Friday, December 3

Puritan's Diary And The Devil's Women

Diary of Nehemiah Wallington
Nehemiah Wallington diaries of witchcraft
In the mid 1600s a Puritan writer, Nehemiah Wallington, kept a diary in which he detailed, amongst other things, the witch trials of Manningtree in England. The 350 year old book (photo above) is now to be made public by the Manchester University's John Rylands Library who are digitising the diary.

The story of the trials and the witch hunt were dramatised in the controversial film The Witchfinder General staring Vincent Price as Matthew Hopkins.

Matthew Hopkin's dreadful witch hunts across East Anglia resulted in more than 100 women being put to death. The trials at Manningtree were the most notorious in a savage campaign.

In March 1645 Hopkins questioned a suspected witch, Elizabeth Clarke. She was examined for devil's marks such as warts, moles or bits of extra skin that were declared to be 'teats' to give suckle to imps.

Not surprisingly Clarke broke down and named other women including Anne West and her daughter Rebecca. The women were taken to the cells in Colchester Castle for questioning. Rebecca confessed and implicated her mother and others, thus saving herself from hanging.

According to Nehemiah Wallington's diary this is Rebecca's story:

"... Shortly after when she was going to bed the Devil appeared unto her again in the shape of a handsome young man, saying that he came to marry her.

Asked by the Judge whether she ever had carnal copulation with the Devil she confessed she had. She was very desirous to confess all she knew, which accordingly she did where upon the rest were apprehended and sent unto the Geole (jail).

She further affirmed that when she was going to the Grand Inquest she said she would confess nothing if they pulled her to pieces with pincers.

Asked the reason by the Gentle man she said she found herself in such extremity of torture and amazement, that she would not endure it again for the world.

When she looked upon the ground she saw herself encompassed in flames of fire and as soon as she was separated from her mother the tortures and the flames began to cease whereupon she then confessed all she knew.

As soon as her confession was fully ended she found her contience so satisfied and disburdened of all tortures she thought herself the happiest creature in the world."

On a much lighter note I snapped this sign on a car I saw parked this morning:

A witch car
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  1. Good one, Mike! The witch story and the bumper sticker. How things have changed since those dismal witch trials!

  2. good stuff. interesting as to how things used to be and a great sticker.

  3. I went to the supermarket today with my wife and the car next to us had the same 'Protected by Withchcraft' sticker on its bumper. Looking for the 3rd now!