Sceptical Cases c1580-c1750 (Boy of Burton 1596-97 (Arrest of Alice…
Sceptical Cases c1580-c1750
Boy of Burton 1596-97
Thomas Darlings Story
Thomas Darling confessed to a lie told 3 years before
Darling went hunting and when he returned he fell ill and began having fits and also claimed he saw green angles and cats. Doctor said he had become bewitched. He claimed when he lost his uncle he met a strange women who he had a disagreement with
from Darlings description the witch was identified as Elizabeth Wright or Alice Gooderidge. Gooderidge claimed that although she met Darling in the woods she never practiced witchcraft on him
Arrest of Alice Gooderidge
Alice and her mother were arrested and searched for witches marks which were apparently found - Alice was help at Derby prison where she confessed to bewtiching
Alice claimed she had a familiar called Minny in the shape of a red and white dog given : to her by her mother and claims she sent the familiar to harm
When put on trial infront of Darling he fell ill again and she explained to the JPs that it was possible to break the spell but choked and could not talk.
She was later put on trial and sentenced guilty but died before her execution
Role of John Darrell
Darlings fits continued despite Alices death
Exorcist was called in (John Darrell) who recommended prayer, fasting and reading of the bible to cast out the Devil
Darrell used his exorcism techniques on Darling in 1596 with apparent success and went on to exorcise an apprentice called William Somers who then claimed his possession was fraudulent and that him and Darrell worked together.
Matter was reported to Archbishop of York who set up a commission to investigate the case. When Somers was questioned he took back his confession and fell into violent fits
Thomas Darlings Confession
Darrell was summoned together with another minister George Moore, who he worked on exorcisms with to be examined
Samuel Harsnett was also present at the examination. Among these witnesses were Thomas Darling and William Somers who both confessed to their stories being untrue. Somers even added that he was made to fake his symptoms and exorcism
The Pendle Swindle, 1634
Edmund Robinsons Claims
10 year old boy named Edmund Robinson
Robinson brought up the case in order to avoid punishment for not looking after his fathers cattle when he was asked to
as a diversion tactic he claimed he was approached by two greyhounds who when a hare ran past made no movement making him suspicious. He claimed one greyhound turned into Frances Dickinson and the other to an unknown Boy
Robinson went on to claim the woman offered him a shilling to keep quiet but he refused and said he would report her. He got taken to a witches gathering and was unable to escape
Accusations and Trials
Robinsons father found his son in a distressed state and was told the story.
magistrates were infromed and Ediminson recounted his story again. Magistrates led to a number of churches where Robinson identified witches to be brought to trial (25 in total)
Witches were taken to Lancaster for trial and 17 were found guilty. sceptical attitude of magistrates is evident in the fact that a report of a the trial was sent to a privy council.
Although they followed the law and found witches guilty they were having doubts about evidence and spoken testimony.
After the investigation, Bridgeman concluded that Robinsons motive was not magic and father and son were sent to london along with 4 accused women
women were examined by surgeons and midwives to be searched for the devils mark and later questioned by king charles
one surgeon William Harvey discovered the circulation of blood
despite the lack of evidence one witch did confess and told a tale of when she sold he soul to the devil to give her all she wanted. she also claimed to meet with other witches but her description did not match Robinsons
The Demon Drummer of Tedworth, 1662
The Case of Jane Wenham, 1712