Animal Transformation in Early Modern English Witchcraft Pamphlets
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Animal metamorphosis was a traditional component of witchcraft beliefs during the European early modern witch-hunts, during which it was taken for granted that witches could and did turn into animals regularly in order to easier do evil. It must be noted, however, that the witch-turned-animal motif was much less common in England, where witches did possess the shape-shifting abilities but relatively rarely used them. A likely reason for the difference, explored in the present paper, was the specifically English belief that most witches were accompanied and served by familiar spirits, petty demons that customarily assumed the shape of animals. It seems that the ubiquity of such demonic shape-shifters effectively satisfied the demand for magical transformations in the English witchcraft lore.
- Anon. 1579. A detection of damnable driftes, practized by three vvitches arraigned at Chelmiﬀ orde in Essex, at the laste assises there holden, whiche were executed in Aprill. 1579 Set forthe to discouer the ambushementes of Sathan, whereby he would surprise vs lulled in securitie, and hardened with contempte of Gods vengeance threatened for our oﬀ ences. London: [J. Kingston].
- Anon. 1579. A rehearsall both straung and true, of hainous and horrible actes committed by Elizabeth Stile alias Rockingham, Mother Dutten, Mother Deuell, Mother Margaret, fower notorious witches, apprehended at Winsore in the countie of Barks. and at Abbington arraigned, condemned, and executed, on the 26 daye of Februarie laste Anno. 1579. London: [J. Kingston].
- Anon. 1589. The apprehension and confession of three notorious witches. Arreigned and by iustice condemned and executed at Chelmes-forde, in the Countye of Essex, the 5. day of Iulye, last past. 1589. With the manner of their diuelish practices and keeping of their spirits, whose fourmes are heerein truelye proportioned. London: E. Allde.
- Anon. 1649. The divels delusions or A faithfull relation of John Palmer and Elizabeth Knott two notorious vvitches lately condemned at the sessions of Oyer and Terminer in St. Albans. Together with the confession of the aforesaid John Palmer and Elizabeth Knott, executed July 16. Also their accusations of severall vvitches in Hitchen, Norton, and other places in the county of Hartford. London.
- Anon. 1653. Doctor Lambs darling: or, Strange and Terrible News from Salisbury; being A true, exact, and perfect Relation, of the great and wonderful Contract and Engagement made between the Devil, and Mistris Anne Bodenham; with the manner how she could transform her self into the shape of a Mastive dog, a black Lyon, a white Bear, a Woolf, a Bull, and a Cat; and by her Charms and Spels, send either man or woman 40 miles an hour in the Ayr. The Tryal, Examination, and Confession of the said Mistris Bodenham, before the Lord chief Baron Wild, & the Sentence of Death pronounc’d against her, for bewitching of An Stiles, and forcing her to write her name in the Devils Book with her own blood; so that for ﬁ ve dayes she lay in cruel and bitter Torments; somtimes the Devil appearing all in black without a head, renting her cloaths, tearing her skin, and tossing her up and down the chamber, to the great astonishment of the Spectators. London.
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- Bower, Edmund. 1653. Doctor Lamb revived, or, VVitchcraft condemn’d in Anne Bodenham a servant of his, who was arraigned and executed the lent assizes last at Salisbury, before the right honourable the Lord Chief Baron Wild, judge of the assise. Wherein is set forth her strange and wonderful diabolical usage of a maid, servant to Mr. Goddard, as also her attempt against his daughters, but by providence delivered. Being necessary for all good Christians to read, as a caveat to look to themselves, that they be not seduced by such inticements. By Edmond Bower an eye and ear witness of her examination and confession. London: T. W.
- Bragge, Francis. 1712. A Full and Impartial Account of the Discovery of Sorcery and Witchcraft, Practis’d by Jane Wenham of Walkerne in Hertfordshire, upon the Bodies of Anne Thorn, Anne Street, &c. The Proceedings against Her from Her being fi rst Apprehended, till She was Committed to Gaol by Sir Henry Chauncy. Also her Tryal at the Assizes at Hertford before Mr. Justice Powwell, where she was found Guilty of Felony and Witchcraft, and receiv’d Sentence of Death for the same, March 4. 1711–12. The Fourth Edition. London.
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- G. B. 1592. A most vvicked worke of a wretched witch (the like whereof none can record these manie yeeres in England.) Wrought on the person of one Richard Burt, seruant to maister Edling of Woodhall in the parrish of Pinner in the Countie of Myddlesex, a myle beyond Harrow. Latelie committed in March last, An. 1592 and newly recognised according to the truth. by G.B. maister of Arts. [London]: R. B[ourne].
- Giff ord, George. 1593. A Dialogve concerning Witches and Witchcraftes. In which is laide open how craftely the Diuell deceiueth not onely the Witche, but many othe, and so leadeth them awrie into manie great errours. By George Giff ard Minister of Gods word in Maldon. London: John Windet.
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- M. Y. 1669. The Hartford-shire wonder. Or, Strange news from vvare being an exact and true relation of one Jane Stretton the danghter [sic] of Thomas Stretton, of ware in the county of Hartford, who hath been visited in a strange kind of manner by extraordinary and unusual fi ts, her abstaining from sustenance for the space of 9 months, being haunted by imps or devils in the form of several creatures here described the parties adjudged of all by whom she was thus tormented and the occasion thereof with many other remarkable things taken from her own mouth and confi rmed by many credible witnesses. London.
- Phillips, John. 1566. The Examination and confession of certaine wytches at Chensforde in the countie of Essex: before the Quenes Maiesties judges, the xxvi daye of July, anno 1566, at the assise holden there as then, and one of them put to death for the same off ence, as their examination declareth more at large. Imprynted at London: By Willyam Powell for Wyllyam Pickeringe dwelling at Sainte Magnus corner and are there for to be soulde. London: William Powell.
- Potts, Thomas. 1613. The vvonderfull discouerie of witches in the countie of Lancaster VVith the arraignement and triall of nineteene notorious witches, at the assizes and general gaole deliuerie, holden at the castle of Lancaster, vpon Munday, the seuenteenth of August last, 1612. Before Sir Iames Altham, and Sir Edward Bromley, Knights; barons of his Maiesties Court of Exchequer: and iustices of assize, oyer and terminor, and generall gaole deliuerie in the circuit of the north parts. Together with the arraignement and triall of Iennet Preston, at the assizes holden at the castle of Yorke, the seuen and twentieth day of Iulie last past, with her execution for the murther of Master Lister by witchcraft. Published and set forth by commandement of his Maiesties iustices of assize in the north parts. London: W. Stansby.
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- Rollins, Hyder Edward, ed. 1927. The Pack of Autolycus or Strange and Terrible News of Ghosts, Apparitions, Monstrous Births, Showers of Wheat, Judgments of God, and other Prodigious and Fearful Happenings as Told in Broadside Ballads of the Years 1624–1693. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press.
- Rosen, Barbara, ed. 1991. Witchcraft in England, 1558–1618. Amherst: The The University of Massachusetts Press.
- Sharpe, James. 1999. The Bewitching of Anne Gunter. A Horrible and True Story of Football, Witchcraft, Murder and the King of England. London: Profi le Books.
- Stearne, John. 1648. A Confi rmation and Discovery of Witch-craft, Containing these severall particulars; That there are Witches called bad Witches, and Witches untruely called good or white Witches, and what manner of people they be, and how they many bee knowne, with many particulars thereunto tending. Together with the Confessions of many of those executed since May 1645. in the severall Counties hereafter mentioned. As also some objections Answered. By John Stearne, now of Lawshall neere Burie Saint Edmonds in Suff olke, sometimes of Manningtree in Essex. London: William Wilson.
- Wiseman, S. J. 2004. “Hairy on the Inside: Metamorphosis & Civility in English Werewolf Texts.” Renaissance Beasts: Of Animals, Humans and Other Wonderful Creatures. Ed. Erica Fudge. Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press. 50–69.
- Veenstra, Jan R. 2002. “The Ever-Changing Nature of the Beast: Cultural Change, Lycanthropy and the Question of Substantial Transformation (from Petronius to Del Rio).” The Metamorphosis of Magic from Late Antiquity to the Early Modern Period. Ed. Jan N. Bremmer and Jan R. Veenstra. Leuven, Paris, and Dudley: Ma.: Peeters. 133–166.
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