A Sarah Griffith was long expected to be a bad woman, but the town became especially suspicious when the children started vomiting pins, experiencing fits, and seeing apparitions of cats, Mother Griffith went to buy something when the man accused her of bewitching his scales, she said she would get revenge, after his shop was in disorder and he had a strange disease, later a group of young men spotted Sarah and threw her in the water to find that she floats, she cursed on of the man’s arms and his fingers went black, and died of pain, Mother Griffith was apprehended, she pleaded innocent but was committed to Bridewel.
Rebecca West, Margaret Landis, Susan Cock, and Rose Hallybread were brought to court for the bewitching of cattle and children, the devil came to Rebecca in the shape of a young man, promising to revenge her enemies and be her loving husband, killed a man for her, John Hart, the man bewitched to death, was reported by his father to have yelled Rebecca’s name before dying, Margaret bewitch a man’s son to death after he accused her of being a witch, she admitted to having Imps suck teats near her ‘privy parts,’ they all confessed and were executed.
Rebecca West, Margaret Landis, Susan Cock and Rose Hallybread were four “notorious and reputed witches”. These women were examined for supposed “diabolical and abominable practices” on children and cattle. The beginning of the examination acknowledges that wise men don’t always believe the extraordinary accounts of witches and some are tried without faithful evidence. However, these four trials of the four witches are just.
The four trials took place on March 5th, beginning with Rebecca West. John Edes testified against her, stating a young man came to her, promising that he would have revenge on all her enemies and have all she desired, if she denied God. Matthew Hopkins told an account of Rebecca claiming the devil would marry her, but then he killed her, but he was still her “loving husband” who would avenge her of her enemies. Rebecca asked him to kill John Hart, which was done accordingly. Thomas Hart (John’s father) testified that his son died by witchcraft and when his son was being tortured to death, he heard him cry out against Rebecca. Unable to defend herself against these accusations, Rebecca claimed her “great poverty” had been the cause for her wrongdoing and pleaded guilty. The jury found her guilty of murder and witchcraft, and denied her the mercy she desired.
The death of a child by witchcraft was blamed on Margaret Landis. Supposedly, one day in December, she was walking by a man and his child. When the child pointed at Margaret and said, “there goes pegg the Witch”, Margaret turned around and clapped her hands “in a threatening manner”, telling the child she would smart it. That night, the child became sick and died three weeks later. A witness said that when the child was sick, she would see “pegg the Witch” by her bedside making strange mouths at her. More evidence that suggested Margaret was a witch included her “Imps” doing misfortunes and sucking on “teats near the privy parts”. Margaret was also overheard planning the child’s ruin in Mr. Bargrrans Orchard, and the child’s doctors claimed she died under the torture of “some diabolical agent”. Margaret’s defense was that all who testified had a grudge against her and they were all malicious people, after which she let a terrifying howl that scared the whole bench. After citing that the Holy Scripture declares witches should not live, they found her guilty.
Susan Cook and Rose Hallybread were arraigned together for the supposed killing of two children, John and Mary Peak. Abraham Chad and Elin Sheacraft both were present during the attempted torture of the children by the witches, but were asked to recall the evidence separately to ensure it was valid. According to Abraham, the two witches made wax figures of the children, and then stuck pins and needles into them while reciting strange words. The next day, the children had marks in the same areas where the wax figures were pricked and were muttering the strange words the witches had said. Elin gave the same account as Abraham, and a midwife and other women claimed they found holes in the children’s bodies. The children claimed the “Devils Imps” had done this horrible act to them. There were many witnesses that testified against the two witches, and after careful consideration by the jury, they were found guilty and sentenced to be burned at the stake.
When the witches got to the place of execution, they cried and howled and confessed to killing an abundance of cattle, which they attributed to “pride, malice, and revenge” that made them enter a league with the devil. They were fooled by the devil and warned all women not to let him fool you, or you will also die a shameful death.
William Spicer went to the house of an old woman and accused her of being a witch, infuriated she called a Justice of the Peace and he felt bad, later that night he went into mad fits, he often saw the woman in the night and would vomit up pins, a Mary Hill asking for her ring back from the woman later went into fits and similarly threw up pins, upon bringing Mary in spasms to the woman’s house they found that she floated into the air, but was pulled down by men who grabbed her feet, a Jury of Women searched her body finding teats and pricking her with a needle without eliciting any pain, she was apprehended until the next Assizes, she also floated in water.
Abraham Vandenbemde, Thomas Crompton, and Thomas Collet got a warrant for a Jone Peterson for bewitching to death Lady Powell, who was searched with no findings and examined pleading not guilty, but was still executed and retained her innocence till death.
News from Scottland of sorcerers and witches, deputy bailiff of a Scottish town suspected his servant of witchcraft for having healing powers, tortured her and looked for the mark of the devil, she confessed and then informed them about three other witches, two woman and a man named Doctor Fian, the devil had licked them to leave his mark of which hair is a sign, then one of the accused Agnis Simpson was shaved entirely, the devil made them all kiss his butt, King of Scottland present at the trials, Satan used them for sex, the Doctor was tortured to near death, then executed, and the others remained in prison.
As is often the case, the pamphlet is prefaced with a note to the reader justifying and guaranteeing the truthfulness of the events to be described. The pamphlet begins with a brief praise of God, and mentions His intention to shed light on witchcraft to mankind through the various witchcraft-related events that occured. It is also mentioned that all the events were described to the King.
Geillis Duncane, maid servant of David Seaton, often went out to help the poor and afflicted. She did this with such miraculous efficacy and skill (given her lack of experience) that Seaton, her master, grew suspicious. He interrogated Geillis on the matter and, since she gave no response, proceeded to torture her “with the helpe of others”. Seaton and his fellows discovered a mark on her throat that seemed to be that of the devil. Upon discovery, Geillis confessed to witchcraft. She was sent to prison where she named several other individuals who were witches, including John Cunningham (aka Doctor Fian) and Agnis Thompson. Similarly, Thompson wouldn’t confess to anything in spite of intense torture until her hairs were all shaven and a Devil’s mark found “upon her privities”.
Thompson describes to the King a gathering of two-hundred witches (among them, Geillis) at the “kerke of North Barrick in Lowthian” during the night of Allhollon Even (Halloween?) where the Devil manifested himself in the form of a man and required that each witch “kiss his buttocks in sign of duty to him,” after which he expressed his deep hatred of the King and, having received oath of the witches’ service to him, left. The King being skeptical of Thompson’s words, she proceeds to whisper to him the exact words he had exchanged with the Queen on the first night of their marriage, in Norway. The King is astonished and believes her entirely from then on.
The pamphlet describes attempts at the King’s life by Thompson: poisoning his clothes and setting the wind against his boat at sea using a “christened cat”. She affirms that she would have succeeded had it not been for the faith of the King and the devotion of his servants. The questioned witches describe that, having vowed themselves to the Devil, would be “carnally used” by him.
John Cunningham, also denounced by Geillis, was imprisoned and tortured with “the most severe and cruel pain in the world” (the boots) but still would not confess until certain charmed pins thrust under his tongue were removed by fellow witches. Cunningham then confessed to being the “Clarke” at the witch congregations (keeping count of the witches who did or didn’t renew their oath to the devil). He initially turned to sorcery/witchcraft to “obtain” the gentlewoman of whom he was enamoured by convincing her brother, one of his students, to bring him three of the girl’s private hairs with which he could magically make her love him. The plan failed when the girl’s mother finds out about it and made the boy give Cunningham three cow hairs. As soon as he “wrought his Art” upon the hairs, the cow ran into the church where he was and “leaped and danced upon him”. Because many townsfolk saw this happen, Doctor Cunningham (aka Doctor Fian) became well-known in Scotland as someone who worked with the devil.
After his confession, Fian was sent back to prison where he renounced his alliance to the devil and converted himself to a devout Christian. That night, the devil appeared to Fian and asked him if he would keep serving him, to which Fian directly responds that he will not but would forsake him, and Satan vanished. The following day, Fian appeared solitary and seeking redemption, calling upon God, and yet that same night steals the key to his prison door and escapes back to his residence at the Salt Pans. The King initiated a “hot and hard pursuit” and brought him back to the prison. That night, Fian denied all that he had confessed and attested true under his name the day before. Suspected of having pacted with the devil anew, Fian is searched for another mark of the devil, in vain. He is then tortured by having his fingernails pulled off with pincers and having two needles thrust where the fingernails would have been, yet still does not confess. He is then once again tortured with the boots—this time to irreparable, excruciating extremes—yet still does not admit to his previous confession, stating that his confession and previous actions were only said and done for fear of going through the tortures again.
Following this, the King decides to soon have Doctor Fian executed. He was strangled and burned in a great fire in the Castle Hill of Edenbrough in January 1591. The other witches not yet executed were, at the time of the pamphlet, still in prison. The pamphlet ends with an elogy of the King as a true Christian and an undaunted mind.