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.