The Lancashire Witches And Charles I

In his attitude towards superstition, Charles I resembled the later

rather than the earlier James I. No reign up to the Revolution was

marked by so few executions. It was a time of comparative quiet. Here

and there isolated murmurs against suspected creatures of the Devil

roused the justices of the peace to write letters, and even to make

inquiries that as often as not resulted in indefinite commitments, or

brought out the protests of neighbors in favor of the accused. But, if

there were not many cases, they represented a wide area. Middlesex,

Wilts, Somerset, Leicestershire, Staffordshire, Lancashire, Durham,

Yorkshire, and Northumberland were among the counties infested. Yet we

can count but six executions, and only four of them rest upon secure

evidence.[1] This is of course to reckon the reign of Charles as not

extending beyond 1642, when the Civil War broke out and the Puritan

leaders assumed responsibility for the government.

Up to that time there was but one really notable witch alarm in England.

But it was one that illustrated again, as in Essex, the continuity of

the superstition in a given locality. The Lancashire witches of 1633

were the direct outcome of the Lancashire witches of 1612. The story is

a weird one. An eleven-year-old boy played truant one day to his

cattle-herding, and, as he afterwards told the story, went

plum-gathering. When he came back he had to find a plausible excuse to

present to his parents. Now, the lad had been brought up in the

Blackburn forest, close to Pendle Hill; he had overheard stories of

Malking Tower[2] from the chatter of gossipping women;[3] he had

shivered as suspected women were pointed out to him; he knew the names

of some of them. His imagination, in search for an excuse, caught at the

witch motive[4] and elaborated it with the easy invention of youth.[5]

He had seen two greyhounds come running towards him. They looked like

those owned by two of his neighbors. When he saw that no one was

following them, he set out to hunt with them, and presently a hare rose

very near before him, at the sight whereof he cried "Loo, Loo," but the

dogs would not run. Being very angry, he tied them to a little bush in

the hedge and beat them, and at once, instead of the black greyhound,

"one Dickonson's wife" stood up, and instead of the brown greyhound "a

little boy whom this informer knoweth not." He started to run away, but

the woman stayed him and offered him a piece of silver "much like to a

faire shillinge" if he would not betray her. The conscientious boy

answered "Nay, thou art a witch," "whereupon shee put her hand into her

pocket againe and pulled out a stringe like unto a bridle that gingled,

which shee put upon the litle boyes heade that stood up in the browne

greyhounds steade, whereupon the said boy stood up a white horse." In

true Arabian Nights fashion they mounted and rode away. They came to a

new house called Hoarstones, where there were three score or more

people, and horses of several colors, and a fire with meat roasting.

They had flesh and bread upon a trencher and they drank from glasses.

After the first taste the boy "refused and would have noe more, and said

it was nought." There were other refreshments at the feast. The boy was,

as he afterwards confessed, familiar with the story of the feast at

Malking Tower.[6]

The names of those present he did not volunteer at first; but, on being

questioned, he named eighteen[7] whom he had seen. The boy confessed

that he had been clever enough to make most of his list from those who

were already suspected by their neighbors.

It needed but a match to set off the flame of witch-hatred in

Lancashire. The boy's story was quite sufficient. Whether his narrative

was a spontaneous invention of his own, concocted in emergency, as he

asserted in his confession at London, or whether it was a carefully

constructed lie taught him by his father in order to revenge himself

upon some hated neighbors, and perhaps to exact blackmail, as some of

the accused later charged, we shall never know. In later life the boy is

said to have admitted that he had been set on by his father,[8] but the

narrative possesses certain earmarks of a story struck out by a child's

imagination.[9] It is easy enough to reconcile the two theories by

supposing that the boy started the story of his own initiative and that

his father was too shrewd not to realize the opportunity to make a

sensation and perhaps some money. He took the boy before justices of the

peace, who, with the zeal their predecessors had displayed twenty-two

years before, made many arrests.[10] The boy was exhibited from town to

town in Lancashire as a great wonder and witch-detector. It was in the

course of these exhibitions that he was brought to a little town on the

Lancashire border of Yorkshire and was taken to the afternoon church

service, where a young minister, who was long afterwards to become a

famous opponent of the superstition, was discoursing to his

congregation. The boy was held up by those in charge as if to give him

the chance to detect witches among the audience. The minister saw him,

and at the end of the service at once came down to the boy, and without

parley asked him, "Good boy, tell me truly, and in earnest, didst thou

see and hear such things of the meeting of the witches as is reported by

many that thou dost relate?" The boy, as Webster has told the story, was

not given time for reply by the men in charge of him, who protested

against such questions. The lad, they said, had been before two justices

of the peace, and had not been catechized in that fashion.[11]

A lone skeptic had little chance to beat back the wave of excitement

created by the young Robinson's stories. His success prompted him to

concoct new tales.[12] He had seen Lloynd's wife sitting on a cross-bar

in his father's chimney; he had called to her; she had not come down but

had vanished in the air. Other accounts the boy gave, but none of them

revealed the clear invention of his first narrative.

He had done his work. The justices of the peace were bringing in the

accused to the assizes at Lancaster. There Robinson was once more called

upon to render his now famous testimony. He was supported by his

father,[13] who gave evidence that on the day he had sent his boy for

the cattle he had gone after him and as he approached had heard him cry

and had found him quite "distracted." When the boy recovered himself, he

had related the story already told. This was the evidence of the father,

and together with that of the son it constituted the most telling piece

of testimony presented. But it served, as was usual in such cases, as an

opening for all those who, for any reason, thought they had grounds of

suspicion against any of their neighbors. It was recalled by one witness

that a neighbor girl could bewitch a pail and make it roll towards her.

We shall later have occasion to note the basis of fact behind this

curious accusation. There was other testimony of an equally damaging

character. But in nearly all the cases stress was laid upon the bodily

marks. In one instance, indeed, nothing else was charged.[14] The reader

will remember that in the Lancaster cases of 1612 the evidence of marks

on the body was notably absent, so notably that we were led to suspect

that it had been ruled out by the judge. That such evidence was now

reckoned important is proof that this particularly dark feature of the

witch superstition was receiving increasing emphasis.

How many in all were accused we do not know. Webster, writing later,

said that seventeen were found guilty.[15] It is possible that even a

larger number were acquitted. Certainly some were acquitted. A

distinction of some sort was made in the evidence. This makes it all the

harder to understand why the truth of Robinson's stories was not tested

in the same way in which those of Grace Sowerbutts had been tested in

1612. Did that detection of fraud never occur to the judges, or had they

never heard of the famous boy at Bilston? Perhaps not they but the

juries were to blame, for it seems that the court was not altogether

satisfied with the jury's verdict and delayed sentence. Perhaps, indeed,

the judges wrote to London about the matter. Be that as it may, the

privy council decided to take cognizance of an affair that was already

the talk of the realm.[16] Secretaries Coke and Windebank sent

instructions to Henry Bridgeman, Bishop of Chester and successor to that

Morton who had exposed the boy of Bilston, to examine seven of the

condemned witches and to make a report.[17] Bridgeman doubtless knew of

his predecessor's success in exposing fraudulent accusations. Before the

bishop was ready to report, His Majesty sent orders that three or four

of the accused should be brought up to London by a writ of habeas

corpus. Owing to a neglect to insert definite names, there was a

delay.[18] It was during this interval, probably, that Bishop Bridgeman

was able to make his examination. He found three of the seven already

dead and one hopelessly ill. The other three he questioned with great

care. Two of them, Mary Spencer, a girl of twenty, and Frances

Dickonson, the first whom Robinson had accused, made spirited denials.

Mary Spencer avowed that her accusers had been actuated by malice

against her and her parents for several years. At the trial, she had

been unable, she said, to answer for herself, because the noise of the

crowd had been so great as to prevent her from hearing the evidence

against her. As for the charge of bewitching a pail so that it came

running towards her of its own accord, she declared that she used as a

child to roll a pail down-hill and to call it after her as she ran, a

perfectly natural piece of child's play. Frances Dickonson, too, charged

malice upon her accusers, especially upon the father of Edmund Robinson.

Her husband, she said, had been unwilling to sell him a cow without

surety and had so gained his ill-will. She went on to assert that the

elder Robinson had volunteered to withdraw the charges against her if

her husband would pay him forty shillings. This counter charge was

supported by another witness and seemed to make a good deal of an

impression on the ecclesiastic.

The third woman to be examined by the bishop was a widow of sixty, who

had not been numbered among the original seventeen witches. She

acknowledged that she was a witch, but was, wrote the bishop, "more

often faulting in the particulars of her actions as one having a strong

imagination of the former, but of too weak a memory to retain or relate

the latter." The woman told a commonplace story of a man in black attire

who had come to her six years before and made the usual contract. But

very curiously she could name only one other witch, and professed to

know none of those already in gaol.

Such were the results of the examinations sent in by the bishop. In the

letter which he sent along, he expressed doubt about the whole matter.

"Conceit and malice," he wrote, "are so powerful with many in those

parts that they will easily afford an oath to work revenge upon their

neighbour." He would, he intimated, have gone further in examining the

counter charges brought by the accused, had it not been that he

hesitated to proceed against the king, that is, the prosecution.

This report doubtless confirmed the fears of the government. The writs

to the sheriff of Lancaster were redirected, and four of the women were

brought up to London and carried to the "Ship Tavern" at Greenwich,

close to one of the royal residences.[19] Two of His Majesty's surgeons,

Alexander Baker and Sir William Knowles, the latter of whom was

accustomed to examine candidates for the king's touch, together with

five other surgeons and ten certificated midwives, were now ordered to

make a bodily examination of the women, under the direction of the

eminent Harvey,[20] the king's physician, who was later to discover the

circulation of the blood. In the course of this chapter we shall see

that Harvey had long cherished misgivings about witchcraft. Probably by

this time he had come to disbelieve it. One can but wonder if Charles,

already probably aware of Harvey's views, had not intended from his

first step in the Lancashire case to give his physician a chance to

assert his opinion. In any case his report and that of his subordinates

was entirely in favor of the women, except that in the case of Margaret

Johnson (who had confessed) they had found a mark, but one to which they

attached little significance.[21] The women seem to have been carried

before the king himself.[22] We do not know, however, that he expressed

any opinion on the matter.

The whole affair has one aspect that has been entirely overlooked.

Whatever the verdict of the privy council and of the king may have

been--and it was evidently one of caution--they gave authorization from

the highest quarters for the use of the test of marks on the body. That

proof of witchcraft had been long known in England and had slowly won

its way into judicial procedure until now it was recognized by the

highest powers in the kingdom. To be sure, it was probably their purpose

to annul the reckless convictions in Lancashire, and to break down the

evidence of the female juries; but in doing so they furnished a

precedent for the witch procedure of the civil-war period.

In the mean time, while the surgeons and midwives were busy over these

four women, the Robinsons, father and son, had come to London at the

summons of the privy council.[23] There the boy was separated from his

father. To a Middlesex justice of the peace appointed by Secretary

Windebank to take his statements he confessed that his entire story was

an invention and had no basis of fact whatever.[24] Both father and son

were imprisoned and proceedings seem to have been instituted against

them by one of the now repentant jurymen who had tried the case.[25] How

long they were kept in prison we do not know.

One would naturally suppose that the women would be released on their

return to Lancaster, but the sheriff's records show that two years later

there were still nine witches in gaol.[26] Three of them bore the same

names as those whom Robinson pretended to have seen at Hoarstones. At

least one other of the nine had been convicted in 1634, probably more.

Margaret Johnson, the single one to confess, so far as we know, was not

there. She had probably died in prison in the mean time. We have no clue

as to why the women were not released. Perhaps public sentiment at home

made the sheriff unwilling to do it, perhaps the wretched creatures

spent two or more years in prison--for we do not know when they got

out--as a result of judicial negligence, a negligence of which there are

too many examples in the records of the time. More likely the king and

the privy council, while doubting the charges against the women, had

been reluctant to antagonize public sentiment by declaring them


It is disagreeable to have to state that Lancaster was not yet through

with its witches. Early in the next year the Bishop of Chester was again

called upon by the privy council to look into the cases of four women.

There was some delay, during which a dispute took place between the

bishop and the sheriff as to where the bishop should examine the

witches, whether at Wigan, as he proposed, or at Lancaster.[27] One

suspects that the civil authorities of the Duchy of Lancaster may have

resented the bishop's part in the affair. When Bridgeman arrived in

Lancaster he found two of the women already dead. Of the other two, the

one, he wrote, was accused by a man formerly "distracted and lunatic"

and by a woman who was a common beggar; the other had been long reputed

a witch, but he saw no reason to believe it. He had, he admitted, found

a small lump of flesh on her right ear.[28] Alas that the Bishop of

Chester, like the king and the privy council, however much he discounted

the accusations of witchcraft, had not yet wholly rid himself of one of

the darkest and most disagreeable forms of the belief that the Evil One

had bodily communication with his subjects.

In one respect the affair of 1633-1634 in northern England was singular.

The social and moral character of those accused was distinctly high. Not

that they belonged to any but the peasant class, but that they

represented a good type of farming people. Frances Dickonson's husband

evidently had some property. Mary Spencer insisted that she was

accustomed to go to church and to repeat the sermon to her parents, and

that she was not afraid of death, for she hoped it would make an

entrance for her into heaven. Margaret Johnson was persuaded that a man

and his wife who were in the gaol on Robinson's charges were not

witches, because the man "daily prays and reads and seems a godly man."

With this evidence of religious life, which must have meant something as

to the status of the people in the community, should be coupled the

entire absence of stories of threats at beggars and of quarrels between

bad-tempered and loose-lived women, stories that fill so many dreary

pages of witchcraft records. Nor is there any mention of the practice of

pretended magic.

In previous chapters we have had occasion to observe the continuity of

superstition in certain localities. It is obvious that Lancashire offers

one of the best illustrations of that principle. The connection between

the alarms of 1612 and 1633-1634 is not a matter of theory, but can be

established by definite proof. It is perhaps not out of order to

inquire, then, why Lancashire should have been so infested with

witches. It is the more necessary when we consider that there were other

witch cases in the country. Nicholas Starchie's children gave rise to

the first of the scares. It seems likely that a certain Utley was hanged

at Lancaster in 1630 for bewitching a gentleman's child.[29] During

Commonwealth days, as we shall find, there was an alarm at Lancaster

that probably cost two witches their lives. No county in England except

Essex had a similar record. No explanation can be offered for the

records of these two counties save that both had been early infected

with a hatred of witches, and that the witches came to be connected, in

tradition, with certain localities within the counties and with certain

families living there. This is, indeed, an explanation that does not

explain. It all comes back to the continuity of superstition.

We have already referred to the widespread interest in the Lancashire

witches. There are two good illustrations of this interest. When Sir

William Brereton was travelling in Holland in June of 1634, a little

while before the four women had been brought to London, he met King

Charles's sister, the Queen of Bohemia, and at once, apparently, they

began to talk about the great Lancashire discovery.[30] The other

instance of comment on the case was in England. It is one which shows

that playwrights were quite as eager then as now to be abreast of

current topics. Before final judgment had been given on the Lancashire

women, Thomas Heywood and Richard Brome, well known dramatists, had

written a play on the subject which was at once published and "acted at

the Globe on the Bankside by His Majesty's Actors." By some it has been

supposed that this play was an older play founded on the Lancashire

affair of 1612 and warmed over in 1634; but the main incidents and the

characters of the play are so fully copied from the depositions of the

young Robinson and from the charges preferred against Mary Spencer,

Frances Dickonson, and Margaret Johnson, that a layman would at once

pronounce it a play written entirely to order from the affair of 1634.

Nothing unique in the stories was left out. The pail incident--of course

without its rational explanation--was grafted into the play and put upon

the stage. Indeed, a marriage that afforded the hook upon which to hang

a bundle of indecencies, and the story of a virtuous husband who

discovers his wife to be a witch, were the only added motives of

importance. For our purpose the significance of the play lies of course

in its testimony to the general interest--the people of London were

obviously familiar with the details, even, of the charges--and its

probable reflection of London opinion about the case. Throughout the

five acts there were those who maintained that there were no witches, a

recognition of the existence of such an opinion. Of course in the play

they were all, before the curtain fell, convinced of their error. The

authors, who no doubt catered to public sentiment, were not as earnest

as the divines of their day, but they were almost as superstitious.

Heywood showed himself in another work, The Hierarchie of the Blessed

Angels,[31] a sincere believer in witchcraft and backed his belief by

the Warboys case. Probably he had read Scot, but he was not at all the

type of man to set himself against the tide. The late Lancashire

Witches no doubt expressed quite accurately London opinion. It was

written, it will be remembered, before the final outcome of the case

could be foreseen. Perhaps Heywood foresaw it, more probably he was

sailing close to the wind of opinion when he wrote in the epilogue,

... "Perhaps great mercy may,

After just condemnation, give them day

Of longer life."

It is easy in discussing the Lancashire affair to miss a central figure.

Frances Dickonson, Mary Spencer, and the others, could they have known

it, owed their lives in all probability to the intellectual independence

of William Harvey. There is a precious story about Harvey in an old

manuscript letter by an unknown writer, that, if trustworthy, throws a

light on the physician's conduct in the case. The letter seems to have

been written by a justice of the peace in southwestern England about

1685.[32] He had had some experience with witches--we have mentioned

them in another connection--and he was prompted by them to tell a story

of Dr. Harvey, with whom he was "very familiarly acquainted." "I once

asked him what his opinion was concerning witchcraft; whether there was

any such thing. Hee told mee he believed there was not." Asked the

reasons for his doubt, Harvey told him that "when he was at Newmercat

with the King [Charles I] he heard there was a woman who dwelt at a lone

house on the borders of the Heath who was reputed a Witch, that he went

alone to her, and found her alone at home.... Hee said shee was very

distrustful at first, but when hee told her he was a vizard, and came

purposely to converse with her in their common trade, then shee easily

believed him; for say'd hee to mee, 'You know I have a very magicall

face.'" The physician asked her where her familiar was and desired to

see him, upon which she brought out a dish of milk and made a chuckling

noise, as toads do, at which a toad came from under the chest and drank

some of the milk. Harvey now laid a plan to get rid of the woman. He

suggested that as fellow witches they ought to drink together, and that

she procure some ale. She went out to a neighboring ale-house, half a

mile away, and Harvey availed himself of her absence to take up the toad

and cut it open. Out came the milk. On a thorough examination he

concluded that the toad "no ways differed from other toades," but that

the melancholy old woman had brought it home some evening and had tamed

it by feeding and had so come to believe it a spirit and her familiar.

When the woman returned and found her "familiar" cut in pieces, she

"flew like a Tigris" at his face. The physician offered her money and

tried to persuade her that her familiar was nothing more than a toad.

When he found that this did not pacify her he took another tack and told

her that he was the king's physician, sent to discover if she were a

witch, and, in case she were, to have her apprehended. With this

explanation, Harvey was able to get away. He related the story to the

king, whose leave he had to go on the expedition. The narrator adds: "I

am certayne this for an argument against spirits or witchcraft is the

best and most experimentall I ever heard."

Who the justice of the peace was that penned this letter, we are unable

even to guess, nor do we know upon whose authority it was published. We

cannot, therefore, rest upon it with absolute certainty, but we can say

that it possesses several characteristics of a bona fide letter.[33]

If it is such, it gives a new clue to Harvey's conduct in 1634. We of

course cannot be sure that the toad incident happened before that time;

quite possibly it was after the interest aroused by that affair that the

physician made his investigation. At all events, here was a man who had

a scientific way of looking into superstition.

The advent of such a man was most significant in the history of

witchcraft, perhaps the most significant fact of its kind in the reign

of Charles I. That reign, in spite of the Lancashire affair, was

characterized by the continuance and growth of the witch skepticism,[34]

so prevalent in the last years of the previous reign. Disbelief was not

yet aggressive, it did not block prosecutions, but it hindered their

effectiveness. The gallows was not yet done away with, but its use had

been greatly restrained by the central government. Superstition was

still a bird of prey, but its wings were being clipped.[35]

[1] The writer of the Collection of Modern Relations (London, 1693)

speaks of an execution at Oxford, but there is nothing to substantiate

it in the voluminous publications about Oxford; a Middlesex case rests

also on doubtful evidence (see appendix C, 1641).

[2] Cal. St. P., Dom., 1634-1635, 152.

[3] Ibid., 141.

[4] This is of course theory; cf. Daudet's story of his childhood in

"Le Pape est mort."

[5] There seem to be five different sources for the original deposition

of young Robinson. Thomas D. Whitaker, History ... of Whalley (3d ed.,

1818), 213, has an imperfect transcript of the deposition as given in

the Bodleian, Dodsworth MSS., 61, ff. 45-46. James Crossley in his

introduction to Potts, Wonderfull Discoverie of Witches in the countie

of Lancaster (Chetham Soc.), lix-lxxii, has copied the deposition given

by Whitaker. Thomas Wright, Narratives of Sorcery and Magic, II,

112-114, has given the story from a copy of this and of other

depositions in Lord Londesborough's MSS. Webster prints a third copy,

Displaying of Supposed Witchcraft, 347-349. A fourth is in Edward

Baines, History of the ... county ... of Lancaster, ed. of 1836, I,

604, and is taken from Brit. Mus., Harleian MSS., cod. 6854, f. 26 b. A

fifth is in the Bodleian, Rawlinson MSS., D, 399, f. 211. Wright's

source we have not in detail, but the other four, while differing

slightly as to punctuation, spelling, and names, agree remarkably well

as to the details of the story.

[6] Cal. St. P., Dom., 1634-1635, 152.

[7] John Stearne, A Confirmation and Discovery of Witchcraft ...

together with the Confessions of many of those executed since May 1645

(London, 1648), 11, says that in Lancashire "nineteene assembled."

Robinson's deposition as printed by Webster, Displaying of Supposed

Witchcraft, gives nineteen names.

[8] Webster, op. cit., 277.

[9] The boy, in his first examinations at London, said he had made up

the story himself.

[10] It is a curious thing that one of the justices of the peace was

John Starchie, who had been one of the bewitched boys of the Starchie

family at Cleworth in 1597. See above, ch. IV. See Baines, Lancaster,

ed. of 1868-1870, I, 204.

[11] This incident is related by Webster, op. cit., 276-278. Webster

tells us that the boy was yet living when he wrote, and that he himself

had heard the whole story from his mouth more than once. He appends to

his volume the original deposition of the lad (at Padiham, February 10


[12] These are given in the same deposition, but the deposition probably

represents the boy's statement at the assizes.

[13] The father had been a witness at the Lancashire trials in 1612. See

Baines, Lancaster, ed. of 1868-1870, I, 204-205.

[14] That is, of course, so far as we have evidence. It is a little

dangerous to hold to absolute negatives.

[15] Webster, op. cit., 277. Pelham on May 16, 1634, wrote: "It is

said that 19 are condemned and ... 60 already discovered." Cal. St. P.,

Dom., 1634-1635, 26.

[16] It had been reported in London that witches had raised a storm from

which Charles had suffered at sea. Pelham's letter, ibid.

[17] Ibid., 77. See also Council Register (MS.), Charles I, vol. IV,

p. 658.

[18] Hist. MSS. Comm. Reports, XII, 2, p. 53. The chancellor of the

Duchy of Lancaster wrote in the meantime that the judges had been to see

him. What was to be done with the witches?

[19] See Hist. MSS. Comm. Reports, X, 2, p. 147; and Cal. St. P.,

Dom., 1634-1635, 98.

[20] Cal. St. P., Dom., 1634-1635, 98, 129. See also Council Register

(MS.), Chas. I, vol. V, p. 56.

[21] Cal. St. P., Dom., 1634-1635, 129.

[22] Webster, op. cit., 277, says that they were examined "after by

His Majesty and the Council."

[23] See Council Register (MS.), Charles I, vol. IV, p. 657.

[24] Cal. St. P., Dom., 1634-1635, 141.

[25] Ibid., 152.

[26] Farington Papers (Chetham Soc, no. 39, 1856), 27.

[27] Hist. MSS. Comm. Reports, XII, 2, p. 77.

[28] Ibid., p. 80.

[29] Baines, Lancaster, ed. of 1868-1870, II, 12. Utley, who was a

professed conjurer, was alleged to have bewitched to death one Assheton.

[30] Travels in Holland, the United Provinces, England, Scotland and

Ireland, 1634-1635, by Sir William Brereton, Bart. (Chetham Soc., no.

1. 1844), 33.

[31] (London, 1635.) As to Heywood see also chapter X.

[32] The correspondent who sent a copy of the MS. to the Gentleman's

Magazine signs himself "B. C. T." I have been unable to identify him.

For his account of the MS. and for its contents see Gentleman's

Magazine, 1832, pt. I, 405-410, 489-492.

[33] John Aubrey, Letters written by Eminent Persons (London, 1813),

II, 379, says that Harvey "had made dissections of froggs, toads and a

number of other animals, and had curious observations on them." This

fits in well with the story, and in some measure goes to confirm it.

[34] For example, in 1637 the Bishop of Bath and Wells sent Joice

Hunniman to Lord Wrottesley to examine her and exonerate her. He did so,

and the bishop wrote thanking him and abusing "certain apparitors who go

about frightening the people." See Hist. MSS. Comm. Reports, II, app.,

p. 48. For a case of the acquittal of a witch and the exposure of the

pretended convulsions of her accuser, see Cal. St. P., Dom., 1635,

477. For example of suits for slander see North Riding Rec. Soc, IV,

182, session July 9, 1640.

[35] A solitary pamphlet of this period must be mentioned. It was

entitled: Fearefull Newes from Coventry, or A true Relation and

Lamentable Story of one Thomas Holt of Coventry a Musitian who through

Covetousnesse and immoderate love of money, sold himselfe to the Devill,

with whom he had made a contract for certaine yeares--And also of his

Lamentable end and death, on the 16 day of February 1641 (London,

1642). The "sad subject of this little treatise" was a musician with

nineteen children. Fearing that he would not be able to provide for

them, he is alleged to have made a contract with the Devil, who finally

broke his neck.

The Final Decline The Literature Of Witchcraft From 1603 To 1660 facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail