University of Virginia Library


Sect. 1. The Angels who kept not their First Estate, by Sin against God, lost their primitive purity, and glorious Excellency, as to their moral qualifications, and became unclean, wicked, envious, lyars, and full of all wickedness, which as Spirits they are capable of. Yet I do not find in Scripture that they lost their natural abilities of understanding or power of Operation.

1. As for their Understanding, they are called Daimon (which we Translate Devil) because they are full of wisdom, cunning, skill, subtilty and knowledge. He hath also the name of Serpent from his subtilty, 2 Cor. 11. 3. And his knowledge in the Scriptures, and wittiness to pervert them, appears by his quoting Scripture to our Saviour when he tempted him. Mat. 4.

And as there be many Devils, and these active, quick, swift and piercing Spirits, so they going to and fro in the earth, and walking up and down in it, have advantages to know all the actions of the Children of men, both open and secret, their discourses, consultations, and much of the inward affections of men thereby; though still its Gods prerogative immediately to know the heart. Jer. 17. 10.

2. As to their natural power as Spirits, its very great, if not equal to that of the Holy Angels: For,

1. They are called Principalities and Powers. Rom. 8. 38. Eph. 6. 12. Col. 2. 14, 15, compared with Heb. 2. 14, 15. Now these are names given to the Holy Angels. Eph. 1. 21, and 3. 10.

2. They are called, Rulers of the darkness of this world, the Prince of the power of the Air. Eph. 6. 12 and 2. 2.

3. Such was their power that they contended with Michael and the Angels about the Body of Moses. 2 Pet. 2. 11. Jude 9. That is, as I conceive, about preventing the Burial of the Body of Moses: For it's said, Deut. 34. 6, The Lord buried him, and no man knoweth of his Sepulcher to this day.


That is, he did it by the Ministry of Angels (for the Lord gave the Law, Exod. 20. 1, and that it was by the Ministry of Angels, see Gal. 3. 19. so probably was the burial of Moses's Body) and the Devils endeavour if possible, to discover Moses's Body, or place of its burial, that they might draw Israel to commit Idolatry in worshipping at his Tomb (as our Popish Fore-fathers did at Thomas Beckets in Kent) from the Veneration they had to him as their Law giver.

4. The Devils actings against Job, Chap. 1 and 2, and what he did to the Gadarene Swine, etc., Shew his great power. So that we may conclude, had the Devils liberty to reveal all that they know of the affairs of mankind, or to do all that is in their power to perform, they would bring dreadful confusions and desolations upon the World.

Sect. 2. The way God governs Devils is by Chains. 2 Pet. 2. 4. Jude 6 ver. Rev. 20. 1, 2, 7, 8, whereby they are kept Prisoners. Men are governed by Laws, by convictions of Conscience. Rom. 2. 12, 13, 14, 15. By Scripture Rules, Humane Laws, and also by Gods Spirit. 1 John 2. 20. But Devils have no such Laws, or tenderness of Conscience to bridle or restrain them. But the Lord hath his Chains, which are called Everlasting, and are always lasting; so that they are never wholly without a Chain. This Chain is sometimes greater and shorter, other times lesser and longer, as the Lord pleaseth, for his own Glory, Rev. 20. 1, 2, 7, 8. For as the wrath of man praiseth the Lord, and the remainder of wrath he doth restrain, Psal. 76. 10, So may we say of the Devils wrath.

Sect. 3. The Devil is full of malice against man, and frames his designs against him, chiefly to destroy his Soul, as, 1 Pet. 5. 8, 2 Cor. 11. 3, and other Scriptures abundantly testify. Hence probably at sometimes he doth not all the hurt to mans Body that he could, lest thereby he should awaken man to repentance and prayer; he seeks to keep men in a false peace. Luk. 11. 21. Yet at other times he disturbs and afflicts men in Body and Estate; as Scripture and experience shew. Among the Devices Satan useth to ruine man, one is to allure him into such a familiarity with him, that by Sorceries, Inchantments, Divinations, and such like, he may lead them Captive at his pleasure. This snare of his we are warned against, Deut. 18. 10, 11, and in other Scriptures. This Sin


of men hearkening after Satan in these ways, is called Witchcraft; of which it is my purpose to treat: But first I shall speak something Historically what hath been done in New England, in prosecution of persons suspected of this Crime.

Sect. 4. Several persons have been Charged with and suffered for the Crime of Witchcraft in the Governments of the Massachusetts, New Haven, or Stratford[367] and Connecticut, from the year 1646 to the year 1692.

Sect. 5. The first was a Woman of Charlestown, Anno 1647 or 48.[368] She was suspected partly because that after some angry words passing between her and her Neighbours, some mischief befel such Neighbours in their Creatures, or the like: partly because some things supposed to be bewitched, or have a Charm upon them, being burned, she came to the fire and seemed concerned.

The day of her Execution, I went in company of some Neighbours,[369] who took great pains to bring her to confession and repentance. But she constantly professed her self innocent of that crime: Then one prayed her to consider if God did not bring this punishment upon her for some other crime, and asked, if she had not been guilty of Stealing many years ago; she answered, she had stolen something, but it was long since, and she had repented of it, and there was Grace enough in Christ to pardon that long agoe; but as for Witchcraft she was wholly free from it, and so she said unto her Death.

Sect. 6. Another that suffered on that account some time after, was a Dorchester Woman.[370] And upon the day of her


Execution Mr. Thompson Minister at Brantry,[371] and J. P.[372] her former Master took pains with her to bring her to repentance, And she utterly denyed her guilt of Witchcraft: yet justifyed God for bringing her to that punishment: for she had when a single woman played the harlot, and being with Child used means to destroy the fruit of her body to conceal her sin and shame, and although she did not effect it, yet she was a Murderer in the sight of God for her endeavours, and shewed great penitency for that sin; but owned nothing of the crime laid to her charge.

Sect. 7. Another suffering in this kind was a Woman of Cambridge, against whom a principal evidence was a Water-town Nurse, who testifyed, that the said Kendal (so was the accused called) did bewitch to Death a Child of Goodman Genings of Watertown; for the said Kendal did make much of the Child, and then the Child was well, but quickly changed its colour and dyed in a few hours after. The Court took this evidence among others, the said Genings not knowing of it. But after Kendal was Executed (who also denyed her guilt to the Death,) Mr. Rich. Brown knowing and hoping better things of Kendal, asked said Genings if they suspected her to bewitch their Child, they answered No. But they judged the true cause of the Childs Death to be thus, viz. The Nurse had the night before carryed out the Child and kept it abroad in the Cold a long time, when the red gum was come out upon it, and the Cold had struck in the red gum, and this they judged the cause of the Childs death. And that said Kendal did come in that day and make much of the Child, but they apprehended no wrong to come to the Child by her. After this the said Nurse was put into Prison for Adultery, and there delivered of her base Child, and Mr. Brown went to her and told her, It was just with God to leave her to this wickedness


as a Punishment for her Murdering goody Kendal by her false witness bearing. But the Nurse dyed in Prison, and so the matter was not farther inquired into.

There was another Executed, of Boston Anno 1656. for that crime.[373] And two or three of Springfield, one of which confessed; and said the occasion of her familiarity with Satan was this: She had lost a Child and was exceedingly discontented at it and longed; Oh that she might see her Child again! And at last the Devil in likeness of her Child came to her bed side and talked with her, and asked to come into the bed to her, and she received it into the bed to her that night and several nights after, and so entred into covenant with Satan and became a Witch.[374] This was the only confessor in these times in that Government.

Sect. 8. Another at Hartford, viz. Mary Johnson, men-tioned in Remarkable Providences, p. 62, 63,[375] Confessed her self a Witch. Who upon discontent and slouthfulness agreed with the Devil to do her work for her, and fetch up the Swine. And upon her immoderate laughter at the running of the Swine, as the Devil drove them, as she her self said, was suspected and upon examination confessed. I have also heard of a Girl at New Haven or Stratford, that confessed her guilt.[376] But all others denyed it unto the death unless one Greensmith, at Hartford.[377]

Sect. 9. But it is not my purpose to give a full relation of all that have suffered for that Sin, or of all the particulars


charged upon them, which probably is now impossible, many witnessing Viva voce, those particulars which were not fully recorded. But that I chiefly intend is to shew the principles formerly acted upon in Convicting of that Crime; which were such as these.

1. The first great principle laid down by a person Eminent for Wisdom, Piety and Learning[378] was; That the Devil could not assume the shape of an innocent person in doing mischief unto mankind: for if the Lord should suffer him in this he would subvert the course of humane Justice, by bringing men to suffer for what he did in their Shapes.

2. Witchcraft being an habitual Crime, one single witness to one Act of Witchcraft, and another single witness to another such fact, made two witnesses against the Crime and the party suspected.

3. There was searching of the bodies of the suspected for such like teats, or spots (which writers speak of) called the Devils marks; and if found, these were accounted a presump-tion at least of guilt in those that had them.

4. I observed that people laid great weight upon this; when things supposed to be bewitched were burnt, and the suspected person came to the fire in the time of it.[379] Although that Eminent person above said[380] condemned this way of tryal, as going to the Devil to find the Devil.

5. If after anger between Neighbours mischief followed, this oft bred suspicion of Witchcraft in the matter. In fine, the presumptions and convictions used in former times were for substance the same which we may read of in Keeble of the


Common Law,[381] and in Bernard,[382] and other Authors of that subject.

Sect. 10. About 16 or 17 years since was accused a Woman of Newbury,[383] and upon her tryal the Jury brought her in Guilty. Yet the Governour Simon Bradstreet Esq. and some of the Magistrates repreived her, being unsatisfyed in the Verdict upon these grounds.

1. They were not satisfyed that a Specter doing mischief in her likeness, should be imputed to her person, as a ground of guilt.

2. They did not esteem one single witness to one fact, and another single witness to another fact, for two witnesses, against the person in a matter Capital. She being reprived, was carried to her own home, and her Husband (who was esteemed a Sincere and understanding Christian by those that knew him) desired some Neighbour Ministers, of whom I was one, to meet together and discourse his Wife; the which we did: and her discourse was very Christian among us, and still pleaded her innocence as to that which was laid to her charge. We did not esteem it prudence for us to pass any definitive Sentance upon one under her circumstances, yet we inclined to the more charitable side.

In her last Sickness she was in much darkness and trouble of Spirit, which occasioned a Judicious friend to examine her strictly, Whether she had been guilty of Witchcraft, but she said No: But the ground of her trouble was some impatient and passionate Speeches and Actions of hers while in Prison, upon the account of her suffering wrongfully; whereby she had provoked the Lord, by putting some contempt upon his word. And in fine, she sought her pardon and comfort from God in Christ, and dyed so far as I understood, praying to and resting upon God in Christ for Salvation.

Sect. 11. The next that Suffered was an Irish Woman of Boston,[384] suspected to bewitch John Goodwins Children, who upon her Tryal did in Irish (as was testified by the Interpreters) confess her self guilty, and was condemned out of her own


mouth; (as Christ saith, Luk. 19. 22. Out of thine own mouth will I Judge thee.) The History of which is published by Mr. Cotton Mather, (and attested by the other Ministers of Boston and Charlstown.) in his Book, Entituled, Memorable Providences, Printed Anno 1689.[385] Thus far of the History of Witches before the year, 1692.



I. e., “New Haven (or Stratford)”: Hale was not sure (see p. 410) whether the case in mind was at New Haven or at Stratford. Stratford, though so near New Haven, was under the Connecticut government. Under that of New Haven there were, so far as is known, no witch-executions.


Margaret Jones, executed at Boston on June 15, 1648. See Winthrop, Journal, II. 344-345 (of the edition in this series, II. 397 of ed. of 1853), and Poole in Memorial History of Boston, II. 135-137; also, above, p. 363, note 2 — for it was doubtless to Margaret Jones that the resolution as to “watchinge” referred, and it suggests that her accusation too may have been the outcome of the witch-hunt which had just been raging in the Puritan counties of England. She was not, as thinks Hale, the first New England victim; in Connecticut Alse Young was hanged, May 26, 1647.


The writer was then a boy of twelve.


Doubtless that “H. Lake's wife, of Dorchester, whom,” as Nathaniel Mather in 1684 wrote to his brother Increase of having heard, “the devill drew in by appearing to her in the likenes, and acting the part of a child of hers then lately dead, on whom her heart was much set.” (See Mather Papers, p. 58, and Poole in N. E. Hist. and Gen. Register, XXIV. 3, note.) Mather had lived in Dorchester prior to his migration to England, about 1650; but, as he had been in constant communication with friends in America, it is not at all sure that his knowledge of this case antedates his leaving. In Hale's account there seems some confusion with the case of Mary Parsons (p. 410).




Probably John Phillips of Dorchester — the conjecture is Farmer's.


Mrs. Ann Hibbins, widow of one of the foremost men in Boston and said to have been a sister of Governor Bellingham. (See Records of Massachusetts, IV., pt. 1, p. 269; Hutchinson, Massachusetts, second ed., I. 187-188; Me-morial History of Boston, II. 138-141.)


This was the case of Mary Parsons and her husband Hugh, whom she accused (1651). (See Drake, Annals of Witchcraft, pp. 64-72, and especially the appended papers of Hugh Parsons's case, pp. 219-258. The originals of these papers are now in the New York Public Library. Others, from the Suffolk court files, are printed in the N. E. Hist. and Gen. Register, XXXV. 152-153.)


Not in the Remarkable Providences of Increase Mather, but in the Memorable Providences of Cotton Mather at the pages named (see above, pp. 135-136).


Probably that “Goody Bassett” who was on trial at Stratford in 1651 (Connecticut Records, I. 220), and of whom we know from testimony given at New Haven in 1654 (New Haven Records, II. 83) that she was condemned and that she confessed.


See above, pp. 19-20.


When in 1669 the Connecticut court asked the ministers their opinion as to this point, they answered in almost these words (see Taylor, The Witchcraft Delusion in Colonial Connecticut, p. 58). This opinion is said to be in the hand-writing of the Rev. Gershom Bulkeley, the author of Will and Doom. But it does not follow that he was its author, much less that he was the originator of this dictum. Whatever its source, it is to be suspected that it had originally nothing to do with “spectral evidence,” but was only a protest against such pleas as that of the bishop who, caught under the bed of a nun, maintained later that the cul-prit was only the Devil impersonating him. On Bulkeley and his rational atti-tude toward later charges of witchcraft, see his Will and Doom (Conn. Hist. Soc., Collections, III.), introduction and pp. 233-235.


See above, p. 239, note 1.


See above, in paragraph 1.


What is meant, as is clear from Hale's later quotations, is Keble's Assis-tance to Justices. See above, p. 163, note 2.


See above, p. 304, note 5.


Mrs. Morse. See above, pp. 23-31.


Goody Glover. See above, pp. 100 ff.


See above, pp. 91 ff.