Witchcraft in Tudor and Stuart England: A Regional and Comparative Study

Witchcraft in Tudor and Stuart England: A Regional and Comparative Study

Alan MacFarlane

Language: English

Pages: 334

ISBN: 0881335320

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


Witchcraft in 16th- and 17th-century England! Witchcraft beliefs and accusations flourished as never before in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century England. This study of some of the least-explored regions of post-Reformation society investigates the categories of persons that were believed to be witches and considers the motives of their accusers. The author, a highly regarded anthropologist-historian, examines the extent to which witchcraft accusations reflected basic tensions in the structure of pre- industrial thought and society, and directs light on such issues as contemporary attitudes to misfortune and pain, to methods of resolving interpersonal conflicts, to the treatment of social deviants.

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Boreham we have an Elizabethan churchwardens’ account book and a very rare set of Elizabethan ‘Overseers of the Poor’ accounts. These enable us to see who were the poorest in the village and how serious the problem of poverty was at different periods; this again can be compared to the prosecutions. Subsidy assessments for all three villages during the whole of the sixteenth century enable us to check the economic level of victims and witches; they also provide information on the amount of

May 1569. Perhaps because she was not buried for a few days, the register gives her burial on the 11th instead of 1 May. In Boreham, Edith Hawes was bewitched to death on 20 December 1587, according to the indictment; the register noted her burial on 25 December 1587. In Hatfield Peverel only wills can be used to check the indictments, since the parish register is missing. Thus Background to witchcraft prosecutions in three Essex villages 97 John Baker was bewitched to death on 17 September

description of how this oracle was to be worked suggests that, like any Cunning folk and witchcraft prosecutions 125 other method of divination, subtle questioning and sleight of hand could be used to influence an apparently external and objective test.38 Hidden thoughts could be brought into the open and made to appear as if they were dictated by a power outside the consulter. The other most popular Essex oracle, the mirror, basin of water, or other reflecting surface, also reveals this

description of how this oracle was to be worked suggests that, like any Cunning folk and witchcraft prosecutions 125 other method of divination, subtle questioning and sleight of hand could be used to influence an apparently external and objective test.38 Hidden thoughts could be brought into the open and made to appear as if they were dictated by a power outside the consulter. The other most popular Essex oracle, the mirror, basin of water, or other reflecting surface, also reveals this

in 1637, it appears that he owned property in Ramsey, was the third largest property-holder in Mistley and the second largest in Lawford. In Manningtree itself he was styled ‘gent’ and was assessed to pay £3; the next highest assessment in that village was 14s.13 It is almost certain that he was Chief Constable of Tendring Hundred in 1642.14 He was thus not only one of the most attacked, but also one of the most powerful men in the area. While we can see that Hopkins and Stearne were only part of

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