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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

Witchcraft During The Commonwealth And Protectorate

We have, in the last chapter, traced the history of witchcraft in
England through the Hopkins episode of 1645-1647. From the trials at Ely
in the autumn of 1647 to the discoveries at Berwick in the summer of
1649 there was a lull in the witch alarms. Then an epidemic broke out in
the north of England. We shall, in this chapter, describe that epidemic
and shall carry the narrative of the important cases from that time to
the Restoration. In doing this we shall mark off two periods, one from
1649 to 1653, when the executions were still numerous, and a second from
1653 to 1659 when there was a rapid falling off, not only in death
penalties for witchcraft, but even in accusations. To be sure, this
division is somewhat artificial, for there was a gradual decline of the
attack throughout the two periods, but the year 1653 more nearly than
any other marks the year when that decline became visible.

The epidemic of 1649 came from Scotland. Throughout the year the
northern kingdom had been "infested."[1] From one end of that realm to
the other the witch fires had been burning. It was not to be supposed
that they should be suddenly extinguished when they reached the border.
In July the guild of Berwick had invited a Scotchman who had gained
great fame as a "pricker" to come to Berwick, and had promised him
immunity from all violence.[2] He came and proceeded to apply his
methods of detection. They rested upon the assumption that a witch had
insensible spots on her body, and that these could be found by driving
in a pin. By such processes he discovered thirty witches, who were sent
to gaol. Some of them made confessions but refused to admit that they
had injured any one.[3] On the contrary, they had assisted Cromwell, so
some of the more ingenious of them claimed, at the battle of Preston.[4]
Whether this helped their case we do not know, for we are not told the
outcome. It seems almost certain, however, that few, if any, of them
suffered death. But the pricker went back to Scotland with thirty
pounds, the arrangement having been that he was to receive twenty
shillings a witch.

He was soon called upon again. In December of the same year the town of
Newcastle underwent a scare. Two citizens, probably serjeants, applied
the test with such success that in March (1649/50) a body of citizens
petitioned the common council that some definite steps be taken about
the witches. The council accepted the suggestion and despatched two
serjeants, doubtless the men already engaged in the work, to Scotland to
engage the witch-pricker. He was brought to Newcastle with the definite
contract that he was to have his passage going and coming and twenty
shillings apiece for every witch he found. The magistrates did
everything possible to help him. On his arrival in Newcastle they sent
the bellman through the town inviting every one to make complaints.[5]
In this business-like way they collected thirty women at the town hall,
stripped them, and put them to the pricking test. This cruel, not to say
indelicate, process was carried on with additions that must have proved
highly diverting to the base-minded prickers and onlookers.[6] Fourteen
women and one man were tried (Gardiner says by the assizes) and found
guilty. Without exception they asserted their innocence; but this
availed not. In August of 1650 they were executed on the town moor[7] of

The witchfinder continued his activities in the north, but a storm was
rising against him. Henry Ogle, a late member of Parliament, caused him
to be jailed and put under bond to answer the sessions.[9] Unfortunately
the man got away to Scotland, where he later suffered death for his
deeds, probably during the Cromwellian regime in that country.[10]

We have seen that Henry Ogle had driven the Scotch pricker out of the
country. He participated in another witch affair during this same period
which is quite as much to his credit. The children of George Muschamp,
in Northumberland, had been troubled for two years (1645-1647) with
strange convulsions.[11] The family suspected Dorothy Swinow, who was
the wife of Colonel Swinow. It seems that the colonel's wife had, at
some time, spoken harshly to one of the children. No doubt the sick
little girl heard what they said. At any rate her ravings began to take
the form of accusations against the suspected woman. The family
consulted John Hulton, "who could do more then God allowed," and he
accused Colonel Swinow's wife. But unfortunately for him the child had
been much better during his presence, and he too was suspected. The
mother of the children now rode to a justice of the peace, who sent for
Hulton, but not for Mistress Swinow. Then the woman appealed to the
assizes, but the judge, "falsely informed," took no action. Mrs.
Muschamp was persistent, and in the town of Berwick she was able, at
length, to procure the arrest of the woman she feared. But Dorothy
Swinow was not without friends, who interfered successfully in her
behalf. Mrs. Muschamp now went to a "counsellor," who refused to meddle
with the matter, and then to a judge, who directed her to go to Durham.
She did so and got a warrant; but it was not obeyed. She then procured a
second warrant, and apparently succeeded in getting an indictment. But
it did her little good: Dorothy Swinow was not apprehended.

One can hardly refrain from smiling a little at the unhappy Mrs.
Muschamp and her zealous assistants, the "physician" and the two
clergymen. But her poor daughters grew worse, and the sick child, who
had before seen angels in her convulsions, now saw the colonel's wife
and cried out in her ravings against the remiss judge.[12] The case is
at once pathetic and amusing, but it has withal a certain significance.
It was not only Mrs. Swinow's social position that saved her, though
that doubtless carried weight. It was the reluctance of the
north-country justices to follow up accusations. Not that they had done
with trials. Two capital sentences at Durham and another at Gateshead,
although perhaps after-effects of the Scotch pricker's activity, showed
that the witch was still feared; but such cases were exceptions. In
general, the cases resulted in acquittals. We shall see, in another
chapter, that the discovery which alarmed Yorkshire and Northumberland
in 1673 almost certainly had this outcome; and the cases tried at that
time formed the last chapter in northern witchcraft.

But, if hanging witches was not easy in the north, there were still
districts in the southwest of England where it could be done, with few
to say nay. Anne Bodenham,[13] of Fisherton Anger in Wiltshire, had not
the social position of Dorothy Swinow, but she was the wife of a
clothier who had lived "in good fashion," and in her old age she taught
children to read. She had, it seems, been in earlier life an apt pupil
of Dr. Lambe, and had learned from him the practice of magic lore. She
drew magic circles, saw visions of people in a glass, possessed numerous
charms and incantations, and, above all, kept a wonderful magic book.
She attempted to find lost money, to tell the future, and to cure
disease; indeed, she had a varied repertoire of occult performances.

Now, Mistress Bodenham did all these things for money and roused no
antagonism in her community until she was unfortunate enough to have
dealings with a maid-servant in a Wiltshire family. It is impossible to
get behind the few hints given us by the cautious writer. The members of
the family, evidently one of some standing in Wiltshire, became involved
in a quarrel among themselves. It was believed, indeed, by neighbors
that there had been a conspiracy on the part of some of the family to
poison the mother-in-law. At all events, a maid in the family was
imprisoned for participation in such a plot. It was then that Anne
Bodenham first came into the story. The maid, to judge from the few data
we have, in order to distract attention from her own doings, made a
confession that she had signed a book of the Devil's with her own blood,
all at the instigation of Anne Bodenham. Moreover, Anne, she said, had
offered to send her to London in two hours. This was communicated to a
justice of the peace, who promptly took the accused woman into custody.
The maid-servant, successful thus far, began to simulate fits and to lay
the blame for them on Mistress Anne. Questioned as to what she conceived
her condition, she replied, "Oh very damnable, very wretched." She could
see the Devil, she said, on the housetop looking at her. These fancies
passed as facts, and the accused woman was put to the usual
humiliations. She was searched, examined, and urged to confess. The
narrator of the story made effort after effort to wring from her an
admission of her guilt, but she slipped out of all his traps. Against
her accuser she was very bitter. "She hath undone me ... that am an
honest woman, 'twill break my Husband's heart, he grieves to see me in
these Irons: I did once live in good fashion."

The case was turned over by the justices of the peace to the assizes at
Salisbury, where Chief Baron John Wylde of the exchequer presided.[14]
The testimony of the maid was brought in, as well as the other
proofs.[15] All we know of the trial is that Anne was condemned, and
that Judge Wylde was so well satisfied with his work that he urged
Edmund Bower, who had begun an account of the case, but had hesitated to
expose himself to "this Censorious Age," to go on with his booklet. That
detestable individual had followed the case closely. After the
condemnation he labored with the woman to make her confess. But no
acknowledgment of guilt could be wrung from the high-spirited Mistress
Bodenham, even when the would-be father confessor held out to her the
false hope of mercy. She made a will giving gifts to thirty people,
declared she had been robbed by her maids in prison, lamented over her
husband's sorrow, and requested that she be buried under the gallows.
Like the McPherson who danced so wantonly and rantingly beneath the
gallows tree, she remained brave-hearted to the end. When the officer
told her she must go with him to the place of execution, she replied,
"Be you ready, I am ready." The narrator closes the account with some
moral reflections. We may close with the observation that there is no
finer instance of womanly courage in the annals of witchcraft than that
of Anne Bodenham. Doubtless she had used charms, and experimented with
glasses; it had been done by those of higher rank than she.

As for the maid, she had got herself well out of trouble. When Mistress
Bodenham had been hanged, the fits ceased, and she professed great
thankfulness to God and a desire to serve him.

The case of Joan Peterson, who was tried at the Old Bailey in 1652, is
another instance of the struggle of a spirited woman against too great
odds. Joan, like Mistress Bodenham, kept various kinds of powders and
prescribed physic for ailing neighbors.[16] It was, however, if we may
believe her defender, not on account of her prescriptions, but rather on
account of her refusal to swear falsely, that her downfall came. One
would be glad to know the name of the vigorous defender who after her
execution issued A Declaration in Answer to severall lying Pamphlets
concerning the Witch of Wapping. His narrative of the plot against the
accused woman offers a plausible explanation of the affair and is not
improbably trustworthy. As he tells the story, there were certain
relatives of Lady Powell who had been disappointed that her estate had
been bequeathed to Mrs. Anne Levingston. They conspired to get rid of
the heiress, went to a cunning woman, and offered to pay her liberally
if she would swear that Mrs. Levingston had used sorcery to take away
the life of Lady Powell. Unfortunately for the conspirators, the cunning
woman betrayed their schemes. Not discouraged, however, they employed
another woman, who, as their representative, went to Joan Peterson and
offered her a hundred pounds to swear that Mrs. Levingston had procured
from her "certain powders and bags of seeds." Joan refused the
proposition, and the plotters, fearing a second exposure of their plans,
determined that Mistress Peterson should also be put out of the way.
They were able to procure a warrant to have her arrested and searched.
Great pressure was put upon her to confess enough to implicate Mrs.
Levingston and she was given to understand that if she would do so she
would herself be spared. But Joan refused their proffers and went to her
trial. If the narrative may be at all trusted there was little effort to
give her a fair hearing. Witnesses against her were purchased in
advance, strangers were offered money to testify against her, and those
who were to have given evidence on her side were most of them
intimidated into staying away from the trial. Four physicians and two
surgeons signed a certificate that Lady Powell had died from perfectly
natural causes. It was of no avail. Joan was convicted and died bravely,
denying her guilt to the end.[17] Her defender avers that some of the
magistrates in the case were involved in the conspiracy against her. One
of these was Sir John Danvers, a member of Cromwell's council. In the
margin of his account the pamphleteer writes: "Sir John Danvers came and
dined at the Sessions house and had much private discourse with the
Recorder and many of the Justices and came and sate upon the Bench at
her Trial, where he hath seldom or never been for these many years."

In July of 1652 occurred another trial that attracted notice in its own
time. Six Kentish women were tried at the assizes at Maidstone before
Peter Warburton.[18] We know almost nothing of the evidence offered by
the prosecution save that there was exhibited in the Swan Inn at
Maidstone a piece of flesh which the Devil was said to have given to one
of the accused, and that a waxen image of a little girl figured in the
evidence. Some of the accused confessed that they had used it in order
to kill the child. Search was instituted for it, and it was found, if
the narrator may be trusted, under the door where the witches had said
it would be.[19] The six were all condemned and suffered execution.
Several others were arraigned, but probably escaped trial.

If the age was as "censorious" of things of this nature as Edmund Bower
had believed it to be, it is rather remarkable that "these proceedings,"
which were within a short distance of London, excited so little stir in
that metropolis. Elias Ashmole, founder of the Ashmolean Museum at
Oxford and delver in astrology, attended the trials, with John
Tradescant, traveller and gardener.[20] He left no comments. The
Faithful Scout, in its issue of July 30-August 7, mentioned the trial
and the confessions, but refrained from any expression of opinion.

There were other trials in this period; but they must be passed over
rapidly. The physicians were quite as busy as ever in suggesting
witchcraft. We can detect the hand of a physician in the attribution of
the strange illness of a girl who discharged great quantities of stones
to the contrivance of Catherine Huxley, who was, in consequence, hanged
at Worcester.[21] In a case at Exeter the physician was only indirectly
responsible. When Grace Matthews had consulted him about her husband's
illness, he had apparently given up the case, and directed her to a wise
woman.[22] The wise woman had warned Mistress Matthews of a neighbor
"tall of stature and of a pale face and blinking eye," against whom it
would be well to use certain prescribed remedies. Mrs. Matthews did so,
and roused out the witch, who proved to be a butcher's wife, Joan Baker.
When the witch found her spells thwarted, she turned them against Mrs.
Matthews's maid-servant, who in consequence died. This was part of the
evidence against Joan, and it was confirmed by her own kinsfolk: her
father-in-law had seen her handling toads. She was committed, but we
hear no more of the case.

That random accusations were not feared as they had been was evidenced
by the boldness of suspected parties in bringing action against their
accusers, even if boldness was sometimes misjudged. We have two actions
of this sort.

Joan Read of Devizes had been reported to be a witch, and on that
account had been refused by the bakers the privilege of using their
bakeries for her dough.[23] She threw down the glove to her accusers by
demanding that they should be brought by warrant to accuse her. No doubt
she realized that she had good support in her community, and that her
challenge was not likely to be accepted. But a woman near Land's End in
Cornwall seems to have overestimated the support upon which she could
count. She had procured a warrant against her accusers to call the case
before the mayor. The court sided with the accusers and the woman was
brought to trial. Caught herself, she proceeded to ensnare others. As a
result, eight persons were sent to Launceston,[24] and some probably
suffered death.[25]

We have already seen what a tangled web Mrs. Muschamp wove when she set
out to imprison a colonel's wife. It would be easy to cite cases to show
the same reluctance to follow up prosecution. Four women at Leicester
searched Ann Chettle and found no evidence of guilt.[26] In Durham a
case came up before Justice Henry Tempest.[27] Mary Sykes was accused.
Sara Rodes, a child, awakening from sleep in a fright, had declared to
her mother that "Sikes' wife" had come in "att a hole att the bedd
feete" and taken her by the throat. Of course Sara Rodes fell ill.
Moreover, the witch had been seen riding at midnight on the back of a
cow and at another time flying out of a "mistall windowe." But the
woman, in spite of the unfavorable opinion of the women searchers, went
free. There were cases that seem to have ended the same way at York, at
Leeds, and at Scarborough. They were hints of what we have already
noticed, that the northern counties were changing their attitude.[28]
But a case in Derbyshire deserves more attention because the justice,
Gervase Bennett, was one of the members of Cromwell's council. The case
itself was not in any way unusual. A beggar woman, who had been
liberally supported by those who feared her, was on trial for
witchcraft. Because of Bennett's close relation to the government, we
should be glad to know what he did with the case, but the fact that the
woman's conviction is not among the records makes it probable that she
was not bound over to the assizes.[29]

We come now to examine the second of the sub-periods into which we have
divided the Interregnum. We have been dealing with the interval between
the war and the establishment of the Protectorate, a time that shaded
off from the dark shadows of internecine struggle towards the high light
of steady peace and security. By 1653 the equilibrium of England had
been restored. Cromwell's government was beginning to run smoothly. The
courts were in full swing. None of those conditions to which we have
attributed the spread of the witch alarms of the Civil Wars were any
longer in operation. It is not surprising, then, that the Protectorate
was one of the most quiet periods in the annals of witchcraft. While the
years 1648-1653 had witnessed thirty executions in England, the period
of the Protectorate saw but half a dozen, and three of these fell within
the somewhat disturbed rule of Richard Cromwell.[30] In other words,
there was a very marked falling off of convictions for witchcraft, a
falling off that had indeed begun before the year 1653. Yet this
diminution of capital sentences does not by any means signify that the
realm was rid of superstition. In Middlesex, in Somerset and Devon, in
York, Northumberland, and Cumberland, the attack upon witches on the
part of the people was going on with undiminished vigor. If no great
discoveries were made, if no nests of the pestilent creatures were
unearthed, the justices of the peace were kept quite as busy with
examinations as ever before.

To be sure, an analysis of cases proves that a larger proportion of
those haled to court were light offenders, "good witches" whose healing
arts had perhaps been unsuccessful, dealers in magic who had aroused
envy or fear. The court records of Middlesex and York are full of
complaints against the professional enchanters. In most instances they
were dismissed. Now and then a woman was sent to the house of
correction,[31] but even this punishment was the exception.

Two other kinds of cases appeared with less frequency. We have one very
clear instance at Wakefield, in York, where a quarrel between two tenant
farmers over their highway rights became so bitter that a chance threat
uttered by the loser of the lawsuit, "It shall be a dear day's work for
you," occasioned an accusation of witchcraft.[32] In another instance
the debt of a penny seems to have been the beginning of a hatred between
two impecunious creatures, and this brought on a charge.[33]

The most common type of case, of course, was that where strange disease
or death played a part. In Yorkshire, in Hertfordshire, and in Cornwall
there were trials based upon a sort of evidence with which the reader is
already quite familiar. It was easy for the morbid mother of a dead
child to recall or imagine angry words spoken to her shortly before the
death of her offspring. It was quite as natural for a sick child to be
alarmed at the sight of a visitor and go into spasms. There was no fixed
rule, however, governing the relation of the afflicted children and the
possible witches. When William Wade was named, Elizabeth Mallory would
fly into fits.[34] When Jane Brooks entered the room, a bewitched youth
of Chard would become hysterical.[35] It was the opposite way with a
victim in Exeter,[36] who remained well only so long as the witch who
caused the trouble stayed with him.[37]

Closely related to these types of evidence was what has been denominated
spectral evidence, a form of evidence recurrent throughout the history
of English witchcraft. In the time of the Protectorate we have at least
three cases of the kind. The accused woman appeared to the afflicted
individual now in her own form, again in other shapes, as a cat, as a
bee, or as a dog.[38] The identification of a particular face in the
head of a bee must have been a matter of some difficulty, but there is
no ground for supposing that any objection was made to this evidence in
court. At all events, the testimony went down on the official records in
Yorkshire. In Somerset the Jane Brooks case,[39] already referred to,
called forth spectral evidence in a form that must really have been very
convincing. When the bewitched boy cried out that he saw the witch on
the wall, his cousin struck at the place, upon which the boy cried out,
"O Father, Coz Gibson hath cut Jane Brooks's hand, and 'tis bloody."
Now, according to the story, the constable proceeded to the woman's
house and found her hand cut.

As to the social status of the people involved in the Protectorate
trials there is little to say, other than has been said of many earlier
cases. By far the larger number of those accused, as we have already
pointed out, were charmers and enchanters, people who made a penny here
and twopence there, but who had at best a precarious existence. Some of
them, no doubt, traded on the fear they inspired in their communities
and begged now a loaf of bread and now a pot of beer. They were the same
people who, when begging and enchanting failed, resorted to
stealing.[40] In one of the Yorkshire depositions we have perhaps a hint
of another class from which the witches were recruited. Katherine Earle
struck a Mr. Frank between the shoulders and said, "You are a pretty
gentleman; will you kisse me?" When the man happened to die this
solicitation assumed a serious aspect.[41]

Witchcraft was indeed so often the outcome of lower-class bickering that
trials involving the upper classes seem worthy of special record. During
the Protectorate there were two rather remarkable trials. In 1656
William and Mary Wade were accused of bewitching the fourteen-year-old
daughter of Elizabeth Mallory of Studley Hall. The Mallorys were a
prominent family in Yorkshire. The grandfather of the accusing child had
been a member of Parliament and was a well known Royalist colonel. When
Mistress Elizabeth declared that her fits would not cease until Mary
Wade had said that she had done her wrong, Mary Wade was persuaded to
say the words. Elizabeth was well at once, but Mary withdrew her
admission and Elizabeth resumed her fits, indeed "she was paste
holdinge, her extreamaty was such." She now demanded that the two Wades
should be imprisoned, and when they were "both in holde" she became well
again. They were examined by a justice of the peace, but were probably
let off.[42]

The story of Diana Crosse at Exeter is a more pathetic one. Mrs. Crosse
had once kept a girls' school--could it be that there was some
connection between teaching and witchcraft?[43]--had met with
misfortune, and had at length been reduced to beggary. We have no means
of knowing whether the suspicion of witchcraft antedated her extreme
poverty or not, but it seems quite clear that the former school-teacher
had gained an ill name in the community. She resented bitterly the
attitude of the people, and at one time seems to have appealed to the
mayor. It was perhaps by this very act that she focussed the suspicion
of her neighbors. To go over the details of the trial is not worth
while. Diana Crosse probably escaped execution to eke out the remainder
of her life in beggary.[44]

The districts of England affected by the delusion during this period
have already been indicated. While there were random cases in Suffolk,
Hertfordshire, Wiltshire, Somerset, Cumberland, and Northumberland, by
far the greatest activity seems to have been in Middlesex, Cornwall, and
Yorkshire. To a layman it looks as if the north of England had produced
the greater part of its folk-lore. Certain it is that the witch stories
of Yorkshire, as those of Lancaster at another time, by their mysterious
and romantic elements made the trials of the south seem flat, stale, and
unprofitable. Yet they rarely had as serious results.

To the historian the Middlesex cases must be more interesting because
they should afford some index of the attitude of the central government.
Unhappily we do not know the fate of the Yorkshire witches, though it
has been surmised, in the absence of evidence to the contrary, that they
all escaped execution.[45] In Middlesex we know that during this period
only one woman, so far as our extant records go, was adjudged guilty.
All the rest were let go free. Now, this may be significant and it may
not. It does not seem unreasonable to suppose that the Middlesex quarter
sessions were in harmony with the central government. Yet this can be no
more than a guess. It is not easy to take bearings which will locate the
position of the Cromwellian government. The protector himself was
occupied with weightier matters, and, so far as we know, never uttered a
word on the subject. He was almost certainly responsible for the pardon
of Margaret Gyngell at Salisbury in 1655,[46] yet we cannot be sure that
he was not guided in that case by special circumstances as well as by
the recommendation of subordinates.

We have but little more evidence as to the attitude of his council of
state. It was three years before the Protectorate was put into operation
that the hesitating sheriff of Cumberland, who had some witches on his
hands, was authorized to go ahead and carry out the law.[47] But on the
other hand it was in the same period that the English commissioners in
Scotland put a quietus on the witch alarms in that kingdom. In fact, one
of their first acts was to take over the accused women from the church
courts and demand the proof against them.[48] When it was found that
they had been tortured into confessions, the commission resolved upon
an enquiry into the conduct of the sheriff, ministers, and tormentors
who had been involved. Several women had been accused. Not one was
condemned. The matter was referred to the council of state, where it
seems likely that the action of the commissioners was ratified. Seven or
eight years later, in the administration of Richard Cromwell, there was
an instance where the council, apparently of its own initiative, ordered
a party of soldiers to arrest a Rutlandshire witch. The case was,
however, dismissed later.[49]

To draw a definite conclusion from these bits of evidence would be rash.
We can perhaps reason somewhat from the general attitude of the
government. Throughout the Protectorate there was a tendency, which
Cromwell encouraged, to mollify the rigor of the criminal law. Great
numbers of pardons were issued; and when Whitelocke suggested that no
offences should be capital except murder, treason, and rebellion, no one
arose in holy horror to point out the exception of witchcraft,[50] and
the suggestion, though never acted upon, was favorably considered.[51]

When we consider this general attitude towards crime in connection with
what we have already indicated about the rapid decline in numbers of
witch convictions, it seems a safe guess that the Cromwellian
government, while not greatly interested in witchcraft, was, so far as
interested, inclined towards leniency.

[1] Whitelocke, Memorials, III, 63, 97, 99, 113.

[2] See an extract from the Guild Hall Books in John Fuller, History of
Berwick (Edinburgh, 1799), 155-156.

[3] Thomas Widdrington's letter to Whitelocke (Whitelocke, Memorials,
III, 99). Widdrington said the man professed himself "an artist that
way." The writer was evidently somewhat skeptical.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ralph Gardiner, England's Grievance Discovered in Relation to the
Coal Trade (London, 1655), 108.

[6] Ibid.

[7] See John Brand, History and Antiquities of ... Newcastle (London,
1789), II, 478, or the Chronicon Mirabile (London, 1841), 92, for an
extract from the parish registers, giving the names. A witch of rural
Northumberland was executed with them.

[8] The witches of 1649 were not confined to the north. Two are said to
have been executed at St. Albans, a man and a woman; one woman was tried
in Worcestershire, one at Gloucester, and two in Middlesex. John Palmer
and Elizabeth Knott, who suffered at St. Albans, had gained some
notoriety. Palmer had contracted with the Devil and had persuaded his
kinswoman to assist him in procuring the death of a woman by the use of
clay pictures. Both were probably practitioners in magic. Palmer, even
when in prison, claimed the power of transforming men into beasts. The
woman seems to have been put to the swimming test. Both were condemned.
Palmer, at his execution, gave information about a "whole colledge of
witches," most of them, no doubt, practisers like himself, but his
random accusations were probably passed over. See The Divels Delusions
or A faithfull relation of John Palmer and Elizabeth Knott ... (1649).

[9] Ralph Gardiner, op. cit., 109.

[10] See ibid. At his execution, Gardiner says, he confessed that he
had been the death of 220 witches in Scotland and England. Either the
man was guilty of unseemly and boastful lying, which is very likely, or
Scotland was indeed badly "infested." See above, note 1.

[11] This narrative is contained in Wonderfull News from the North, Or
a True Relation of the Sad and Grievous Torments Inflicted upon ...
three Children of Mr. George Muschamp ... (London, 1650).

[12] The story of the case was sent down to London and there published,
where it soon became a classic among the witch-believing clergy.

[13] See the two pamphlets by Edmond Bower described below in appendix
A, Sec. 5, and Henry More, Antidote against Atheisme, bk. III, ch. VII.

[14] Wylde was not well esteemed as a judge. On the institution of the
protectorate he was not reappointed by Cromwell.

[15] Aubrey (who had it from an eye-witness) tells us that "the crowd of
spectators made such a noise that the judge could not heare the
prisoner, nor the prisoner the judge; but the words were handed from one
to the other by Mr. R. Chandler and sometimes not truly repeated." John
Aubrey, Remaines of Gentilisme and Judaisme ... (ed. J. Britten, Folk
Lore Soc. Publications, IV, 1881), 261.

[16] For the case see The Tryall and Examinations of Mrs. Joan Peterson
...; The Witch of Wapping, or an Exact ... Relation of the ...
Practises of Joan Peterson ...; A Declaration in Answer to severall
lying Pamphlets concerning the Witch of Wapping ..., (as to these
pamphlets, all printed at London in 1652, see below, appendix A, Sec. 5);
French Intelligencer, April 6-13, 1652; Weekly Intelligencer, April
6-13, 1652; The Faithful Scout, April 9-16, 1652; Mercurius
Democritus, April 7-17, 1652.

[17] The French Intelligencer tells us the story of her execution:
"She seemed to be much dejected, having a melancholy aspect; she seemed
not to be much above 40 years of age, and was not in the least outwardly
deformed, as those kind of creatures usually are."

[18] For an account of this affair see A Prodigious and Tragicall
History of the ... Condemnation of six Witches at Maidstone ...
(London, 1652).

[19] It was "supposed," says the narrator, that nine children, besides a
man and a woman, had suffered at their hands, L500 worth of cattle had
been lost, and much corn wrecked at sea. Two of the women made
confession, but not to these things.

[20] See Ashmole's diary as given in Charles Burman, Lives of Elias
Ashmole, Esq., and Mr. William Lilly, written by themselves ...
(London, 1774), 316.

[21] In his Certainty of the World of Spirits (London, 1691), 44, 45,
Richard Baxter, who is by no means absolutely reliable, tells us about
this case. It should be understood that it is only a guess of the writer
that the physician was to blame for the accusation; but it much
resembles other cases where the physician started the trouble.

[22] William Cotton, Gleanings from the Municipal and Cathedral Records
Relative to the History of the City of Exeter (Exeter, 1877), 149-150.

[23] Hist. MSS. Comm. Reports, Various, I, 127.

[24] Mercurius Politicus, November 24-December 2, 1653. One of these
witches was perhaps the one mentioned as from Launceston in Cornwall in
R. and O. B. Peter, The Histories of Launceston and Dunheved
(Plymouth, 1885), 285: "the grave in w^ch the wich was buryed."

[25] Richard Burthogge, An Essay upon Reason and the Nature of Spirits
(London, 1694), 196, writes that he has the confessions in MS. of "a
great number of Witches (some of which were Executed) that were taken by
a Justice of Peace in Cornwall above thirty Years agoe." It does not
seem impossible that this is a reference to the same affair as that
mentioned by the Launceston record.

[26] Leicestershire and Rutland Notes and Queries (Leicester, 1891,
etc.), I, 247.

[27] James Raine, ed., A Selection from the Depositions in Criminal
Cases taken before the Northern Magistrates, from the Originals
preserved in York Castle (Surtees Soc., no. 40, 1861), 28-30. Cited
hereafter as York Depositions.

[28] Yet in 1650 there had been a scare at Gateshead which cost the rate
payers L2, of which a significant item was 6 d. for a "grave for a
witch." Denham Tracts (Folk Lore Soc.), II, 338. At Durham, in 1652,
two persons were executed. Richardson, Table Book (London, 1841), I,

[29] J. C. Cox, Three Centuries of Derbyshire Annals (London, 1890),
II, 88. Cox, however, thinks it probable that she was punished.

[30] It is of course not altogether safe to reason from the absence of
recorded executions, and it is least safe in the time of the Civil Wars
and the years of recovery.

[31] Middlesex County Records, ed. by J. C. Jeaffreson (London, 1892),
III, 295; Hist. MSS. Comm. Reports, Various, I, 129.

[32] York Depositions, 74.

[33] Hertfordshire County Sessions Rolls, compiled by W. J. Hardy
(Hertford, 1905), I, 126. It is not absolutely certain in the second
case that the committal was to the house of correction.

[34] York Depositions, 76-77.

[35] Joseph Glanvill, Sadducismus Triumphatus (London, 1681), pt. ii,

[36] Cotton, Gleanings ... relative to the History of ... Exeter, 152.

[37] In the famous Warboys case of 1593 it was the witch's presence that
relieved the bewitched of their ailments.

[38] York Depositions, 64-67.

[39] Glanvill, Sadducismus Triumphatus, pt. ii, 120-121.

[40] Hist. MSS. Comm. Reports, Various, I, 120.

[41] York Depositions, 69.

[42] Ibid., 75-78.

[43] See the story of Anne Bodenham.

[44] Cotton, Gleanings ... Relative to the History of ... Exeter,

[45] James Raine, editor of York Depositions, writes that he has found
no instance of the conviction of a witch. Preface, xxx. The Criminal
Chronology of York Castle, with a Register of Criminals capitally
Convicted and Executed (York, 1867), contains not a single execution
for witchcraft.

[46] Inderwick, Interregnum, 188-189.

[47] Cal. St. P., Dom., 1650, 159.

[48] There are several secondary accounts of this affair. See F. Legge
in Scottish Review, XVIII, 267. But a most important primary source is
a letter from Clarke to Speaker Lenthall, published by the Scottish
History Society in its volume on Scotland and the Commonwealth
(Edinburgh, 1895), 367-369. See also a tract in Brit. Mus. Thomason
collection, Two Terrible Sea Fights (London, 1652). See, too, the
words of Thomas Ady, A Candle in the Dark, 105.

[49] Cal. St. P., Dom., 1658-1659, 169.

[50] When the council of state, however, in 1652 had issued an act of
general pardon, witchcraft had been specifically reserved, along with
murder, treason, piracy, etc. Cal. St. P., Dom., 1651-1652, 106.

[51] Inderwick, Interregnum, 231.

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