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Appendices
Glanvill And Webster And The Literary War Over Witchcraft 1660-1688
James I And Witchcraft
List Of Cases Of Witchcraft 1558-1718 With References To Sources And Literature
List Of Persons Sentenced To Death For Witchcraft During The Reign Of James I
Matthew Hopkins
Notable Jacobean Cases
Reginald Scot
The Beginnings Of English Witchcraft
The Close Of The Literary Controversy
The Exorcists
The Final Decline
The Lancashire Witches And Charles I
The Literature Of Witchcraft From 1603 To 1660
Witchcraft During The Commonwealth And Protectorate
Witchcraft Under Charles Ii And James Ii
Witchcraft Under Elizabeth



The Beginnings Of English Witchcraft








It has been said by a thoughtful writer that the subject of witchcraft
has hardly received that place which it deserves in the history of
opinions. There has been, of course, a reason for this neglect--the fact
that the belief in witchcraft is no longer existent among intelligent
people and that its history, in consequence, seems to possess rather an
antiquarian than a living interest. No one can tell the story of the
witch trials of sixteenth and seventeenth century England without
digging up a buried past, and the process of exhumation is not always
pleasant. Yet the study of English witchcraft is more than an unsightly
exposure of a forgotten superstition. There were few aspects of
sixteenth and seventeenth century life that were not affected by the
ugly belief. It is quite impossible to grasp the social conditions, it
is impossible to understand the opinions, fears, and hopes of the men
and women who lived in Elizabethan and Stuart England, without some
knowledge of the part played in that age by witchcraft. It was a matter
that concerned all classes from the royal household to the ignorant
denizens of country villages. Privy councillors anxious about their
sovereign and thrifty peasants worrying over their crops, clergymen
alert to detect the Devil in their own parishes, medical quacks eager to
profit by the fear of evil women, justices of the peace zealous to beat
down the works of Satan--all classes, indeed--believed more or less
sincerely in the dangerous powers of human creatures who had
surrendered themselves to the Evil One.

Witchcraft, in a general and vague sense, was something very old in
English history. In a more specific and limited sense it is a
comparatively modern phenomenon. This leads us to a definition of the
term. It is a definition that can be given adequately only in an
historical way. A group of closely related and somewhat ill defined
conceptions went far back. Some of them, indeed, were to be found in the
Old Testament, many of them in the Latin and Greek writers. The word
witchcraft itself belonged to Anglo-Saxon days. As early as the seventh
century Theodore of Tarsus imposed penances upon magicians and
enchanters, and the laws, from Alfred on, abound with mentions of
witchcraft.[1] From these passages the meaning of the word witch as used
by the early English may be fairly deduced. The word was the current
English term for one who used spells and charms, who was assisted by
evil spirits to accomplish certain ends. It will be seen that this is by
no means the whole meaning of the term in later times. Nothing is yet
said about the transformation of witches into other shapes, and there is
no mention of a compact, implicit or otherwise, with the Devil; there is
no allusion to the nocturnal meetings of the Devil's worshippers and to
the orgies that took place upon those occasions; there is no elaborate
and systematic theological explanation of human relations with demons.

But these notions were to reach England soon enough. Already there were
germinating in southern Europe ideas out of which the completer notions
were to spring. As early as the close of the ninth century certain
Byzantine traditions were being introduced into the West. There were
legends of men who had made written compacts with the Devil, men whom he
promised to assist in this world in return for their souls in the
next.[2] But, while such stories were current throughout the Middle
Ages, the notion behind them does not seem to have been connected with
the other features of what was to make up the idea of witchcraft until
about the middle of the fourteenth century. It was about that time that
the belief in the "Sabbat" or nocturnal assembly of the witches made its
appearance.[3] The belief grew up that witches rode through the air to
these meetings, that they renounced Christ and engaged in foul forms of
homage to Satan. Lea tells us that towards the close of the century the
University of Paris formulated the theory that a pact with Satan was
inherent in all magic, and judges began to connect this pact with the
old belief in night riders through the air. The countless confessions
that resulted from the carefully framed questions of the judges served
to develop and systematize the theory of the subject. The witch was much
more than a sorcerer. Sorcerers had been those who, through the aid of
evil spirits, by the use of certain words or of representations of
persons or things produced changes above the ordinary course of nature.
"The witch," says Lea, "has abandoned Christianity, has renounced her
baptism, has worshipped Satan as her God, has surrendered herself to
him, body and soul, and exists only to be his instrument in working the
evil to her fellow creatures which he cannot accomplish without a human
agent."[4] This was the final and definite notion of a witch. It was the
conception that controlled European opinion on the subject from the
latter part of the fourteenth to the close of the seventeenth century.
It was, as has been seen, an elaborate theological notion that had grown
out of the comparatively simple and vague ideas to be found in the
scriptural and classical writers.

It may well be doubted whether this definite and intricate theological
notion of witchcraft reached England so early as the fourteenth century.
Certainly not until a good deal later--if negative evidence is at all
trustworthy--was a clear distinction made between sorcery and
witchcraft. The witches searched for by Henry IV, the professor of
divinity, the friar, the clerk, and the witch of Eye, who were hurried
before the Council of Henry VI, that unfortunate Duchess of Gloucester
who had to walk the streets of London, the Duchess of Bedford, the
conspirators against Edward IV who were supposed to use magic, the
unlucky mistress of Edward IV--none of these who through the course of
two centuries were charged with magical misdeeds were, so far as we
know, accused of those dreadful relations with the Devil, the nauseating
details of which fill out the later narratives of witch history.

The truth seems to be that the idea of witchcraft was not very clearly
defined and differentiated in the minds of ordinary Englishmen until
after the beginning of legislation upon the subject. It is not
impossible that there were English theologians who could have set forth
the complete philosophy of the belief, but to the average mind sorcery,
conjuration, enchantment, and witchcraft were but evil ways of mastering
nature. All that was changed when laws were passed. With legislation
came greatly increased numbers of accusations; with accusations and
executions came treatises and theory. Continental writers were
consulted, and the whole system and science of the subject were soon
elaborated for all who read.

With the earlier period, which has been sketched merely by way of
definition, this monograph cannot attempt to deal. It limits itself to a
narrative of the witch trials, and incidentally of opinion as to
witchcraft, after there was definite legislation by Parliament. The
statute of the fifth year of Elizabeth's reign marks a point in the
history of the judicial persecution at which an account may very
naturally begin. The year 1558 has been selected as the date because
from the very opening of the reign which was to be signalized by the
passing of that statute and was to be characterized by a serious effort
to enforce it, the persecution was preparing.

Up to that time the crime of sorcery had been dealt with in a few early
instances by the common-law courts, occasionally (where politics were
involved) by the privy council, but more usually, it is probable, by the
church. This, indeed, may easily be illustrated from the works of law.
Britton and Fleta include an inquiry about sorcerers as one of the
articles of the sheriff's tourn. A note upon Britton, however, declares
that it is for the ecclesiastical court to try such offenders and to
deliver them to be put to death in the king's court, but that the king
himself may proceed against them if he pleases.[5] While there is some
overlapping of procedure implied by this, the confusion seems to have
been yet greater in actual practice. A brief narrative of some cases
prior to 1558 will illustrate the strangely unsettled state of
procedure. Pollock and Maitland relate several trials to be found in the
early pleas. In 1209 one woman accused another of sorcery in the king's
court and the defendant cleared herself by the ordeal. In 1279 a man
accused of killing a witch who assaulted him in his house was fined, but
only because he had fled away. Walter Langton, Bishop of Lichfield and
treasurer of Edward I, was accused of sorcery and homage to Satan and
cleared himself with the compurgators. In 1325 more than twenty men were
indicted and tried by the king's bench for murder by tormenting a waxen
image. All of them were acquitted. In 1371 there was brought before the
king's bench an inhabitant of Southwark who was charged with sorcery,
but he was finally discharged on swearing that he would never be a
sorcerer.[6]

It will be observed that these early cases were all of them tried in the
secular courts; but there is no reason to doubt that the ecclesiastical
courts were quite as active, and their zeal must have been quickened by
the statute of 1401, which in cases of heresy made the lay power their
executioner. It was at nearly the same time, however, that the charge of
sorcery began to be frequently used as a political weapon. In such
cases, of course, the accused was usually a person of influence and the
matter was tried in the council. It will be seen, then, that the crime
was one that might fall either under ecclesiastical or conciliar
jurisdiction and the particular circumstances usually determined finally
the jurisdiction. When Henry IV was informed that the diocese of Lincoln
was full of sorcerers, magicians, enchanters, necromancers, diviners,
and soothsayers, he sent a letter to the bishop requiring him to search
for sorcerers and to commit them to prison after conviction, or even
before, if it should seem expedient.[7] This was entrusting the matter
to the church, but the order was given by authority of the king, not
improbably after the matter had been discussed in the council. In the
reign of Henry VI conciliar and ecclesiastical authorities both took
part at different times and in different ways. Thomas Northfield, a
member of the Order of Preachers in Worcester and a professor of
divinity, was brought before the council, together with all suspected
matter belonging to him, and especially his books treating of sorcery.
Pike does not tell us the outcome.[8] In the same year there were
summoned before the council three humbler sorcerers, Margery Jourdemain,
John Virley, a cleric, and John Ashwell, a friar of the Order of the
Holy Cross. It would be hard to say whether the three were in any way
connected with political intrigue. It is possible that they were
suspected of sorcery against the sovereign. They were all, however,
dismissed on giving security.[9] It was only a few years after this
instance of conciliar jurisdiction that a much more important case was
turned over to the clergy. The story of Eleanor Cobham, Duchess of
Gloucester, is a familiar one. It was determined by the enemies of Duke
Humphrey of Gloucester to attack him through his wife, who was believed
to be influential with the young king. The first move was made by
arresting a Roger Bolingbroke who had been connected with the duke and
the duchess, and who was said to be an astronomer or necromancer. It was
declared that he had cast the duchess's horoscope with a view to
ascertaining her chances to the throne. Bolingbroke made confession, and
Eleanor was then brought before "certayne bisshoppis of the kyngis." In
the mean time several lords, members of the privy council, were
authorized to "enquire of al maner tresons, sorcery, and alle othir
thyngis that myghte in eny wise ... concerne harmfulli the kyngis
persone."[10] Bolingbroke and a clergyman, Thomas Southwell, were
indicted of treason with the duchess as accessory. With them was accused
that Margery Jourdemain who had been released ten years before. Eleanor
was then reexamined before the Bishops of London, Lincoln, and Norwich,
she was condemned as guilty, and required to walk barefoot through the
streets of London, which she "dede righte mekely." The rest of her life
she spent in a northern prison. Bolingbroke was executed as a traitor,
and Margery Jourdemain was burnt at Smithfield.[11]

The case of the Duchess of Bedford--another instance of the connection
between sorcery and political intrigue--fell naturally into the hands of
the council. It was believed by those who could understand in no other
way the king's infatuation that he had been bewitched by the mother of
the queen. The story was whispered from ear to ear until the duchess got
wind of it and complained to the council against her maligners. The
council declared her cleared of suspicion and ordered that the decision
should be "enacted of record."[12]

The charge of sorcery brought by the protector Richard of Gloucester
against Jane Shore, who had been the mistress of Edward IV, never came
to trial and in consequence illustrates neither ecclesiastical nor
conciliar jurisdiction. It is worthy of note however that the accusation
was preferred by the protector--who was soon to be Richard III--in the
council chamber.[13]

It will be seen that these cases prove very little as to procedure in
the matter of sorcery and witchcraft. They are cases that arose in a
disturbed period and that concerned chiefly people of note. That they
were tried before the bishops or before the privy council does not mean
that all such charges were brought into those courts. There must have
been less important cases that were never brought before the council or
the great ecclesiastical courts. It seems probable--to reason backward
from later practice--that less important trials were conducted almost
exclusively by the minor church courts.[14]

This would at first lead us to suspect that, when the state finally
began to legislate against witchcraft by statute, it was endeavoring to
wrest jurisdiction of the crime out of the hands of the church and to
put it into secular hands. Such a supposition, however, there is nothing
to justify. It seems probable, on the contrary, that the statute enacted
in the reign of Henry VIII was passed rather to support the church in
its struggle against sorcery and witchcraft than to limit its
jurisdiction in the matter. It was to assist in checking these
practitioners that the state stepped in. At another point in this
chapter we shall have occasion to note the great interest in sorcery and
all kindred subjects that was springing up over England, and we shall at
times observe some of the manifestations of this interest as well as
some of the causes for it. Here it is necessary only to urge the
importance of this interest as accounting for the passage of a
statute.[15]

Chapter VIII of 33 Henry VIII states its purpose clearly: "Where,"
reads the preamble, "dyvers and sundrie persones unlawfully have devised
and practised Invocacions and conjuracions of Sprites, pretendyng by
suche meanes to understande and get Knowlege for their owne lucre in
what place treasure of golde and Silver shulde or mought be founde or
had ... and also have used and occupied wichecraftes, inchauntmentes and
sorceries to the distruccion of their neighbours persones and goodes." A
description was given of the methods practised, and it was enacted that
the use of any invocation or conjuration of spirits, witchcrafts,
enchantments, or sorceries should be considered felony.[16] It will be
observed that the law made no graduation of offences. Everything was
listed as felony. No later piece of legislation on the subject was so
sweeping in its severity.

The law remained on the statute-book only six years. In the early part
of the reign of Edward VI, when the protector Somerset was in power, a
policy of great leniency in respect to felonies was proposed. In
December of 1547 a bill was introduced into Parliament to repeal certain
statutes for treason and felony. "This bill being a matter of great
concern to every subject, a committee was appointed, consisting of the
Archbishop of Canterbury, the lord chancellor, the lord chamberlain, the
Marquis of Dorset, the Earls of Shrewsbury and Southampton, the Bishops
of Ely, Lincoln, and Worcester, the Lords Cobham, Clinton, and
Wentworth, with certain of the king's learned council; all which
noblemen were appointed to meet a committee of the Commons ... in order
to treat and commune on the purport of the said bill."[17] The Commons,
it seems, had already prepared a bill of their own, but this they were
willing to drop and the Lords' measure with some amendments was finally
passed. It was under this wide repeal of felonies that chapter VIII of
33 Henry VIII was finally annulled. Whether the question of witchcraft
came up for special consideration or not, we are not informed. We do
know that the Bishops of London, Durham, Ely, Hereford, and Chichester,
took exception to some amendments that were inserted in the act of
repeal,[18] and it is not impossible that they were opposed to repealing
the act against witchcraft. Certainly there is no reason to suppose that
the church was resisting the encroachment of the state in the subject.

As a matter of fact it is probable that, in the general question of
repeal of felonies, the question of witchcraft received scant
attention. There is indeed an interesting story that seems to point in
that direction and that deserves repeating also as an illustration of
the protector's attitude towards the question. Edward Underhill gives
the narrative in his autobiography: "When we hade dyned, the maior sentt
to [two] off his offycers with me to seke Alene; whome we mett withalle
in Poles, and toke hym with us unto his chamber, wheare we founde
fygures sett to calke the nativetie off the kynge, and a jugementt
gevyne off his deathe, wheroff this folyshe wreche thoughte hymselfe so
sure thatt he and his conselars the papistes bruted it all over. The
kynge laye att Hamtone courte the same tyme, and me lord protector at
the Syone; unto whome I caryed this Alen, with his bokes off
conejuracyons, cearkles, and many thynges beloungynge to thatt dyvlyshe
art, wiche he affyrmed before me lorde was a lawfulle cyens [science],
for the statute agaynst souche was repealed. 'Thow folyshe knave! (sayde
me lorde) yff thou and all thatt be off thy cyens telle me what I shalle
do to-morow, I wylle geve the alle thatt I have'; commaundynge me to
cary hym unto the Tower." Alen was examined about his science and it was
discovered that he was "a very unlearned asse, and a sorcerer, for the
wiche he was worthye hangynge, sayde Mr. Recorde." He was however kept
in the Tower "about the space off a yere, and then by frendshipe
delyvered. So scapithe alwayes the weked."[19]

But the wicked were not long to escape. The beginning of Elizabeth's
reign saw a serious and successful effort to put on the statute-book
definite and severe penalties for conjuration, sorcery, witchcraft, and
related crimes. The question was taken up in the very first year of the
new reign and a bill was draughted.[20] It was not, however, until 1563
that the statute was finally passed. It was then enacted that those who
"shall use, practise, or exercise any Witchecrafte, Enchantment, Charme
or Sorcerie, whereby any person shall happen to bee killed or destroyed,
... their Concellors and Aidours, ... shall suffer paynes of Deathe as a
Felon or Felons." It was further declared that those by whose practices
any person was wasted, consumed, or lamed, should suffer for the first
offence one year's imprisonment and should be put in the pillory four
times. For the second offence death was the penalty. It was further
provided that those who by witchcraft presumed to discover treasure or
to find stolen property or to "provoke any person to unlawfull love"
should suffer a year's imprisonment and four appearances in the pillory.

With this law the history of the prosecution of witchcraft in England as
a secular crime may well begin. The question naturally arises, What was
the occasion of this law? How did it happen that just at this particular
time so drastic a measure was passed and put into operation? Fortunately
part of the evidence exists upon which to frame an answer. The English
churchmen who had been driven out of England during the Marian
persecution had many of them sojourned in Zurich and Geneva, where the
extirpation of witches was in full progress, and had talked over the
matter with eminent Continental theologians. With the accession of
Elizabeth these men returned to England in force and became prominent in
church and state, many of them receiving bishoprics. It is not possible
to show that they all were influential in putting through the statute of
the fifth year of Elizabeth. It is clear that one of them spoke out
plainly on the subject. It can hardly be doubted that he represented the
opinions of many other ecclesiastics who had come under the same
influences during their exile.[21] John Jewel was an Anglican of
Calvinistic sympathies who on his return to England at Elizabeth's
accession had been appointed Bishop of Salisbury. Within a short time he
came to occupy a prominent position in the court. He preached before the
Queen and accompanied her on a visit to Oxford. It was in the course of
one of his first sermons--somewhere between November of 1559 and March
of 1560[22]--that he laid before her his convictions on witchcraft. It
is, he tells her, "the horrible using of your poor subjects," that
forces him to speak. "This kind of people (I mean witches and sorcerers)
within these few last years are marvellously increased within this your
grace's realm. These eyes have seen most evident and manifest marks of
their wickedness. Your grace's subjects pine away even unto death, their
colour fadeth, their flesh rotteth, their speech is benumbed, their
senses are bereft. Wherefore, your poor subjects' most humble petition
unto your highness is, that the laws touching such malefactors may be
put in due execution."

The church historian, Strype, conjectures that this sermon was the cause
of the law passed in the fifth year of Elizabeth's reign, by which
witchcraft was again made a felony, as it had been in the reign of Henry
VIII.[23] Whatever weight we may attach to Strype's suggestion, we have
every right to believe that Jewel introduced foreign opinion on
witchcraft. Very probably there were many returned exiles as well as
others who brought back word of the crusade on the Continent; but
Jewel's words put the matter formally before the queen and her
government.[24]

We can trace the effect of the ecclesiastic's appeal still further. The
impression produced by it was responsible probably not only for the
passage of the law but also for the issue of commissions to the justices
of the peace to apprehend all the witches they were able to find in
their jurisdictions.[25]

It can hardly be doubted that the impression produced by the bishop's
sermon serves in part to explain the beginning of the state's attack
upon witches. Yet one naturally inquires after some other factor in the
problem. Is it not likely that there were in England itself certain
peculiar conditions, certain special circumstances, that served to
forward the attack? To answer that query, we must recall the situation
in England when Elizabeth took the throne. Elizabeth was a Protestant,
and her accession meant the relinquishment of the Catholic hold upon
England. But it was not long before the claims of Mary, Queen of Scots,
began to give the English ministers bad dreams. Catholic and Spanish
plots against the life of Elizabeth kept the government detectives on
the lookout. Perhaps because it was deemed the hardest to circumvent,
the use of conjuration against the life of the queen was most feared.
It was a method too that appealed to conspirators, who never questioned
its efficacy, and who anticipated little risk of discovery.

To understand why the English government should have been so alarmed at
the efforts of the conjurers, we shall have to go back to the
half-century that preceded the reign of the great queen and review
briefly the rise of those curious traders in mystery. The earlier half
of the fifteenth century, when the witch fires were already lighted in
South Germany, saw the coming of conjurers in England. Their numbers
soon evidenced a growing interest in the supernatural upon the part of
the English and foreshadowed the growing faith in witchcraft. From the
scattered local records the facts have been pieced together to show that
here and there professors of magic powers were beginning to get a
hearing. As they first appear upon the scene, the conjurers may be
grouped in two classes, the position seekers and the treasure seekers.
To the first belong those who used incantations and charms to win the
favor of the powerful, and so to gain advancement for themselves or for
their clients.[26] It was a time when there was every encouragement to
try these means. Men like Wolsey and Thomas Cromwell had risen from
humble rank to the highest places in the state. Their careers seemed
inexplicable, if not uncanny. It was easy to believe that unfair and
unlawful practices had been used. What had been done before could be
done again. So the dealers in magic may have reasoned. At all events,
whatever their mental operations, they experimented with charms which
were to gain the favor of the great, and some of their operations came
to the ears of the court.

The treasure seekers[27] were more numerous. Every now and then in the
course of English history treasures have been unearthed, many of them
buried in Roman times. Stories of lucky finds had of course gained wide
circulation. Here was the opportunity of the bankrupt adventurer and the
stranded promoter. The treasures could be found by the science of magic.
The notion was closely akin to the still current idea that wells can be
located by the use of hazel wands. But none of the conjurers--and this
seems a curious fact to one familiar with the English stories of the
supernatural--ever lit upon the desired treasure. Their efforts hardly
aroused public interest, least of all alarm. Experimenters, who fifty
years later would have been hurried before the privy council, were
allowed to conjure and dig as they pleased. Henry VIII even sold the
right in one locality, and sold it at a price which showed how lightly
he regarded it.[28]

Other forms of magic were of course practiced. By the time that
Elizabeth succeeded to the throne, it is safe to say that the practice
of forbidden arts had become wide-spread in England. Reginald Scot a
little later declared that every parish was full of men and women who
claimed to work miracles.[29] Most of them were women, and their
performances read like those of the gipsy fortune-tellers today.
"Cunning women" they called themselves. They were many of them
semi-medical or pseudo-medical practitioners[30] who used herbs and
extracts, and, when those failed, charms and enchantments, to heal the
sick. If they were fairly fortunate, they became known as "good
witches." Particularly in connection with midwifery were their
incantations deemed effective.[31] From such functions it was no far
call to forecast the outcome of love affairs, or to prepare potions
which would ensure love.[32] They became general helpers to the
distressed. They could tell where lost property was to be found, an
undertaking closely related to that of the treasure seekers.[33]

It was usually in the less serious diseases[34] that these cunning folk
were consulted. They were called upon often indeed--if one fragmentary
evidence may be trusted--to diagnose the diseases and to account for the
deaths of domestic animals.[35] It may very easily be that it was from
the necessity of explaining the deaths of animals that the practitioners
of magic began to talk about witchcraft and to throw out a hint that
some witch was at the back of the matter. It would be in line with
their own pretensions. Were they not good witches? Was it not their
province to overcome the machinations of the black witches, that is,
witches who wrought evil rather than good? The disease of an animal was
hard to prescribe for. A sick horse would hardly respond to the waving
of hands and a jumble of strange words. The animal was, in all
probability, bewitched.

At any rate, whether in this particular manner or not, it became shortly
the duty of the cunning women to recognize the signs of witchcraft, to
prescribe for it, and if possible to detect the witch. In many cases the
practitioner wisely enough refused to name any one, but described the
appearance of the guilty party and set forth a series of operations by
which to expose her machinations. If certain herbs were plucked and
treated in certain ways, if such and such words were said, the guilty
party would appear at the door. At other times the wise woman gave a
perfectly recognizable description of the guilty one and offered
remedies that would nullify her maleficent influences. No doubt the
party indicated as the witch was very often another of the "good
witches," perhaps a rival. Throughout the records of the superstition
are scattered examples of wise women upon whom suspicion suddenly
lighted, and who were arraigned and sent to the gallows. Beyond question
the suspicion began often with the ill words of a neighbor,[36] perhaps
of a competitor, words that started an attack upon the woman's
reputation that she was unable to repel.

It is not to be supposed that the art of cunning was confined to the
female sex. Throughout the reign of Elizabeth, the realm was alive with
men who were pretenders to knowledge of mysteries. So closely was the
occupation allied to that of the physician that no such strict line as
now exists between reputable physicians and quack doctors separated the
"good witches" from the regular practicers of medicine. It was so
customary in Elizabethan times for thoroughly reputable and even eminent
medical men to explain baffling cases as the results of witchcraft[37]
that to draw the line of demarcation between them and the pretenders who
suggested by means of a charm or a glass a maleficent agent would be
impossible. Granted the phenomena of conjuration and witchcraft as
facts--and no one had yet disputed them--it was altogether easy to
believe that good witches who antagonized the works of black witches
were more dependable than the family physician, who could but suggest
the cause of sickness. The regular practitioner must often have created
business for his brother of the cunning arts.

One would like to know what these practicers thought of their own arts.
Certainly some of them accomplished cures. Mental troubles that baffled
the ordinary physician would offer the "good witch" a rare field for
successful endeavor. Such would be able not only to persuade a community
of their good offices, but to deceive themselves. Not all of them,
however, by any means, were self-deceived. Conscious fraud played a part
in a large percentage of cases. One witch was very naive in her
confession of fraud. When suspected of sorcery and cited to court, she
was said to have frankly recited her charm:

"My lofe in my lappe,
My penny in my purse,
You are never the better,
I am never the worse."

She was acquitted and doubtless continued to add penny to penny.[38]

We need not, indeed, be surprised that the state should have been remiss
in punishing a crime so vague in character and so closely related to an
honorable profession. Except where conjuration had affected high
interests of state, it had been practically overlooked by the
government. Now and then throughout the fourteenth and fifteenth
centuries there had been isolated plots against the sovereign, in which
conjury had played a conspicuous part. With these few exceptions the
crime had been one left to ecclesiastical jurisdiction. But now the
state was ready to reclaim its jurisdiction over these crimes and to
assume a very positive attitude of hostility towards them. This came
about in a way that has already been briefly indicated. The government
of the queen found itself threatened constantly by plots for making away
with the queen, plots which their instigators hoped would overturn the
Protestant regime and bring England back into the fold. Elizabeth had
hardly mounted her throne when her councillors began to suspect the use
of sorcery and conjuration against her life. As a result they
instituted the most painstaking inquiries into all reported cases of the
sort, especially in and about London and the neighboring counties. Every
Catholic was suspected. Two cases that were taken up within the first
year came to nothing, but a third trial proved more serious. In November
of 1558 Sir Anthony Fortescue,[39] member of a well known Catholic
family, was arrested, together with several accomplices, upon the charge
of casting the horoscope of the queen's life. Fortescue was soon
released, but in 1561 he was again put in custody, this time with two
brothers-in-law, Edmund and Arthur Pole, nephews of the famous cardinal
of that name. The plot that came to light had many ramifications. It was
proposed to marry Mary, Queen of Scots, to Edmund Pole, and from
Flanders to proclaim her Queen of England. In the meantime Elizabeth was
to die a natural death--at least so the conspirators claimed--prophesied
for her by two conjurers, John Prestall and Edmund Cosyn, with the
assistance of a "wicked spryte." It was discovered that the plot
involved the French and Spanish ambassadors. Relations between Paris and
London became strained. The conspirators were tried and sentenced to
death. Fortescue himself, perhaps because he was a second cousin of the
queen and brother of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, seems to have
escaped the gallows.[40]

The Fortescue affair was, however, but one of many conspiracies on foot
during the time. Throughout the sixties and the seventies the queen's
councillors were on the lookout. Justices of the peace and other
prominent men in the counties were kept informed by the privy council of
reported conjurers, and they were instructed to send in what evidence
they could gather against them. It is remarkable that three-fourths of
the cases that came under investigation were from a territory within
thirty miles of London. Two-thirds of them were from Essex. Not all the
conjurers were charged with plotting against the queen, but that charge
was most common. It is safe to suppose that, in the cases where that
accusation was not preferred, it was nevertheless the alarm of the privy
council for the life of the queen that had prompted the investigation
and arrest.

Between 1578 and 1582, critical years in the affairs of the Scottish
queen, the anxiety of the London authorities was intense[41]--their
precautions were redoubled. Representatives of the government were sent
out to search for conjurers and were paid well for their services.[42]
The Earl of Shrewsbury, a member of the council who had charge of the
now captive Queen Mary, kept in his employ special detectors of
conjuring.[43] Nothing about Elizabeth's government was better
organized than Cecil's detective service, and the state papers show that
the ferreting out of the conjurers was by no means the least of its
work. It was a service carried on, of course, as quietly as could be,
and yet the cases now and again came to light and made clear to the
public that the government was very fearful of conjurers' attacks upon
the queen. No doubt the activity of the council put all conjurers under
public suspicion and in some degree roused public resentment against
them.

This brings us back to the point: What had the conjurers to do with
witchcraft? By this time the answer is fairly obvious. The practisers of
the magic arts, the charmers and enchanters, were responsible for
developing the notions of witchcraft. The good witch brought in her
company the black witch. This in itself might never have meant more than
an increased activity in the church courts. But when Protestant England
grew suddenly nervous for the life of the queen, when the conjurers
became a source of danger to the sovereign, and the council commenced
its campaign against them, the conditions had been created in which
witchcraft became at once the most dangerous and detested of crimes.
While the government was busy putting down the conjurers, the aroused
popular sentiment was compelling the justices of the peace and then the
assize judges to hang the witches.

This cannot be better illustrated than by the Abingdon affair of
1578-1579. Word had been carried to the privy council that Sir Henry
Newell, justice of the peace, had committed some women near Abingdon on
the charge of making waxen images.[44] The government was at once
alarmed and sent a message to Sir Henry and to the Dean of Windsor
instructing them to find out the facts and to discover if the plots were
directed against the queen. The precaution was unnecessary. There was no
ground for believing that the designs of the women accused had included
the queen. Indeed the evidence of guilt of any kind was very flimsy. But
the excitement of the public had been stirred to the highest pitch. The
privy council had shown its fear of the women and all four of them went
to the gallows.[45]

The same situation that brought about the attack upon witchcraft and
conjuration was no doubt responsible for the transfer of jurisdiction
over the crime. We have already seen that the practice of conjuration
had probably been left largely to the episcopal hierarchy for
punishment.[46] The archdeacons were expected in their visitations to
inquire into the practice of enchantment and magic within the parishes
and to make report.[47] In the reign of Elizabeth it became no light
duty. The church set itself to suppress both the consulter and the
consulted.[48] By the largest number of recorded cases deal of course
with the first class. It was very easy when sick or in trouble to go to
a professed conjurer for help.[49] It was like seeking a physician's
service, as we have seen. The church frowned upon it, but the danger
involved in disobeying the church was not deemed great. The cunning man
or woman was of course the one who ran the great risk. When worst came
to worst and the ecclesiastical power took cognizance of his profession,
the best he could do was to plead that he was a "good witch" and
rendered valuable services to the community.[50] But a good end was in
the eyes of the church no excuse for an evil means. The good witches
were dealers with evil spirits and hence to be repressed.

Yet the church was very light in its punishments. In the matter of
penalties, indeed, consulter and consulted fared nearly alike, and both
got off easily. Public confession and penance in one or more
specifically designated churches, usually in the nearest parish church,
constituted the customary penalty.[51] In a few instances it was
coupled with the requirement that the criminal should stand in the
pillory, taper in hand, at several places at stated times.[52] The
ecclesiastical records are so full of church penances that a student is
led to wonder how effectual they were in shaming the penitent into
better conduct. It may well be guessed that most of the criminals were
not sensitive souls that would suffer profoundly from the disgrace
incurred.

The control of matters of this kind was in the hands of the church by
sufferance only. So long as the state was not greatly interested, the
church was permitted to retain its jurisdiction.[53] Doubtless the kings
of England would have claimed the state's right of jurisdiction if it
had become a matter of dispute. The church itself recognized the secular
power in more important cases.[54] In such cases the archdeacon usually
acted with the justice of peace in conducting the examination,[55] as in
rendering sentence. Even then, however, the penalty was as a rule
ecclesiastical. But, with the second half of the sixteenth century,
there arose new conditions which resulted in the transfer of this
control to the state. Henry VIII had broken with Rome and established a
Church of England around the king as a centre. The power of the church
belonged to the king, and, if to the king, to his ministers and his
judges. Hence certain crimes that had been under the control of the
church fell under the jurisdiction of the king's courts.[56] In a more
special way the same change came about through the attack of the privy
council upon the conjurers. What had hitherto been a comparatively
insignificant offence now became a crime against the state and was so
dealt with.

The change, of course, was not sudden. It was not accomplished in a
year, nor in a decade. It was going on throughout the first half of
Elizabeth's reign. By the beginning of the eighties the church control
was disappearing. After 1585 the state had practically exclusive
jurisdiction.[57]

We have now finished the attempt to trace the beginning of the definite
movement against witchcraft in England. What witchcraft was, what it
became, how it was to be distinguished from sorcery--these are questions
that we have tried to answer very briefly. We have dealt in a cursory
way with a series of cases extending from Anglo-Saxon days down to the
fifteenth century in order to show how unfixed was the matter of
jurisdiction. We have sought also to explain how Continental opinion was
introduced into England through Jewel and other Marian exiles, to show
what independent forces were operating in England, and to exhibit the
growing influence of the charmers and their relation to the development
of witchcraft; and lastly we have aimed to prove that the special danger
to the queen had no little part in creating the crusade against witches.
These are conclusions of some moment and a caution must be inserted. We
have been treating of a period where facts are few and information
fragmentary. Under such circumstances conclusions can only be tentative.
Perhaps the most that can be said of them is that they are suggestions.


[1] Benjamin Thorpe, Ancient Laws and Institutes of England (London,
1840), I, 41; Liebermann, Die Gesetze der Angelsachsen (Halle, 1906),
and passages cited in his Woerterbuch under wiccan, wiccacraeft;
Thomas Wright, ed., A Contemporary Narrative of the Proceedings against
Dame Alice Kyteler (Camden Soc., London, 1843), introd., i-iii.

[2] George L. Burr, "The Literature of Witchcraft," printed in Papers
of the Am. Hist. Assoc., IV (New York, 1890), 244.

[3] Henry C. Lea, History of the Inquisition in Spain (New York,
1906-1907), IV, 207; cf. his History of the Inquisition of the Middle
Ages (New York, 1888), III, chs. VI, VII. The most elaborate study of
the rise of the delusion is that by J. Hansen, Zauberwahn, Inquisition
und Hexenprozess im Mittelalter (Cologne, 1900).

[4] Lea, Inquisition in Spain, IV, 206.

[5] Pollock and Maitland, History of English Law (2d ed., Cambridge,
1898), II, 554.

[6] Ibid. See also Wright, ed., Proceedings against Dame Alice
Kyteler, introd., ix.

[7] Ibid., x. Lincoln, not Norwich, as Wright's text (followed by
Pollock and Maitland) has it. See the royal letter itself printed in his
footnote, and cf. Rymer's Foedera (under date of 2 Jan. 1406) and
the Calendar of the Patent Rolls (Henry IV, vol. III, p. 112). The
bishop was Philip Repington, late the King's chaplain and confessor.

[8] L. O. Pike, History of Crime in England (London, 1873), I,
355-356.

[9] Ibid. Sir Harris Nicolas, Proceedings and Ordinances of the Privy
Council (London, 1834-1837). IV, 114.

[10] English Chronicle of the Reigns of Richard II, etc., edited by J.
S. Davies (Camden Soc., London, 1856), 57-60.

[11] Ramsay, Lancaster and York (Oxford, 1892), II, 31-35; Wright,
ed., Proceedings against Dame Alice Kyteler, introd., xv-xvi, quoting
the Chronicle of London; K. H. Vickers, Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester
(London, 1907), 269-279.

[12] Wright, ed., op. cit., introd., xvi-xvii.

[13] James Gairdner, Life and Reign of Richard III (2d ed., London,
1879), 81-89. Jane Shore was finally tried before the court of the
Bishop of London.

[14] Sir J. F. Stephen, History of the Criminal Law of England
(London, 1883), II, 410, gives five instances from Archdeacon Hale's
Ecclesiastical Precedents; see extracts from Lincoln Episcopal
Visitations in Archaeologia (Soc. of Antiquaries, London), XLVIII,
254-255, 262; see also articles of visitation, etc., for 1547 and 1559
in David Wilkins, Concilia Magnae Britanniae (London, 1737), IV, 25,
186, 190.

[15] An earlier statute had mentioned sorcery and witchcraft in
connection with medical practitioners. The "Act concerning Phesicions
and Surgeons" of 3 Henry VIII, ch. XI, was aimed against quacks.
"Forasmoche as the science and connyng of Physyke and Surgerie to the
perfecte knowlege wherof bee requisite bothe grete lernyng and ripe
experience ys daily ... exercised by a grete multitude of ignoraunt
persones ... soofarfurth that common Artificers as Smythes Wevers and
Women boldely and custumably take upon theim grete curis and thyngys of
great difficultie In the which they partely use socery and which crafte
[sic] partely applie such medicyne unto the disease as be verey
noyous," it was required that every candidate to practice medicine
should be examined by the bishop of the diocese (in London by either the
bishop or the Dean of St. Paul's).

[16] Stephen, History of Criminal Law, II, 431, says of this act:
"Hutchinson suggests that this act, which was passed two years after the
act of the Six Articles, was intended as a 'hank upon the reformers,'
that the part of it to which importance was attached was the pulling
down of crosses, which, it seems, was supposed to be practised in
connection with magic. Hutchinson adds that the act was never put into
execution either against witches or reformers. The act was certainly
passed during that period of Henry's reign when he was inclining in the
Roman Catholic direction." The part of the act to which Hutchinson
refers reads as follows: "And for execucion of their saide falce devyses
and practises have made or caused to be made dyvers Images and pictures
of men, women, childrene, Angelles or develles, beastes or fowles, ...
and gyving faithe and credit to suche fantasticall practises have dygged
up and pulled downe an infinite nombre of Crosses within this Realme."

[17] Parliamentary History (London, 1751-1762), III, 229.

[18] Ibid.

[19] Autobiography of Edward Underhill (in Narratives of the Days of
the Reformation, Camden Soc., London, 1859), 172-175.

[20] The measure in fact reached the engrossing stage in the Commons.
Both houses, however, adjourned early in April and left it unpassed.

[21] Several of the bishops who were appointed on Elizabeth's accession
had travelled in South Germany and Switzerland during the Marian period
and had the opportunity of familiarizing themselves with the propaganda
in these parts against witches. Thomas Bentham, who was to be bishop of
Coventry and Lichfield, had retired from England to Zurich and had
afterwards been preacher to the exiles at Basel. John Parkhurst,
appointed bishop of Norwich, had settled in Zurich on Mary's accession.
John Scory, appointed bishop of Hereford, had served as chaplain to the
exiles in Geneva. Richard Cox, appointed bishop of Ely, had visited
Frankfort and Strassburg. Edmund Grindall, who was to be the new bishop
of London, had, during his exile, visited Strassburg, Speier, and
Frankfort. Miles Coverdale, who had been bishop of Exeter but who was
not reappointed, had been in Geneva in the course of his exile. There
were many other churchmen of less importance who at one time or another
during the Marian period visited Zurich. See Bullinger's Diarium
(Basel, 1904) and Pellican's Chronikon (Basel, 1877), passim, as
also Theodor Vetter, Relations between England and Zurich during the
Reformation (London, 1904). At Strassburg the persecution raged
somewhat later; but how thoroughly Bucer and his colleagues approved and
urged it is clear from a letter of advice addressed by them in 1538 to
their fellow pastor Schwebel, of Zweibruecken (printed as No. 88 in the
Centuria Epistolarum appended to Schwebel's Scripta Theologica,
Zweibruecken, 1605). That Bucer while in England (1549-1551) found also
occasion to utter these views can hardly be doubted. These details I owe
to Professor Burr.

[22] Various dates have been assigned for Jewel's sermon, but it can be
determined approximately from a passage in the discourse. In the course
of the sermon he remarked: "I would wish that once again, as time should
serve, there might be had a quiet and sober disputation, that each part
might be required to shew their grounds without self will and without
affection, not to maintain or breed contention, ... but only that the
truth may be known.... For, at the last disputation that should have
been, you know which party gave over and would not meddle." This is
clearly an allusion to the Westminster disputation of the last of March,
1559; see John Strype, Annals of the Reformation (London, 1709-1731;
Oxford, 1824), ed. of 1824, I, pt. i, 128. The sermon therefore was
preached after that disputation. It may be further inferred that it was
preached before Jewel's controversy with Cole in March, 1560. The words,
"For at the last disputation ... you know which party gave over and
would not meddle," were hardly written after Cole accepted Jewel's
challenge. It was on the second Sunday before Easter (March 17), 1560,
that Jewel delivered at court the discourse in which he challenged
dispute on four points of church doctrine. On the next day Henry Cole
addressed him a letter in which he asked him why he "yesterday in the
Court and at all other times at Paul's Cross" offered rather to "dispute
in these four points than in the chief matters that lie in question
betwixt the Church of Rome and the Protestants." In replying to Cole on
the 20th of March Jewel wrote that he stood only upon the negative and
again mentioned his offer. On the 31st of March he repeated his
challenge upon the four points, and upon this occasion went very much
into detail in supporting them. Now, in the sermon which we are trying
to date, the sermon in which allusion is made to the prevalence of
witches, the four points are briefly named. It may be reasonably
conjectured that this sermon anticipated the elaboration of the four
points as well as the challenging sermon of March 17. It is as certain
that it was delivered after Jewel's return to London from his visitation
in the west country. On November 2, 1559, he wrote to Peter Martyr: "I
have at last returned to London, with a body worn out by a most
fatiguing journey." See Zurich Letters, I (Parker Soc., Cambridge,
1842), 44. It is interesting and significant that he adds: "We found in
all places votive relics of saints, nails with which the infatuated
people dreamed that Christ had been pierced, and I know not what small
fragments of the sacred cross. The number of witches and sorceresses had
everywhere become enormous." Jewel was consecrated Bishop of Salisbury
in the following January, having been nominated in the summer of 1559
just before his western visitation. The sermon in which he alluded to
witches may have been preached at any time after he returned from the
west, November 2, and before March 17. It would be entirely natural that
in a court sermon delivered by the newly appointed bishop of Salisbury
the prevalence of witchcraft should be mentioned. It does not seem a
rash guess that the sermon was preached soon after his return, perhaps
in December, when the impression of what he had seen in the west was
still fresh in his memory. But it is not necessary to make this
supposition. Though the discourse was delivered some time after March
15, 1559, when the first bill "against Conjurations, Prophecies, etc.,"
was brought before the Commons (see Journal of the House of Commons,
I, 57), it is not unreasonable to believe that there was some connection
between the discourse and the fortunes of this bill. That connection
seems the more probable on a careful reading of the Commons Journals for
the first sessions of Elizabeth's Parliament. It is evident that the
Elizabethan legislators were working in close cooperation with the
ecclesiastical authorities. Jewel's sermon may be found in his Works
(ed. for the Parker Soc., Cambridge, 1845-1850), II, 1025-1034. (For the
correspondence with Cole see I, 26 ff.)

For assistance in dating this sermon the writer wishes to express his
special obligation to Professor Burr.

[23] Strype, Annals of the Reformation, I, pt. i, 11. He may, indeed,
mean to ascribe it, not to the sermon, but to the evils alleged by the
sermon.

[24] In the contemporary account entitled A True and just Recorde of
the Information, Examination, and Confession of all the Witches taken at
St. Oses.... Written ... by W. W. (1582), next leaf after B 5, we read:
"there is a man of great cunning and knowledge come over lately unto our
Queenes Maiestie, which hath advertised her what a companie and number
of witches be within Englande." This probably refers to Jewel.

[25] See ibid., B 5 verso: "I and other of her Justices have received
commission for the apprehending of as many as are within these limites."
This was written later, but the event is referred to as following what
must have been Bishop Jewel's sermon.

[26] Thomas Wright, Narratives of Sorcery and Magic (ed. of N. Y.,
1852), 126 ff.; see also his Elizabeth and her Times (London, 1838),
I, 457, letter of Shrewsbury to Burghley.

[27] Wright, Narratives, 130 ff.

[28] Ibid., 134.

[29] See Reginald Scot, The Discoverie of Witchcraft (London, 1584;
reprinted, Brinsley Nicholson, ed., London, 1886), 4.

[30] A very typical instance was that in Kent in 1597, see Archaeologia
Cantiana (Kent Archaeological Soc., London), XXVI, 21. Several good
instances are given in the Hertfordshire County Session Rolls
(compiled by W. J. Hardy, London, 1905), I; see also J. Raine, ed.,
Depositions respecting the Rebellion of 1569, Witchcraft, and other
Ecclesiastical Proceedings from the Court of Durham (Surtees Soc.,
London, 1845), 99, 100.

[31] J. Raine, ed., Injunctions and other Ecclesiastical Proceedings of
Richard Barnes, Bishop of Durham (Surtees Soc., London, 1850), 18; H.
Owen and J. B. Blakeway, History of Shrewsbury (London, 1825), II,
364, art. 43.

[32] Arch. Cant., XXVI, 19.

[33] Hertfordshire Co. Sess. Rolls, I, 3.

[34] See Depositions ... from the Court of Durham, 99; Arch. Cant.,
XXVI, 21; W. H. Hale, Precedents, etc. (London, 1847), 148, 185.

[35] Hale, op. cit., 163; Middlesex County Records, ed. by J. C.
Jeaffreson (London, 1892), I, 84, 94.

[36] For an instance of how a "wise woman" feared this very thing, see
Hale, op. cit., 147.

[37] See Witches taken at St. Oses, E; also Dr. Barrow's opinion in
the pamphlet entitled The most strange and admirable discoverie of the
three Witches of Warboys, arraigned, convicted and executed at the last
assizes at Huntingdon.... (London, 1593).

[38] Folk Lore Soc. Journal, II, 157-158, where this story is quoted
from a work by "Wm. Clouues, Mayster in Chirurgery," published in 1588.
He only professed to have "reade" of it, so that it is perhaps just a
pleasant tradition. If it is nothing more than that, it is at least an
interesting evidence of opinion.

[39] Strype, Annals of the Reformation, I, pt. i, 9-10; Dictionary of
National Biography, article on Anthony Fortescue, by G. K. Fortescue.

[40] Strype, op. cit., I, pt. i, 546, 555-558; also Wright, Elizabeth
and her Times, I, 121, where a letter from Cecil to Sir Thomas Smith is
printed.

[41] The interest which the privy council showed in sorcery and
witchcraft during the earlier part of the reign is indicated in the
following references: Acts of the Privy Council, new series, VII, 6,
22, 200-201; X, 220, 382; XI, 22, 36, 292, 370-371, 427; XII, 21-22, 23,
26, 29, 34, 102, 251; Calendar of State Papers, Domestic, 1547-1580,
137, 142; id., 1581-1590, 29, 220, 246-247; id., Add. 1580-1625,
120-121; see also John Strype, Life of Sir Thomas Smith (London, 1698;
Oxford, 1820), ed. of 1820, 127-129. The case mentioned in Cal. St. P.,
Dom., 1581-1590, 29, was probably a result of the activity of the privy
council. The case in id., Add., 1580-1625, 120-121, is an instance
of where the accused was suspected of both witchcraft and "high treason
touching the supremacy." Nearly all of the above mentioned references to
the activity of the privy council refer to the first half of the reign
and a goodly proportion to the years 1578-1582.

[42] Acts P. C., n. s., XI, 292.

[43] Strype, Sir Thomas Smith, 127-129.

[44] A Rehearsall both straung and true of hainous and horrible acts
committed by Elizabeth Stile, etc. (for full title see appendix). This
pamphlet is in black letter. Its account is confirmed by the reference
in Acts P. C., n. s., XI, 22. See also Scot, Discoverie, 51, 543.

[45] An aged widow had been committed to gaol on the testimony of her
neighbors that she was "lewde, malitious, and hurtful to the people." An
ostler, after he had refused to give her relief, had suffered a pain. So
far as the account goes, this was the sum of the evidence against the
woman. Unhappily she waited not on the order of her trial but made
voluble confession and implicated five others, three of whom were
without doubt professional enchanters. She had met, she said, with
Mother Dutten, Mother Devell, and Mother Margaret, and "concluded
several hainous and vilanous practices." The deaths of five persons whom
she named were the outcome of their concerted plans. For the death of a
sixth she avowed entire responsibility. This amazing confession may have
been suggested to her piece by piece, but it was received at full value.
That she included others in her guilt was perhaps because she responded
to the evident interest aroused by such additions, or more likely
because she had grudges unsatisfied. The women were friendless, three of
the four were partially dependent upon alms, there was no one to come to
their help, and they were convicted. The man that had been arraigned, a
"charmer," seems to have gone free.

[46] Injunctions ... of ... Bishop of Durham, 18, 84, 99; Visitations
of Canterbury, in Arch. Cant., XXVI; Hale, Precedents, 1475-1640,
147, etc.

[47] Arch. Cant., XXVI, passim; Hale, op. cit., 147, 148, 163, 185;
Mrs. Lynn Linton, Witch Stories (London, 1861; new ed., 1883), 144.

[48] See Hale, op. cit., 148, 157.

[49] Hale, op. cit., 148; Depositions ... from the Court of Durham,
99; Arch. Cant., XXVI, 21.

[50] Hale, op. cit., 148, 185.

[51] Ibid., 157.

[52] Denham Tracts (Folk Lore Soc., London), II, 332; John Sykes,
Local Record ... of Remarkable Events ... in Northumberland, Durham, ...
etc. (2d ed., Newcastle, 1833-1852), I, 79.

[53] See, for example, Acts P. C., n. s., VII, 32 (1558).

[54] Cal. St. P., Dom., 1547-1580, 173. Instance where the Bishop of
London seems to have examined a case and turned it over to the privy
council.

[55] Rachel Pinder and Agnes Bridges, who pretended to be possessed by
the Devil, were examined before the "person of St. Margarets in
Lothberry," and the Mayor of London, as well as some justices of the
peace. They later made confession before the Archbishop of Canterbury
and some justices of the peace. See the black letter pamphlet, The
discloysing of a late counterfeyted possession by the devyl in two
maydens within the Citie of London [1574].

[56] Francis Coxe came before the queen rather than the church. He
narrates his experiences in A short treatise declaringe the detestable
wickednesse of magicall sciences, ... (1561). Yet John Walsh, a man
with a similar record, came before the commissary of the Bishop of
Exeter. See The Examination of John Walsh before Master Thomas
Williams, Commissary to the Reverend father in God, William, bishop of
Excester, upon certayne Interrogatories touchyng Wytch-crafte and
Sorcerye, in the presence of divers gentlemen and others, the XX of
August, 1566.

[57] We say "practically," because instances of church jurisdiction come
to light now and again throughout the seventeenth century.





Next: Witchcraft Under Elizabeth




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