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.
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
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
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Thomas Spatchet fell down a well, was sick on and off from then on and later fell into fits, had difficulties expressing himself, fell in and out of fits, saw apparitions, an Abre Grinset eventually confessed to E. C. that she had bewitched Thomas, murdered Iohn Collet of Cookly and Hnry Winson of Walpool, made a blood covenant with the devil, he appeared as a man and then a cat and sucked her teat, she had an imp, his fits continued till her death in 1676 when she was similarly tortured by the devil, he misused her
Descriptions of the sky as proof for witchcraft, Sarah Brower was struck down with an invisible hand, numbed in half her body, and then taken over by fits the next day, a black gentleman appeared to her promising her gold if she gave him her blood, she was speechless for a while but then related her visions of heaven and hell, a good angel saved her and she called afterwards for England to repent, then she fell again into fits, includes a relation of several cures that worked on other cases of possession.
The author was visiting a house when a Mary Walcut, the daughter of a Captain, found bite marks on her wrist, when visiting the minister Mr. P his kin Abigail Williams went into fits, refused to have the book and said she only need the Devil’s now, ran into the fire and threw flames about, while he was trying to lead prayer one evening multiple people went into violent fits, one of which, Goodwife C., was tried for being a witch, women reported seeing a yellow bird sucking on her during the sermon, she was examined and denied having Familiars, if she pinched herself under examination those afflicted felt the same, a child named Sarah G. was apprehended and examined for causing fits in those she stared at, during a public fasting Abigail Williams reported that a congregation of witches ate red bread and wine, contains other minor reports an theoretical discussion and proposals for dealing with witches.
Bridget Bishop was tried for bewitching persons and cattle, she would pinch and bite persons and force them to write their names in her book, her ghost haunted and beat people, she was known to be at a congregation of witches that took bread and wine as a Devilish sacrament, she haunted and attacked many others as her ghost or through imps, a Susanna Martin asked a man to have her ox help her carry some of her things, when he refused his ox ran into the sea and drowned, she came through a man’s window and lay on top of him for a few hours, he was able to cut her finger and she left her blood on his stairs, she left no prints in the snow besides the threshold, she sent dogs and cats to attack men, a Martha Carrier was accused of bewitching people, those testifying often fell into fits upon seeing her, she bewitch cattle and men, causing sores to appear on people, an unnamed man was also condemned, although weak he could lift heavy objects and was thought to be given strength by the devil, made others sign the Devil’s book in blood, bit many and left marks in their flesh, they were all convicted and sentenced to death, some tempted children were instead given time to repent.
A woman or something that took the shape of this woman is said to have been tormenting and hurting people and that this thing attempted to get people to sign their name in a book. One woman who refused was then threatened by the witch, the witch said she would drown her in a river if she did not but the woman still refused, “overcame the temptation” as the pamphlet put it. When this witch looked at a person they were tormented, if they were swooning she could touch them and revive them, and she could perform various other supernatural actions as well.
There were various testaments against her by others in the community, one of which included a man whose home was broken into by some strange creature who offered him a deal where if the man submitted to him he would want for nothing. The man did not consent to the deal and instead fought against the creature but each action he took against it caused a supernatural negative effect to befall him. This woman was also said to always appear with a strange light beside her. Another charge brought against her was that of having caused several cattle to drown and the only survivor of which to go mad, the cattle belonging to a man whom she quite probably felt wrong by and then would have had the motivation to perform this deed.
Several other occurrences likes these were brought as charges against her and she was accused of going to witch meetings and consorting with the devil. From this case and the others who were accused of witchcraft along with her, there was a man who was similarly accused of witchcraft but more specifically of enticing and recruiting people to sign the “Devil’s Book” in blood. All were convicted and quickly executed but children and a few others who had been taken in by these practices received lighter sentences and given time to repent.