Summary of the Boy of Bilson, then relates the story of Susanna Fowles for comparison, she married John but wasn’t in as comfortable of a situation as she hoped, and then seemed to fall into fits as if possessed by the devil, a Dr. Jourdan gave her a ‘spell’ around her neck, that was found to be an ‘Exorcism,’ during one of her fits they put a hot iron on her, she cried out, and they found her to be an imposter, she confessed to impersonating the devil to get money, she was informed and encouraged by Roman Catholics, she now resides in Bridewell beating hemp until she is put on for her next trial
A young boy named James Day was an apprentice to a smith his Father in Dublin, he declared that he was in league with the Devil and was visited by Minister Mr. Travers, another smith told him to write a prayer in blood to get money, he summoned the devil in this way, a black man appeared and offered him many things including money, the boy’s uncle Patrick Dayson a Papist brought him to his house, he was told to wear a crucifix, they tried to get him to convert, the boy later confessed it was all a plot with his Uncle’s family, they were apprehended and tried at the next Quarter Sessions.
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.
written by father of James Barrow, when reading scripture he felt a horrible burning, rat and cats would appear to him, he was confined to one stool in the house, doctors were consulted, he was brought to Roman Catholics who put crosses on his head, he denied their request to make the boy a Catholic, he was later thought to be bewitched, he would scream in the night, eventually he became dispossessed, a Hannah Crump of Warwick similarly was possessed and dispossessed
reverends were apparently approved from royal officials to exorcize the nuns of the Ursuline Church in London, while reverend F. Surin, of the Society of Jesus, exorcized mother Prioreffe, Balam the devil appeared, the father then discussed with the devil, on his hand Joseph was written in blood, apparently a sign of Balam’s departure, St. Joseph had sent a protecting angel to Mother Prioreffe, contains observations of the story
Martha Brossier was examined by many religious authorities, and reported to Parliament to be faking despite popular opinion, could not answer in Latin despite rumors, officials began to exorcise her, she put a cross in her mouth, endured pin pricking, includes original document of her possession and goes on to disprove the points made, some saw her raised into the air, she was made to only drink holy water several days by a bishop