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.
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.
Rose and Amy were arranged for bewitching several men and women, to which they pled not guilty, several witnesses were unable to testify after going into fits, Amy suckled her mistress’s baby against demands, he later broke out in fits and was taken to a doctor, a toad appeared in their house which they threw in the fire, they found Amy to be scorched the next day, Amy was found guilty, and Elizabeth Pacy, giving her testimony, was mute until she was put near Amy when she scratched her face, the daughter of Elizabeth also fell into fits, they would cry out the names of Rose and Amy, they were sent to their Aunts where the accused also arrived, throwing up pins, they sent several imps to torment them, they were found guilty, they were hanged but did not confess.
A woman testified to feeling intense pains, and seeing Susanna Edwards in her bedroom, she bewitched another woman who also had pains and swelled in her stomach, once Temperance was apprehended one testified to her pains subsiding, another woman testified to having pricks all over her legs, Temperance admitted to knowing the devil in the form of black man, she and the devil tormented a Grace Thomas to death, she confessed to many other murders, includes many examinations and a dialogue between Temperance and the judges, they were executed.
The pamphlet “A True and Impartial Relation of the Informations against Three Witches” by Temperance Lloyd, Mary Trembles, and Susanna Edwards gives several accounts of witchcraft through testimonies of the accused witches as well as victim’s family and friends. These testimonies take place during a 1682 trial, which ends in the executions of the three authors as witches. The pamphlet begins with Dorcas Coleman as a victim of Susanna Edwards’ bewitchment. Dorcas reports that in August of 1680, she felt painful pricks in her arms, abdomen, and heart. A doctor, Beare, visits Dorcas only to declare her, at first glance, bewitched. Other testimonies, including that of her husband, and Thomas Bremin confirm these events, and add that while sitting in a chair at home, Dorcas is visited by Susanna. Dorcas becomes paralyzed and struggles to stand up. The help of her husband is not enough to release Dorcas from the chair, until Susanna leaves the room and Dorcas is released.
Another victim by the name of Grace Barnes reports similar symptoms of painful pricks in her breasts, arms, and heart. Grace suffers periodically from these pains. Prior to the pains, the Barnes family is visited by Susanna Edwards and Mary Trembles, who begged for bread but were refused because the Barnes family lacked bread. It is thought by the family that the two women bewitched Grace because they were refused bread. Other testimonies also confirm the sighting of Mary and Susanna outside the Barnes home. Later, Mary and Susanna confess to bewitching Grace, Dorcas, and murdering several other victims. Mary claims to have been converted to witchcraft by Susanna. Both women state that they confronted the devil in a form of a lion or black man, which then proceeded to persuade them to hurt victims, even though he did not promise the women anything. The devil did not allow neither women to pray, although both claim to wanting to ask God for help. The devil is also said, by the women, to have partaken in sexual acts with them. The women also confess to refusing to kill the victims, but were tormented by the devil at this refusal.
The third witch is named Temperance Lloyd. The victim of the accused is Grace Thomas, who, similarly to the previous cases, experiences pricks in her knee, and her abdomen swells. Temperance also confesses to using witchcraft after being persuaded by the devil in the form of a black man. The devil promises to cloak her in invisibility, so when Temperance enters the Thomas home, she reports continually pricking Grace without being seen. Several testimonies, including Temperance’s, confirm the story. The end of the pamphlet includes the dialogue between the three witches and an interrogator. The speech consists of their confessions and eventually the execution.
A Report of how the Devil had recruited hundred of children, the whole town was examined by the King’s Commission, many confessed and were sentenced to death, most those who pled not guilty were similarly executed, others were lashed, about 300 were seduced by the devil, the town used to go to ‘Blockula,’ where the witches and devil met, the devil had sons and daughters by the town, includes an account of a boy who had colored rocks voiding from his penis.
A woman came into the house of a grazier when mutton was scarce and demanded some of his, he denied her to find a few days later that thirty of his sheep had been killed, he then burned one of his sheep according to the advice of the town and the witch appeared, he cut her thinking by popular opinion that taking her blood would take away her powers, she said she’d have him arrested and demanded money and set his house on fire later, she was apprehended, first pleaded guilty, and then confessed, she began to swell and mentioned the devil came to suck on her in the form of a rat, she was hanged.
In 1674, an unknown writer in London published a pamphlet describing the accusation and conviction of an elderly woman named Ann Foster for consorting with the devil and using witchcraft against her neighbor. The full title of this pamphlet is as follows: “A Full and True Relation of the Tryal, Condemnation, and Execution of Ann Foster, (Who was Arrained for a Witch) on Saturday the 22nd of this Instant August, at the place of Execution at Northampton. With the Manner how She by her Malice and Witchcraft set all the Barns and Corn on Fire belonging to one Joseph Weeden living in Eastcoat, and bewitched a whole Flock of Sheep in a most lamentable manner, and betwitching all his Horses, with his other Cattle, to the utter Ruin and undoing of the said Joseph Weeden. And also in what likeness the Devil appeared to Her while she was in Prison, and the manner of her Deportment at her Tryal”.
The pamphlet begins as an almost academic argument about the existence of witches and witchcraft. The writer reveals that he had previously not believed in such things, until he witnessed the damage Ann Foster had done. This tale is set in a town called Eastcoat in Northampton Shire in April.
It was the time of year in which mutton is scarce and precious. However, Joseph Weeden, referred to as the Grazier, choose to slaughter a sheep for his family. Knowing this, Ann Foster appeared at his house, asking for some charity. She did not want to pay the full worth of any of the meat, and thus Weeden declined. Elderly and already possessing the reputation of talking to herself, Ann left muttering threats. A couple days later, Weeden finds thirty of his sheep dismembered in their pasture.
The Grazier was so “amazed at the strangeness of the spectacle” that he called several of his neighbors over. They agreed that he was probably bewitched, and that burning one of the sheep carcasses would summon the witch who had cursed Weeden. Ann came running almost as soon as the sheep was on the fire. It was also general knowledge that “fetching the blood” from the witch would drain her of her powers. Thus, the Grazier also cut her above the hand. An infection formed within the cut, and Ann threated to have him arrested. Wanting to avoid trouble, Weeden offered to pay for her to go to a healer. The old woman took the money, claiming it to be “the Divils mony” and that it would allow her to punish him.
The next month (May), Weeden’s house and barns caught fire and could not be contained. One barn burned down completely and some of his wheat was lost. Foster was seen watching the blaze and telling the townsfolk that they would not be able to put out the fire. The townsfolk then brought these occurrences to the local Justice of the Peace and claimed Ann Foster was a witch and consorting with the devil.
Foster originally claimed she was not guilty, but confessed after hearing witness statements. “Seeing that Sentence of Death was past upon her”, the woman then tried to ask God and Weeden for forgiveness and asked that her life be spared. When it became clear that she was going to be executed, she asked to be burned at the stake. However, the court executed her in its usual manner, by hanging.
In this case, it appears that Ann Foster, an elderly and unpopular member of the community, may have practiced, or claimed to have practiced, witchcraft as a means of social power. When she does not get her way, she threatens Joseph Weeden. She threatens him with magic and legal action on two separate occasions and invokes the Devil’s name in her arguments. However, such evidence was done publicly and backfired for her when the villagers had her arrested. Here, Ann confesses, but claims to see God’s light and attempts to talk her way out of execution. Unfortunately for her, it does not work. As my research continues, it would be interesting to see if there are other instances in which women practice, or claim to practice, witchcraft in order to exert some power through intimidation or fear in their communities.
Mr. William Harrison, steward to Lady Nowell, hired a son of a widow named Perry to be his servant, she was thought to be a witch, she and her two sons encountered Harrison, beat, and robbed him, his family thought him to be murdered when they couldn’t find him, the three were suspected, examined, and hanged at the Assizes in Glocester, they would not confess however, and said he was not murdered, he was at the time was apprehended by a Turkish ship and employed as a servant there until his master died and he returned to England, this was apparently caused by witchcraft.
Anne Bodenham, former servant to Dr. Lamb, admitted to being able to transform herself into various animals, including lions and dogs, and use spells, she also forced an Ann Stiles to sign the Devil’s covenant in blood when she was sent over by her master, she was bewitched after, Anne Bodenham was hanged