then later a pin, two weeks later stones were thrown into the house that only struck Elizabeth, Mr. Tuers pulled a piece of clay full of pins from her back, she then reported seeing Butts when other could not, leaves off with Elizabeth’s mother confronting Butts.

The witch of the woodlands

Brief summary:
In the woods lived a cobbler called Robin the Devill, forced to marry a woman’s daughter, got into trouble with the town and left, he got lost but found a house with an old lady in it who he then realized was a witch, he went into fits and she seduced him into bed, the next morning three witches came in seeking revenge against him, promised to marry one of them, they turned into spirits, bit, and drew blood from his throat, ‘bum’ and ‘members,’ he turned into a fox and they followed him as dogs, turned him into other animals, he broke free from their spell and headed back to London, then he became a beggar.

Fuller summary:
This pamphlet reads more as an episode of folklore than a “true and genuine” account of witchcraft—in fact it never alleges itself to be true, is accompanied with rhyming couplets, and attributes itself to an author, “L.P.” Nonetheless, it provides a vivid portrait of what constitutes a witch and magic acts. This illustrated pamphlet is twelve pages long and would have looked eye-catching on the table displays. Most of its illustrations, with the exception of the cover page, are of the male protagonist rather than the witches.

The Witch of the Woodlands begins by detailing the exploits of a cobbler named Robin especially eager to please his attractive female customers. He appreciates his “wenches” so much that he impregnates three of them—as the reader later discovers, in one evening. He misses his bachelorhood and feels overwhelmed by his fatherhood responsibilities, so he takes to London to work until his children reach adulthood. On his way, however, he gets lost in “the Woodlands” (emphasis already in place).

“Robin the Cobler” in search of refuge meets an elderly woman, one of whom the reader can immediately tell is a witch by the descriptions of a “staffe in her hand,” and her physical traits: “long nos’d,” “wry mouth’d” and “bow-legg’d.” She offers for them to sleep together “as the Devill hugg’d the Witch” and out of starvation, Robin falls to his knees and agrees.

When Robin wakes up, he finds that the old woman has found three witch friends, who expose his “whoring” habits. The old woman had imps, one of whom took the form of a black cat, and informed her of the women Robin had exploited.

The three witches seek revenge and turn into animal form: a black cat, a bear, and a wolf. They bite his entire body, including his “members.” Three days of torture ensue, all emasculating and with maleficent properties. On the first day, Robin turns into a fox who must run from angry dogs. The second day, as a nag, he must literally permit the witches to ride him all day, tearing his flesh. The witches transform robin into an owl on the last day, plucking at his body parts. When the witches withdraw their spells, they perform one last act of subordination, forcing him to knell and kiss their entire bodies.

Robin is restored as a full human being but now he is witchlike in completion; his eyes are sunken, his skin pale, his nose lengthened. He returns to London in poverty, but finds the mercy of a fellow beggar. He “lay[s] lovingly” with this beggar and they become relatively successful beggars together. When his beggar partner dies, Robin inherits his money and gives it to his former wives, wenches and children.

A strange but true narrative of the delusion of the devil

John Thurston went to a Quaker meeting, after he denied reading good books and ministerial teaching, he went into fits and fell on his bed, dreaming of his sins and Christ’s light entering him, the Quakers came and spoke to him, almost slit his own throat with a knife, then he thought to be possessed by the devil, then God gave peace to his conscience.