Sunday, October 26, 2014

Halloween Nears... A 1692 condemned Salem Witch & her Husband both appeal for justice.



An old British American colonial woodcut showing witches was printed in a collection of Cotton Mather's writings on witchcraft.


Mary Towne Easty, the daughter of William Towne & Joanna Blessing Towne of Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, England, was baptized on August 24, 1634. One of 8 children, she & her family sailed for Massachusettes around 1640.

Mary married Isaac Eastey in 1655, in Topsfield, Massachusetts. Isaac, a successful farmer, was born in England on November 27, 1627. Together the couple had 12 children. Two of Easty's sisters, Rebecca Nurse & Sarah Cloyse, were also accused of witchcraft during the Salem outbreak.

At the time of her questioning, Easty was about 58 years old.  The magistrate became angry, when she would not confess her guilt, which he deemed proven beyond doubt by the reported sufferings of the afflicted.

Easty was condemned to death on September 9, 1692. She was executed on September 22nd, despite an eloquent plea to the court to reconsider & not spill any more innocent blood. On the gallows she prayed for a end to the witch hunt.




Petition of Mary Easty To his Excellency S'r W'm Phipps: Govern'r and to the honoured Judge and Magistrates now setting in Judicature in Salem.

That whereas your poor and humble petitioner being condemned to die Doe humbly begg of you to take it into your Judicious and pious considerations that your Poor and humble petitioner knowing my own Innocencye Blised be the Lord for it and seeing plainly the wiles and subtility of my accusers by my Selfe can not but Judge charitably of others that are going the same way of my selfe if the Lord stepps not mightily in i was confined a whole month upon the same account that I am condemned now for and then cleared by the afflicted persons as some of your honours know and in two dayes time I was cryed out upon by them and have been confined and now am condemned to die the Lord above knows my Innocence then and Likewise does now as att the great day will be know to men and Angells

-- I Petition to your honours not for my own life for I know I must die and my appointed time is sett but the Lord he knowes it is that if it be possible no more Innocent blood may be shed which undoubtidly cannot be Avoyded In the way and course you goe in I question not but your honours does to the uttmost of your Powers in the discovery and detecting of witchcraft and witches and would not be gulty of Innocent blood for the world but by my own Innocency I know you are in this great work if it be his blessed you that no more Innocent blood be shed I would humbly begg of you that your honors would be plesed to examine theis Afflicted Persons strictly and keep them apart some time and Likewise to try some of these confesing wichis I being confident there is severall of them has belyed themselves and others as will appeare if not in this wor[l]d I am sure in the world to come whither I am now agoing and I Question not but youle see and alteration of thes things they my selfe and others having made a League with the Divel we cannot confesse I know and the Lord knowes as will shortly appeare they belye me and so I Question not but they doe others the Lord above who is the Searcher of all hearts knows that as I shall answer att the Tribunall seat that I know not the least thinge of witchcraft therfore I cannot I dare not belye my own soule I beg your honers not to deny this my humble petition from a poor dying Innocent person and I Question not but the Lord will give a blesing to yor endevers.




Petitions for Compensation and Decision Concerning Compensation
Account of Isaac Easty -- Case of Mary Easty
Topsfield Septemb'r 8 th. 1710

Isaac Esty (Senior, about 82 years of age) of Topsfield in the county of Essex in N.E. having been sorely exercis'd through the holy & awful providence of God depriving him of his beloved wife Mary Esty who suffered death in the year 1692 & under the fearfull odium of one of the worst of crimes that can be laid to the charge of mankind, as if she had been guilty of witchcraft a peice of wickedness wich I beleeve she did hate with perfect hatered & by all that ever I could see by her never could see any thing by her that should give me any reason in the lest to think her guilty of anything of that nature but am firmly persuaded that she was innocent of it as any to such a shameful death-

Upon consideration of a notification from the Honored Generall Court desiring my self & others under the like circumstances to give some account of what my Estate was damnify'd by reason of such a hellish molestation do hereby declare which may also be seen by comparing papers & records that my wife was near upon 5 months imprisioned all which time I provided maintenance for her at my own cost & charge, went constantly twice aweek to provide for her what she needed 3 weeks of this 5 months she was in prision at Boston & I was constrained to be at the charge of transporting her to & fro. So that I can not but think my charge in time and money might amount to 20 pounds besides my trouble & sorrow of heart in being deprived of her after such a manner which this world can never make me any compensation for.

I order and appoint my son Jacob Esty to carry this to the pointed by the Honored Generall Court & are to meet at Salem Sept. 12, 1710. Dated this 8th of Sept. 1710

Easty's family was compensated with 20 pounds from the government in 1711, for Mary's wrongful 1692 execution.


Halloween nears... New England's 1692 Salem Witch Trials


This Halloween seems like an appropriate moment to look at the Salem witch trials of 1692, through the research of Professor Richard Godbeer of the University of Miami.

"Salem witches & their accusers were swept up in a witch panic that gripped Essex county, Massachusetts, in 1692. The witch hysteria began in Salem village when girls & young women reportedly had begun to suffer strange fits, diagnosed by the local doctor as symptoms of witchcraft. Once they were pressured to name their alleged tormentors other villagers began to come forward with accusations of their own. During that year formal charges of witchcraft were brought against 156 people. Many others were named informally. Over half of those indicted lived in Salem village & Andover, but the accused witches included women & men from 24 New England towns & villages.

"On both sides of the Atlantic, witchcraft was perceived as a primarily female phenomenon & over ¾ of the accused were women. Puritans did not believe that women were by nature more evil than men, but they did see them as weaker & thus more susceptible to sinful impulses. Ministers regularly reminded New England congregations that it was Eve who first gave way to Satan & then seduced Adam, when she should have continued to serve his moral welfare in obedience to God.



"Some women were much more likely than others to be suspected of witchcraft. Throughout the 17th century New England women became especially susceptible to accusation if they were seen as challenging their prescribed place in a gendered hierarchy that puritans held to be ordained by God. Women who fulfilled their allotted social roles as wives, mothers, household mistresses, & church members without threatening assumptions about appropriate female comportment were respected and praised as the handmaidens of the Lord; but those whose circumstances or behavior seemed to disrupt social norms could easily become branded as the servants of Satan.

"Especially vulnerable were women who had passed menopause & thus no longer served the purpose of procreation, women who were widowed & so neither fulfilled the role of wife nor had a husband to protect them from malicious accusations, & women who had inherited or stood to inherit property in violation of expectations that wealth would be transmitted from man to man.


"Women who seemed unduly aggressive & contentious were also likely to be accused; behavior that would not have struck contemporaries as particularly egregious in men seemed utterly inappropriate in women. Bridget Bishop & Susannah Martin, both executed in 1692, exemplify these characteristics: both had been widowed; Bishop had assumed control of her first husband's property before remarrying; Martin had engaged in protracted litigation over her father's estate in an unsuccessful attempt to secure what she considered her rightful inheritance; both women had displayed an assertiveness & fiery temper that some of their neighbours found deeply troubling.

Devil Snatches Woman on Pitchfork

"Many of those accused in 1692, male & female, either had reputations for occult expertise or had at least experimented with magical techniques for divination or healing. Although ministers condemned any form of magic as diabolical, layfolk often appreciated being able to consult ‘cunning folk’ for benign purposes. Yet such individuals were vulnerable to allegations that they had also deployed their abilities to harm enemies. Samuel Wardwell (d. 1692), for example, was known to have told fortunes & had boasted of his abilities. One neighbor was reported as having declared that he must be ‘a witch or else he could never tell what he did.’

Witches at Cauldron from Ulrich Molitor. De Lamiis et Phitonicis Mulieribus, 1493

"Other suspects became vulnerable during the 1692 panic, because they were associated with recent threats to the New England colonies. American Indian attacks, political reforms imposed by the government in England that threatened to undermine the colonists' independence, the increasing visibility of religious dissenters, & the imposition of a new charter in 1691 that gave freedom of worship & the vote to previously disfranchised groups such as Quakers combined to leave the colonists feeling imperiled by alien, invasive, & malevolent forces.



"They described these threats in much the same language used to characterize witchcraft. Puritans believed, furthermore, that there was a close connection between heresy, heathenism, & witchcraft. A significant number of the accused had close Quaker associations & several suspects were linked by their accusers to American Indians. Samuel Wardwell had Quaker relatives; one of John Alden's accusers claimed that he had sold gunpowder to Indians & had been sexually involved with their women. Tituba, an accused American Indian woman who had lived in the Caribbean before coming with her master to Salem village, was marked by her race as well as her reputation for occult skills. Many of the accused were clearly perceived as outsiders, either literally or figuratively. Eight of the Andover suspects were marginalized by ethnic affiliation: Martha Carrier (d. 1692), for example, was Scottish & had married a Welshman.

1598 Trial of a Witch

"During the decades leading up to the witch hunt Salem village itself had become bitterly divided around a series of issues that paralleled crises in the region at large. The village was legally subordinate to Salem town & had no civil government of its own. Some villagers wanted independence from the town, partly because the latter had proven remarkably insensitive to their concerns & partly to separate themselves from the commercial spirit that increasingly characterized the town, which was flourishing as a seaport. Villagers who saw that way of life as spiritually suspect tended to distrust neighbors who lived near to or were associated with the town's interests. Factional division was shaped by disparate economic opportunity as well as by cultural values. Those farmers who lived closest to the town had land of a higher quality, enjoyed easier access to its markets, & tended to see the town's development as an opportunity; those living further west had poorer land, were less able to take advantage of the town's growth, & tended to resent those who could do so.

"Proponents of separation from the town secured the establishment of an independent church in 1689 & the ordination of Samuel Parris (1653–1720), a failed merchant, as their pastor. Parris, whose position as pastor was under threat by 1692, fueled hostilities by translating factional division into a cosmic struggle between the forces of good & evil. His daughter & niece, Elizabeth Parris [married name Barron] (1682/3–1760) & Abigail Williams (b. 1680/81), were among the initial accusers. Ann Putnam (1679–1715), daughter of the minister's close ally Thomas Putnam (1653–1699), was another member of that core group; Mercy Lewis [married name Allen] (b. 1672/3), a servant in the Putnam household, & Mary Walcott [married name Farrar] (b. 1674/5), a niece who lived with the Putnams, were also prominent accusers. The elder Ann Putnam [née Carr] (1662–1699), wife of Thomas, claimed that she too was afflicted.

"Divisions within the village were reproduced in the pattern of accusations in 1692: most accused witches & their defenders lived on the side of the village nearest to Salem town, whereas most of the accusers lived on the western side. Many of the accused had personal histories or interests that either associated them with Salem town or otherwise marked them as threatening outsiders. In Salem village & in the county as a whole those individuals & families who had become identified with forces that seemed disorderly & immoral fell victim to accusations of witchcraft as the initial afflictions in the village ignited witch panic.


From the book The Wonderful Discoverie of the Witchcrafts of Margaret and Phillip Fowler... 1618  The Examinations of Anne Baker, Joanne Willimot, and Ellen Greene

"By early October, when the court proceedings were halted amid acrimonious controversy, 19 people had been hanged: Bridget Bishop on 10 June; Sarah Good, Elizabeth How, Susannah Martin, Rebecca Nurse, & Sarah Wilds on 19 July; George Burroughs, Martha Carrier, George Jacobs, John Proctor, & John Willard on 19 August; & Martha Corey, Mary Easty, Alice Parker, Mary Parker, Ann Purdeator, Wilmot Reed, Margaret Scott, & Samuel Wardwell on 22 September. Giles Corey was pressed to death under interrogation on 19 September. Over one hundred individuals were in prison awaiting trial, four of whom died during their confinement (Lydia Dustin, died on 3 March 1693; Ann Foster (d. 1692/3); Sarah Osborne, died on 10 May 1692; & Roger Toothaker, died on 16 June 1692).


Chronica Mundi 1493 Demon et Stryge

"Three-quarters of those tried before 1692 were acquitted because the evidence against them, though compelling in the eyes of their accusers, proved unconvincing from a legal perspective. The Salem trials were halted primarily because of controversy over the court's reliance upon problematic testimony, which reaffirmed & intensified judicial concerns regarding evidentiary issues. Such concerns combined with embarrassment & distress over the deaths that resulted from the trials that year to discourage future prosecutions, though an end to witch trials in New England by the century's close did not signify an end to the belief in & fear of witches."

Reverse Baptism 1257

Events in Salem Village in 1692

January 20
Nine-year-old Elizabeth Parris and eleven-year-old Abigail Williams began to exhibit strange behavior, such as blasphemous screaming, convulsive seizures, trance-like states and mysterious spells. Within a short time, several other Salem girls began to demonstrate similar behavior.

Mid-February
Unable to determine any physical cause for the symptoms and dreadful behavior, physicians concluded that the girls were under the influence of Satan.

Late February
Prayer services and community fasting were conducted by Reverend Samuel Parris in hopes of relieving the evil forces that plagued them. In an effort to expose the "witches," John Indian baked a witch cake made with rye meal and the afflicted girls' urine. This counter-magic was meant to reveal the identities of the "witches" to the afflicted girls.

Pressured to identify the source of their affliction, the girls named three women, including Tituba, Parris' Carib Indian slave, as witches. On February 29, warrants were issued for the arrests of Tituba, Sarah Good and Sarah Osborne.

Although Osborne and Good maintained innocence, Tituba confessed to seeing the devil who appeared to her "sometimes like a hog and sometimes like a great dog." What's more, Tituba testified that there was a conspiracy of witches at work in Salem.

Feeding Demonic Creatures

March 1
Magistrates John Hathorne and Jonathan Corwin examined Tituba, Sarah Good, and Sarah Osborne in the meeting house in Salem Village. Tituba confessed to practicing witchcraft.

Over the next weeks, other townspeople came forward and testified that they, too, had been harmed by or had seen strange apparitions of some of the community members. As the witch hunt continued, accusations were made against many different people.

Frequently denounced were women whose behavior or economic circumstances were somehow disturbing to the social order and conventions of the time. Some of the accused had previous records of criminal activity, including witchcraft, but others were faithful churchgoers and people of high standing in the community.

March 12
Martha Corey is accused of witchcraft.

March 19
Rebecca Nurse was denounced as a witch.

March 21
Martha Corey was examined before Magistrates Hathorne and Corwin.

March 24
Rebecca Nurse was examined before Magistrates Hathorne and Corwin.

March 28
Elizabeth Proctor was denounced as a witch.

April 3
Sarah Cloyce, Rebecca Nurse's sister, was accused of witchcraft.

April 11
Elizabeth Proctor and Sarah Cloyce were examined before Hathorne, Corwin, Deputy Governor Thomas Danforth, and Captain Samuel Sewall. During this examination, John Proctor was also accused and imprisoned.

April 19
Abigail Hobbs, Bridget Bishop, Giles Corey, and Mary Warren were examined. Only Abigail Hobbs confessed. William Hobbs "I can deny it to my dying day."

April 22
Nehemiah Abbott, William and Deliverance Hobbs, Edward and Sarah Bishop, Mary Easty, Mary Black, Sarah Wildes, and Mary English were examined before Hathorne and Corwin. Only Nehemiah Abbott was cleared of charges.

May 2
Sarah Morey, Lydia Dustin, Susannah Martin, and Dorcas Hoar were examined by Hathorne and Corwin. Dorcas Hoar "I will speak the truth as long as I live."

May 4
George Burroughs was arrested in Wells, Maine.

May 9
Burroughs was examined by Hathorne, Corwin, Sewall, and William Stoughton. One of the afflicted girls, Sarah Churchill, was also examined.

May 10
George Jacobs, Sr. and his granddaughter Margaret were examined before Hathorne and Corwin. Margaret confessed and testified that her grandfather and George Burroughs were both witches. Sarah Osborne died in prison in Boston.

Margaret Jacobs "... They told me if I would not confess I should be put down into the dungeon and would be hanged, but if I would confess I should save my life."

May 14
Increase Mather returned from England, bringing with him a new charter and the new governor, Sir William Phips.

May 18
Mary Easty was released from prison. Yet, due to the outcries and protests of her accusers, she was arrested a second time.

May 27
Governor Phips set up a special Court of Oyer and Terminer comprised of seven judges to try the witchcraft cases. Appointed were Lieutenant Governor William Stoughton, Nathaniel Saltonstall, Bartholomew Gedney, Peter Sergeant, Samuel Sewall, Wait Still Winthrop, John Richards, John Hathorne, and Jonathan Corwin.

These magistrates based their judgments and evaluations on various kinds of intangible evidence, including direct confessions, supernatural attributes (such as "witchmarks"), and reactions of the afflicted girls. Spectral evidence, based on the assumption that the Devil could assume the "specter" of an innocent person, was relied upon despite its controversial nature.

May 31
Martha Carrier, John Alden, Wilmott Redd, Elizabeth Howe, and Phillip English were examined before Hathorne, Corwin, and Gedney.

June 2
Initial session of the Court of Oyer and Terminer. Bridget Bishop was the first to be pronounced guilty of witchcraft and condemned to death.

Early June
Soon after Bridget Bishop's trial, Nathaniel Saltonstall resigned from the court, dissatisfied with its proceedings.

June 10
Bridget Bishop was hanged in Salem, the first official execution of the Salem witch trials.  Bridget Bishop "I am no witch. I am innocent. I know nothing of it." Following her death, accusations of witchcraft escalated, but the trials were not unopposed. Several townspeople signed petitions on behalf of accused people they believed to be innocent.

June 29-30
Rebecca Nurse, Susannah Martin, Sarah Wildes, Sarah Good and Elizabeth Howe were tried for witchcraft and condemned. Rebecca Nurse "Oh Lord, help me! It is false. I am clear. For my life now lies in your hands...."

Mid-July
In an effort to expose the witches afflicting his life, Joseph Ballard of nearby Andover enlisted the aid of the accusing girls of Salem. This action marked the beginning of the Andover witch hunt.

July 19
Rebecca Nurse, Susannah Martin, Elizabeth Howe, Sarah Good, and Sarah Wildes were executed. Elizabeth Howe "If it was the last moment I was to live, God knows I am innocent..."Susannah Martin "I have no hand in witchcraft."



August 2-6
George Jacobs, Sr., Martha Carrier, George Burroughs, John and Elizabeth Proctor, and John Willard were tried for witchcraft and condemned. Martha Carrier "...I am wronged. It is a shameful thing that you should mind these folks that are out of their wits."

August 19
George Jacobs, Sr., Martha Carrier, George Burroughs, John Proctor, and John Willard were hanged on Gallows Hill. George Jacobs "Because I am falsely accused. I never did it."

September 9
Martha Corey, Mary Easty, Alice Parker, Ann Pudeator, Dorcas Hoar, and Mary Bradbury were tried and condemned. Mary Bradbury "I do plead not guilty. I am wholly innocent of such wickedness."

September 17
Margaret Scott, Wilmott Redd, Samuel Wardwell, Mary Parker, Abigail Faulkner, Rebecca Eames, Mary Lacy, Ann Foster, and Abigail Hobbs were tried and condemned.

September 19
Giles Corey was pressed to death for refusing a trial.

September 21
Dorcas Hoar was the first of those pleading innocent to confess. Her execution was delayed.

September 22
Martha Corey, Margaret Scott, Mary Easty, Alice Parker, Ann Pudeator, Wilmott Redd, Samuel Wardwell, and Mary Parker were hanged.



October 8
After 20 people had been executed in the Salem witch hunt, Thomas Brattle wrote a letter criticizing the witchcraft trials. This letter had great impact on Governor Phips, who ordered that reliance on spectral and intangible evidence no longer be allowed in trials.

October 29
Governor Phips dissolved the Court of Oyer and Terminer.

November 25
The General Court of the colony created the Superior Court to try the remaining witchcraft cases which took place in May, 1693. This time no one was convicted.

Mary Easty "...if it be possible no more innocent blood be shed...I am clear of this sin."

Swapping Book of Salvation for the Devil's Black Book of the Damned

See:  Salem witches & their accusers. Richard Godbeer Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004  Richard Godbeer received his B.A. from Oxford University in 1984 & his Ph.D. from Brandeis University in 1989. In addition to witchcraft, he specializes in colonial & revolutionary America, with an emphasis on religious culture, gender studies, & the history of sexuality.  Godbeer is author of The Devil’s Dominion: Magic and Religion in Early New England (published in 1992 by Cambridge University Press), Sexual Revolution in Early America (published in 2002 by Johns Hopkins University Press), Escaping Salem: The Other Witch Hunt of 1692 (published in 2004 by Oxford University Press), The Overflowing of Friendship: Love Between Men and the Creation of the American Republic (published in 2009 by Johns Hopkins University Press) & The Salem Witch Hunt: A Brief History with Documents (published in 2011 as a volume in the Bedford Series in History & Culture). 


Madonnas attributed to Master of Flémalle or Robert Campin 1375-1444


Master of Flémalle or Robert Campin (1375-1444) Virgin and Child with Saints in an Enclosed Garden


Robert Campin, 1375-1444, who is now usually identified as the artist known as the Master of Flémalle, is considered the first great master of Flemish and Early Netherlandish painting.


.Master of Flémalle or Robert Campin (1375-1444)  Madonna and Child


Master of Flémalle or Robert Campin (1375-1444)  Madonna by a Grassy Bank


Master of Flémalle or Robert Campin (1375-1444)  Madonna with the Child by a Fireplace


Master of Flémalle or Robert Campin (1375-1444)  The Nativity


Master of Flémalle or Robert Campin (1375-1444) Virgin and Child in Glory with Saints Peter and Augustin, Venerated by a Patron


 Master of Flémalle or Robert Campin (1375-1444) Virgin and Child


 Master of Flémalle or Robert Campin (1375-1444) Virgin and Child


 Master of Flémalle or Robert Campin (1375-1444) Virgin and Child


Master of Flémalle or Robert Campin (1375-1444) Virgin and Child


Master of Flémalle or Robert Campin (1375-1444)  Virgin and Child


Master of Flémalle or Robert Campin (1375-1444) Virgin and Child with musical angels


In this blog, I try to begin each day with a painting of the Madonna & Child. It centers me; connects me to the past; & encourages me to post some of the religious paintings which were the core of early Western art.


Saturday, October 25, 2014

Halloween nears... Making a grand living in 1647 by identifying & torturing witches



Frontispiece from Matthew Hopkins' (c. 1620-1647) The Discovery of Witches (1647), showing witches identifying their familiar spirits

Folks in 17C England & her British American colonies often dealt with hardships by looking for a scapegoat to blame, much as we do today. Witchcraft was a convenient superstition to latch onto during this period. Witchcraft had been illegal since 1563, & hundreds of people, mostly women, were wrongly accused. 'Proof' of being a witch could be a third nipple, an unusual scar or birthmark, a boil, a growth, or even owning a pet (a 'witch's familiar', or potential embodiment of an evil spirit).  Witch-finder Matthew Hopkins employed Mary Goody Phillips who specialized in finding "witch marks" on the bodies of accused females.  Confessions were often made under torture or duress. After a trial, victims were often hanged. 


Professionals who exposed witches could make a lot of money, as local magistrates paid the witch finder the equivalent of a month's wages. And the busiest tradesman of all was Matthew Hopkins, a shadowy figure who called himself  'Witchfinder General' & had scores of women executed in East Anglia during the turmoil of the English Civil War in 1645 & 1646. 


John Stearne (c. 1610–1670) was another associate of Matthew Hopkins. Stearne was known at various times as the witch–hunter and "witch pricker." A family man & land owner from Lawshall near Bury St Edmunds, Stearne was 10 years older than Hopkins. Within a year of the death of Matthew Hopkins, John Stearne retired to his farm & wrote A Confirmation and Discovery of Witchcraft.



During the year following the publication of Hopkins' book, trials & executions for witchcraft began in the New England colonies with the hanging of Alse Young of Windsor, Connecticut on May 26, 1647, followed by the conviction of Margaret Jones. As described in the journal of Governor John Winthrop, the evidence assembled against Margaret Jones was gathered by the use of Hopkins' techniques of "searching" & "watching". Jones' execution was the first sustained witch-hunt which lasted in New England from 1648 until 1663. About 80 people throughout New England were accused of practicing witchcraft during that period, of whom 15 women & 2 men were executed. Some of Hopkins' methods were once again employed during the Salem Witch Trials, which occurred primarily in Salem, Massachusetts in 1692–93. 

Although torture was unlawful in England, Hopkins was said to have used a variety of torture techniques to extract confessions from his victims. His favorite was sleep deprivation. Although Hopkins claimed to never use the swimming test, some argued that witches floated, because they had renounced their water baptism when entering the Devil's service. James VI of Scotland (later James I of England) 1566-1625 claimed in his Daemonologie, that water was so pure an element that it repelled the guilty. Suspects were thrown into water, & those who floated were considered to be witches. Or the alleged witch might also be bound at the hands & feet & thrown into a body of water. If the body floated to the surface, that was proof, that the accused was indeed a witch (at which point they might execute her by some other means). If she sank to the bottom & inevitably drowned – she was innocent but also dead.

For a fascinating update on the truths, lies, and exaggerations containted in books written by these two witch finders in the mid 17C see The Discovery of Witches and Witchcraft: The Writings of the Witchfinders by Matthew Hopkins, John Stearne. Edited with an  introduction and notes by S.F. Davies (Sept 2007) Published: Brighton: Pucknel Publishing. A critical, scholarly reprint of the writings of the Witch Finder General and his accomplice.


Also see

"The Reception of Reginald Scot’s Discovery of Witchcraft: Witchcraft, Magic, and Radical Religion" by S.F. Davies
Journal of the History of Ideas, Volume 74, Number 3, July 2013, pp. 381-40  This article considers the reception of Reginald Scot’s (1538-1599) skeptical Discouerie of Witchcraft (1584). As well as the surprisingly mixed reception of the 1st edition, this article examines the publication of the 2nd edition. The latter appeared in 1651, long after Scot’s death; the possible reasons for its publication have never been examined. Not only interest in witchcraft but other kinds of magic and even religious radicalism may have been involved.

S. F. Davies researches witchcraft writing at the University of Sussex. He also has edited Puritan preacher George Gifford's (1548-1600) Dialogue concerning witches and witchcrafts (2007).

Woodcuts dealing with water, witches, and "scolds."













Halloween nears... Where did those black, pointy, wide-brimmed witch hats come from?


Where did the wide-brimmed, pointy hats that witches wear come from?



In 17C & 18C English & European woodcuts not all witches are depicted wearing the pointy black hat. Some images of witches did include the wide-brimmed pointy hat, so the pointy hat was just one of many symbols that were connected to witchcraft in the past. The depiction of witches with conical hats, was popular in England and Scotland.

Some believe that the pointy hat had its origin in the conical hats that were worn by the noble people in the middle ages (like the Hennin).  In Germany golden conical hats were found, decorated with suns and stars. Some scholars believe, that these hats were worn by priests or sorcerers/shamans as ritual headgear. Perhaps from the bronze age on, conical hats were worn by some priests/esses and sorcerers/sorceresses.  There are depictions of socerers in cone-like hats without brims.



Near China archaeologists found mummies, & some females of these mummies wore conical hats made from leather. Some scholars believe, these females were sorceresses or shamanesses.  Perhaps the symbolism of the conical hats as attributes of people with a connection to magic has old roots.  In ancient Greece, the goddess Hekate was strongly connected to witchcraft. And on some statues she was depicted with a phrygian cap. The brimless phrygian cap was a conical, usually soft hat.  Another God who has deep connections to magic, & witches & sorcerers is Odin. He was depicted with a black hat that had a huge brim (but this hat was not conical). 

But in England, the artist & engraver Wenceslaus Hollar (European-born English artist, 1607-1677) created several series of English & European women during the 1640s.  These ladies were wearing hats quite similar to the versions appearing in the witch woodcuts of the time.  His "Ornatus Muliebris Anglicanus - The severall 'Habits of Englishwomen, from the Nobilitie to the Country Woman, as they are in these times" was published in 1640.  By 1642–1643 the 1st part of his series of European women had appeared in London under the title "Theatrum Mulierum," and it was followed by a 2nd part the next year titled "Aula Veneris."


 Wenceslaus Hollar (European-born English artist, 1607-1677) Ornatus Muliebris



 Wenceslaus Hollar (European-born English artist, 1607-1677) Woman with a High-Crowned Hat  1642



 Wenceslaus Hollar (European-born English artist, 1607-1677) Woman with a High-Crowned Hat 1642



 Wenceslaus Hollar (European-born English artist, 1607-1677) Ornatus Muliebris



 Wenceslaus Hollar (European-born English artist, 1607-1677) Ornatus Muliebris



 Wenceslaus Hollar (European-born English artist, 1607-1677) Ornatus Muliebris



 Wenceslaus Hollar (European-born English artist, 1607-1677) Ornatus Muliebris



 Wenceslaus Hollar (European-born English artist, 1607-1677) Ornatus Muliebris



Wenceslaus Hollar (European-born English artist, 1607-1677) Ornatus Muliebris



 Wenceslaus Hollar (European-born English artist, 1607-1677) Theatrum Mulierum And Aula Veneris



 Wenceslaus Hollar (European-born English artist, 1607-1677) Theatrum Mulierum And Aula Veneris



 Wenceslaus Hollar (European-born English artist, 1607-1677) Theatrum Mulierum And Aula Veneris



 Wenceslaus Hollar (European-born English artist, 1607-1677) Theatrum Mulierum And Aula Veneris



 Wenceslaus Hollar (European-born English artist, 1607-1677) Theatrum Mulierum And Aula Veneris



 Wenceslaus Hollar (European-born English artist, 1607-1677) Theatrum Mulierum And Aula Veneris



 Wenceslaus Hollar (European-born English artist, 1607-1677) Theatrum Mulierum And Aula Veneris



 Wenceslaus Hollar (European-born English artist, 1607-1677) Theatrum Mulierum And Aula Veneris



 Wenceslaus Hollar (European-born English artist, 1607-1677) Theatrum Mulierum And Aula Veneris



 Wenceslaus Hollar (European-born English artist, 1607-1677) Theatrum Mulierum And Aula Veneris



Wenceslaus Hollar (European-born English artist, 1607-1677) Theatrum Mulierum And Aula Veneris


And finally, from the same period, here is a woodcut with the same hats.

The Good Womans Champion or A Defence For The Weaker Vessel. Booklet printed in London by Francis Grove in 1650