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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 Exorcists








In the narrative of English witchcraft the story of the exorcists is a
side-issue. Yet their performances were so closely connected with the
operations of the Devil and of his agents that they cannot be left out
of account in any adequate statement of the subject. And it is
impossible to understand the strength and weakness of the superstition
without a comprehension of the role that the would-be agents for
expelling evil spirits played. That the reign which had seen pass in
procession the bands of conjurers and witches should close with the
exorcists was to be expected. It was their part to complete the cycle of
superstition. If miracles of magic were possible, if conjurers could use
a supernatural power of some sort to assist them in performing wonders,
there was nothing very remarkable about creatures who wrought harm to
their fellows through the agency of evil spirits. And if witches could
send evil spirits to do harm, it followed that those spirits could be
expelled or exorcised by divine assistance. If by prayer to the Devil
demons could be commanded to enter human beings, they could be driven
out by prayer to God. The processes of reasoning were perfectly clear;
and they were easily accepted because they found adequate confirmation
in the New Testament. The gospels were full of narratives of men
possessed with evil spirits who had been freed by the invocation of God.
Of these stories no doubt the most quoted and the one most effective in
moulding opinion was the account of the dispossessed devils who had
entered into a herd of swine and plunged over a steep place into the
sea.

It must not be supposed that exorcism was a result of belief in
witchcraft. It was as old as the Christian church. It was still made use
of by the Roman church and, indeed, by certain Protestant groups. And
just at this time the Roman church found it a most important instrument
in the struggle against the reformed religions. In England Romanism was
waging a losing war, and had need of all the miracles that it could
claim in order to reestablish its waning credit. The hunted priests who
were being driven out by Whitgift were not unwilling to resort to a
practice which they hoped would regain for them the allegiance of the
common people. During the years 1585-1586 they had conducted what they
considered marvellous works of exorcism in Catholic households of
Buckinghamshire and Middlesex.[1] Great efforts had been made to keep
news of these seances from reaching the ears of the government, but
accounts of them had gained wide circulation and came to the privy
council. That body was of course stimulated to greater activity against
the Catholics.[2]

As a phase of a suppressed form of religion the matter might never have
assumed any significance. Had not a third-rate Puritan clergyman, John
Darrel, almost by accident hit upon the use of exorcism, the story of
its use would be hardly worth telling.[3] When this young minister was
not more than twenty, but already, as he says, reckoned "a man of hope,"
he was asked to cure a seventeen-year-old girl at Mansfield in
Nottingham, Katherine Wright.[4] Her disease called for simple medical
treatment. That was not Darrel's plan of operation. She had an evil
spirit, he declared. From four o'clock in the morning until noon he
prayed over her spirit. He either set going of his own initiative the
opinion that possessed persons could point out witches, or he quickly
availed himself of such a belief already existing. The evil spirit, he
declared, could recognize and even name the witch that had sent it as
well as the witch's confederates. All of this was no doubt suggested to
the possessed girl and she was soon induced to name the witch that
troubled her. This was Margaret Roper, a woman with whom she was upon
bad terms. Margaret Roper was at once taken into custody by the
constable. She happened to be brought before a justice of the peace
possessing more than usual discrimination. He not only discharged
her,[5] but threatened John Darrel with arrest.[6]

This was in 1586. Darrel disappeared from view for ten years or so,
when he turned up at Burton-upon-Trent, not very far from the scene of
his first operations. Here he volunteered to cure Thomas Darling. The
story is a curious one and too long for repetition. Some facts must,
however, be presented in order to bring the story up to the point at
which Darrel intervened. Thomas Darling, a young Derbyshire boy, had
become ill after returning from a hunt. He was afflicted with
innumerable fits, in which he saw green angels and a green cat. His aunt
very properly consulted a physician, who at the second consultation
thought it possible that the child was bewitched. The aunt failed to
credit the diagnosis. The boy's fits continued and soon took on a
religious character. Between seizures he conversed with godly people.
They soon discovered that the reading of the Scriptures brought on
attacks. This looked very like the Devil's work. The suggestion of the
physician was more seriously regarded. Meanwhile the boy had overheard
the discussion of witchcraft and proceeded to relate a story. He had
met, he said, a "little old woman" in a "gray gown with a black fringe
about the cape, a broad thrimmed hat, and three warts on her face."[7]
Very accidentally, as he claimed, he offended her. She angrily said a
rhyming charm that ended with the words, "I wil goe to heaven, and thou
shalt goe to hell," and stooped to the ground.

The story produced a sensation. Those who heard it declared at once that
the woman must have been Elizabeth Wright, or her daughter Alse
Gooderidge, women long suspected of witchcraft. Alse was fetched to the
boy. She said she had never seen him, but her presence increased the
violence of his fits. Mother and daughter were carried before two
justices of the peace, who examined them together with Alse's husband
and daughter. The women were searched for special marks in the usual
revolting manner with the usual outcome, but only Alse herself was sent
to gaol.[8]

The boy grew no better. It was discovered that the reading of certain
verses in the first chapter of John invariably set him off.[9] The
justices of the peace put Alse through several examinations, but with
little result. Two good witches were consulted, but refused to help
unless the family of the bewitched came to see them.

Meantime a cunning man appeared who promised to prove Alse a witch. In
the presence of "manie worshipfull personages" "he put a paire of new
shooes on her feete, setting her close to the fire till the shooes being
extreame hot might constrayne her through increase of the paine to
confesse." "This," says the writer, "was his ridiculous practice." The
woman "being throghly heated desired a release" and offered to confess,
but, as soon as her feet were cooled, refused. No doubt the justices of
the peace would have repudiated the statement that the illegal process
of torture was used. The methods of the cunning man were really nothing
else.

The woman was harried day and night by neighbors to bring her to
confess.[10] At length she gave way and, in a series of reluctant
confessions, told a crude story of her wrong-doings that bore some
slight resemblance to the boy's tale, and involved the use of a spirit
in the form of a dog.

Now it was that John Darrel came upon the ground eager to make a name
for himself. Darling had been ill for three months and was not
improving. Even yet some of the boy's relatives and friends doubted if
he were possessed. Not so Darrel. He at once undertook to pray and fast
for the boy. According to his own account his efforts were singularly
blessed. At all events the boy gradually improved and Darrel claimed the
credit. As for Alse Gooderidge, she was tried at the assizes, convicted
by the jury, and sentenced by Lord Chief-Justice Anderson to
imprisonment. She died soon after.[11] This affair undoubtedly widened
Darrel's reputation.

Not long after, a notable case of possession in Lancashire afforded him
a new opportunity to attract notice. The case of Nicholas Starchie's
children provoked so much comment at the time that it is perhaps worth
while to go back and bring the narrative up to the point where Darrel
entered.[12] Two of Starchie's children had one day been taken ill most
mysteriously, the girl "with a dumpish and heavie countenance, and with
a certaine fearefull starting and pulling together of her body." The boy
was "compelled to shout" on the way to school. Both grew steadily
worse[13] and the father consulted Edmund Hartley, a noted conjurer of
his time. Hartley quieted the children by the use of charms. When he
realized that his services would be indispensable to the father he made
a pretence of leaving and so forced a promise from Starchie to pay him
40 shillings a year. This ruse was so successful that he raised his
demands. He asked for a house and lot, but was refused. The children
fell ill again. The perplexed parent now went to a physician of
Manchester. But the physician "sawe no signe of sicknes." Dr. Dee, the
famous astrologer and friend of Elizabeth, was summoned. He advised the
help of "godlie preachers."[14]

Meantime the situation in the afflicted family took a more serious turn.
Besides Mr. Starchie's children, three young wards of his, a servant,
and a visitor, were all taken with the mysterious illness. The modern
reader might suspect that some contagious disease had gripped the
family, but the irregular and intermittent character of the disease
precludes that hypothesis. Darrel in his own pamphlet on the matter
declares that when the parents on one occasion went to a play the
children were quiet, but that when they were engaged in godly exercise
they were tormented, a statement that raises a suspicion that the
disease, like that of the Throckmorton children, was largely imaginary.

But the divines were at work. They had questioned the conjurer, and had
found that he fumbled "verie ill favouredlie" in the repetition of the
Lord's Prayer. He was haled before a justice of the peace, who began
gathering evidence against him and turned him over to the assizes. There
it came out that he had been wont to kiss the Starchie children, and had
even attempted, although without success, to kiss a maid servant. In
this way he had presumably communicated the evil spirit--a new notion.
The court could find no law, however, upon which to hang him. He had
bewitched the children, but he had bewitched none of them to death, and
therefore had not incurred the death penalty. But the father leaped into
the gap. He remembered that he had seen the conjurer draw a magic circle
and divide it into four parts and that he had bidden the witness step
into the quarters one after another. Making such circles was definitely
mentioned in the law as felony. Hartley denied the charge, but to no
purpose. He was convicted of felony[15]--so far as we can judge, on this
unsupported afterthought of a single witness--and was hanged. Sympathy,
however, would be inappropriate. In the whole history of witchcraft
there were few victims who came so near to deserving their fate.

This was the story up to the time of Darrel's arrival. With Darrel came
his assistant, George More, pastor of a church in Derbyshire. The two at
once recognized the supernatural character of the case they were to
treat and began religious services for the stricken family. It was to no
effect. "All or most of them joined together in a strange and
supernatural loud whupping that the house and grounde did sounde
therwith again."

But the exorcists were not by any means disheartened. On the following
day, in company with another minister, they renewed the services and
were able to expel six of the seven spirits. On the third day they
stormed and took the last citadel of Satan. Unhappily the capture was
not permanent. Darrel tells us himself that the woman later became a
Papist[16] and the evil spirit returned.

The exorcist now turned his skill upon a young apprenticed musician of
Nottingham. According to Darrel's story of the affair,[17] William
Somers had nine years before met an old woman who had threatened him.
Again, more than a year before Darrel came to Nottingham, Somers had had
two encounters with a strange woman "at a deep cole-pit, hard by the
way-side." Soon afterwards he "did use such strang and idle kinde of
gestures in laughing, dancing and such like lighte behaviour, that he
was suspected to be madd." He began to suffer from bodily distortions
and to evince other signs of possession which created no little
excitement in Nottingham.

Darrel had been sent for by this time. He came at once and with his
usual precipitancy pronounced the case one of possession. Somers, he
said, was suffering for the sins of Nottingham.[18] It was time that
something should be done. Prayer and fasting were instituted. For three
days the youth was preached to and prayed over, while the people of
Nottingham, or some of them at least, joined in the fast. On the third
day came what was deemed a most remarkable exhibition. The preacher
named slowly, one after another, fourteen signs of possession. As he
named them Somers illustrated in turn each form of possession.[19] Here
was confirmatory evidence of a high order. The exorcist had outdone
himself. He now held out promises of deliverance for the subject. For a
quarter of an hour the boy lay as if dead, and then rose up quite well.

Darrel now took up again the witchfinder's role he had once before
assumed. Somers was encouraged to name the contrivers of his
bewitchment. Through him, Darrel is said to have boasted, they would
expose all the witches in England.[20] They made a most excellent start
at it. Thirteen women were accused by the boy,[21] who would fall into
fits at the sight of a witch, and a general invitation was extended to
prefer charges. But the community was becoming a bit incredulous and
failed to respond. All but two of the accused women were released.

The witch-discoverer, who in the meantime had been chosen preacher at
St. Mary's in Nottingham, made two serious mistakes. He allowed
accusations to be preferred against Alice Freeman, sister of an
alderman,[22] and he let Somers be taken out of his hands. By the
contrivance of some citizens who doubted the possession, Somers was
placed in the house of correction, on a trumped-up charge that he had
bewitched a Mr. Sterland to death.[23] Removed from the clergyman's
influence, he made confession that his possessions were pretended.[24]
Darrel, he declared, had taught him how to pretend. The matter had now
gained wide notoriety and was taken up by the Anglican church. The
archdeacon of Derby reported the affair to his superiors, and the
Archbishop of York appointed a commission to examine into the case.[25]
Whether from alarm or because he had anew come under Darrel's influence,
Somers refused to confess before the commission and again acted out his
fits with such success that the commission seems to have been convinced
of the reality of his possession.[26] This was a notable victory for the
exorcist.

But Chief-Justice Anderson of the court of common pleas was now
commencing the assizes at Nottingham and was sitting in judgment on the
case of Alice Freeman. Anderson was a man of intense convictions. He
believed in the reality of witchcraft and had earlier sent at least one
witch to the gallows[27] and one to prison.[28] But he was a man who
hated Puritanism with all his heart, and would at once have suspected
Puritan exorcism. Whether because the arch-instigator against Alice
Freeman was a Puritan, or because the evidence adduced against her was
flimsy, or because Somers, again summoned to court, acknowledged his
fraud,[29] or for all these reasons, Anderson not only dismissed the
case,[30] but he wrote a letter about it to the Archbishop of
Canterbury. Archbishop Whitgift called Darrel and More before the court
of high commission, where the Bishop of London, two of the Lord
Chief-Justices, the master of requests, and other eminent officials
heard the case. It seems fairly certain that Bancroft, the Bishop of
London, really took control of this examination and that he acted quite
as much the part of a prosecutor as that of a judge. One of Darrel's
friends complained bitterly that the exorcist was not allowed to make
"his particular defences" but "was still from time to time cut off by
the Lord Bishop of London."[31] No doubt the bishop may have been
somewhat arbitrary. It was his privilege under the procedure of the
high commission court, and he was dealing with one whom he deemed a very
evident impostor. In fine, a verdict was rendered against the two
clergymen. They were deposed from the ministry and put in close
prison.[32] So great was the stir they had caused that in 1599 Samuel
Harsnett, chaplain to the Bishop of London, published A Discovery of
the Fraudulent Practises of John Darrel, a careful resume of the entire
case, with a complete exposure of Darrel's trickery. In this account the
testimony of Somers was given as to the origin of his possession. He
testified before the ecclesiastical court that he had known Darrel
several years before they had met at Nottingham. At their first meeting
he promised, declared Somers, "to tell me some thinges, wherein if I
would be ruled by him, I should not be driven to goe so barely as I
did." Darrel related to Somers the story of Katherine Wright and her
possession, and remarked, "If thou wilt sweare unto me to keepe my
counsell, I will teache thee to doe all those trickes which Katherine
Wright did, and many others that are more straunge." He then illustrated
some of the tricks for the benefit of his pupil and gave him a written
paper of directions. From that time on there were meetings between the
two at various places. The pupil, however, was not altogether successful
with his fits and was once turned out of service as a pretender. He was
then apprenticed to the musician already mentioned, and again met
Darrel, who urged him to go and see Thomas Darling of Burton, "because,"
says Somers, "that seeing him in his fittes, I might the better learn to
do them myselfe." Somers met Darrel again and went through with a
series of tricks of possession. It was after all these meetings and
practice that Somers began his career as a possessed person in
Nottingham and was prayed over by Mr. Darrel. Such at least was his
story as told to the ecclesiastical commission. It would be hazardous to
say that the narrative was all true. Certainly it was accepted by
Harsnett, who may be called the official reporter of the proceedings at
Darrel's trial, as substantially true.[33]

The publication of the Discovery by Harsnett proved indeed to be only
the beginning of a pamphlet controversy which Darrel and his supporters
were but too willing to take up.[34] Harsnett himself after his first
onslaught did not re-enter the contest. The semi-official character of
his writing rendered it unnecessary to refute the statements of a
convicted man. At any rate, he was soon occupied with another production
of similar aim. In 1602 Bishop Bancroft was busily collecting the
materials, in the form of sworn statements, for the exposure of Catholic
pretenders. He turned the material over to his chaplain. Whether the
several examinations of Roman exorcists and their subjects were the
result of a new interest in exposing exorcism on the part of the powers
which had sent Darrel to prison, or whether they were merely a phase of
increased vigilance against the activity of the Roman priests, we cannot
be sure. The first conclusion does not seem improbable. Be that as it
may, the court of high commission got hold of evidence enough to
justify the privy council in authorizing a full publication of the
testimony.[35] Harsnett was deputed to write the account of the Catholic
exorcists which was brought out in 1603 under the title of A
Declaration of Egregious Popish Impostures. We have not the historical
materials with which to verify the claims made in the book. On the face
of it the case against the Roman priests looks bad. A mass of
examinations was printed which seem to show that the Jesuit Weston and
his confreres in England had been guilty of a great deal of jugglery and
pretence. The Jesuits, however, were wiser in their generation than the
Puritans and had not made charges of witchcraft. For that reason their
performances may be passed over.

Neither the pretences of the Catholics nor the refutation of them are
very important for our purposes. The exposure of John Darrel was of
significance, because it involved the guilt or innocence of the women he
accused as witches, as well as because the ecclesiastical authorities
took action against him and thereby levelled a blow directly at exorcism
and possession[36] and indirectly at loose charges of witchcraft.
Harsnett's books were the outcome of this affair and the ensuing
exposures of the Catholics, and they were more significant than
anything that had gone before. The Church of England had not committed
itself very definitely on witchcraft, but its spokesman in the attack
upon the Catholic pretenders took no uncertain ground. He was skeptical
not only about exorcism but about witchcraft as well. It is refreshing
and inspiriting to read his hard-flung and pungent words. "Out of
these," he wrote, "is shaped us the true Idea of a Witch, an old
weather-beaten Croane, having her chinne and her knees meeting for age,
walking like a bow leaning on a shaft, hollow-eyed, untoothed, furrowed
on her face, having her lips trembling with the palsie, going mumbling
in the streetes, one that hath forgotten her pater noster, and hath
yet a shrewd tongue in her head, to call a drab, a drab. If shee have
learned of an olde wife in a chimnies end: Pax, max, fax, for a spel:
or can say Sir John of Grantams curse, for the Millers Eeles, that
were stolne: ... Why then ho, beware, looke about you my neighbours; if
any of you have a sheepe sicke of the giddies, or an hogge of the
mumps, or an horse of the staggers, or a knavish boy of the schoole, or
an idle girle of the wheele, or a young drab of the sullens, and hath
not fat enough for her porredge, nor her father and mother butter enough
for their bread; and she have a little helpe of the Mother,
Epilepsie, or Cramp, ... and then with-all old mother Nobs hath
called her by chaunce 'idle young huswife,' or bid the devil scratch
her, then no doubt but mother Nobs is the witch.... Horace the
Heathen spied long agoe, that a Witch, a Wizard, and a Conjurer were but
bul-beggers to scare fooles.... And Geoffry Chaucer, who had his two
eyes, wit, and learning in his head, spying that all these brainlesse
imaginations of witchings, possessings, house-hanting, and the rest,
were the forgeries, cosenages, Imposturs, and legerdemaine of craftie
priests, ... writes in good plaine terms."[37]

It meant a good deal that Harsnett took such a stand. Scot had been a
voice crying in the wilderness. Harsnett was supported by the powers in
church and state. He was, as has been seen, the chaplain of Bishop
Bancroft,[38] now--from 1604--to become Archbishop of Canterbury. He was
himself to become eminent in English history as master of Pembroke Hall
(Cambridge), vice-chancellor of Cambridge University, Bishop of
Chichester, Bishop of Norwich, and Archbishop of York.[39] Whatever
support he had at the time--and it is very clear that he had the backing
of the English church on the question of exorcism--his later position
and influence must have given great weight not only to his views on
exorcism but to his skepticism about witchcraft.[40]

His opinions on the subject, so far as can be judged by his few direct
statements and by implications, were quite as radical as those of his
predecessor.[41] As a matter of fact he was a man who read widely[42]
and had pondered deeply on the superstition, but his thought had been
colored by Scot.[43] His assault, however, was less direct and studied
than that of his master. Scot was a man of uncommonly serious
temperament, a plain, blunt-spoken, church-going Englishman who covered
the whole ground of superstition without turning one phrase less serious
than another. His pupil, if so Harsnett may be called, wrote earnestly,
even aggressively, but with a sarcastic and bitter humor that
entertained the reader and was much less likely to convince. The curl
never left his lips. If at times a smile appeared, it was but an
accented sneer. A writer with a feeling indeed for the delicate effects
of word combination, if his humor had been less chilled by hate, if his
wit had been of a lighter and more playful vein, he might have laughed
superstition out of England. When he described the dreadful power of
holy water and frankincense and the book of exorcisms "to scald, broyle
and sizzle the devil," or "the dreadful power of the crosse and
sacrament of the altar to torment the devill and to make him roare," or
"the astonishable power of nicknames, reliques and asses ears,"[44] he
revealed a faculty of fun-making just short of effective humor.

It would not be fair to leave Harsnett without a word on his place as a
writer. In point of literary distinction his prose style maintains a
high level. In the use of forceful epithet and vivid phrase he is
excelled by no Elizabethan prose writer. Because his writings deal so
largely with dry-as-dust reports of examinations, they have never
attained to that position in English literature which parts of them
merit.[45]

Harsnett's book was the last chapter in the story of Elizabethan
witchcraft and exorcism. It is hardly too much to say that it was the
first chapter in the literary exploitation of witchcraft. Out of the
Declaration Shakespeare and Ben Jonson mined those ores which when
fused and refined by imagination and fancy were shaped into the shining
forms of art. Shakespearean scholars have pointed out the connection
between the dramatist and the exposer of exorcism. It has indeed been
suggested by one student of Shakespeare that the great playwright was
lending his aid by certain allusions in Twelfth Night to Harsnett's
attempts to pour ridicule on Puritan exorcism.[46] It would be hard to
say how much there is in this suggestion. About Ben Jonson we can speak
more certainly. It is clearly evident that he sneered at Darrel's
pretended possessions. In the third scene of the fifth act of The Devil
is an Ass he makes Mere-craft say:

It is the easiest thing, Sir, to be done.
As plaine as fizzling: roule but wi' your eyes,
And foame at th' mouth. A little castle-soape
Will do 't, to rub your lips: And then a nutshell,
With toe and touchwood in it to spit fire,
Did you ner'e read, Sir, little Darrel's tricks,
With the boy o' Burton, and the 7 in Lancashire,
Sommers at Nottingham? All these do teach it.
And wee'l give out, Sir, that your wife ha's bewitch'd you.

This is proof enough, not only that Jonson was in sympathy with the
Anglican assailants of Puritan exorcism, but that he expected to find
others of like opinion among those who listened to his play. And it was
not unreasonable that he should expect this. It is clear enough that the
powers of the Anglican church were behind Harsnett and that their
influence gave his views weight. We have already observed that there
were some evidences in the last part of Elizabeth's reign of a reaction
against witch superstition. Harsnett's book, while directed primarily
against exorcism, is nevertheless another proof of that reaction.


[1] Sir George Peckham of Denham near Uxbridge and Lord Vaux of Hackney
were two of the most prominent Catholics who opened their homes for
these performances. See Samuel Harsnett, Declaration of Egregious
Popish Impostures (London, 1603), 7, 8.

[2] For a discussion of the Catholic exorcists see T. G. Law, "Devil
Hunting in Elizabethan England," in the Nineteenth Century for March,
1894. Peckham's other activities in behalf of his church are discussed
by Dr. R. B. Merriman in "Some Notes on the Treatment of English
Catholics in the Reign of Elizabeth," in the Am. Hist. Rev., April,
1908. Dr. Merriman errs, however, in supposing that John Darrel
cooperated with Weston and the Catholic exorcists; ibid., note 51.
Darrel was a Puritan and had nothing to do with the Catholic
performances.

[3] It is quite possible to suppose, however, that its course would have
been run in much the same way at a later time.

[4] For Harsnett's account of Katherine Wright see his Discovery of the
Fraudulent Practises of John Darrel (London, 1599), 297-315. For
Darrel's story see The Triall of Maist. Dorrel, or A Collection of
Defences against Allegations ... (1599), 15-21.

[5] See Harsnett, Discovery, 310.

[6] Katherine Wright's evil spirit returned later.

[7] "I have seene her begging at our doore," he declared, "as for her
name I know it not."

[8] Harsnett, Discovery, 41, 265, deals briefly with the Darling case
and Alse Gooderidge. See also John Darrel, A Detection of that sinnful,
shamful, lying, and ridiculous discours of Samuel Harshnet (1600),
38-40. But the fullest account is a pamphlet at the Lambeth Palace
library. It is entitled The most wonderfull and true Storie of a
certaine Witch named Alse Gooderidge of Stapenhill.... As also a true
Report of the strange Torments of Thomas Darling.... (London, 1597).
For a discussion of this pamphlet see appendix A, Sec. 1.

[9] The boy was visited by a stranger who tried to persuade him that
there were no witches. But this Derbyshire disciple of Scot had come to
the wrong place and his efforts were altogether useless.

[10] Meantime her mother Elizabeth Wright was also being worried. She
was found on her knees in prayer. No doubt the poor woman was taking
this method of alleviating her distress; but her devotion was
interpreted as worship of the Devil.

[11] So Darrel says. The pamphleteer Denison, who put together the story
of Alse Gooderidge, wrote "she should have been executed but that her
spirit killed her in prison."

[12] Darrel gives an extended account of this affair in A True
Narration of the strange and grevous Vexation by the Devil of seven
persons in Lancashire (1600; reprinted in Somers Tracts, III),
170-179. See also George More, A true Discourse concerning the certaine
possession and dispossession of 7 persons in one familie in Lancashire ...
(1600), 9 ff.

[13] Certain matters in connection with this case are interesting.
George More tells us that Mrs. Starchie was an "inheritrix." Some of her
kindred, Papists, prayed for the perishing of her issue. Four of her
children pined away. Mrs. Starchie, when told of their prayers, conveyed
all her property to her husband. She had two children afterwards, the
two that were stricken. It is possible that all this may present some
key to the case, but it is hard to see just how. See More, A true
Discourse, 11-12.

[14] George More, A true Discourse, 15; Harsnett, Discovery, 22.
While Dee took no part in the affair except that he "sharply reproved
and straitly examined" Hartley, he lent Mr. Hopwood, the justice of the
peace before whom Hartley was brought, his copy of the book of Wierus,
then the collections of exorcisms known as the Flagellum Daemonum and
the Fustis Daemonum, and finally the famous Malleus Maleficarum. See
Dee's Private Diary (Camden Soc., London, 1843), entries for March 19,
April 15, and August 6, 1597.

[15] George More, A true Discourse, 21; Darrel, A True Narration
(Somers Tracts, III), 175.

[16] Harsnett, Discovery, tells us that "certain Seminarie priests"
got hold of her and carried her up and down the country and thereby
"wonne great credit."

[17] Darrel's account of this affair is in A True Narration (Somers
Tracts, III), 179-186. Harsnett takes it up in his Discovery, 78-264.

[18] See deposition of Cooper, in Harsnett, Discovery, 114.

[19] Depositions of Somers and Darrel, ibid., 124-125. It must be
recalled that when this was first tried before a commission they were
convinced that it was not imposture. A layman cannot refrain from
suspecting that Darrel had hypnotic control over Somers.

[20] Ibid., 141-142.

[21] Ibid., 141. Harsnett quotes Darrel for this statement.

[22] Ibid., 5; John Darrel, An Apologie, or defence of the possession
of William Sommers ... (1599?), L verso.

[23] Darrel, A True Narration (Somers Tracts, III), 184; see also
his A brief Apologie proving the possession of William Sommers ...
(1599), 17.

[24] Harsnett, Discovery, 7.

[25] Ibid.

[26] Ibid., 8; Darrel, An Apologie, or defence, 4; Darrel, A True
Narration (Somers Tracts, III), 185.

[27] Triall of Maist. Dorrel, narrative in back of pamphlet.

[28] Darrel, A Detection of that sinnful ... discours of Samuel
Harshnet, 40. And see above, p. 56, note.

[29] Harsnett, Discovery, 8.

[30] Ibid., 320-322; Darrel, An Apologie, or defence, L III, says
that the third jury acquitted her. Harsnett refers to the fact that he
was found guilty by the grand inquest.

[31] The Triall of Maist. Dorrel, preface "To the Reader."

[32] Harsnett, Discovery, 9.

[33] Ibid., 78-98.

[34] Yet Darrel must have realized that he had the worst of it. There is
a pathetic acknowledgment of this in the "Preface to the Reader" of his
publication, A Survey of Certaine Dialogical Discourses, written by
John Deacon and John Walker ... (1602): "But like a tried and
weather-beaten bird [I] wish for quiet corner to rest myself in and to
drye my feathers in the warme sun."

[35] T. G. Law, "Devil Hunting in Elizabethan England," in Nineteenth
Century, March, 1894.

[36] On the matter of exorcism the position of the Church of England
became fixed by 1604. The question had been a cause of disagreement
among the leaders of the Reformation. The Lutherans retained exorcism in
the baptismal ritual and rivalled the Roman clergy in their exorcism of
the possessed. It was just at the close of the sixteenth century that
there arose in Lutheran Germany a hot struggle between the believers in
exorcism and those who would oust it as a superstition. The Swiss and
Genevan reformers, unlike Luther, had discarded exorcism, declaring it
to have belonged only to the early church, and charging modern instances
to Papist fraud; and with them seem to have agreed their South German
friends. In England baptismal exorcism was at first retained in the
ritual under Edward VI, but in 1552, under Bucer's influence, it was
dropped. Under Elizabeth the yet greater influence of Zurich and Geneva
must have discredited all exorcism, and one finds abundant evidence of
this in the writings of Jewel and his followers. An interesting letter
of Archbishop Parker in 1574 shows his utter incredulity as to
possession in the case of Agnes Bridges and Rachel Pinder of Lothbury;
see Parker's Correspondence (Parker Soc., Cambridge, 1856), 465-466.
His successor, the Calvinistic Whitgift, was almost certainly of the
same mind. Bancroft, the next archbishop of Canterbury, drew up or at
least inspired that epoch-making body of canons enacted by Convocation
in the spring of 1604, the 72d article of which forbids any Anglican
clergyman, without the express consent of his bishop obtained
beforehand, to use exorcism in any fashion under any pretext, on pain of
being counted an impostor and deposed from the ministry. This ended the
matter so far as the English church was concerned. For this resume of
the Protestant and the Anglican attitude toward exorcism I am indebted
to Professor Burr.

[37] Harsnett, A Declaration of Egregious Popish Impostures (London,
1605), 136-138.

[38] It is not impossible that Harsnett was acting as a mouth-piece for
Bancroft. Darrel wrote: "There is no doubt but that S. H. stand for
Samuell Harsnet, chapline to the Bishop of London, but whither he alone,
or his lord and hee, have discovered this counterfeyting and cosonage
there is the question. Some thinke the booke to be the Bishops owne
doing: and many thinke it to be the joynt worke of them both." A
Detection of that sinnful ... discours of Samuel Harshnet, 7, 8.

[39] From 1602 until 1609 he was archdeacon of Essex; see Victoria
History of Essex, II, (London, 1907), 46.

[40] There is a statement by the Reverend John Swan, who wrote in 1603,
that Harsnett's book had been put into the hands of King James,
presumably after his coming to England; see John Swan, A True and
Breife Report of Mary Glover's Vexation, and of her deliverance ...
(1603), "Dedication to the King," 3. One could wish for some
confirmation of this statement. Certainly James would not at that time
have sympathized with Harsnett's views about witches, but his attitude
on several occasions toward those supposed to be possessed by evil
spirits would indicate that he may very well have been influenced by a
reading of the Discovery.

[41] On page 36 of the Discovery Harsnett wrote: "Whether witches can
send devils into men and women (as many doe pretende) is a question
amongst those that write of such matters, and the learneder and sounder
sort doe hold the negative." One does not need to read far in Harsnett
to understand what he thought.

[42] His scholarship, evident from his books, is attested by Thomas
Fuller, who calls him "a man of great learning, strong parts, and stout
spirit" (Worthies of England, ed. of London, 1840, I, 507).

[43] See his Declaration of Egregious Popish Impostures, 134-136; his
Discovery also shows the use of Scot.

[44] Harsnett, Declaration of Egregious Popish Impostures, 98, 123,
110.

[45] Read ibid., 131-140.


of Shakespeare (London, 1845), I, 380-390.





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