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Select document: Florence Newton's trial for witchcraft, Cork, 1661: Sir William Aston's transcript

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  13 December 2019

Andrew Sneddon
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Ulster University
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Abstract

This article examines the sole extant and complete set of signed witness statements for an Irish witchcraft trial. These testimonies were given at Florence Newton's trial for witchcraft at Cork assizes in September 1661, and were signed by the presiding judge, Sir William Aston. The Aston manuscript has been annotated and transcribed in its full, original form for the first time, providing historians with a unique document with which to explore one of the few Irish witchcraft trials. This article also provides suggestions for new ways of looking at the case, and more importantly demonstrates that Newton was not, as once thought, put to death for witchcraft under the 1586 Irish Witchcraft Act but died during her trial. Furthermore, taken in the context of early modern European witchcraft, the case is shown to be an important example of a witch trial occurring in a highly gendered, contested, post-conflict society.

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Research Article
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Copyright © Irish Historical Studies Publications Ltd 2019

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References

1 Goodare, Julian, The European witch-hunt (London, 2016), pp 27CrossRefGoogle Scholar, 267; Levack, Brian, Witch-hunting in Scotland: law, politics and religion (London, 2008), pp 12Google Scholar; Suggett, Richard, A history of magic and witchcraft in Wales (Stroud, 2008), p. 12Google Scholar.

2 Sneddon, Andrew, Witchcraft and magic in Ireland (Basingstoke, 2015), p. 71CrossRefGoogle Scholar; An Act against Witchcraft and Sorcerie, 1586 (28 Eliz. I, c. 2, [Ire.]). Maeve Brigid Callan has recently argued that the prosecution of Alice Kyteler and associates in Kilkenny in 1324 was a medieval prototype of an early-modern witch trial (Maeve Brigid Callan, The Templars, the witch, and the wild Irish: vengeance and heresy in medieval Ireland (Ithaca, 2015), pp 28–117). Other historians have pointed out that although the Kyteler case differed from the usual pattern of elite sorcery-cum-treason trials in the medieval period, it did not resemble most criminal trials for witchcraft in early-modern Europe or Ireland, as it principally involved a politically motivated charge of heresy involving demonic magic by fellow elites, in which accusations of harmful magic played a relatively minor role (Goodare, European witch-hunt, pp 38–9; Sneddon, Witchcraft and magic in Ireland, pp 16–17, 71, 112; idem, rev. of Callan, The Templars, the witch, and the wild Irish in Magic, Ritual, and Witchcraft, xii, no.1 (Spring 2017), pp 139–42.

3 Royal Society, London, Boyle papers, RB 1/37/5, ff 96r–102v.

4 Caulfield, Richard (ed.), The council book of the corporation of Youghal, from 1610 to 1659, from 1666 and 1687, and from 1690 to 1800 (Guildford, 1878)Google Scholar; idem (ed.), The council book of the corporation of the city of Cork, from 1609 to 1643, and from 1690 to 1800 (Guildford, 1876).

5 See Andrew Sneddon, ‘Medicine, belief, witchcraft and demonic possession in late seventeenth-century Ulster’ in Medical Humanities, xlii, no. 2 (June 2016), pp 1–6.

6 Sneddon, Andrew, Possessed by the devil: the real history of the Islandmagee witches and Ireland's only mass witchcraft trial (Dublin, 2013), pp 173–5Google Scholar, notes 1–3, 12–16. The prosecution of Kyteler and her associates for demonic heresy in medieval Kilkenny is also well documented, see A contemporary narrative of the proceedings against Dame Alice Kyteler, prosecuted for sorcery in 1324, by Richard de Ledrede, bishop of Ossory, ed. Thomas Wright (London, 1843).

7 McAuliffe, Mary, ‘Gender, history and witchcraft in early modern Ireland: a re-reading of the Florence Newton trial’ in Valiulis, Mary Ann Gialenella (ed.), Gender and power in Irish history (Dublin, 2009), pp 3958Google Scholar; Lapoint, Elwyn C., ‘Irish immunity to witch-hunting, 1534–1711’ in Éire-Ireland, xxvii, no. 2 (1992), pp 82nGoogle Scholar; Sneddon, Andrew, ‘Witchcraft belief and trials in early modern Ireland’ in Irish Economic and Social History, xxxix (2012), pp 125CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Seymour, St John D., Irish witchcraft and demonology (Dublin, 1913, repr., London, 1989)Google Scholar, chapter 5. Peter Elmer used Aston's manuscript in a recent, brief account of the trial. See Elmer, Peter, The miraculous conformist: Valentine Greatrakes, the body politic, and the politics of healing in Restoration Britain (Oxford, 2013), pp 127–32Google Scholar.

8 Joseph Glanvill, Saducismus triumphatus, or, full and plain evidence concerning witches and apparitions in two parts: the first treating of their possibility, the second of their real existence by Joseph Glanvil. With a letter of Dr. Henry More on the same subject and an authentick but wonderful story of certain Swedish witches done into English by Anth. Horneck (London, 1681); Gibson, Marian (ed.), Witchcraft and society in England and America, 1550–1750 (London, 2003), p. 227Google Scholar.

9 Henry More and Joseph Glanvill, Saducismus triumphatus, or, full and plain evidence concerning witches and apparitions. In two parts. The first treating of their possibility; the second of their real existence. The third edition. The Avantanges whereof above the former, the Reader may understand out of Dr H. More's account prefixed thereunto. With two authentick but wonderful story of certain Swedish witches; done into English by Anth. Horneck, D.D. (3rd ed., London, 1689); Cameron, Euan, Enchanted Europe: superstition, reason, and religion, 1250–1750 (Oxford, 2010), pp 276CrossRefGoogle Scholar, 408n. The third edition of Saducismus triumphatus has been used in this article.

10 Cameron, Enchanted Europe, chapters 16–17; Levack, Witch-hunting in Scotland, pp 125–8.

11 More & Glanvill, Saducismus triumphatus, pp 386–7 (quote at p. 386).

12 Ball, Francis Elrington, The judges in Ireland, 1221-1921 (1926, repr. 2 vols, New Jersey, 2005)Google Scholar, i, 266, 268, 270–2, 309, 347.

13 Elmer, Miraculous conformist, p. 127n.

14 See below, pp 316–17 (ff 101v–102r); Elmer, Miraculous conformist, p. 130.

15 See below, pp 317–18 (ff 102r–102v).

16 Sneddon, ‘Witchcraft belief and trials’, pp 10–17; idem, Possessed by the devil.

17 Connolly, S. J., Religion, law and power: the making of Protestant Ireland, 1660–1760 (Oxford, 1992), pp 43, 145–7Google Scholar.

18 Sneddon, Witchcraft and magic in Ireland, chapters 1, 4–6; Ronald Hutton, ‘Witch-hunting in Celtic societies’ in Past & Present, no. 202 (Aug. 2011), pp 43–71; Ronald Hutton has warned, however, against making a simplistic association between belief in butter-stealing witchcraft and low witch prosecution rates (idem, The witch: a history of fear from ancient times to the present day (London, 2017), pp 248–50). Elwyn Lapoint has argued that a lack of formal accusations was the result of the preference among insular Catholic communities to fight witchcraft using official religious or informal magical means rather than by involving secular authorities, which were resented as an Elizabethan imposition of agencies of English rule and law (Lapoint, ‘Irish immunity to witch-hunting’, pp 76–92). Others have pointed to a lack of state concern over witchcraft in Ireland, as well as an absence of the social and gender tensions believed to have fomented accusations elsewhere in the Atlantic archipelago. See Gillespie, Raymond, ‘Women and crime in seventeenth-century Ireland’ in MacCurtain, Margaret and O'Dowd, Mary (eds), Women in early modern Ireland (Edinburgh, 1998), pp 45–7Google Scholar; idem, ‘Ireland’ in Richard M. Golden (ed.), Encyclopaedia of witchcraft: the western tradition (4 vols, Oxford, 2007), ii, 568.

19 The following narrative is based on Aston's manuscript.

20 See below, pp 308–9 (f. 97r).

21 Andrew Cambers, ‘Demonic possession, literacy and “superstition” in early modern England’ in Past & Present, no. 202 (Feb. 2009), pp 13–14; Almond, Phillip C., Demonic possession and exorcism in early modern England: contemporary texts and their cultural contexts (Cambridge, 2004), pp 2737CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Clark, Stuart, Thinking with demons: the idea of witchcraft in early modern Europe (Oxford, 1997), p. 391Google Scholar.

22 See below pp 308–9 (ff 96r–97r, 97v–98v, 99v–100v).

23 Sneddon, Witchcraft and magic in Ireland, p. 27.

24 Francis Elrington Ball, ‘Some notes on the Irish judiciary in the reign of Charles II, 1660–1685’ in Journal of the Cork Historical and Archaeological Society, series 2, vii, no. 49 (1901), p. 28.

25 See footnote 52 below.

26 See Seymour, Irish witchcraft and demonology, pp 107, 127; Lapoint, ‘Irish immunity to witch-hunting’, p. 75; Sneddon, Witchcraft and magic in Ireland, p. 78.

27 Julian Goodare, Lauren Martin, Joyce Miller and Louise Yeoman, ‘The survey of Scottish witchcraft’ (http://www.shca.ed.ac.uk/witches/) (archived Jan. 2003; accessed Aug. 2018).

28 See below, pp 306–7 (f. 96r).

29 An elderly woman suspected of the demonical possession of a young girl was, however, murdered by a local mob in Antrim town in 1698 (see footnote 5 above).

30 McAuliffe, ‘Gender, history and witchcraft’, pp 45, 48–9; Sneddon, Witchcraft and magic in Ireland, pp 79–83; idem, ‘Witchcraft belief and trials’, pp 3–4, 17–19.

31 Sneddon, Witchcraft and magic in Ireland, pp 79–82.

32 Ibid., pp 14, 19.

Ibid

33 Ibid., p. 40. See also below, pp 309–10, 312–14 (ff 97v, 99r, 100r).

Ibid

34 McAuliffe, ‘Gender, history and witchcraft’, pp 40, 48–54. See also Sneddon, Witchcraft and magic in Ireland, p. 82.

35 For kissing in German witchcraft confession narratives, see Durrant, Jonathan, ‘The osculum infame: heresy, secular culture and the image of the witches’ sabbath’ in Harvey, Karvey (ed.), The kiss in history (Manchester, 2005), pp 3659Google Scholar.

36 Ostling, Michael, ‘Speaking of love in the Polish Witch Trials’ in Kounine, Laura and Ostling, Michael (eds), Emotions in the history of witchcraft (London, 2016), p. 157Google Scholar. See also Edward Bever, ‘Bullying, the neurobiology of emotional aggression, and the experience of witchcraft’ in ibid., pp 193–212; idem, The realities of witchcraft and popular magic in early modern Europe (Basingstoke, 2008), pp 11–20.

37 Karen Harvey, ‘Introduction’ in eadem (ed.), The kiss in history, p. 10.

38 Elmer, Miraculous conformist, pp 128–32.

39 Aston's indented preamble, detailing Newton's alleged murder of David Jones, was replaced in Glanvill's account with the following words: ‘Touching Newton an Irish Witch of Youghal, taken out of her Tryal at the Assizes held for the County of Corke, Septem, 11. Ann. 1661’ (More & Glanvill, Saducismus triumphatus, p. 372).

40 Instead of being placed first, as in the Aston manuscript, Elinor Jones's testimony was placed second to last in Glanvill's text (More & Glanvill, Saducismus triumphatus, pp 384–5).

41 David Jones attended to Newton while she awaited the arrival of the assize judges to try her. By the mid-seventeenth century, Youghal's Trinity Gate provided access between the inner and outer walled areas of the town and functioned as a prison (Anna-Maria Hajba, ‘Clock gate, Youghal, Co. Cork’ in History Ireland, xviii, no. 6 (Nov./Dec. 2010), p. 25).

42 Unfortunately, nothing is known of Frank Beseley, and early essays on the Youghal trial provide no indication of his station or background, see for example: ‘Another evening with the witch-finders’ in Dublin University Magazine, xxx, no. 176 (Aug. 1847), pp 155–6.

43 Beseley's testimony was placed last by Glanvill, but follows on from that of Elinor Jones in the Aston manuscript.

44 Mary Longdon, servant to John Pyne, is referred to as a ‘mayd’ repeatedly in the testimonies and was probably a young adult in common with the majority if not all demoniacs (Sneddon, ‘Witchcraft belief and trials’, pp 17–18).

45 In England, from the sixteenth century onward, the main contact witches were thought to have with Satan was through their familiar spirits, often in the form of an animal. For doing the witch's bidding, familiars received sustenance from teats on their bodies. See Gaskill, Malcolm, Witchfinders a seventeenth century tragedy (London, 2005), pp 4Google Scholar, 29, 44; Hutton, The witch, pp 273–6; Goodare, European witch-hunt, p. 62.

46 ‘Watching’ suspected witches for the appearance of familiars was infamously employed during the mass witch-hunts in East Anglia, England, in 1645–6 by ‘Witchfinder General’, Matthew Hopkins and his associates, some of whom were paid watchers. ‘Watching’ for familiars could last for extended periods of time leading to sleep deprivation and leaving suspects more pliable and willing to confess. See Gaskill, Witchfinders, pp 80–81, 100, 102, 184, 233.

47 Thither.

48 The inability to say the Lord's Prayer was regarded as a legal proof of witchcraft in early-modern England and was used as late as 1712 at the trial of Jane Wenham in Hertfordshire. The parallels between the Newton and Wenham demonic possession/witchcraft cases has been long noted. For example, Francis Bragge, junior, compared the 1661 and 1712 trials in an anonymously published tract written in defence of belief in witchcraft and the prosecution of Wenham, Jane (Witchcraft further display'd (London, 1712)Google Scholar). Bragge had read Saducismus triumphatus carefully and was convinced of the value of documented cases of witchcraft, such as those of Newton and Wenham, as an antidote to atheism. See Monod, Paul Kleber, Solomon's secret arts: the occult in the age of Enlightenment (London, 2013), pp 152–3CrossRefGoogle Scholar. For the trial of Wenham, see Guskin, P. J, ‘The context of witchcraft: the case of Jane Wenham (1712)’ in Eighteenth-Century Studies, xv, no. 1 (Autumn 1981), pp 4871CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Knights, Mark, The devil in disguise: deception, delusion and fanaticism in the early English Enlightenment (Oxford, 2011)CrossRefGoogle Scholar, chapter 6; Bostridge, Ian, Witchcraft and transformations, c.1650–c.1750 (Oxford, 1997), pp 132–8CrossRefGoogle Scholar, 143–4.

49 Hither.

50 Witches were often charged by victims of attacking them in spirit or spectral forms only they could see, especially in cases involving demonic possession. When used as a legal proof of witchcraft, this was referred to as spectral evidence, which became increasingly controversial in later seventeenth-century England and North America. However, it was on the strength of spectral evidence that eight of the nine ‘Islandmagee Witches’ were convicted in County Antrim in 1711. See Sneddon, Witchcraft and magic in Ireland, p. 72; idem, Possessed by the devil, chapter 7; Sharpe, James, Instruments of darkness: witchcraft in early modern England (Philadelphia, 1997), pp 191Google Scholar, 226.

51 The allegation that David Jones's death had been caused by Newton's kiss turned her case into a capital crime.

52 In Glanvill's published version witness testimonies relating to Mary Longdon's bewitchment were placed before those dealing with the death of David Jones. In the Aston manuscript, an indented section of text informed the reader that the testimonies that followed related to Newton's indictment for bewitching Mary Longdon. Glanvill excluded this text and instead coupled the two sets of testimonies using his own link paragraph (More & Glanvill, Saducismus triumphatus, p. 384).

53 Sir William Domville was appointed attorney general of Ireland after the Restoration in 1660. He conducted the prosecution of Florence Newton, as well as those arrested in connection to the Dublin Plot (see footnote 88 below). The involvement of a man of such high legal status attests to the notoriety of the case at the time. The attorney general was part of the Dublin government and advisor to the crown. See Hazel Maynard and Patrick H. Kelly, ‘Domvile (Domville), Sir William (1609–89)’ in D.I.B.; Elaine Murphy, ‘Newton, Florence (d. 1661?)’ in ibid.

54 Mary Longdon's testimony is placed first in Glanvill's account (More & Glanvill, Saducismus triumphatus, pp 372–5).

55 Richard Mayre, see footnote 90 below.

56 Four.

57 John Pyne helped to relieve Youghal when it was besieged by Catholic troops in the 1640s, was a friend of Valentine Greatrakes (see footnote 79 below), and served as baliff for the town in 1664, along with Edward Perry (see footnote 76 below). Pyne tested Newton's ability to read or hold a Bible, a task it was believed that demoniacs were unable to perform. See Elmer, Miraculous conformist, p. 129; James F. Fuller, ‘Trial of Florence Newton for witchcraft in Cork, 1661’ in Journal of the Cork Historical and Archaeological Society, second series, x, no. 63 (1904), p. 182n.

58 The following words, ‘and Cloake upon her head’, were deleted by Glanvill.

59 In early-modern British popular culture the devil was variously represented as a black, handsome, old or deformed man. See Darren Oldridge, The devil in early modern England (2000), chapter 4; Miller, Joyce, Magic and witchcraft in Scotland (Musselburgh, 2004), pp 86–9Google Scholar; Millar, Charlotte-Rose, Witchcraft, the devil and emotions in early modern England (Abingdon, 2017), pp 67–8CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Maxwell-Stuart, P. G., Satan: a biography (Stroud, 2008), pp 116–26Google Scholar; Almond, Philip C., The devil: a new biography (New York, 2014)Google Scholar, chapters 6–7.

60 Demoniacs often portrayed themselves as paragons of virtue by reporting their prolonged resistance to Satanic temptation, despite the demonic assaults on their bodies and senses. In Burton-On-Trent, Staffordshire in 1596 demoniac, Thomas Darling, held frequent conversations with the devil and repeatedly rejected his promises and temptations. Mary Dunbar also rejected the devil's advances during her demonically-induced trances in County Antrim in 1711. See Sneddon, Possessed by the devil, chapter 2; Almond, Demonic possession, pp 18, 150–5.

61 This juncture marks the expansion of Newton's repertoire of possession symptoms, which, in common with many such cases in England, changed and developed over time, often in reaction to perceived expectations of onlookers, legal and medical men (Almond, Demonic possession, p. 40).

62 Mysterious stone throwing, or in Greek, lithobolia, was reported from the early medieval period onwards, but in England and America in the seventeenth century it was associated with the devil, the demonic, and witchcraft rather than with the activity of ghosts. See Chamberlain, Richard, Lithobolia, or, the stone-throwing devil (London, 1698), pp 316Google Scholar; Burr, George Lincoln (ed.), Narratives of the New England witchcraft cases, 1648–1706 (New York, 1914), pp 5377Google Scholar; Maxwell-Stuart, P. G., Poltergeists: a history of violent ghostly phenomena (Stroud, 2011), pp 78, 110, 126–7Google Scholar; Davies, Owen, The haunted: a social history of ghosts (Basingstoke, 2007), pp 31–2CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

63 Longdon was possibly trying to fashion a ‘witch-stone’ out of one of the mysterious stones thrown at her but its innate magical properties ensured it disappeared almost immediately after it was put on a leather ‘thong’. Witch stones were naturally occurring holed pebbles or stones, usually made of flint, and were hung in loops of string in byres or about the necks of cattle to protect them from fairy or witch attack. See J. G. Dent, ‘The witchstone in Ulster and England’ in Ulster Folklife, x (1964), p. 46.

64 The solar beam was a joist in an upper room of a medieval or early modern English house (Fuller, ‘Newton’, p. 182n).

65 Numerous requests are made in the testimonies to restrain Newton by putting her in ‘bolts’, as it was believed that iron prevented witches attacking their victims spectrally.

66 Nicholas Pyne was an old associate of Valentine Greatrakes and a relation of John Pyne (see footnote 57 above). See Elmer, Miraculous conformist, pp 127, 131. For the wider Pyne family: Morris, H. F., ‘The Pynes of Co. Cork’ in Irish Genealogist, vi, no. 6 (1985), pp 696710Google Scholar; idem, ‘The Pynes of Co. Cork revisited’ in Irish Genealogist, ix, no. 4 (1997), pp 494–529.

67 Foam. In the 1711 Islandmagee case, a handful of objects, from pins, to cotton and buttons, were produced in court as proof of Mary Dunbar's bewitchment. Numerous witnesses testified that they had seen the objects pour from Dunbar's mouth (McSkimmin, Samuel (ed.), The Islandmagee witches: a narrative of the suffering of a young girl called Mary Dunbar (Belfast, 1822), p. 37Google Scholar).

68 Spittle.

69 In common with Frank Beseley, Roger Moore and Thomas Harrison were not prominent enough citizens of Youghal to leave much trace in surviving historical records.

70 Nicholas Stout was bailiff for Youghal in 1655 and became mayor of the town immediately after Richard Mayre in 1661–2, at which time, as Peter Elmer has pointed out, he was suffering from financial difficulties and found it hard to shake off his earlier association with the parliamentary cause and the Cromwellian regime (Elmer, Miraculous conformist, p. 130n). See also, Robert Day, ‘Memoirs of the town of Youghal’ in Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland, fifth series, i, no. 1 (1890), p. 64; Henry F. Berry, ‘The old Youghal family of Stout’ in Journal of the Cork Historical and Archaeological Society, second series, xxiii, no. 113 (1917), p. 26. Stout's testimony is placed second in Glanvill's account (More & Glanvill, Saducismus triumphatus, p. 377).

71 John Pyne's testimony is placed third by Glanvill (More & Glanvill, Saducismus triumphatus, p. 377).

72 Linen.

73 The words ‘being sworn’ were inserted before ‘saith’ by Glanvill to make it clear that Nicholas Pyne was the next witness to give evidence in court. Pyne's testimony was placed fourth by Glanvill (More & Glanvill, Saducismus triumphatus, p. 379). Pyne's testimony is indicated in the Aston manuscript by the insertion in parenthesis in the margin of the words, ‘Nicho. Pynne’.

74 Shook.

75 One of the first witches investigated by Hopkins and his accomplice, John Stearne, was Elizabeth Clarke, who confessed to watchers to owning numerous animal familiars, including one in the shape of a greyhound named ‘Vinegar Tom’ (Gaskill, Witchfinders, pp 48–52). ‘Vinegar Tom’ was depicted in hybridised form, replete with horns, in an image for the frontispiece of Matthew Hopkins's The discovery of witches (London, 1647). See Millar, Witchcraft, devil, emotions, p. 63.

76 Edward Perry was a freeman of the borough of Youghal in 1655, a bailiff in 1664, and mayor in 1674 (Day, ‘Memoirs of Youghal’, p. 65; Elmer, Miraculous conformist, pp 127, 131).

77 Sympathetic counter-magic was designed to cause a witch intense pain, forcing them to try to alleviate their discomfort, which caused them not only to reveal their identity but also to compelled them to cease their magical attacks. Variants of the counter magic used in Youghal can be found in other parts of Ireland and England, and included the heating of a witch's bottle containing urine and hair of the victim, and the burning of thatch or clothes belonging to a suspect. See Camden, William, Britain, or a chorographicall description of the most flourishing kingdomes, England, Scotland, and Ireland (London, 1610), p. 146Google Scholar; Echard, Laurence, An exact description of Ireland (London, 1691), p. 22Google Scholar; Sharpe, Instruments of darkness, pp 160–61, 271; Davies, Popular magic, pp 103–9; Macfarlane, Alan, Witchcraft in Tudor and Stuart England: a regional and comparative study (London, 1970, 2nd ed., London, 1999), pp 122–3Google Scholar.

78 Perry's testimony was placed fifth in Glanvill's account (More & Glanvill, Saducismus triumphatus, pp 380–1).

79 Valentine Greatrakes, Irish gentlemen, justice of the peace and celebrity faith healer, owned property in Youghal. As noted above, he was acquainted with many of the leading protagonists in the Newton case. Due to his reputation for special expertise in matters of witchcraft, he was involved in many of the tests of Newton's guilt, including the use of the awl and bringing the victim, Mary, near to Newton to judge her reaction. See Elmer, Miraculous conformist, pp 114, 127–32; Gribben, Crawford, ‘Angels and demons in Cromwellian and Restoration Ireland: heresy and the supernatural’ in Huntingdon Library Quarterly, lxxvi, no. 3 (Autumn 2013), pp 387–9Google Scholar.

80 Thomas Blackwell was ‘a sequestrated Church of Ireland minister who sought re-instatement at the Restoration’. He was resident in Youghal from 1644, made freeman in 1650, and practised medicine in the town in the 1650s. See Elmer, Miraculous conformist, p. 128n.

81 Read.

82 No indication is given as to where Perry or Greatrakes might have read about this ‘way to discover a witch’. They may have consulted any number of witchcraft pamphlets detailing English trials, or indeed the innumerable continental or English demonological texts that provided lengthier and more theoretical, legal, philosophical, and theological musings on witches and witchcraft (Sharpe, James, Witchcraft in early modern England (Harlow, 2001), pp 1621Google Scholar).

83 This is, presumably, a reference to a stitching awl used by tailors to pierce holes in leather.

84 Straight.

85 In early-modern Europe, the devil's mark was a common proof of witchcraft rooted in elite demonology and popular folk belief. It took the form of a blemish on the skin or a spot insensible to pain that could be identified by pricking it with a sharp object such as a pin. Some ‘prickers’ turned professional during large witch panics, receiving money for services rendered. See Goodare, European witch-hunt, pp 62, 77, 199.

86 See p. 13 above.

87 The text, ‘he was well acquainted with the wayes to discover a witch and that if he weere neere her he would make her’, was deleted by Glanvill (More & Glanvill, Saducismus triumphatus, p. 381). In English witch trials, untrained, interested locals often helped the accusation and prosecution process on its way, functioning as William Lapp does here as amateur witch-finders (Sharpe, Instruments of darkness, p. 159.)

88 James Wood was Congregational minster in Youghal. Educated in England, he began preaching in the town in the early 1650s, and became freeman of the borough in 1656. He was deprived of his living in 1662 when he did not conform to the Church of Ireland and was imprisoned a year later in 1663 for holding unofficial religious meetings in Youghal. He was also implicated in a plot of the same year, led by Thomas Blood and his Cromwellian associates, to overthrow the Irish government by attacking Dublin Castle. See Fuller, ‘Newton’, pp 180, 183n; Elmer, Miraculous conformist, p. 131n; W. T. Latimer, ‘Blood's plot in 1663’ in Ulster Journal of Archaeology, second series, vii, no. 4 (Oct. 1901), pp 197–9. Wood's testimony was placed sixth by Glanvill (More & Glanvill, Saducismus triumphatus, pp 381–3).

89 It was widely accepted at the time that symptoms of demoniacs, particularly fits and trances, would worsen on the approach of those responsible. Witches were thus brought before alleged victims (sometimes in a private dwelling, sometimes in open court) to test this theory. This test was also carried out ‘blind’ by blindfolding the victim, or making them turn towards the wall, before the suspected witch entered the room. Blind testing was carried out repeatedly on Mary Dunbar in Islandmagee in 1711 (Sneddon, Witchcraft and magic in Ireland, p. 86; Sharpe, Instruments of darkness, pp 223–6).

90 Richard Mayre first served as mayor of Youghal in 1647 and held the post again in 1660 (Day, ‘Memoirs of Youghal’, p. 64; Elmer, Miraculous conformist, p. 130n). Mayre's testimony was placed seventh in Glanvill's published account (More & Glanvill, Saducismus triumphatus, p. 383).

91 The ‘water experiment’ or ‘swimming test’ suggested by Mayor Mayre was used to determine whether a suspect was guilty of witchcraft by testing whether they floated when submerged in water. Although never formally recognised as a legal proof of witchcraft, it was often accepted as such by judiciaries and figures of authority in local communities in England, especially in the first half of the seventeenth century. Public opinion began to turn against it after 1645, when parliament condemned it in reaction to its excessive recent use by Hopkins and Stearne (Davies, Owen, Magic, witchcraft and culture, 1736–1949 (Manchester, 1999), pp 8691Google Scholar; Sharpe, Instruments of darkness, pp 218–19; Knights, Devil in disguise, p. 224).

92 These allegations, made by prominent Youghal citizens, of Newton's past acts of witchcraft helped to seal her reputation as a witch.

93 The section of Mayor Mayre's testimony, from this point to the sentence beginning, ‘And as to the sending to Cork’, was deleted, for reasons unknown, by Glanvill (More & Glanvill, Saducismus Triumphatus, p. 383). This important section details Mayre's belief that Newton had murdered his daughter using witchcraft, which may explain why he was so eager to pursue her prosecution in 1661.

94 It was common practice at the time to ring the town bell located in the clock tower of Trinity Gate, Youghal, upon the death of a very young child. See Tait, Clodagh, ‘Causes of death and cultures of care in Co. Cork, 1660–1720: the evidence of the Youghal parish registers’ in Cunningham, John (ed.), Early modern Ireland and the world of medicine: practitioners, collectors and contexts (Manchester, 2019), pp 123–46Google Scholar; Hajba, ‘Clock Gate, Youghal’, p. 25.

95 Unfortunately, we do not know the names of the ‘persons of Judgement’ who ‘opened’, or carried out an autopsy on, Mayre's daughter. See also Elmer, Miraculous conformist, p. 130.

96 Joseph Thompson's testimony was placed eighth by Glanvill (More & Glanvill, Saducismus Triumphatus, pp 383–4).

97 George Lowther's testimony was excised from the final version by Joseph Glanvill and replaced in the running order by those of Ellinor Jones and Francis Beseley (More & Glanvill, Saducismus Triumphatus, pp 384–6).

98 Hag riding refers to the belief that witches stole horses or other livestock at night and rode them until sweating and exhausted. Less frequently, it referred to witches who attacked victims at night in spirit form (Davies, Magic, witchcraft and culture, pp 41, 186, 189; Ralph Merrifield, The archaeology of ritual and magic (London, 1987), pp 161–2).

99 Shook. I would like to thank Dr Clodagh Tait for looking over an earlier draft of this article and providing insightful comments and suggestions.

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Select document: Florence Newton's trial for witchcraft, Cork, 1661: Sir William Aston's transcript
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