Matthew Hopkins.

The Discovery of Witches online

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Transcriber's note: In Quer. 11, point 3, 'confession of a With'
corrected to 'confession of a Witch'. Note that
all are Queries with the exception of Quest. 13.




THE DISCOVERY OF WITCHES

IN Answer to severall QUERIES, LATELY Delivered to the Judges of
Assize for the County of NORFOLK

And now published by

MATTHEW HOPKINS, Witch-finder

FOR the Benefit of the whole KINGDOME

M. DC. XLVII.







EXOD. 22.18.

Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live.






Certaine _Queries_ answered, which have been and are likely to
be objected against MATTHEW HOPKINS, in his way of finding out
_Witches_.



Querie 1.

_That he must needs be the greatest Witch, Sorcerer, and Wizzard
himselfe, else hee could not doe it._


Answ.

If _Satan's_ kingdome be divided against it selfe, how shall it stand?



Querie 2.

_If he never went so farre as is before mentioned, yet for
certaine he met with the Devill, and cheated him of his Booke,
wherein were written all the Witches names in_ England, _and if
he looks on any Witch, he can tell by her countenance what she
is; so by this, his helpe is from the Devill._


Answ.

If he had been too hard for the devill and got his book, it had been
to his great commendation, and no disgrace at all: and for judgement
in _Phisiognomie_, he hath no more then any man else whatsoever.



Quer. 3.

_From whence then proceeded this his skill? was it from his
profound learning, or from much reading of learned Authors
concerning that subject?_


Answ.

From neither of both, but from experience, which though it be meanly
esteemed of, yet the surest and safest way to judge by.



Quer. 4.

_I pray where was this experience gained? and why gained by him
and not by others?_



Answ.

The Discoverer never travelled far for it, but in _March_ 1644 he had
some seven or eight of that horrible sect of Witches living in the
Towne where he lived, a Towne in Essex called _Maningtree_, with
divers other adjacent Witches of other towns, who every six weeks in
the night (being alwayes on the Friday night) had their meeting close
by his house and had their severall solemne sacrifices there offered
to the _Devill_, one of which this discoverer heard speaking to her
_Imps_ one night, and bid them goe to another Witch, who was thereupon
apprehended, and searched, by women who had for many yeares knowne the
Devills marks, and found to have three teats about her, which honest
women have not: so upon command from the _Justice_ they were to keep
her from sleep two or three nights, expecting in that time to see her
_familiars_, which the fourth night she called in by their severall
names, and told them what shapes, a quarter of an houre before they
came in, there being ten of us in the roome, the first she called was

1. _Holt_, who came in like a white kitling.

2. _Jarmara_, who came in like a fat Spaniel without any legs at all,
she said she kept him fat, for she clapt her hand on her belly and
said he suckt good blood from her body.

3. _Vinegar Tom_, who was like a long-legg'd Greyhound, with an head
like an Oxe, with a long taile and broad eyes, who when this
discoverer spoke to, and bade him goe to the place provided for him
and his Angels, immediately transformed himselfe into the shape of a
child of foure yeeres old without a head, and gave halfe a dozen
turnes about the house, and vanished at the doore.

4. _Sack and Sugar_, like a black Rabbet.

5. _Newes_, like a Polcat. All these vanished away in a little time.
Immediately after this Witch confessed severall other Witches, from
whom she had her _Imps_, and named to divers women where their marks
were, the number of their _Marks_, and _Imps_, and _Imps_ names, as
_Elemanzer_, _Pyewacket_, _Peckin the Crown_, _Grizzel_, _Greedigut_,
_&c._ which no mortall could invent; and upon their searches the same
Markes were found, the same number, and in the same place, and the
like confessions from them of the same Imps, (though they knew not
that we were told before) and so peached one another thereabouts that
joyned together in the like damnable practise that in our Hundred in
_Essex_, 29. were condemned at once, 4. brought 25. Miles to be
hanged, where this Discoverer lives, for sending the Devill like a
Beare to kill him in his garden, so by seeing diverse of the mens
Papps, and trying wayes with hundreds of them, he gained this
experience, and for ought he knowes any man else may find them as
well as he and his company, if they had the same skill and experience.



Quer. 5.

_Many poore People are condemned for having a Pap, or Teat about
them, whereas many People (especially antient People) are, and
have been a long time troubled with naturall wretts on severall
parts of their bodies and other naturall excressencies, as
Hemerodes, Piles, Childbearing, &c. and these shall be judged
only by one man alone and a woman, and so accused or acquitted._


Answ.

The parties so judging can justifie their skill to any, and shew good
reasons why such markes are not meerly naturall, neither that they can
happen by any such naturall cause as is before expressed, and for
further answer for their private judgements alone, it is most false
and untrue, for never was any man tryed by search of his body, but
commonly a dozen of the ablest men in the parish or else where, were
present, and most commonly as many ancient skilfull matrons and
midwives present when the women are tryed, which marks not only he,
and his company attest to be very suspitious, but all beholders, the
skilfulest of them, doe not approve of them, but likewise assent that
such tokens cannot in their judgements proceed from any the above
mentioned Causes.



Quer. 6.

_It is a thing impossible for any or woman to judge rightly on
such marks, they are so neare to naturall excressencies and they
that finde them, durst not presently give Oath they were drawne
by evil spirits, till they have used unlawfull courses of
torture to make them say any thing for ease and quiet, as who
would not do? but I would know the reasons he speakes of, how,
and whereby to discover the one from the other, and so be
satisfied in that._


Answ.

The reasons in breefe are three, which for the present he judgeth to
differ from naturall marks which are:

1. He judgeth by the unusualnes of the place where he findeth the
teats in or on their bodies being farre distant from any usuall
place, from whence such naturall markes proceed, as if a witch plead
the markes found are Emerods, if I finde them on the bottome of the
back-bone, shall I assent with him, knowing they are not neere that
veine, and so others by child-bearing, when it may be they are in the
contrary part?

2. They are most commonly insensible, and feele neither pin, needle,
aule, &c. thrust through them.

3. The often variations and mutations of these marks into severall
formes, confirmes the matter; as if a Witch hear a month or two before
that the _Witch-finder_ (as they call him) is comming they will, and
have put out their Imps to others to suckle them, even to their owne
young and tender children; these upon search are found to have dry
skinnes and filmes only, and be close to the flesh, keepe her 24.
houres with a diligent eye, that none of her Spirits come in any
visible shape to suck her; the women have seen the next day after her
Teats extended out to their former filling length, full of corruption
ready to burst, and leaving her alone then one quarter of an houre,
and let the women go up againe and shee will have them drawn by her
Imps close againe: _Probatum est._ Now for answer to their tortures
in its due place.



Quer. 7.

_How can it possibly be that the Devill bring a spirit, and
wants no nutriment or sustentation, should desire to suck any
blood? and indeed as he is a spirit he cannot draw any such
excressences, having neither flesh nor bone, nor can be felt,
&c._


Ans.

He seekes not their bloud, as if he could not subsist without that
nourishment, but he often repairs to them, and gets it, the more to
aggravate the Witches damnation, and to put her in mind of her
_Covenant_; and as he is a Spirit and Prince of the ayre, he appeares
to them in any shape whatsoever, which shape is occasioned by him
through joyning of condensed thickned aire together, and many times
doth assume shapes of many creatures; but to create any thing he
cannot do it, it is only proper to God: But in this case of drawing
out of these Teats, he doth really enter into the body, reall,
corporeall, substantiall creature, and forceth that Creature (he
working in it) to his desired ends, and useth the organs of that body
to speake withall to make his compact up with the Witches, be the
creature Cat, Rat, Mouse, &c.



Quer. 8.

_When these Paps are fully discovered, yet that will not serve
sufficiently to convict them, but they must be tortured and kept
from sleep two or three nights, to distract them, and make them
say any thing; which is a way to tame a wilde Colt, or Hawke,
&c._


Ans.

In the infancy of this discovery it was not only thought fitting, but
enjoyned in _Essex_ and _Suffolke_ by the Magistrates, with this
intention only, because they being kept awake would be more the active
to cal their imps in open view the sooner to their helpe, which
oftentimes have so happened; and never or seldome did any Witch ever
complaine in the time of their keeping for want of rest, but after
they had beat their heads together in the Goale; and after this use
was not allowed of by the judges and other Magistrates, it was never
since used, which is a yeare and a halfe since, neither were any kept
from sleep by any order or direction since; but peradventure their own
stubborne wills did not let them sleep, though tendered and offered to
them.




Quer. 9.

_Beside that unreasonable watching, they were extraordinarily
walked, till their feet were blistered, and so forced through
that cruelty to confesse, &c._


Ans.

It was in the same beginning of this discovery, and the meaning of
walking of them at the highest extent of cruelty, was only they to
walke about themselves the night they were watched, only to keepe them
waking: and the reason was this, when they did lye or sit in a chaire,
if they did offer to couch downe, then the watchers were only to
desire them to sit up and walke about, for indeed when they be
suffered so to couch, immediately comes their Familiars into the room
and scareth the watchers, and heartneth on the Witch, though contrary
to the true meaning of the same instructions, diverse have been by
rusticall People, (they hearing them confess to be Witches) mis-used,
spoiled, and abused, diverse whereof have suffered for the same, but
could never be proved against this Discoverer to have a hand in it, or
consent to it; and hath likewise been un-used by him and others, ever
since the time they were kept from sleepe.



Quer. 10.

_But there hath been an abominable, inhumane, and unmercifull
tryall of these poore creatures, by tying them, and heaving them
into the water; a tryall not allowable by Law or conscience, and
I would faine know the reasons for that._


Ans.

It is not denyed but many were so served as had Papps, and floated,
others that had none were tryed with them and sunk, but marke the
reasons.

For first the Divels policie is great, in perswading many to come of
their own accord to be tryed, perswading them their marks are so close
they shall not be found out, so as diverse have come 10. or 12. Miles
to be searched of their own accord, and hanged for their labour, (as
one _Meggs_ a Baker did, who lived within 7. Miles of _Norwich_, and
was hanged at _Norwich_ Assizes for witchcraft) then when they find
that the Devil tells them false they reflect on him, and he (as 40.
have confessed) adviseth them to be sworne, and tels them they shall
sinke and be cleared that way, then when they be tryed that way and
floate, they see the Devill deceives them againe, and have so laid
open his treacheries.

2. It was never brought in against any of them at their tryals as any
evidence.

3. King _James_ in his _Demonology_ saith, it is a certaine rule, for
(saith he) Witches deny their baptisme when they Covenant with the
Devill, water being the sole element thereof, and therefore saith he,
when they be heaved into the water, the water refuseth to receive them
into her bosome, (they being such Miscreants to deny their baptisme)
and suffers them to float, as the Froath on the Sea, which the water
will not recieve, but casts it up and downe till it comes to the
earthy element the shore, and there leaves it to consume.

4. Observe these generation of Witches, if they be at any time abused
by being called Whore, Theefe, &c, by any where they live, they are
the readiest to cry and wring their hands, and shed tears in abundance
& run with full and right sorrowfull acclamations to some Justice of
the Peace, and with many teares make their complaints: but now behold
their stupidity; nature or the elements reflection from them, when
they are accused for this horrible and damnable sin of Witchcraft,
they never alter or change their countenances nor let one Teare fall.
This by the way, swimming (by able Divines whom I reverence) is
condemned for no way, and therefore of late hath, and for ever shall
be left.



Quer. 11.

_Oh! but if this torturing Witch-catcher can by all or any of
these meanes wring out a word or two of confession from any of
these stupified, ignorant, unitelligible, poore silly creatures,
(though none heare it but himselfe) he will adde and put her in
feare to confesse telling her, else she shall be hanged; but if
she doe, he will set her at liberty, and so put a word into her
mouth, and make such a silly creature confesse she knowes not
what._


Answ.

He is of a better conscience, and for your better understanding of
him, he doth thus uncase himselfe to all, add declares what
confessions (though made by a Witch against her selfe) he allowes not
of, and doth altogether account of no validity, or worthy of credence
to be given to it, and ever did so account it, and ever likewise
shall.

1. He utterly denyes that confession of a Witch to be of any validity,
when it is drawn from her by any torture or violence whatsoever;
although after watching, walking, or swimming, diverse have suffered,
yet peradventure Magistrates with much care and diligence did solely
and fully examine them after sleepe, and consideration sufficient.

2. He utterly denyes that confession of a Witch, which is drawn from
her by flattery, viz. _if you will confess you shall go home, you
shall not go to the Goale, nor be hanged, &c._

3. He utterly denyes that confession of a Witch, when she confesseth
any improbability, impossibility, as _flying in the ayre, riding on a
broom, &c._

4. He utterly denyes a confession of a Witch, when it is interrogated
to her, and words put into her mouth, to be of any force or effect: as
to say to a silly (yet Witch wicked enough) _you have foure Imps have
you not_? She answers affirmatively, Yes: _did they not suck you_?
Yes, saith she: _Are not their names so, and so_? Yes, saith shee;
_Did not you send such an Impe to kill my child_? Yes saith she, this
being all her confession after this manner, it is by him accompted
nothing, and he earnestly doth desire that all Magistrates and Jurors
would a little more then ever they did examine witnesses about the
interrogated confessions.



Quer. 12.

_If all those confessions be denyed, I wonder what he will make
confession, for sure it is, all these wayes have been used and
took for good confessions, and many have suffered for them, and
I know not what, he will then make confession._


Answ.

Yes, in brief he will declare what confession of a Witch is of
validity and force in his judgement, to hang a Witch: when a Witch is
first found with teats, then sequestred from her house, which is onely
to keep her old associates from her, and so by good counsell brought
into a sad condition, by understanding of the horribleness of her sin,
and the judgements threatned against her; and knowing the Devils
malice and subtile circumventions, is brought to remorse and sorrow
for complying with Satan so long, and disobeying Gods sacred Commands,
doth then desire to unfold her mind with much bitterness, and then
without any of the before-mentioned hard usages or questions put to
her, doth of her owne accord declare what was the occasion of the
Devils appearing to her, whether ignorance, pride, anger, malice, &c.
was predominant over her, she doth then declare what speech they had,
what likeness he was in, what voice be had, what familiars he sent
her, what number of spirits, what names they had, what shape they were
in, what imployment she set them about to severall persons in severall
places, (unknowne to the hearers) all which mischiefes being proved to
be done, at the same time she confessed to the same parties for the
same cause, and all effected, is testimony enough again her for all
her denyall.



Quest. 13.

_How can any possibly beleeve that the Devill and the Witch
joyning together, should have such power, as the Witches
confesse to kill such such a man, child, horse, cow, the like;
if we beleeve they can doe what they will, then we derogate from
Gods power, who for certaine limits the Devill and the Witch;
and I cannot beleeve they have any power at all._


Answ.

God suffers the Devill many times to doe much hurt, and the devill
doth play many times the deluder and impostor with these Witches, in
perswading them that they are the cause of such and such a murder
wrought by him with their consents, when and indeed neither he nor
they had any hand in it, as thus: We must needs argue, he is of a
long standing, above 6000. yeers, then he must needs be the best
Scholar in all knowledges of arts and tongues, & so have the best
skill in _Physicke_, judgment in _Physiognomie_, and knowledge of what
disease is reigning or predominant in this or that mans body, (and so
for cattell too) by reason of his long experience. This subtile
tempter knowing such a man lyable to some sudden disease, (as by
experience I have found) as _Plurisie_, _Imposthume_, &c. he resorts
to divers Witches; if they know the man, and seek to make a difference
between the Witches and the party, it may be by telling them he hath
threatned to have them very shortly searched, and so hanged for
Witches, then they all consult with _Satan_ to save themselves, and
_Satan_ stands ready prepared, with a _What will you have me doe for
you, my deare and nearest children, covenanted and compacted with me
in my hellish league, and sealed with your blood, my delicate
firebrand-darlings_.

[Sidenote: _The Divells speech to the Witches._]

Oh thou (say they) that at the first didst promise to save us thy
servants from any of out deadly enemies discovery, and didst promise
to avenge and flay all those, we pleased, that did offend us; Murther
that wretch suddenly who threatens the down-fall of your loyall
subjects. He then promiseth to effect it. Next newes is heard the
partie is dead, he comes to the witch, and gets a world of reverence,
credence and respect for his power and activeness, when and indeed the
disease kills the party, not the Witch, nor the Devill, (onely the
Devill knew that such a disease was predominant) and the witch
aggravates her damnation by her familiarity and consent to the Devill,
and so comes likewise in compass of the Lawes. This is Satans usuall
impostring and deluding, but not his constant course of proceeding,
for he and the witch doe mischiefe too much. But I would that
Magistrates and Jurats would a little examine witnesses when they
heare witches confess such and such a murder, whether the party had
not long time before, or at the time when the witch grew suspected,
some disease or other predominant, which might cause that issue or
effect of death.



Quer. 14.

_All that the witch-finder doth is to fleece the country of
their money, and therefore rides and goes to townes to have
imployment, and promiseth them faire promises, and it may be
doth nothing for it, and possesseth many men that they have so
many wizzards and so many witches in their towne, and so hartens
them on to entertaine him._


Ans.

You doe him a great deale of wrong in every of these particulars. For,
first,

1. He never went to any towne or place, but they rode, writ, or sent
often for him, and were (for ought he knew) glad of him.

2. He is a man that doth disclaime that ever he detected a witch, or
said, Thou art a witch; only after her tryall by search, and their
owne confessions, he as others may judge.

3. Lastly, judge how he fleeceth the Country, and inriches himselfe,
by considering the vast summe he takes of every towne, he demands but
20.s. a town, & doth sometimes ride 20. miles for that, & hath no more
for all his charges thither and back again (& it may be stayes a weeke
there) and finde there 3. or 4. witches, or if it be but one, cheap
enough, and this is the great summe he takes to maintaine his Companie
with 3. horses.


_Judicet ullus._



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Online LibraryMatthew HopkinsThe Discovery of Witches → online text (page 1 of 1)