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Printed "by Charles Simms and Cc





REV. RICHARD PARKINSON, B.D., Canon of Manchester, Vice-President.


GEORGE ORMEROD, Esq., D.C.L., F.R.S., F.S.A., F.G.S., Sedbury Park.

SAMUEL HIBBERT WARE, Esq., M.D., F.R.S.E., Edinburgh.





REV. F. R. RAINES, M.A, F.S.A., Milnrow Parsonage, hear Rochdale.



WILLIAM LANGTON, Esq., Treasurer.






fin t\)t Countp of Lancaster,





Printed by Charles Simms and Co.


Were not every chapter of the history of the human mind
too precious an inheritance to be willingly relinquished, —
for appalling as its contents may be, the value of the
materials it may furnish may be inestimable, — we might
otherwise be tempted to wish that the miserable record in
which the excesses occasioned by the witch mania are nar-
rated, could be struck out of its pages, and for ever cancelled.
Most assuredly, he, who is content to take the fine exag-
geration of the author of Hydriotaphia as a serious and literal
truth, and who believes with him that " man is a glorious
animal," must not go to the chapter which contains that
record for his evidences and proofs. If he should be in
search of materials for humiliation and abasement, he will
find in the history of witchcraft in this country, from the
beginning to the end of the seventeenth century, large and
abundant materials, whether it affects the species or the
individual. In truth, human nature is never seen in worse
colours than in that dark and dismal review. Childhood,
without any of its engaging properties, appears prematurely
artful, wicked and cruel 1 ; woman, the victim of a wretched

1 Take, as an instance, the children of Mr. Throgmorton, of Warbois,
for bewitching whom, Mother Samuels, her husband, and daughter, suffered
in 1593. No veteran professors "in the art of ingeniously tormenting" could


and debasing bigotry, has yet so little of the feminine
adjuncts, that the fountains of our sympathies are almost
closed ; and man, tyrannizing over the sex he was bound to
protect, in its helpless destitution and enfeebled decline,
seems lost in prejudice and superstition and only strong
in oppression. If we turn from the common herd to the
luminaries of the age, to those whose works are the land-
marks of literature and science, the reference is equally
disappointing; —

" The sun itself is dark
And silent as the moon
Hid in her vacant interlunar cave."

have administered the question with more consummate skill than these
little incarnate fiends, till the poor old woman was actually induced, from
their confident asseverations and plausible counterfeiting, to believe at last
that she had been a witch all her life without knowing it. She made a
confession, following the story which they had prompted, on their assur-
ances that it was the only means to restore them, and then was hanged
upon that confession, to which she adhered on the scaffold. Few tracts
present a more vivid picture of manners than that in which the account of
this case of witchcraft is contained. It is perhaps the rarest of the English
tracts relating to witchcraft, and is entitled " The most strange and admirable
Discoverie of the three Witches of Warboys, arraigned, convicted, and
executed at the last Assizes at Huntingdon, for the bewitching of the five
daughters of Eobert Throckmorton, Esquire, and divers other persons with
sundrie Devilish and grievous torments. And also for the bewitching to
Death of the Lady Crumwell, the like hath not been heard of in this age.
London, Printed by the Widdowe Orwin for Thomas Man and John Win-
nington, and are to be sold in Paternoster Howe at the Signe of the Talbot."
1593, 4to. My copy was Brand's, and formed Lot 8224 in his Sale


We find the illustrious author of the Novum Organon sacri-
ficing to courtly suppleness his philosophic truth, and gravely
prescribing the ingredients for a witches' ointment; 1 — Raleigh,
adopting miserable fallacies at second hand, without sub-
jecting them to the crucible of his acute and vigorous
understanding ; 2 — Selden, maintaining that crimes of the
imagination may be punished with death; 3 — The detector of
Vulgar Errors, and the most humane of physicians, 4 giving
the casting weight to the vacillating bigotry of Sir Matthew
Hale f. — Hobbes, ever sceptical, penetrating and sagacious,

1 Lord Bacon thinks (see his Sylva Sylvarum) that soporiferous medicines
" are likeliest" for this purpose, such as henbane, hemlock, mandrake, moon-
shade, tobacco, opium, saffron, poplar leaves, &c.

2 See his History of the World.

3 See his Table Talk, section " Witches."

4 Sir Thomas Browne's evidence at the trial of Amy Duny and Rose
Cullender at Bury St. Edmunds in 1664, is too well known to need an
extract from the frequently reprinted report of the case. To adopt the
words of an able writer, (Retros. Review, vol. v. p. 118,) "this trial is the
only place in which we ever meet with the name of Sir Thomas Browne
without pleasurable associations."

5 Those who wish to have presented to them a faithful likeness of Sir
Matthew Hale must not consult Burnet or Baxter, for that great judge, like
Sir Epicure Mammon, sought " for his meet flatterers the gravest of divines,"
but will not fail to find it in the pages of Roger North, who has depicted
his character with a strength and accuracy of outline which no Vandyck or
Lely of biography ever surpassed. Would that we could exchange some of
those " faultless monsters" with which that fascinating department of literature
too much abounds, for a few more such instantly recognised specimens of
true but erring and unequal humanity, which are as rare as they are
precious. In the unabridged life of Lord Guildford by Roger North,
which, with his own most interesting and yet unpublished autobiography,


yet here paralyzed, and shrinking from the subject as if
afraid to touch it ;' — The adventurous explorer, who sounded
the depths and channels of the "Intellectual System" along
all the " wide watered " shores of antiquity, running after
witches to hear them recite the Common Prayer and the
Creed, as a rational test of guilt or innocence ; 2 — The gentle
spirit of Dr. Henry More, girding on the armour of persecu-
tion, and rousing itself from a Platonic reverie on the Divine
Life, to assume the hood and cloak of a familiar of the
Inquisition ; 3 — and the patient and enquiring Boyle, putting

are in my possession in his autograph, are found some additional touches
which confirm the general accuracy of the portrait he has sketched of
Hale in the work which has heen printed. (Vide North's Life of Lord
Guildford, hy Roscoe, vol. i. p. 119.)

1 See his Dialogue on the Common Laws of England.

2 Dr. Cudworth was the friend whom More refers to without naming,
Collections of Relations, p, 336, edit. 1726, 8vo.

3 There is no name in this catalogue that excites more poignant
regret than that of Dr. Henry More. So exalted was his character, so
serene and admirable his temper, so full of harmony his whole intellectual
constitution, that, irradiated at once by all the lights of religion and philo-
sophy, and with clearer glimpses of the land of vision and the glories
behind the veil than perhaps uninspired mortality ever partook of before,
he seems to have reached as near to the full standard of perfection as it is
possible for frail and feeble humanity to attain. Dr. Outram said that he
looked upon Dr. More as the holiest person upon the face of the earth ;
and the sceptical Hobbes, who never dealt in compliment, observed, " That
if his own philosophy were not true, he knew of none that he should
sooner like than More's of Cambridge." His biographer, Ward, concludes
his life in the following glowing terms : — "Thus lived and died the eminent
Dr. More : thus set this bright and illustrious star, vanishing by degrees out
of our sight after, to the surprise and admiration of many, (like that which


aside for a while his searches for the grand Magisterium,
and listening, as if spell-bound, with gratified attention to
stories of witches at Oxford, and devils at Mascon. 1 Nor is it
from a retrospect of our own intellectual progress only that
we find how capricious, how intermitting, and how little
privileged to great names or high intellects, or even to those
minds which seemed to possess the very qualifications which
would operate as conductors, are those illuminating gleams
of common sense which shoot athwart the gloom, and aid
a nation on its tardy progress to wisdom, humanity, and
justice. If on the Continent there were, in the sixteenth

was observed in Cassiopeia's chair,) it had illuminated, as it were, both
worlds so long at once." At the lapse of many years I have not forgotten
the impassioned fondness with which the late and most lamented Kobert
Southey dwelt upon the memory of the Cambridge Plato, or the delight
with which he greeted some works of his favourite author which I was
fortunate enough to point out to him, with which he had not been previ-
ously acquainted. The sad reverse of the picture will be seen by those
who consult the folio of More's philosophical works and Glanville's Saddu-
cismus Triumphatus, the greatest part of which is derived from More's
Collections. His hallucinations on the subject of witchcraft, from which
none of the English writers of the Platonic school were exempt, are the
more extraordinary, as a sister error, judicial astrology, met in More with its
most able oppugner. His tract, which has excited much less attention than
its merit deserves, (I have not been able to trace a single quotation from it
in any author during the last century,) is entitled " Tetractys Anti-astrologica,
or a Confutation of Astrology." Lond. 1681, 4to. I may mention while on
the subject of More, that the second and most valuable part of the memoir
of him by Ward, his devoted admirer and pupil, which was never printed,
is in my possession, in manuscript.

1 See Boyle's letter on the subject of the latter, in the 5th vol. of the
folio edition of his works.


century, two men from whom an exposure of the absurdities
of the system of witchcraft might have been naturally and
rationally expected, and who seem to stand out prominently
from the crowd as predestined to that honourable and salu-
tary office, those two men were John Bodin 1 and Thomas
Erastus. 2 The former a lawyer — much exercised in the affairs
of men — whose learning was not merely umbratic — whose
knowledge of history was most philosophic and exact — of
piercing penetration and sagacity — tolerant — liberal

1 I have always considered the conclusion of Bodin's book, Be Republican
the accumulative grandeur of which is even heightened in Knolles's admi-
rable English translation, as the finest peroration to be found in any work
on government. Those who are fortunate enough to possess a copy of his
interdicted Examination of Religions, the title of which is, " Colloquium
heptaplomeres de abditis sublimium rerum arcanis, libris 6 digestum," which
was never printed, and of which very few MSS. copies are in existence, are
well aware how little he felt himself shackled in the spirit of examination
which he carried into the most sacred subjects by any respect for popular
notions or received systems or great authorities. My MS. copy of this
extraordinary work, which came from Heber's Collection, is contained in
two rather thick folio volumes.

2 Few authors are better deserving of an extended biography, a desi-
deratum which, in an age characterised by its want of literary research, is
not likely to be soon supplied, than Thomas Erastus, whose theological,
philosophical, and medical celebrity entitle him to rank with the greatest
men of his century. At present we have to collect all that is known of his
life from various scattered and contradictory sources. John Webster, in his
Displaying of Supposed Witchcraft, contrary to the usual candour and fair-
ness of his judgments, speaks slightingly of Erastus. There was, however,
a sufficient reason for this. Erastus had shown up the empiricism of
Webster's idol Paracelsus, and was in great disfavour with the writers of
the Anti-Galenic school.


minded — disposed to take no proposition upon trust, but
to canvass and examine every thing for himself, and who
had large views of human nature and society — in fact, the
Montesquieu of the seventeenth century. The other, a phy-
sician and professor, sage, judicious, incredulous,

" The scourge of impostors, the terror of quacks,"

who had routed irrecoverably empiricism in almost every
shape - Paracelsians - Astrologers- Alchemists- Rosicrucians
— and who weighed and scrutinized and analyzed every
conclusion, from excommunication and the power of the keys
to the revolutions of comets and their supposed effects on
empires, and all with perfect fearlessness and intuitive insight
into the weak points of an argument. Yet, alas ! for human
infirmity. Bodin threw all the weight of his reasoning and
learning and vivacity into the scale of the witch supporters,
and made the "hell-broth boil and bubble" anew, and in-
creased the witch furor to downright fanaticism, by the
publication of his Demo-manie} a work in which

" Learning, blinded first and then beguiled,
Looks dark as ignorance, as frenzy wild ;"

but which it is impossible to read without being carried

I cannot concur with Mr. Hallam in the extremely low estimate he
forms of the literary merit of Bodin's Demomanie, which he does not seem
to have examined with the care and impartiality which he seldom is
deficient in. Like all Bodin's works, it has a spirit peculiarly his own, and
is, in my opinion, one of the most entertaining books to be found in the
circle of Demonology.



along by the force of mind and power of combination which
the author manifests, and without feeling how much inge-
nious sophistry can perform to mitigate and soften the most
startling absurdity. His contemporary, Erastus, after all
his victories on the field of imposition, was foiled by the
subject of witchcraft at last. This was his pet delusion —
almost the only one he cared not to discard — like the dying
miser's last reserve : —

" My manor, sir ? he cried ;

Not that, I cannot part with that, — and died."

In his treatise Be Lamiis, published in 1577, 8vo., he defends
nearly all the absurdities of the system with a blind zealotry
which in such a man is very remarkable. His book has
accordingly taken its place on the same shelf with Sprenger,
Remigius, Delrio, and De Lancre, and deserves insertion
only in a list which has yet to be made out, and which if
accurately compiled would be a literary curiosity, of the sin-
gularly illogical books of singularly able reasoners. What
was left unaccomplished by the centurions of literature came
ultimately from the strangest of all possible quarters ; from
the study of an humble pupil of the transmuter of metals
and prince of mountebanks and quacks — the expounder of
Reuchlin de verbo mirifico^ and lecturer in the unknown
tongues — the follower of Trismegistus — cursed with bell,
book and candle, by every decorous Church in Christendom —
the redoubted Cornelius Agrippa ; who, if he left not to his
pupil Wierus the secret of the philosopher's stone or grand
elixir, seems to have communicated a treasure perhaps equally


rare and not less precious, the faculty of seeing a truth
which should open the eyes of bigotry and dispel the mists
of superstition, which should stop the persecution of the
helpless and stay the call for blood. If, in working out this
virgin ore from the mine, he has produced it mixed up with
the scoria of his master's Occult Philosophy ; if he gives us
catalogues of devils and spirits, with whose acquaintance
we could have dispensed ; if he pleads the great truth faintly,
inconsistently, imperfectly, and is evidently unaware of the
strength of the weapons he wields ; these deductions do not
the less entitle Wierus to take his place in the first rank of
Humanity's honoured professors, the true philanthropists
and noble benefactors of mankind.

In our own country, it may be curious and edifying to
observe to whom we mainly owe those enlightened views on
this subject, which might have been expected to proceed in
their natural channel, but for which we look in vain, from
the " triumphant heirs of universal praise," the recognized
guides of public opinion, whose fame sheds such a lustre on
our annals, — the Bacons, the Raleighs, the Seldens, the
Cudworths, and the Boyles.

The strangely assorted and rather grotesque band to
whom we are principally indebted for a vindication of out-
raged common sense and insulted humanity in this instance,
and whose vigorous exposition of the absurdities of the pre-
vailing system, in combination with other lights and sources
of intelligence, led at last to its being universally abandoned,
consists of four individuals — on any of whom a literary
Pharisee would look down with supercilious scorn: — a


country gentleman, devoted to husbandry, and deep in plat-
forms of hop gardens, l — a baronet, whose name for upwards
of a century has been used as a synonyme for incurable
political bigotry, 2 — a little, crooked, and now forgotten
man, who died, as his biographer tells us, " distracted, occa-
sioned by a deep conceit of his own parts, and by a continual
bibbing of strong and high tasted liquors," 3 — and last, but
not least assuredly, of one who was by turns a fanatical
preacher and an obscure practitioner of physic, and who
passed his old age at Clitheroe in Lancashire in attempting
to transmute metals and discover the philosopher's stone. 4
So strange a band of Apostles of reason may occasion a
smile; it deserves, at all events, a little more particular
consideration before we address ourselves to the short nar-
ration which may be deemed necessary as an introduction to
the republication which follows.

Of the first of the number, Reginald or Reynold Scot, it
is to be regretted that more particulars are not known.
Nearly the whole are contained in the following information
afforded by Anthony a Wood, A thence., vol. i. p. 297; from
which it appears that he took to "solid reading" at a crisis of
life when it is generally thrown aside. " Reynolde Scot, a
younger son of Sir John Scot, of Scot's Hall, near to Smeeth,
in Kent, by his wife, daughter of Reynolde Pimp, of Pimp's
Court, Knight, was born in that county, and at about 17 years
of age was sent to Oxon, particularly as it seems to Hart
Hall, where several of his countrymen and name studied in

1 Reginald Scot. 2 Sir R. Filmer. 3 John Wagstaffe. 4 John Webster.



the latter end of K. Henry VIII. and the reign of Edward
VI., &c. Afterwards he retired to his native country, with-
out the honour of a Degree, and settled at Smeeth, where he
found great encouragement in his studies from his kinsman,
Sir Thomas Scot. About which time, taking to him a wife,
he gave himself up solely to solid reading, to the perusing
of obscure authors that had, by the generality of scholars,
been neglected, and at times of leisure to husbandry and
gardening. He died in September or October in 1599, and
was buried among his ancestors, in the church at Smeeth
before mentioned." Retired as his life and obscure as his
death might be, he is one whose name will be remembered
as long as vigorous sense, flowing from the " wells of English
undefiled," hearty and radiant humour, and sterling patri-
otism, are considered as deserving of commemoration. His
Discoverie of Witchcraft, first published in 1584, is indeed
a treat to him who wishes to study the idioms, manners,
opinions, and superstitions of the reign of Elizabeth. Its
entire title deserves to be given : —

" The difcouerie of witchcraft, wherein the lewde dealing of
witches and witchmongers is notablie detected, the knauerie
of coniurors, the impietie of inchantors, the follie of footh-
faiers, the impudent faljhood of coufenors, the infidelitie of
atheijls, the pejiilent practifes of Pythonists, the curiositie of
figurecafiers, the vanitie of dreamers, the beggerlie art of
Alcumyfirie, the abhomination of idolatrie, the horrible art of
poifoning, the vertue and power of naturall magike, and all
the conueiances of Legierdemaine and iuggling are deciphered:
and many other things opened, which haue long lien hidden,


howbeit verie necejfarie to be knowne. Heerevnto is added a
treatife vpon the nature and fubftance of fpirits and diuels,
fyc: all latelie written by Reginald Scot Esquire. 1 John,
4, 1. Beleeue not euerie fpirit but trie the fpirits, whether
they are of God ; for many falfe prophets are gone out into
the world, Sfc. 1584."

This title is sufficient to show that he gives no quarter to
the delusion he undertakes to expose, and though he does
not deny that there may be witches in the abstract, (to
have done so would have left him a preacher without an
audience,) yet he guards so cautiously against any practical
application of that principle, and battles so vigorously against
the error which assimilated the witches of modern times
to the witches of Scripture, and, denying the validity of the
confessions of those convicted, throws such discredit and
ridicule upon the whole system, that the popular belief
cannot but have received a severe shock from the pub-
lication of his work. 1 By an extraordinary elevation of

1 In the epistle to his kinsman Sir Thomas Scot, prefixed to his Discoverie,
he observes : —

" I see among other malefactors manie poore old women conuented before
you for working of miracles, other wise called witchcraft, and therefore I
thought you also a meet person to whom I might commend my booke." —
And he then proceeds, in the following spirited and gallant strain, to run
his course against the Dagon of popular superstition : —

" I therefore (at this time) doo onelie desire you to consider of my report,
concerning the euidence that is commonlie brought before you against
them. See first whether the euidence be not friuolous, & whether the
proofs brought against them be not incredible, consisting of ghesses, pre-
sumptions, & impossibilities contrarie to reason, scripture, and nature. See


good sense, he managed, not only to see through the ab-
surdities of witchcraft, but likewise of other errors which

also what persons complaine vpon them, whether they be not of the basest,
the vnwisest, & most faithles kind of people. Also may it please you to
waie what accusations and crimes they laie to their charge, namelie : She
was at my house of late, she would haue had a pot of milke, she departed
in a chafe bicause she had it not, she railed, she curssed, she mumbled and
whispered, and finallie she said she would be euen with me : and soone
after my child, my cow, my sow, or my pullet died, or was strangelie taken.
Naie (if it please your Worship) I haue further proofe : I was with a wise
woman, and she told me I had an ill neighbour, & that she would come to
my house yer it were long, and so did she ; and that she had a marke
aboue hir waste, & so had she : and God forgiue me, my stomach hath
gone against hir a great while. Hir mother before hir was counted a witch,
she hath beene beaten and scratched by the face till bloud was drawne
vpon hir, bicause she hath beene suspected, & afterwards some of those
persons were said to amend. These are the certeinties that I heare in
their euidences.

"Note also how easilie they may be brought to confesse that which they
neuer did, nor lieth in the power of man to doo : and then see whether I

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Online LibraryThomas PottsPott's Discovery of witches in the county of Lancaster → online text (page 1 of 21)