The Witch-Cult in Western Europe, by Margaret Alice Murray, , at sacred-texts.com
IT is impossible to understand the witch-cult without first understanding the position of the chief personage of that cult. He was known to the contemporary Christian judges and recorders as the Devil, and was called by them Satan, Lucifer, Beelzebub, the Foul Fiend, the Enemy of Salvation, and similar names appropriate to the Principle of Evil, the Devil of the Scriptures, with whom they identified him.
This was far from the view of the witches themselves. To them this so-called Devil was God, manifest and incarnate; they adored him on their knees, they addressed their prayers to him, they offered thanks to him as the giver of food and the necessities of life, they dedicated their children to him, and, there are indications that, like many another god, he was sacrificed for the good of his people.
The contemporary writers state in so many words that the witches believed in the divinity of their Master. Danaeus, writing in 1575, says, 'The Diuell com[m]aundeth them that they shall acknowledge him for their god, cal vpo[n] him, pray to him, and trust in him.--Then doe they all repeate the othe which they haue geuen vnto him; in acknowledging him to be their God.' Gaule, in 1646, nearly a century later, says that the witches vow 'to take him [the Devil] for their God, worship, invoke, obey him'.
The witches are even more explicit, and their evidence proves the belief that their Master was to them their God. The accusation against Elisabeth Vlamyncx of Alost, 1595, was that 'vous n'avez pas eu honte de vous agenouiller devant votre Belzebuth, que vous avez adoré'. The same accusation was made against Marion Grant of Aberdeen, 1596, that 'the Deuill quhome thow callis thy god . . . causit the worship him on thy kneis as thy lord'. De Lancre (1609) records, as
[1. Danaeus, E 1, ch. iv.
2 Gaule, p. 62.
3. Cannaert, p. 45.
4. Spalding Club Miscellany, i, pp. 171, 172.]
did all the Inquisitors, the actual words of the witches; when they presented a young child, they fell on their knees and said, 'Grand Seigneur, lequel i'adore', and when the child was old enough to join the society she made her vow in these words: 'Ie me remets de tout poinct en ton pouuoir & entre tes mains, ne recognois autre Dieu: si bien que tu es mon Dieu'. Silvain Nevillon, tried at Orleans in 1614, said, 'On dit au Diable nous vous recognoissons pour nostre maistre, nostre Dieu, nostre Createur'. The Lancashire witch, Margaret Johnson, 1633, said: 'There appeared vnto her a spirit or divell in the similitude and proportion of a man. And the said divell or spirit bidd her call him by the name of Mamillion. And saith, that in all her talke and conferense shee calleth her said Divell Mamillion, my god.' According to Madame Bourignon, 1661, 'Persons who were thus engaged to the Devil by a precise Contract, will allow no other God but him'. Isobel Gowdie confessed that 'he maid vs beliew that ther wes no God besyd him.--We get all this power from the Divell, and when ve seik it from him, ve call him "owr Lord".--At each tyme, quhan ve wold meitt with him, we behoowit to ryse and mak our curtesie; and we wold say, "Ye ar welcom, owr Lord," and "How doe ye, my Lord."' The Yorkshire witch, Alice Huson, 1664, stated that the Devil 'appeared like a Black Man upon a Black Horse, with Cloven Feet; and then I fell down, and did Worship him upon my Knees'. Ann Armstrong in Northumberland, 1673, gave a good deal of information about her fellow witches: 'The said Ann Baites hath severall times danced with the divell att the places aforesaid, calling him, sometimes, her protector, and, other sometimes, her blessed saviour.-She saw Forster, Dryden, and Thompson, and the rest, and theire protector, which they call'd their god, sitting at the head of the table-When this informer used meanes to avoyd theire company, they threatned her, if she would not
[1. De Lancre, Tableau, pp. 398, 399.
2 Id., L'Incredulité, p. 80.
3. Baines, i, p. 607 note. For the name Mamillion see Layamon's Brut, p. 155, Everyman Library.
4. Bourignon, Vie, p. 222.--Hale, p. 37.
5. Pitcairn, iii, pp. 605, 607, 613.
6. Hale, p. 58.]
turne to theire god, the last shift should be the worst.' At Crighton, 1678, the Devil himself preached to the witches, 'and most blasphemously mocked them, if they offered to trust in God who left them miserable in the world, and neither he nor his Son Jesus Christ ever appeared to them when they called on them, as he had, who would not cheat them'. Even in America, 1692, Mary Osgood, the wife of Capt. Osgood, declared that 'the devil told her he was her God, and that she should serve and worship him'.
Prayers were addressed to the Master by his followers, and in some instances the prayer was taught by him. Alice Gooderidge of Stapenhill in Derbyshire, 1597, herself a witch and the daughter of a witch, was charged by Sir Humphrey Ferrers 'with witchcraft about one Michael's Cow: which Cow when shee brake all thinges that they tied her in, ranne to this Alice Gooderige her house, scraping at the walls and windowes to haue come in: her olde mother Elizabeth Wright, tooke vpon her to help; vpon condition that she might haue a peny to bestow vpon her god, and so she came to the mans house kneeled downe before the Cow, crossed her with a sticke in the forehead, and prayed to her god, since which time the Cow continued wel'. Antide Colas, 1598, confessed that 'Satan luy comma[n]da de le prier soir & matin, auant qu'elle s'addonnat à faire autre oeuure'. Elizabeth Sawyer, the witch of Edmonton, 1621, was taught by the Devil; 'He asked of me to whom I prayed, and I answered him to lesus Christ, and he charged me then to pray no more to lesus Christ, but to him the Diuell, and he the Diuell taught me this prayer, Sanctibecetur nomen tuum, Amen'., Part of the dittay against Jonet Rendall, an Orkney witch, 1629, was that I the devill appeirit to you, Quhom ye called Walliman.--Indyttit and accusit for yt of your awne confessioune efter ye met your Walliman upoun the hill ye earn to Williame Rendalls hous quha haid ane seik hors and promeised to haill him if he could geve yow tua penneys for everie foot, And haveing gottin the
[1. Surtees Soc., xl, pp. 191-193.
2. Fountainhall, i. 15.
3. Howell, vi, 660.--J. Hutchinson, ii, p. 31.
4. Alse Gooderidge, pp. 9, 10.
5. Boguet, p. 54.
6. Wonderfull Discouerie of Elizabeth Sawyer, C 4, rev.]
silver ye hailled the hors be praying to your Walliman, Lykeas ye have confest that thair is nather man nor beast sick that is not tane away be the hand of God bot for almis ye ar able to cur it be praying to your Walliman, and yt thair is nane yt geves yow almis bot they will thryve ather be sea or land it ye pray to yor Walliman'. The witches of East Anglia, 1645, also prayed; 'Ellen the wife of Nicholas Greenleife of Barton in Sufolke, confessed, that when she prayed she prayed to the Devill and not to God.--Rebecca West confessed that her mother prayed constantly (and, as the world thought, very seriously), but she said it was to the devil, using these words, Oh my God, my God, meaning him and not the LORD.'
A good example of the change of the word 'God', when used by the witch, into the word 'devil' when recorded by the Christian writer, is found at Bute in 1662: 'Jonet Stewart declares that quhen Alester McNivan was lying sick that Jonet Morisone and NcWilliam being in her house the said Jonet desyred NcWilliam to goe see the said Allester the said NcWilliam lifting up her curcheffe said "devill let him never be seene till I see him and devill let him never ryse ". . . [NcWilliam was asked] if she lifted up her curcheffe quhen Jonet Morisone desyred her to goe see Alester McNivan, saying "god let him never ryse till I goe see him."'
The evidence of the witches makes it abundantly clear that the so-called Devil was a human being, generally a man, occasionally a woman. At the great Sabbaths, where he appeared in his grand array, he was disguised out of recognition; at the small meetings, in visiting his votaries, or when inducing a possible convert to join the ranks of the witch-society, he came in his own person, usually dressed plainly in the costume of the period. When in ordinary clothes he was indistinguishable from any other man of his own rank or age, but the evidence suggests that he made himself known by
[1. County Folklore, iii, Orkney, pp. 103,107-8.
2. Stearne, pp. 28, 38
3. Highland Papers, iii, pp. 16, 17.]
some manual gesture, by a password, or by some token carried on his person. The token seems to have been carried on the foot, and was perhaps a specially formed boot or shoe, or a foot-covering worn under the shoe.
Besides the Grand Master himself there was often a second 'Devil', younger than the Chief. There is no indication whatsoever as to the method of appointing the head of the witch-community, but it seems probable that on the death of the principal 'Devil' the junior succeeded, and that the junior was appointed from among the officers (see chap. vii). This suggestion, however, does not appear to hold good where a woman was the Chief, for her second in command was always a man and often one well advanced in years. The elderly men always seem to have had grey beards.
Danaeus in 1575 summarizes the evidence and says of the Devil, 'he appeareth vnto them in likenesse of a man, insomuch that it hapneth many tymes, that among a great company of men, the Sorcerer only knoweth Satan, that is present, when other doo not know him, although they see another man, but who or what he is they know not'. De Lancre says, 'On a obserué de tout temps que lors qu'il veut receuoir quelcun à faire pacte auec luy, il se presente tousiours en homme'. Cooper states that 'the Wizards and Witches being met in a place and time appointed, the devil appears to them in humane shape'. Even a modern writer, after studying the evidence, acknowledges that the, witches 'seem to have been undoubtedly the victims of unscrupulous and designing knaves, who personated Satan '.
The witches not only described the personal appearance of the Devil, but often gave careful details as to his clothes; such details are naturally fuller when given by the women than by the men.
[1. It is possible that the shoe was cleft like the modern 'hygienic' shoe. Such a shoe is described in the ballad of the Cobler of Canterbury, date 1608, as part of a woman's costume:
'Her sleevës blue, her traine behind,
With silver hookes was tucked, I find;
Her shoës broad, and forked before.'
2. Danaeus, ch. iv.
3. De Lancre, Tableau, p. 69.
4. Cooper, Pleasant Treatise, p. 2.
5. Burns Begg, p. 217.]
England.--John Walsh of Dorsetshire, 1566, described the Devil, whom he called his Familiar, as 'sometymes like a man in all proportions, sauing that he had clouen feete'. The Lancashire witch, Anne Chattox, 1613, said, 'A thing like a Christian man did sundry times come to this Examinate, and requested this Examinate to giue him her Soule: And in the end, this Examinate was contented to giue him her sayd Soule, shee being then in her owne house, in the Forrest of Pendle; wherevpon the Deuill then in the shape of a Man, sayd to this Examinate: Thou shalt want nothing.' Elizabeth Southerns of the same Coven said that 'there met her this Examinate a Spirit or Deuill, in the shape of a Boy, the one halfe of his Coate blacke, and the other browne'. To Margaret Johnson, one of the later Lancashire witches, 1633, there appeared 'a spirit or divell in the similitude and proportion of a man, apparelled in a suite of black, tyed about wth silke pointes'. The Yarmouth witch, 1644, 'when she was in Bed, heard one knock at her Door, and rising to her Window, she saw, it being Moonlight, a tall black Man there'. The Essex witches, 1645, agreed very fairly in their description of the man who came amongst them: according to Elizabeth Clarke he appeared 'in the shape of a proper gentleman, with a laced band, having the whole proportion of a man . . . He had oftentimes knocked at her dore in the night time; and shee did arise open the dore and let him in'; Rebecca Weste gave evidence that 'the Devil appeared in the likeness of a proper young man'; and Rebecca Jones said that the Devil as 'a very handsome young man came to the door, who asked how she did'; on another occasion she met the Devil, 'as shee was going to St. Osyth to sell butter', in the form of a 'man in a ragged sute'. There are two accounts of the evidence given by the Huntingdonshire witch, Joan Wallis of Keiston, 1646: Stearne says that she 'confessed the Devill came to her in the likenesse of a man in blackish cloathing, but had cloven feet'. Davenport's record is slightly different: 'Blackman came first to her, about a
[1. Examination of John Walsh.
2. Potts, D 3, B 2.
3. Baines, i, p. 607 note.
4. Hale, p. 46.
5. Howell, iv, 833, 836, 840, 854-5.]
twelve-moneth since, like a man something ancient, in blackish cloathes, but he had ugly feet uncovered.' The evidence of the Suffolk witches, 1645-6, is to the same effect; Thomazine Ratcliffe of Shellie confessed that 'there came one in the likeness of a man.--One Richmond, a woman which lived at Brampford, confessed the Devill appeared to her in the likenesse of a man, called Daniel the Prophet.--One Bush of Barton, widdow, confessed that the Devill appeared to her in the shape of a young black man'. All the Covens of Somerset, 1664, were evidently under one Chief; he came to Elizabeth Style as 'a handsome man'; to Elizabeth Style, Anne Bishop, Alice Duke, and Mary Penny as 'a Man in black Clothes, with a little Band'; to Christian Green 'in the shape of a Man in blackish Clothes'; and to Mary and Catherine Green as 'a little Man in black Clothes with a little Band'. To the Yorkshire witch, Alice Huson, 1664, he appeared 'like a Black Man on a Horse upon the Moor', and again 'like a Black Man upon a Black Horse, with Cloven Feet'. Abre Grinset of Dunwich, in Suffolk, 1665, said 'he did appear in the form of a Pretty handsom Young Man'. In Northumberland, 1673, Ann Armstrong said that 'she see the said Ann Forster [with twelve others and] a long black man rideing on a bay galloway, as she thought, which they call'd there protector'. The Devonshire witch Susanna Edwards, 1682, enters into some detail: 'She did meet with a gentleman in a field called the Parsonage Close in the town of Biddiford. And saith that his apparel was all of black. Upon which she did hope to have a piece of money of him. Whereupon the gentleman drawing near unto this examinant, she did make a curchy or courtesy unto him, as she did use to do to gentlemen. Being demanded what and who the gentleman she spake of was, the said examinant answered and said, That it was the Devil.' In Northamptonshire, 1705, he came to Mary Phillips and Elinor Shaw as 'a tall black Man'.
Scotland.--The earliest description is in the trial of Bessie
[1. Stearne, p. 13.--Davenport, p. 13.
2. Stearne, pp. 22, 29, 30.
3. Glanvil, pt. ii, pp. 136, 137, 147, 149, 156, 161-5.
4. Hale, p. 58.
5. Petto, p. 18.
6. Denham Tracts, ii, p. 301.
7. Howell, viii, 1035
8. Elinor Shaw and Mary Phillips, p. 6.]
Dunlop of Lyne in Ayrshire in 1576, and is one of the most detailed. Bessie never spoke of the person, who appeared to her, as the 'Devil', she invariably called him Thom Reid; but he stood to her in the same relation that the Devil stood to the witches, and like the Devil he demanded that she should believe on him. She described him as 'ane honest wele elderlie man, gray bairdit, and had ane gray coitt with Lumbart slevis of the auld fassoun; ane pair of gray brekis, and quhyte schankis, gartanit aboue the kne; ane blak bonet on his heid, cloise behind and plane befoir, with silkin laissis drawin throw the lippis thairof; and ane quhyte wand in his hand'. Alison Peirson, 1588, must have recognized the man who appeared to her, for she 'wes conuict of the vsing of Sorcerie and Wichcraft, with the Inuocatioun of the spreitis of the Dewill; speciallie, in the visioune and forme of ane Mr. William Sympsoune, hir cousing and moder-brotheris-sone, quha sche affermit wes ane grit scoller and doctor of medicin'. Though the Devil of North Berwick, 1590, appeared in disguise, it is not only certain that he was a man but his identity can be determined. Barbara Napier deposed that 'the devil wess with them in likeness of ane black man . . . the devil start up in the pulpit, like a mickle blak man, with ane black beard sticking out like ane goat's beard, clad in ane blak tatie [tattered] gown and ane ewill favoured scull bonnet on his heid; hauing ane black book in his hand'. Agnes Sampson's description in the official record was very brief: 'he had on him ane gown, and ane hat, which were both black'; but Melville, who probably heard her evidence, puts it more dramatically: 'The deuell wes cled in ane blak gown with ane blak hat vpon his head. . . . His faice was terrible, his noise lyk the bek of ane egle, gret bournyng eyn; his handis and leggis wer herry, with clawes vpon his handis, and feit lyk the griffon.' John Fian merely mentions that the first time the Devil came he was clothed in white raiment. The evidence from Aberdeen, 1596-7, points to there being two, Chiefs, one old and one young. Ellen Gray confessed that
[1. Pitcairn, i, pt. ii, pp. 51-6.
2. Id., i, pt. ii, p. 162.
3. Id., i, pt. ii, pp. 245-6, 239. Spelling modernized.
4. Melville, pp. 395-6.
5. Pitcairn, i, pt. ii, p. 210.]
'the Devill, thy maister, apperit to thee in the scheap of ane agit man, beirdit, with a quhyt gown and a thrummit [shaggy] hatt'. Andro Man 'confessis that Crystsunday cum to hym in liknes of ane fair angell, and clad in quhyt claythis'. Christen Mitchell stated that 'Sathan apperit to the in the lyknes of a littill crippill man'; and Marion Grant gave evidence that 'the Deuill, quhom thow callis thy god, apperit to thee in ane gryte man his licknes, in silkin abuilzeament [habiliment], withe ane quhyt candill in his hand'. Isobell Haldane of Perth, 1607, was carried away into a fairy hill, 'thair scho stayit thrie dayis, viz. fra Thurisday till Sonday at xii houris. Scho mett a man with ane gray beird, quha brocht hir furth agane.' This man stood to her in the same relation as Thom Reid to Bessie Dunlop, or as the Devil to the witches. Jonet Rendall of Orkney, 1629, saw him 'claid in quhyt cloathis, with ane quhyt head and ane gray beard'. In East Lothian, 1630, Alexander Hamilton met the Devil in the likeness of a black man. At Eymouth, 1634, Bessie Bathgate was seen by two young men 'at 12 hours of even (when all people are in their beds) standing bare-legged and in her sark valicot, at the back of hir yard, conferring with the devil who was in green cloaths'. Manie Haliburton of Dirlton, 1649, confessed that, when her daughter was ill, 'came the Devill, in licknes of a man, to hir hous, calling himselff a phisition'. He came also as 'a Mediciner' to Sandie Hunter in East Lothian in 1649. In the same year he appeared as a black man to Robert Grieve, 'an eminent Warlock' at Lauder. In the same year also 'Janet Brown was charged with having held a meeting with the Devil appearing as a man, at the back of Broomhills'. Among the Alloa witches, tried in 1658, Margret Duchall 'did freelie confes hir paction with the diwell, how he appeared first to hir in the liknes of a man in broun cloathis, and ane blak hat'; while Kathren Renny said 'that he first appeared to hir in the bodis medow
[1. Spalding Club Miscellany, i, pp. 124, 127; 164, 172.
2. Pitcairn, ii, p. 537.
3. County Folklore, iii, p. 103. Orkney.
4. From the record of the trial in the Justiciary Court, Edinburgh.
5. Spoltiswode Miscellany, ii, p. 65.
6. Pitcairn, iii, p. 599.
7. Sinclair, p. 122.
8. Id., p. 47.
9. Arnot, p. 358.]
in the liknes of a man with gray cloathis and ane blew cap'. The years 1661 and 1662 are notable in the annals of Scotch witchcraft for the number of trials and the consequent mass of evidence, including many descriptions of the Grand-master. At Forfar, in 1661, Helen Guthrie said that at several meetings the devil was present 'in the shape of a black iron-hued man'; Katherine Porter 'saw the divill and he had ane blacke plaid about him'; when Issobell Smyth was alone gathering heather, 'hee appeared to hir alone lik ane braw gentleman'; and on another occasion 'like a light gentleman'. Jonet Watson of Dalkeith, also in 1661, said 'that the Deivill apeired vnto her in the liknes of ane prettie boy, in grein clothes. . . . Shoe was at a Meitting in Newtoun-dein with the Deavill, who had grein clothes vpone him, and ane blak hatt vpone his head'. In the same year an Edinburgh Coven was tried: Jonet Ker was accused that 'as you wer comeing from Edr to the park you mett with the devill at the bough in the liknes of a greavous black man'; Helene Casso 'met with the devill in liknes of a man with greine cloaths in the links of Dudingstone qr he wes gathering sticks amongst the whines'; Isobel Ramsay 'mett with the devill in the Liknes of a pleasant young man who said qr live you goodwyf and how does the minister And as you wes goeing away he gave you a sexpence saying God bud him give you that qch you wared and bought meall therwith As also you had ane uther meiting wt the devill in yor awne house in the liknes of yor awne husband as you wes lying in yor bed at qch tyme you engadged to be his servant'; Jonet Millar 'did meit wt the devill in liknes of ane young man in the hous besyd the standing stane'. The trials of the Auldearne witches in 1662 are fully reported as regards matters which interested the recorder; unfortunately the appearance of the Devil was not one of these, therefore Isobel Gowdie's description is abbreviated to the following: 'He was a meikle black roch man. Sometimes he had boots and sometimes shoes on his foot; but still [always] his foot are
[1. Scottish Antiquary, ix, pp. 50, 51.
2. Kinloch, pp. 114,128, 132.
3. Pitcairn, iii, p. 601.
4. From the records in the Justiciary Court, Edinburgh.]
forked and cloven.' At Crook of Devon in Kinross-shire, in the same year, nine of the witches describe the men they saw, for evidently there were two 'Devils' in this district; Isobel Rutherford said that 'Sathan was in the likness of a man with gray cloathes and ane blue bannet, having ane beard'; Bessie Henderson, 'the Devil appeared to you in the likeness of ane bonnie young lad, with ane blue bonnet'; Robert Wilson, 'the Devil was riding on ane horse with fulyairt clothes and ane Spanish cape'; Bessie Neil, 'Sathan appeared to you with dun-coloured clothes'; Margaret Litster, 'Sathan having grey clothes'; Agnes Brugh, 'the Devil appeared in the twilight like unto a half long fellow with an dusti coloured coat'; Margaret Huggon, 'he was an uncouth man with black cloathes with ane hood on his head'; Janet Paton, 'Sathan had black coloured clothes and ane blue bonnet being an unkie like man'; Christian Grieve, 'Sathan did first appear to yow like ane little man with ane blue bonnet on his head with rough gray cloaths on him'. Marie Lamont of Innerkip, also in 1662, said that 'the devil was in the likeness of a meikle black man, and sung to them, and they dancit'; he appeared again 'in the likeness of a black man with cloven featt'. At Paisley, in 1678, the girl-witch Annabil Stuart said that 'the Devil in the shape of a Black man came to her Mother's House'; her brother John was more detailed in his description, he observed 'one of the black man's feet to be cloven: and that the black man's Apparel was black; and that he had a bluish Band and Handcuffs; and that he had Hogers on his Legs without Shoes'; Margaret Jackson of the same Coven confirmed the description, 'the black man's Clothes were black, and he had white Handcuffs'. The clearest evidence is from an unpublished trial of 1678 among the records in the Justiciary Court in Edinburgh:
'Margaret Lowis declaires that about Elevin years ago a man whom she thought to be ane Englishman that cured diseases in the countrey called [blank] Webb appeared to her in her own house and gave her a drink and told her that she
[1. Pitcairn, iii, p. 603.
2. Burns Begg, pp. 221-39.
3. Sharpe, pp. 131, 134.
4. Hogers, a coarse stocking without the foot.
5. Glanvil, pt. ii, pp. 291-5, 297.]
would have children after the taking of that drink And declares that that man made her renunce her baptisme . . . and declares that she thought that the man who made her doe these things wes the divill and that she has hade severall meitings with that man after she knew him to be the divill. Margaret Smaill prisoner being examined anent the Cryme of witchcraft depones that having come into the house of Jannet Borthvick in Crightoun she saw a gentleman sitting with her, and they desyred her to sitt down and having sitten down the gentleman drank to her and she drank to him and therefter the said Jannet Borthvick told her that that gentleman was the divill and declares that at her desyre she renunced her baptisme and gave herself to the divill.'
At Borrowstowness in 1679 Annaple Thomson 'had a metting with the devill in your cwming betwixt Linlithgow and Borrowstownes, where the devil, in the lyknes of ane black man, told yow, that yow wis ane poore puddled bodie . . . And yow the said Annaple had ane other metting, and he inveitted yow to go alongst, and drink with him'. The same devil met Margaret Hamilton 'and conversed with yow at the town-well of Borrowstownes, and several tymes in yowr awin howss, and drank severall choppens of ale with you'. The Renfrewshire trials of 1696 show that all Mrs. Fulton's grandchildren saw the same personage; Elizabeth Anderson, at the age of seven, 'saw a black grim Man go in to her Grandmothers House'; James Lindsay, aged fourteen, 'met his Grandmother with a black grim Man'; and little Thomas Lindsay was awaked by his grandmother 'one Night out of his Bed, and caused him take a Black Grimm Gentleman (as she called him) by the Hand'. At Pittenweem, in 1704, 'this young Woman Isobel Adams [acknowledged] her compact with the Devil, which she says was made up after this manner, viz. That being in the House of the said Beatie Laing, and a Man at the end of the Table, Beatie proposes to Isobel, that since she would not Fee and Hire with her, that she would do it, with the Man at the end of the Table; And accordingly Isobel agreed to it, and spoke with the Man at that time in General terms. Eight days after, the same Person in Appearance comes to her, and owns that
[1. Scots Magazine, 1814, p. 200.
2. Narrative of the Sufferings of a Young Girle, pp. xxxix-xli--Sadd. Debell., pp. 38-40.]
he was the Devil.' The latest instance is at Thurso in 1719, where the Devil met Margaret Nin-Gilbert 'in the way in the likeness of a man, and engaged her to take on with him, which she consented to; and she said she knew him to be the devil or he parted with her'.
In Ireland one of the earliest known trials for ritual witchcraft occurred in 1324, the accused being the Lady Alice Kyteler. She was said to have met the Devil, who was called Robin son of Artis, 'in specie cuiusdam aethiopis cum duobus sociis ipso maioribus et longioribus'.
In France also there is a considerable amount of evidence. The earliest example is in 143'0, when Pierronne, a follower of Joan of Arc, was put to death by fire as a witch. She persisted to the end in her statement, which she made on oath, that God appeared to her in human form and spoke to her as friend to friend, and that the last time she had seen him he was clothed in a scarlet cap and a long white robe. Estebene de Cambrue of the parish of Amou in 1567 said that the witches danced round a great stone, 'sur laquelle est assis un grand homme noir, qu'elles appellent Monsieur'. Jeanne Hervillier of Verberie near Compiègne, in 1578, daughter of a witch who had been condemned and burnt, 'confessa qu'à l'aage de douze ans sa mere la presenta au diable, en forme d'vn grand homme noir, & vestu de noir, botté, esperonné, auec vne espée au costé, & vn cheual noir à la porte'., Françoise Secretain of Saint Claud in 1598 stated 'qu'elle s'estoit donnée au Diable, lequel auoit lors la semblance d'vn grand homme noir'; Thievenne Paget, from the same district, 'racontoit que le Diable s'apparut à elle la premiere fois en plein midy, en forme d'vn grand homme noir'; and Antide Colas 'disoit, que Satan s'apparut à elle en forme d'vn homme, de grande stature, ayant sa barbe & ses habillemens noirs'. Jeanne d'Abadle, in the Basses-Pyrénées, 1609, 'dit qu'elle y vid le
[1. A true and full Relation of the Witches of Pittenweem, p. 10,--Sinclair, p. lxxxix.
2. Sharpe, p. 191.
3. Camden Society, Lady Alice Kyteler, p. 3.
4. Journal d'un bourgeois de Paris, p. 687.
5. De Lancre, Tableau, p. 123.
6. Bodin, p. 226.
7. Boguet, pp. 8, 96].
Diable en forme d'homme noir & hideux, auec six cornes en la teste, parfois huict'. Silvain Nevillon, tried at Orleans in 1614, 'dit que le Sabbat se tenoit dans vne maison, où il vit à la cheminée com[m]e ledit Sabbat se faisoit, vn homme noir, duquel on ne voyoit point la teste. Vit aussi vn grand homme noir à l'opposite de celuy de la cheminée. Dit que les deux Diables qui estoient au Sabbat, l'vn s'appelloit l'Orthon, & l'autre Traisnesac.' Two sisters were tried in 1652: one 'dict avoir trouvé ung diable en ghuise d'ung home à pied'; the other said that 'il entra dans sa chambre en forme d'ung chat par une fenestre et se changea en la posture d'un home vestu de rouge'.
In Belgium, Digna Robert, 1565, met 'un beau jeune homme vètu d'une casaque noire, qui était le diable, et se nommait Barrebon . . . À la Noël passée, un autre diable, nommé Crebas, est venu près d'elle.' Elisabeth Vlamynx of Ninove in the Pays d'Alost, 1595, was accused 'que vous avez, avant comme après le repas, vous septième ou huitième, dansé sous les arbres en compagnie de votre Belzebuth et d'un autre démon, tous deux en pourpoint blanc à la mode française' Josine Labyns in 1664, aged about forty: 'passé dix-neuf ans le diable s'est offert à vos yeux, derrière votre habitation, sous la figure d'un grand seigneur, vètu en noir et portant des plumes sur son chapeau.'
In the copper mines of Sweden, 1670, the Devil appeared as a minister.' In the province of Elfdale in the same year his dress was not the usual black of that period: 'He used to appear, but in different Habits; but for the most part we saw him in a gray Coat, and red and blue Stockings; he had a red Beard, a high-crown'd Hat, with Linnen of divers colours wrapt about it, and long Garters upon his Stockings." This is not unlike the costume of Thom Reid as described, more than a century before, by Bessie Dunlop.
[1. De Lancre, Tableau, p. 130.
2. Id., L'Incredulité, pp. 799, 800. The second Devil is called Tramesabot on p. 802.
3. Van Elven, La Tradition, v (1891), p. 215. Neither the witches' names nor the place are given.
4. Cannaert, pp. 44, 53-4, 60.
5. Fountainhall, i, p. 14.
6. Horneck, Pt. ii, p. 316.]
In America the same evidence is found. At Hartford, 1662, 'Robert Sterne testifieth as followeth: I saw this woman goodwife Seager in ye woods with three more women and with them I saw two black creatures like two Indians but taller'; and Hugh Crosia 'sayd ye deuell opned ye dore of eben booths hous made it fly open and ye gate fly open being asked how he could tell he sayd ye deuell apeered to him like a boye and told him hee ded make them fly open and then ye boye went out of his sight.' Elizabeth Knap at Groton, 1671, 'was with another maid yt boarded in ye house, where both of them saw ye appearance of a mans head and shoulders, wth a great white neckcloath, looking in at ye window, which shee hath since confessed, was ye Devill coming to her.--One day as shee was alone in a lower roome she looked out of ye window, and saw ye devill in ye habit of an old man, coming over a great meadow.' At Salem, 1692, Mary Osgood saw him as a black man who presented a book; and Mary Lacey described him as a black man in a high-crowned hat.
The evidence suggests that an important part of the Devil's costume was the head-covering, which he appears to have worn both in and out of doors. Though the fact is not of special interest in itself, it may throw light on one of the possible origins of the cult.
In 1576 Bessie Dunlop met Thom Reid, who was clearly the Devil; he was 'ane honest wele elderlie man, gray bairdit, and had ane gray coitt with Lumbart slevis of the auld fassoun; ane pair of gray brekis and quhyte schankis, gartanit aboue the kne; ane blak bonet on his heid, cloise behind and plane befoir, with silkin laissis drawin throw the lippis thairof.' At North Berwick in 1590, 'the deuell, cled in a blak gown with a blak hat vpon his head, preachit vnto a gret nomber of them.' Another description of the same event shows that 'the Devil start up in the pulpit, like a mickle black man clad in a black tatie gown; and an evil-favoured scull-bonnet on his head'. At Aberdeen in 1597 Ellen Gray described the
[1. Taylor, pp. 81, 118.
2. Green, pp. 9, 14.
3. Howell, vi, 660, 664; J. Hutchinson, ii, pp. 31, 37.
4. Pitcairn, i, pt. ii, p. 51.
5. Melville, p. 395.
7. Pitcairn, i, pt. ii, p. 246. Spelling modernized.]
Devil as 'ane agit man, beirdit, with a quhyt gown and a thrummit hat'. 'In 1609, in the Basses-Pyrénées, when the Devil appeared as a goat, 'on luy voit aussi quelque espece de bonet ou chapeau au dessus de ses cornes.' The Alloa Coven in 1658 spoke of 'a man in broun clathis and ane blak hat'; and on two occasions of 'a young man with gray cloathis and ane blew cap'. In 1661 Janet Watson of Dalkeith 'was at a Meitting in Newtoun-dein with the Deavill, who had grein cloathes vpone him, and ane blak hatt vpone his head'.' Five members of the Coven at Crook of Devon in 1662 spoke of the Devil's head-gear: 'Sathan was in the likeness of a man with gray cloathes and ane blue bannet, having ane beard. Ane bonnie young lad with ane blue bonnet. Ane uncouth man with black clothes with ane hood on his head. Sathan had all the said times black coloured cloathes and ane blue bonnet being an unkie like man. Ane little man with ane blue bonnet on his head with rough gray cloathes on him." In 1662 in Connecticut Robert Sterne saw 'two black creatures like two Indians, but taller'; I as he was at a little distance it is probable that he took a plumed or horned head-dress to be the same as the Indian head-gear. In Belgium in 1664 Josine Labyns saw the Devil wearing a plumed hat. In Somerset in 1665 Mary Green said that when he met the witches 'the little Man put his hand to his Hat, saying How do ye, speaking low but big'. At Torryburn Lilias Adie said that the light was sufficient to 'shew the devil, who wore a cap covering his cars and neck'. In Sweden in 1670 the Devil came 'in a gray Coat, and red and blue Stockings, he had a red Beard, a high-crown'd Hat, with Linnen of divers colours wrapt about, and long Garters upon his Stockings'. At Pittenweem in 1670 the young lass Isobel Adams saw the Devil as 'a man in black cloaths with a hat on his head, sitting at the table' in Beatty Laing's house."
[1. Spalding Club Misc., i, p. 127.
2. De Lancre, Tableau, p. 68.
3. Scottish Antiquary, ix, pp. 50, 51.
4. Pitcairn, iii, p. 601.
5. Burns Begg, pp. 221, '223, 234, 235, 239.
6. Taylor, p. 81.
7. Cannaert, p. 60.
8. Glanvil, pt. ii, p. 164.
9. Chambers, iii, p. 298.
10. Glanvil, pt. ii, p. 316.
11. Sinclair, p. lxxxix.]
The Queen of Elphin, or Elfhame, is sometimes called the Devil, and it is often impossible to distinguish between her and the Devil when the latter appears as a woman. Whether she was the same as the French Reine du Sabbat is equally difficult to determine. The greater part of the evidence regarding the woman-devil is from Scotland.
In 1576 Bessie Dunlop's evidence shows that Thom Reid, who was to her what the Devil was to witches, was under the orders of the Queen of Elfhame:
'Interrogat, Gif sche neuir askit the questioun at him, Quhairfoir he com to hir mair [than] ane vthir bodye? Ansuerit, Remembring hir, quhen sche was lyand in childbed-lair, with ane of her laiddis, that ane stout woman com in to hir, and sat doun on the forme besyde hir, and askit ane drink at her, and sche gaif hir; quha alsua tauld hir, that that barne wald de, and that hir husband suld mend of his seiknes. The said Bessie ansuerit, that sche remembrit wele thairof; and Thom said, That was the Quene of Elfame his maistres, quha had commandit him to wait vpoun hir, and to do hir gude. Confessit and fylit.'
In 1588 Alison Peirson 'was conuict for hanting and repairing with the gude nychtbouris and Quene of Elfame, thir diuers 3eiris bypast, as scho had confest be hir depositiounis, declaring that scho could nocht say reddelie how lang scho wes with thame; and that scho had freindis in that court quhilk wes of hir awin blude, quha had gude acquentence of the Quene of Elphane. And that scho saw nocht the Quene thir seuin 3eir.' In 1597 at Aberdeen Andro Man was accused that
'thriescoir yeris sensyne or thairby, the Devill, thy maister, come to thy motheris hous, in the liknes and scheap of a woman, quhom thow callis the Quene of Elphen, and was delyverit of a barne, as apperit to the their, thow confessis that be the space of threttie two yeris sensyn or thairby, thow begud to have carnall deall with that devilische spreit, the Quene of Elphen, on quhom thow begat dyveris bairnis, quhom thow hes sene sensyn . . . Thow confessis that the Devill, thy maister, quhom thow termes Christsonday, and
[1. Pitcairn, i, pt. ii, p. 56.
2. Id., i, pt. ii, p. 163.]
supponis to be ane engell, and Goddis godsone, albeit he hes a thraw by God, and swyis [sways] to the Quene of Elphen, is rasit be the speaking of the word Benedicite . . . Siclyk, thow affermis that the Quene of Elphen hes a grip of all the craft, bot Christsonday is the gudeman, and hes all power vnder God . . . Vpon the Ruidday in harvest, in this present yeir, quhilk fell on a Wedinsday, thow confessis and affermis, thow saw Christsonday cum out of the snaw in liknes of a staig, and that the Quene of Elphen was their, and vtheris with hir, rydand on quhyt haikneyes, and that thay com to the Binhill and the Binlocht, quhair thay vse commonlie to convene, and that thay quha convenis with thame kissis Christsonday and the Quene of Elphenis airss. Thow affermis that the quene is verray plesand, and wilbe auld and young quhen scho pleissis; scho mackis any kyng quhom scho pleisis, and lyis with any scho lykis'.
Another Aberdeen witch, Marion Grant, was accused in the same year and confessed, 'that the Devill, thy maister, quhome thow termes Christsonday, causit the dans sindrie tymes with him and with Our Ladye, quha, as thow sayes, was a fine woman, cled in a quhyt walicot'. In Ayrshire in 1605 Patrick Lowrie and Jonet Hunter were accused that they 'att Hallow-evin assemblit thame selffis vpon Lowdon-hill, quhair thair appeirit to thame ane devillische Spreit, in liknes of ane woman, and callit hir selff Helen Mcbrune'. In the Basses-Pyrénées in 1609, one could 'en chasque village trouuer vne Royne du Sabbat, que Sathan tenoit en delices com[m]e vne espouse priuilegiée'. At the witch-mass the worshippers 'luy baisent la main gauche, tremblans auec mille angoisses, & luy offrent du pain, des œufs, & de l'argent: & la Royne du Sabbat les reçoit, laquelle est assise à son costé gauche, & en sa main gauche elle tient vne paix ou platine, dans laquelle est grauée l'effigie de Lucifer, laquelle on ne baise qu'après l'auoir premièrement baisée à elle'. In 1613 the Lancashire witch, Anne Chattox, made a confused statement as to the sex of the so-called spirits; it is however quite possible that the confusion is due to the recorder, who was accustomed to consider all demons as male: 'After their eating, the Deuill called
[1. Spalding Club Misc., pp. 119-21.
2. Id., i, p. 171.
3. Pitcairn, ii, p. 478.
4. De Lancre, L'Incredulité, p. 36.
5. Id., Tableau, p. 401.]
Fancie, and the other Spirit calling himselfe Tibbe, carried the remnant away: And she sayeth that at their said Banquet, the said Spirits gaue them light to see what they did, and that they were both shee Spirites and Diuels.' In 1618 at Leicester Joan Willimott 'saith, that shee hath a Spirit which shee calleth Pretty, which was giuen vnto her by William Berry of Langholme in Rutlandshire, whom she serued three yeares; and that her Master when he gaue it vnto her, willed her to open her mouth, and hee would blow into her a Fairy which should doe her good; and that shee opened her mouth, and he did blow into her mouth; and that presently after his blowing, there came out of her mouth a Spirit, which stood vpon the ground in the shape and forme of a Woman, which Spirit did aske of her her Soule, which she then promised vnto it, being willed thereunto by her Master.' William Barton was tried in Edinburgh about 1655:
'One day, says he, going from my own house in Kirkliston, to the Queens Ferry, I overtook in Dalmeny Muire, a young Gentlewoman, as to appearance beautiful and comely. I drew near to her, but she shunned my company, and when I insisted, she became angry and very nyce. Said I, we are both going one way, be pleased to accept of a convoy. At last after much entreaty she grew better natured, and at length came to that Familiarity, that she suffered me to embrace her, and to do that which Christian ears ought not to hear of. At this time I parted with her very joyful. The next night, she appeared to him in that same very place, and after that which should not be named, he became sensible, that it was the Devil. Here he renounced his Baptism, and gave up himself to her service, and she called him her beloved, and gave him this new name of Iohn Baptist, and received the Mark.'
At Forfar in 1662 Marjorie Ritchie 'willingly and friely declared that the divill appeired to her thrie severall tymes in the similitud of a womane, the first tyme in on Jonet Barrie's house, the second tyme whyle she was putting vp lint in the companie of the said Jonet, and that the divill did take her by the hand at that tyme, and promised that she should never
[1. Potts, B 4.
2. Wonderful Discovery of Margaret and Phillip Flower, p. 117.
3. Sinclair, p. 160.]
want money; and therafter that the divill appeired to her in the moiss of Neutoune of Airly, wher and when she did renunce her baptism'. In 1670 Jean Weir, sister of the notorious Major Weir, gave an account of how she entered the service of the Devil; the ceremony began as follows: 'When she keeped a school at Dalkeith, and teached childering, ane tall woman came to the declarants hous when the childering were there; and that she had, as appeared to her, ane chyld upon her back, and on or two at her foot; and that the said woman desyred that the declarant should imploy her to spick for her to the Queen of Farie, and strik and battle in her behalf with the said Queen (which was her own words).' Among the Salem witches in 1692, this Rampant Hag, Martha Carrier, was the person, of whom the Confessions of the Witches, and of her own Children among the rest, agreed, That the Devil had promised her, she should be Queen of Hell.'
As it is certain that the so-called 'Devil' was a human being, sometimes disguised and sometimes not, the instances in which these persons can be identified are worth investigating. In most cases these are usually men, and the names are often given, but it is only in the case of the Devil of North Berwick that the man in question is of any historic importance; the others are simply private individuals of little or no note.
Elizabeth Stile of Windsor, in 1579, gives a description of Father Rosimond's changes of form, which points to his being the Chief of the Windsor witches: 'She confesseth, her self often tymes to haue gon to Father Rosimond house where she founde hym sittyng in a Wood, not farre from thence, vnder the bodie of a Tree, sometymes in the shape of an Ape, and otherwhiles like an Horse.' In the reign of Elizabeth, 1584, there is a list of eighty-seven suspected persons, among whom occur the names of 'Ould Birtles the great devil, Roger Birtles and his wife and Anne Birtles, Darnally the sorcerer, the oulde
[1. Kinloch, p. 144.
2. Law, p. 27 note.
3. Cotton Mather, p. 159.
4. Rehearsall both straung and true, par. 24.]
witche of Ramsbury, Maud Twogood Enchantress, Mother Gillian witch' and several other 'oulde witches'. The account by John Stearne the pricker, in 1645, indicates that one of the magistrates of Fenny Drayton was the local Devil: 'Some will say, It is strange they should know when they should be searched, if it be kept private. I answer, Let it be kept never so private, it hath been common, and as common as any other thing, as they themselves have confessed: for so did they of Fenny-Drayton in Cambridge-shire, who made very large Confessions, as, that the devil told them of our coming to town.' One of the clearest cases, however, is that of Marsh of Dunstable in 1649, 'whom Palmer confessed to be head of the whole Colledge of Witches, that hee knows in the world: This Palmer hath been a witch these sixty years (by his own confession) long enough to know and give in the totall summe of all the conjuring conclave, and the Society of Witches in England."
In Scotland a certain number of identifications are also possible. Alison Peirson, tried in 1588, learnt all her charms and obtained all her knowledge from the Devil, who came to her in the form of Mr. William Sympson, her mother's brother's son, who was a great scholar and doctor of medicine in Edinburgh. Jonet Stewart in 1597 'learnt her charms from umquhill Michaell Clark, smyth in Laswaid, and fra ane Italean strangear callit Mr. John Damiet, ane notorious knawin Enchanter and Sorcerer'. In the trial of Marion Pardon of Hillswick in 1644 'it was given in evidence that a man spoke of the devil as Marion Pardon's pobe, i.e. nurse's husband or foster father'. In a case tried at Lauder in 1649 there is an indication that one of the magistrates was the Chief of the witches; Robert Grieve accused a certain woman at a secret session of the court, 'but the Devil came that same night unto her, and told her that Hob Grieve had fyled her for a witch'. Isobel Ramsay in 1661 was accused that 'you had ane uther meiting wt the devill in yor awne hous in the liknes of yor awne
[1. Calendar of State Papers. Domestic, 1584, p. 220.
2. Stearne, p. 45.
3. Gerish, The Divell's Delusions, p. 11
4. Pitcairn, i, pt. ii, pp. 161-4.
5. Id., ii, pp. 26-7.
6. Hibbert, p. 578.
7. Sinclair, p. 48.]
husband as you wes lying in yor bed at qch tyme you engadged to be his servant and receaved a dollar from him'. When a man had special knowledge as to which women were witches,, it is suggestive that he might be himself the Devil; as in the case of the Rev. Allan Logan, who 'was particularly knowing in the detection of witches. At the administration of the communion, he would cast his eye along, and say: "You witch wife, get up from the table of the Lord", when some poor creature would rise and depart.'
It seems probable that the infamous Abbé Guibourg was the head of the Paris witches, for it was he who celebrated the 'black mass' and performed the sacrifice of a child, both of which were the duties of the 'Devil'.
At Salem also the account given by the witches of the Rev. George Burroughs points to his filling the office of 'Devil', for he was 'Head Actor at some of their Hellish Randezvouses, and one who had the promise of being a King in Satan's kingdom.--He was the person who had Seduc'd and Compell'd them into the snares of Witchcraft'. That Burroughs was a religious person is no argument against his being also the 'Devil' of Salem. Apart from the well-known psychological fact that a certain form of religious feeling can exist at the same time as the propensity to and practice of sexual indulgence, there is proof that many of the witches were outwardly religious according to the tenets of Christianity. So many Christian priests were also followers of the witch-religion that the Inquisitors of the sixteenth century were greatly exercised in their minds as to how to deal with the offender. Antide Colas confessed that she attended the midnight mass on Christmas Eve, then went to a witch meeting, and returned to the church in time for the mass at dawn on Christmas morning. At Ipswich in 1645 'Mother Lakeland hath been a professour of Religion, a constant hearer of the Word for these many years, and yet a witch (as she confessed) for the space of near twenty years'. The best-known case
[1. From the record in the Justiciary office, Edinburgh.
2. Chambers, iii, p. 299.
3. Ravaisson, 1679, pp. 334-6.
4. Mather, pp. 120, 125; J. Hutchinson, History, ii, pp. 37 seq.
5. Boguet, p. 125.
6. Lawes against Witches and Conivration, p. 7.]
of the kind is that of Major Weir in Edinburgh in 1670, whose outward appearance tallies with the usual descriptions of the Devil, and whose conduct is only explainable on the supposition that he actually was the Chief of the witches: 'His garb was still a cloak, and somewhat dark, and he never went without his staff. He was a tall black man, and ordinarily looked down to the ground; a grim countenance, and a big nose.' His reputation for piety was so great that a woman, who had actually seen him commit an offence against the criminal law, was flogged for mentioning the fact and thus defaming a man of such extreme and well-established piety. He was tried as a witch on his own unsolicited confession, and was burnt together with his staff, dying 'impenitent' and renouncing all hope of a Christian heaven. The most interesting case historically, however, is that of the Devil of the North Berwick witches (1590). The number of people involved was thirty-nine, i.e. three Covens; but though the names of all were known, only four were tried. The records are given in considerable detail, and the identification of the Chief is therefore possible.
The character of the accused in this case is of great importance when considering the evidence. Nothing more unlike the conventional idea of witches can well be imagined than the man and women who were arraigned on that occasion Agnes Sampson, the wise wife of Keith, was 'a woman not of the base and ignorant sort of Witches, but matron-like, grave and settled in her answers, which were all to some purpose'. John Fian, or Cunynghame, was a schoolmaster, therefore a man of education; Effie McCalyan, the daughter of Lord Cliftonhall, was a woman of family and position; Barbara Napier was also of good family. These were clearly the moving spirits of the band, and they were all persons capable of understanding the meaning and result of their actions.
The accusation against the witches was that they had met together to plot the murder of the King and Queen by witchcraft. The trial therefore was on a double charge, Witchcraft
[1. Wilson, ii, p. 158.
2. The trials are published by Pitcairn, i, pt. ii.]
and high treason, and both charges had to be substantiated. Keeping in mind Lord Coke's definition of a witch as 'a person who has conference with the Devil to take counsel or to do some act', it is clear that the fact of the Devil's bodily presence at the meetings had to be proved first, then the fact of the 'conference', and finally the attempts at murder. The reports of the trial do not, however, differentiate these points in any way, and the religious prepossession of the recorders colours every account. It is therefore necessary to take the facts without the construction put upon them by the natural bias of the Christian judges and writers. The records give in some detail the account of several meetings where the deaths of the King and Queen were discussed, and instructions given and carried out to effect that purpose. At each meeting certain ceremonies proper to the presence of the Grand Master were performed, but the real object of the meeting was never forgotten or even obscured.
The actual evidence of the affair was given by Agnes Sampson (also called Anny Simpson or Tompson), John Fian, Euphemia or Effie McCalyan, and Barbara Napier. As it was a case of high treason, the two leaders, Sampson and Fian, were tortured to force them to divulge the name of the prime mover. Both these two and Effie McCalyan were condemned and executed; Barbara Napier, equally guilty according to the evidence but more fortunate in her jurors, was released; for which action the jurors themselves were subsequently tried.
Though the means used by the witches may seem ridiculous, the murderous intention is very clear. First they performed incantations to raise a storm to wreck the Queen's ship on her way to Scotland, and the storm which actually arose very nearly effected their purpose. As it failed, however, they betook themselves to the accredited method of melting a waxen image, but they were also ready to use poisons, which were to their minds the most virulent that could be prepared.
I have arranged the evidence so as to make as far as possible a consecutive narrative of the occurrences.
John Fian, tried December 26, 1590. The first items relate to his consulting with the Devil and working witchcraft.
7. Item, Fylit, for the rasing of wyndis att the Kingis passing to Denmark, and for the sending of ane letter to Marioun Linkup in Leyth, to that effect, bidding hir to meit him and the rest, on the see, within fyve dayes; quhair Satan delyuerit ane catt out of his hand to Robert Griersoune, gevand the word to 'Cast the same in the see hola!': And thaireftir, being mountit in a schip, and drank ilk ane to otheris, quhair Satane said, 'ye shall sink the schip ', lyke as thay thocht thay did. 8. Item, Fylit, for assembling him selff with Sathane, att the Kingis returning to Denmark; quhair Satan promeist to raise ane mist, and cast the Kingis Majestie in Ingland.
Agnes Sampson, tried January 27, 1591. The first part of the dittay is entirely occupied with her conferences with the devil and her healing the sick by his advice. 40. Item, fylit and convict, of the delyuerie of ane letter, quhilk John Fiene, clerk, maid in George Mutis bak[e] hous in the Pannis, accumpaneit with the gudwyff of the hous, Gelie Duncan [and eight others], quha convenit thair for rasing of storme, to stay the Quene's hame cuming to Scotland; eftir consultatioun, quhether Gelie Duncan or Bessie Thomsoun wes meitest to send the letter with; and concludit to send thc said Gelie, quhilk letter wes send to Marioun Lenchop in Leyth. The effect quhairoff is this: Marioun Lenchop, ye sall warne the rest of the sisteris, to raise the wind this day, att eleavin houris, to stay the Quenis cuming in Scotland. Lyke as they that wer convenit at the Pannis sould do their part be-eist; and to meit thame that wer in the Pannis; and att thair meting, thay sould mak the storme vniversall thro the see. [Then follows the method of doing this by casting in a cat.]
[From Newes from Scotland.] The said Agnis Tompson(Sampson) confessed, that the Divell, being then at North Barrick Kirke attending their comming, in the habit or likenesse of a man . . . and having made his ungodly exhortations, wherein be did greatly inveigh against the King of Scotland, he received their oathes for their good and true service towards him, and departed; which done, they returned to sea, and so home again. At which time, the witches demaunded of the Divell, 'why he did beare such hatred to the Kinge?' who aunswered, 'By reason the King is the greatest enemie hee hath in the world.' All which their confessions and depositions are still extant upon record.
Barbara Napier, tried May 8, 1591. Released. Assisors tried June 7, and acquitted. The said Barbara was accusit, that scho gaif hir presens, in the maist develisch and tressonabill Conventioune, haldin be hir and hir complices in the Divellis name, vpoune Lambmes-ewin last, att the New-heavin callit Aitchesounes-heavin, betuix Musselburcht and Prestonpannis, sin his Majestie come furth of Denmark; quhair war assemblit nyne principallis, to witt, Agnes Sampsoune, Jonett Straittoun, Ewfame McCalyeane, hir selff, Johne Fiene, Robert Griersoun, George Moitis wyffe in Prestoune, Margrett Thomsoune, and Donald Robesoune; quhilkis nyne persounes, the Devill, quha wes with thame in liknes of ane blak man, thocht maist meit to do the turne for the quhilk thay wer convenit; and thairfore, he sett thame nyne nerrest to him selff, in ane cumpany; and thay, togidder with the wyffe of Saltoune myle and the rest of the inferiouris, to the nowmer of threttie persounes, standand skairse the lenth of ane buird frae the foirsaid nyne persounes in ane vthir cumpany; Agnes Sampsoune proponit the distructioune of his hienes persoune, saying to the Dewill, 'We haif ane turne ado, and we would fain be att itt gif we could, and thairfore help ws to itt'. The Dewill ansuerit, he sould do quhat he could, bott it wald be lang to, because it wald be thoirterit [thwarted], and he promeist to hir and thame ane pictour of walx, and ordenit hir and thame to hing, roist, and drop ane taid, and to lay the droppis of the taid [mixed with other supposedly virulent poisons], in his hienes way, quhair his Maiestie wald gang inowre or outowre, or in ony passage quhair itt mycht drop vpoun his hienes heid or body, for his hienes disttuctioune, that ane vther mycht haif rewlit in his Maiesties place, and the ward [government] mycht haif gane to the Dewill. Att the quhilk conventioune, his hienes name wes pronunceit in Latine; and Agnes Sampsoune wes appointit to mak the pictour and to gif it to the Devill to be inchantit, quhilk scho maid in deid, and gaif itt to him; and he promiseit to giff it to the said Barbara and to Effie McCalyan, att the nixt meting to be roistit. Margarett Thomsoun was appointit to dropp the taid. There wes ane appointit to seik sum of his hienes linning claithes, to do the turne with.
Agues Sampson, continued. Anny Sampsoun affirmed that sche, in company with nyn vthers witches, being convenit in the nycht besyd Prestounpannes, the deuell ther maister being present standing in the midis of thame; ther a body of wax, schaipen and maid be the said Anny Sampsoun, wrappit within a lynnyng claith, was fyrst delyuerit to the deuell quhilk efter he had prontincit his verde, delyuerit the said pictour to Anny Sampsoun, and sche to hir nyxt marrow, and sa euery ane round about, saying, 'This is King James the sext, ordonit to be consumed at the instance of a noble
[1. There were present on this occasion thirty-nine persons, or three Covens. See chap. vii on the Organization.]
man Francis Erle Bodowell! Efterwart again, at ther meting be nycht at the kirk of Northberick, wher the deuell, cled in a blak gown with a blak hat vpon his head, preachit vnto a gret nomber of them out of the pulpit, having lyk leicht candles rond about him. The effect of his language was till knaw, what skaith they had done, whow many they had won to ther oppinion sen their last meting, what succes the melting of the pictour had tane, and sic vain toyes. And because ane auld sely pure plowman, callit Grey Meill, chancit to say that 'nathing ailit the King yet, God be thankit' the deuell gaif him a gret blaw. Then dyuers amang them enterit in a raisonyng, maruelling that all ther deuelleric culd do na harm to the King, as it did till others dyuers. The deuell answer-it, 'Il est vn home de Dieu'.
Euphemia McCalyan, tried June 9, 1591, executed (burnt alive) June 25, 1591. Evidence was first given as to her practising witchcraft and consorting with well-known witches. Item, indyttit and accusit, of the conventicle had att North Berwick Kirk, tuentie dayes before Michelmas, 1590; and thair inquyring for the Kings pictour, gewin by Annie Sampsoun to the Dewill, to be inchantit, for the tressonabill distructioun of the King. Item, indyttit and accusit, for being att ane Conventioun haldin at the New Heaven callit the Fayrie-hoillis, att Lambmes last wes, to the effect immediatlie aboue writtin. Item, Indytit and accusit, for an Conventioun halden by yow and utheris notorious Wichis, youre associattis, att the Brwme-hoillis, quhair yow and thay tuik the sea, Robert Griersoun being your admerell and Maister-manne. [Then comes the recital of the magical means used to raise a tempest], quhairby the Quene wes putt back be storme. Item, Indytit, for consulting with the said Annie Sampsoun, Robert Griersoun, and diuers vtheris Wichis, for the tressonabill staying of the Quene's hame-cuming, be storme and wind; and rasing of storme, to that effect; or ellis to haif drownit hir Majestie and hir cumpany, be coniuring of cattis and casting of thame in the sea, at Leith, at the bak of Robert Griersounis hous.
Barbara Napier, continued. And siclyke, the said Barbara was accusit, that sche gaif hir bodelie presens vpoun Alhallow-ewin last was, 1590 yeiris, to the frequent conuentioune haldin att the Kirk of North-Berwick, quhair sche dancit endlang
[1. Bannatyne Club, Melville, Memoirs, p. 395. The sycophantic Melville adds, 'And certanly he is a man of God, and dois na wrang wittingly, bot is inclynit to all godlynes, justice and virtu; therfore God hes preserued him in the midis of many dangers.']
the Kirk-yaird, and Gelie Duncan playit on ane trump, Johnne Fiene missellit [muffled] led the ring; Agnes Sampsoun and hir dochteris and all the rest following the said Barbara, to the nowmer of sevin scoir of persounes. . . . And the Devill start vp in the pulpett, lyke ane mekill blak man, haifand ane blak buik in his hand, callit on ewerie ane of thame, desyring thame all to be guid serwandis to him, and he sould be ane guid maister to thame. Robert Griersoun and Johne Fian stuid on his left hand; and the said Robert ffand grit fault with the Dewill, and cryit out, that all quhilkis wer besyd mycht heir, becaus his hienes pictour was nocht gewin thame, as wes promesit; the said Effie McCalyan remembrand and bid[d]and the said Robert Griersoun to speir for the pictour, meaning his Maiesties pictour, quhilk sould have been roistit. Robert Griersoun said thir wordis, 'Quhair is the thing ye promiseit? meaning the pictour of walx, dewysit for roisting and vndoing his hienes persoune, quhilk Agnes Sampsoune gaif to him; and Robert cryit to 'haif the turne done'; yit his hienes name was nocht nameit, quhill thay that wer wernen nameit him; craifand in playne termes his hienes pictour. Bot he ansuerit, 'It sould be gottin the nixt meitting; and he wald hald the nixt assemblie for that caus the soner: It was nocht reddie at that tyme.' Robert Griersoune ansuerit, 'Ye promiseit twyis and begylit ws.' And four honest-like wemene wer very ernist and instant to haif itt. And the said Barbara and Effie McCalyane gatt than ane promeis of the Dewill, that his hienes pictour sould be gottin to thame twa, and that rycht sone: And this mater of his hienes pictour was the caus of that assemblie.
This ends the evidence of the witches; the point to be proved now is the identity of the man whom they believed in and obeyed as God incarnate.
In all cases of murder or attempted murder it is necessary to find the person who would benefit, for murder is differentiated from manslaughter by the fact that it is deliberately planned and that it is done for a motive. In the case of the witches of North Berwick, the man who instigated the meetings, and to whom consequently suspicion points, was Francis Stewart Earl of Bothwell. His position as regards both the King and the witches must therefore be investigated.
Francis, afterwards Earl of Bothwell, was the eldest son of John Stewart and Jane Hepburn, sister of that Earl of Bothwell whom Mary Queen of Scots married. Francis succeeded his maternal uncle in title and estates. His father, Lord John Stewart, was an illegitimate son of James V. The Pope, however, legitimized all the natural children of James V; and Mary, after her accession, granted letters of legitimation to her two half-brothers, John Stewart, and James, afterwards the Regent Moray. John was slightly the elder of the two, and had he been legitimate would have been the heir to the exclusion of Mary. The Regent Moray left only daughters, whereas John Stewart had several sons, of whom Francis was the eldest. Francis might therefore claim to be the next heir male to the throne of Scotland, and possibly of England, had James VI died without children. James's own opinion of the matter is shown in his speech to his Parliament in 1592, when he denounced Bothwell as an aspirant to the throne, although he was 'but a bastard, and could claim no title to the crown'. Bothwell, however, was himself no bastard, though his father was. But the significance of the witches' attempt, as well as the identity of the chief personage at their meeting, is given in Barbara Napier's evidence as to the reason for the attempted murder of the King, 'that another might have ruled in his Majesty's place, and the government might have gone to the Devil'. By changing the title 'the Devil' by which he was known to the witches, to the title 'Earl of Bothwell' by which he was known outside the community, the man and the motive are manifest. This hypothesis is borne out by the contemporary accounts.
The trial of the witches created a great stir, and Bothwell's name was freely coupled with the witches'. He denied all complicity; this was only natural, as confession would have meant an acknowledgement of high treason. But his followers might have betrayed him. The two leaders, Agnes Sampson and John Fian, were tortured. Sampson admitted that the wax image was made at the instance of Francis, Earl of Bothwell; an admission sufficiently damning, but beyond that she would say nothing. The real danger to Bothwell lay in Fian. Under torture he made admissions and signed a confession in the presence of the King. He was then
[1. Reg. Mag. Sig. Scot., No. 565, Feb. 7, 1550/1.]
'by the maister of the prison committed to ward, and appointed to a chamber by himselfe; where, foresaking his wicked wayes, acknowledging his most ungodly lyfe, shewing that he had too much folowed the allurements and enticements of Sathan, and fondly practised his conclusions, by conjuring, witchcraft, inchantment, sorcerie, and such like, hee renounced the Devill and all his wicked workes, vowed to lead the lyfe of a Christian, and seemed newly converted to God. The morrow after, upon conference had with him, he granted that the Devill had appeared unto him in the night before, appareled all in blacke, with a white wande in his hande; and that the Devill demaunded of him, "If hee woulde continue his faithfull service, according to his first oath and promise made to that effect": Whome (as hee then saide) he utterly renounced to his face, and said unto him in this manner, "Avoide! Sathan, avoide! for I have listned too much unto thee, and by the same thou hast undone me; in respect whereof I utterly forsake thee". To whome the Devill answered, that "once ere thou die thou shalt bee mine". And with that (as he sayd) the Devill brake the white wand, and immediately vanished foorth of his sight. Thus, all the daie, this Doctor Fian continued verie solitarie, and seemed to have a care of his owne soule, and would call uppon God, showing himselfe penitent for his wicked life; neverthelesse, the same night, hee found such meanes that he stole the key of the prison doore and chamber in which he was, which in the night hee opened and fled awaie to the Saltpans, where hee was alwayes resident, and first apprehended. Of whose sodaine departure, when the Kings Majestie had intelligence, hee presently commanded diligent inquirie to bee made for his apprehension; and for the better effecting thereof hee sent publike proclamations into all partes of his lande to the same effect. By means of whose hot and harde pursuite he was agayn taken, and brought to prison; and then, being called before the Kings Highnes, hee was reexamined, as well touching his departure, as also touching all that had before happened. But this Doctor, notwithstanding that his owne confession appeareth, remaining in recorde under his owne hande writting, and the same thereunto fixed in the presence of the Kings Majestie and sundrie of his Councell, yet did hee utterly denie the same. Whereupon the Kings Majestie, perceiving his stubborne wilfulnesse, conceived and imagined, that in the time of his absence, hee had entered into newe conference and league with the Devill his maister'. [Fian was then subjected to the most horrible tortures that could be devised.] 'And notwithstanding all these grievous paines and cruel torments, hee would not confess anie thinges; so deeply had the Devill entered into his heart, that hee utterly denied all that which he before avouched; and would saie nothing thereunto, but this, that what hee had done and saide before, was onely done and sayde, for fear of paynes which he had endured'.
He continued steadfast and was executed at the Castle Hill. The character of Fian is perfectly consistent. Under torture he signed a confession, which confession might have implicated Bothwell. That night Bothwell himself, or one of his emissaries, obtained access to the prisoner and arranged for his escape. The wretched Fian was faced with death either way; if he retracted his confession, he would die as a criminal by the hands of the law; if he held to it, he would die as a traitor by the hands of his comrades. There was no alternative. All that day he 'continued verie solitarie', calling upon God, but by night he had made his choice and fled. He apparently escaped without difficulty. The story of his stealing the keys of his own cell and of the prison door is absurd; the escape was obviously effected by connivance just as later on Bothwell's own escape was effected. Fian went back to his own home, where, according to James's surmise, he had an interview with the Devil (i. e. Bothwell), and there he tamely waited till the officers of the law came and recaptured him. This tameness is not in keeping with the rest of his character. A man with sufficient courage and resource to get out of a strongly guarded prison would have made good his escape; an easy enough matter in those turbulent times. Fian then must have been retaken because he wished to be retaken. For fear of torture and in hope of pardon he signed the first confession, implicating Bothwell yet later he endured agonies of torture with the certainty of death rather than acknowledge one word which might lead to the discovery that James was bent upon. James's surmise was perhaps more than a mere guess; it was prompted by his knowledge of the facts. Fian had had an interview
[1. Newes from Scotland. Quoted in Pitcairn, i, pt. ii, pp. 213-23.
2. It is perhaps significant that the confession of John Fian, and the trials of both Barbara Napier and of Bothwell himself for witchcraft, have disappeared from the Justiciary Records.]
with his Master, whom he believed to be God Incarnate, ane like many a Christian martyr he atoned for the first betrayal by steadfast courage through cruel torment even to death.
Reading the accounts in the light of this supposition, it is seen that every one, including James, suspected Bothwell. Even if they did not acknowledge his divinity, they feared the magical powers which, as Chief of the Witches, he was supposed to wield. It is impossible to study the details of this period without realizing the extraordinary fear which James had of his cousin; it was fear with an underlying horror, totally different from his feeling towards his other turbulent subjects. When Bothwell, seeking pardon, was introduced into Holyrood Palace by Lady Athol in the early morning of July 24, 1593, he entered the King's chamber. James, always undignified, was caught in the middle of his morning toilet; he tried to run into the Queen's room, but the way was barred by Bothwell's friends and the door was locked. 'The king, seeing no other refuge, asked what they meant. Came they to seek his life? let them take it--they would not get his soul.' This remark, made in the urgency and excitement of the moment, is highly significant. Had Bothwell been, like many of James's other enemies, merely an assassin, James would not have spoken of his soul. But Bothwell as the Devil of the witches had the right to demand the yielding of the soul, and James was aware of the fact.
The birth of James's children removed Bothwell's hopes of succession; the power of the witch organization, of which he was the Chief, was broken by the death of its leaders. He had made a strong bid for power, he failed, fled the country, and finally died in poverty at Naples. There George Sandys the traveller heard of him: 'Here a certaine Calabrian hearing that I was an Englishman, came to me, and would needs perswade me that I had insight in magicke: for that Earle Bothel was my countryman, who liues at Naples, and is in those parts famous for suspected negromancie.'
The Devil being actually a human being, the letter of introduction
[1. Burton, V, p. 283.
2. Sandys, p. 250.]
to him, given by a man-witch to a would-be proselyte, becomes quite credible. It is worth quoting verbatim:
'Monseigneur, d'autant qu'il me faut retirer de la Religion des Chrestiens, afin que ie multiplie vostre party, duquel estant, il est raisonnable que ie vous glorifie et assemble tant de gens que ie pourray, ie vous enuoye ce porteur pour estre du nombre: c'est pourquoy ie vous prie de l'aider en ses amours.'
Satan's reply to the novice shows a distinctly human trace of temper:
'Vous autres Chrestiens vous estes perfides et obstinez: Quand vous auez quelque violent desir, vous vous departez de vostre maistre, et auez recours à moy: mais quand vostre desir est accompli, vous me tournez le dos comme à vn ennemi, et vous en retournez à vostre Dieu, lequel estant benin et clement, vous pardonne et reçoit volontiers. Mais fay moy vne promesse escrite et signee de ta main, par laquelle tu renonces volontairement ton Christ et ton Baptesme, et me promets que tu adhereras et seras auec moy iusqu'au iour du iugement; et apres iceluy tu te delecteras encore auec moy de souffrir les peines eternelles, et i'accompliray ton desir."
In many religions the disguising of the principal personage -whether god or priest-as an animal is well known. The custom is very ancient-such disguised human beings are found even among the palaeolithic drawings in France; and on a slate palette belonging to the late pre-dynastic period of Egypt there is a representation of a man disguised as a jackal and playing on a pipe. The ritual disguise as an animal is condemned, with great particularity, as devilish, in the Liber Poenitentialis of Theodore of the seventh century (see supra, p. 21), showing that it continued in force
[1. De Lancre, Tableau, pp. 176, 177.
2. Quibell, pl. xxviii. The palette itself is now in the Ashmolean museum,
after the conversion of England to an outward appearance of Christianity. From the analogy of other religions in which tile custom occurs, it would appear that it is a ritual for the promotion of fertility; the animal represented being either the sacred animal of the tribe or the creature most used for food.
The suggestion that the Devil was a man, wearing either an animal's skin or a mask in the form of an animal's head as a ritual disguise, accounts as nothing else can for the witches' evidence as to his appearance and his changes of form. A confusion, however, exists from the fact that the witches, and therefore the recorders, usually spoke of the familiars as the Devil; but in almost every case the disguised man can, on examination of the evidence, be distinguished from the animal familiar.
The animal forms in which the Devil most commonly appeared were bull, cat, dog, goat, horse, and sheep. A few curious facts come to light on tabulating these forms; i.e. The Devil appears as a goat or a sheep in France only; he is never found in any country as a hare, though this was the traditional form for a witch to assume; nor is lie found as a toad, though this was a common form for the familiar; the fox and the ass also are unknown forms; and in Western Europe the pig is an animal almost entirely absent from all the rites and ceremonies as well as from the disguises of the Devil.
The witches never admitted in so many words that the Devil was a man disguised, but their evidence points strongly to the fact. In some cases the whole body was disguised, in others a mask was worn, usually over the face. The wearing of the mask is indicated partly by descriptions of its appearance, and partly by the description of the Devil's voice. The Lorraine witches in 1589 said that the Devils 'können nimmermehr die Menschliche Stimme so aussdrücklich nachreden, dass man nicht leicht daran mercke, dass es eine gemachte falsche Stimme sey. Nicolaea Ganatia, und fast alle andere sagen, dass sie eine Stimme von sich geben, gleich denen, so den Kopff in ein Fass oder zerbrochenen Hafen stecken und daraus reden. Auch geben sie etwann eine kleine leise Stimme von sich.' The North Berwick Devil in 1590 was purposely disguised out of all recognition: ' The Devil start up in the pulpit, like a mickle black man, with a black beard sticking out like a goat's beard; and a high ribbed nose, falling down sharp like the beak of a hawk; with a long rumpill' [tail]. This was Barbara Napier's account; Agnes Sampson describes the same personage, 'The deuell caused all the company to com and kiss his ers, quhilk they said was cauld like yce; his body was hard lyk yrn, as they thocht that handled him; his faice was terrible, his noise lyk the bek of an egle, gret bournyng eyn: his handis and legis wer herry, with clawis vpon his handis and feit lyk the griffon, and spak with a how voice.' Boguet states that 'on demanda à George Gandillon, si lors qu'il fut sollicité par Sata[n] de se bailler à luy, Satan parloit distinctement. Il respondit que non, & qu'à peine pouuoit il comprendre ce qu'il disoit.' The evidence of the witches in the Basses-Pyrénées makes it clear that a disguise was worn, and that a mask was placed on the back either of the head or of the person; this also explains part of Agnes Sampson's evidence given above. The effect of the mask at the back of the head was to make the man appear two-faced, 'comme le dieu Janus'. In the other case 'le diable estoit en forme de bouc, avant vne queue, & au-dessoubs vn visage d'homme noir & n'a parole par ce visage de derriere.--Vne grande queüe au derriere, & vne forme de visage au dessoubs: duquel visage il ne profere aucune parole, ains luy sert pour donner à baiser à ceux qui bon luy semble.--Marie d'Aspilecute dit qu'elle le baisa à ce visage de derriere au dessoubs d'vne grande queüe; qu'elle l'y a baisé par trois fois, & qu'il auoit ce visage faict comme le museau d'vn bouc.--Bertrand de Handuch, aagee de dix ans, confessa que le cul du grad maistre auoit vn visage derriere, & c'estoit le visage de derriere qu'on baisoit, & non le cul.' The Devil of the Basses-Pyrénées evidently wore a mask over the face, for he had 'la voix effroyable & sans ton, quand il parle on diroit que cest vn mullet qui se met à braire, il a la voix
[1. Remigius, pt. i, p. 38.
2. Pitcairn, i, pt. ii, p. 246. Spelling modernized.
3. Melville, p. 395.
4. Boguet, p. 56.
5. De Lancre, Tableau, pp. 68, 73, 126.]
casse, la parole malarticulee, & peu intelligible, parcequ'il a tousiours la voix triste & enroüee'. On occasions also 'il quitoit la forme de Bouc, & prenoit celle d'homme'. In 1614 at Orleans Silvain Nevillon said 'qu'il vit à la cheminée vn homme noir duquel on ne voyoit pas la teste. Vit aussi vn grand homme noir a l'opposite de celuy de la cheminée, & que ledit hom[m]e noir parloit comme si la voix fut sortie d'vn poinson. Dit: Que le Diable dit le Sermo[n] au Sabbat, mais qu'on n'entend ce qu'il dit, parce qu'il parle com[m]e en gro[n]dant.' The devil who appeared to Joan Wallis, the Huntingdonshire witch, in 1649, was in the shape of a man dressed in black, but he 'was not as her husband, which speaks to her like a man, but he as he had been some distance from her when he was with her'. Thomazine Ratcliffe, a Suffolk witch, said that the Devil 'spoke with a hollow, shrill voyce'. According to Mary Green (1665) the Somerset Devil, who was a little man, 'put his hand to his Hat, saying, How do ye? speaking low but big'. In the same year Abre Grinset, another Suffolk witch, confessed that she met the Devil, who was in the form of 'a Pretty handsom Young Man, and spake to her with a hollow Solemn Voice'., John Stuart at Paisley (1678) said the Devil came to him as a black man, 'and that the black man's Apparel was black; and that the black man's Voice was hough and goustie'.
The coldness of the devil's entire person, which is vouched for by several witches, suggests that the ritual disguise was not merely a mask over the face, but included a covering, possibly of leather or some other hard and cold substance, over the whole body and even the hands. Such a disguise was apparently not always worn, for in the great majority of cases there is no record of the Devil's temperature except in the sexual rites, and even then the witch could not always say whether the touch of the Devil was warm or not. In 1565 the Belgian witch, Digna Robert, said the devil 'était froid dans tous ses membres'. In 1590, at North Berwick, 'he caused all the company to com and kiss his ers,
[1. De Lancre, Tableau, pp. 225, 398.
2. Id., L'1ncredulé, pp. 799-801.
3. Stearne, p. 13.
4. Id., p. 22.
5. Glanvil, pt. ii, p. 164.
6. Petto, p. 18.
7. Glanvil, pt. ii, pp. 294-5.
8. Cannaert, p. 54.]
quhilk they said was cauld lyk yce; his body was hard lyk yrn, as they thocht that handled him'. In 1598 Pierre Burgot, whose statement is quoted by several authors, 'a confessé, que le Diable luy donna à baiser sa main senestre, qui estoit noire, comme morte, & toute froide'. In 1609, in the Basses-Pyrénées, Isaac de Queyran, aged 25, said that he and others 'le baiserent à vne fesse qui estoit blanche & rouge, & auoit la forme d'vne grande cuisse d'vn homme, & estoit velue'. This shows the ritual disguise of the person and suggests the use of an animal's hide with the hair still attached. In 1645 the Essex witch Rebecca West said 'he kissed her, but was as cold as clay'. At Salisbury in 1653, when the witch Anne Bodenham persuaded Anne Styles to join the community, 'then appeared two Spirits in the likenesse of great Boyes, with long shagged black hair, and stood by her looking over her shoulder, and the Witch took the Maids forefinger of her right hand, and pricked it with a pin, and squeezed out the blood and put it into a Pen, and put the Pen in the Maids hand, and held her hand to write in a great book, and one of the Spirits laid his hand or Claw upon the Witches whilest the Maid wrote; and the Spirits hand did feel cold to the Maid as it touched her hand, when the witches hand and hers were together writing'. At Forfar in 1661 three of the witches agreed as to the coldness of the Devil; 'Elspet Alexander confesses that the divill kissed hir selfe that night and that it was ane cold kisse; Katheren Porter confesseth that the divill tooke hir by the hand, that his hand was cold; Isobell Smith confessed that he kissed hir and his mouth and breath were cold."; In 1662 the Crook of Devon witches were also in accord. Isabel Rutherford 'confesst that ye was at ane meeting at Turfhills, where Sathan took you by the hand and said "welcome, Isabel", and said that his hand was cold.--Margaret Litster confessed that Sathan took you be the hand and stayed the space of half an hour, Sathan having grey clothes and his hand cold.--Janet Paton confessed that Sathan asked you gif ye would be his servant, whilk ye did, and
[1. Melville, Memoirs, p. 395.
2. Boguet, pp. 53-4.
3. De Lancre, Tableau, p. 148.
4. Howell, iv, 842.
5. More, pp. 196-7.
6. Kinloch, pp. 115, 129,132.]
Sathan took you be the hand, and ye said that his hand was cold.' On the other hand Agnes Murie 'knew not whether his body was hot or cold'.' According to Isobel Gowdie at Auldearne in 1662, 'he was a meikle blak roch man, werie cold'; at Torryburn, Lilias Adie found his skin was cold'; and the Crighton witches in 1678 said, 'he was cold, and his breath was like a damp air'. In 1697 little Thomas Lindsay declared that 'Jean Fulton his Grand-mother awaked him one Night out of his Bed, and caused him take a Black Grimm Gentleman (as she called him) by the Hand; which he felt to be cold'.
The evidence as to the forms assumed by the Devil is tabulated here under each animal, each section being arranged in chronological order,
1. Bull.--In 1593 at Angers 'Michel des Rousseaux, agé de 50 ans, dict que ledict homme noir appellé Iupin se transforma aussitost en Bouc . . . et apres leur auoir baillé des boüetes de poudre, il se tra[n]sforma en Bouuard'. At Aberdeen in 1597 Marion Grant confessed that 'the Devill apperit to the, sumtyme in the scheap of a beist, and sumtyme in the scheap of a man'. Jonet Lucas of the same Coven said that the Devil was with them, 'beand in likenes of ane beist'. Agnes Wobster, also of the same Coven, acknowledged that 'thaireftir Satan apperit to the in the likenes of a calff, and spak to the in manner forsaid, and baid the be a gude servand to him'. In 1608 Gabriel Pellé confessed that he went with a friend to the Sabbath, where 'le Diable estoit en vache noire, & que cette vache noire luy fit renoncer Dieu'. De Lancre says that at Tournelle the Devil appeared 'parfois comme vn grand Bœuf d'airain couché à terre, comme vn Bœuf naturel qui se repose'. At Lille in 1661 the witches 'adored a beast with which they committed infamous things'.
[1. Burns Begg, pp. 219, 221, 228, 230.
2. Pitcairn, iii, p. 603.
3. Chambers, iii, 298.
4. Fountainhall, i, p. 14.
5. Narrative of the sufferings of a Young Girle, p. xli; Sadd. Debell., p. 40.
6. De Lancre, L'Incredulité, p. 769.
7. Spalding Club Misc., i, p. 12 9.
8. De Lancre, L'Incredulité, p. 794.
9. Id., Tableau, p. 68.
10. Bourignon, Parole, p. 87; Hale, p. 26.]
According to Isobel Gowdie in 1662, the Devil of Auldearne changed his form, or disguise, continually, 'somtym he vold be lyk a stirk, a bull, a deir, a rae, or a dowg'. [In the above, I have taken the word 'beast' in its usual meaning as an animal of the cattle tribe, but it is quite possible that the Lille beast, beste in the original, may have been a goat and not a bull. This seems likely from the fact that the sacrifice was by fire as in the other places where the Devil used the goat-disguise.]
2. Cat.--The earliest example of the cat-disguise is in the trial of the Guernsey witches in 1563, when Martin Tulouff confessed:
'q il y a viron ung quartier d'an passez q il soy trouva auvecqs de la Vieillesse aultreme[n]t dit Collenette Gascoing, en la rue fosse au Coully, là ou 1 y avoet chinq ou vi chatz, dou il y en avoet ung qui estoet noir, qui menoit la dance, et danssoient et luy dyst ladte Collenette, q il besait ledt Chat et dt q il estoet sur ses pieds plat, et que ladite Collenette le besa p de derriere, et luy p la crysse, et q fra[n]coize Lenouff sa mère y estoet et Collette Salmon fae de Collas du port, laqlle alloet deva[n]t et s'agenouillerent tos deva[n]t le Chat et l'adorere[n]t en luy bailla[n]t ler foy, et luy dist ladite Vieillesse q ledit Chat estoet le diable.'
Françoise Secretain, in 1598, saw the Devil 'tantost en forme de chat'. Rolande de Vernois said, 'Le Diable se presenta, pour lors au Sabbat en forme d'vn groz chat noir.' In 1652 another French witch confessed that 'il entra dans sa chambre en forme d'ung chat et se changea en la posture d'un home vestu de rouge', who took her to the Sabbath. Both the Devonshire witches, Mary Trembles and Susanna Edwards, in 1682, stated that they saw him as a lion, by which they possibly meant a large cat. In this connexion it is worth noting that in Lapland as late as 1767 the devil appeared 'in the likeness of a cat, handling them from their feet to their mouth, and counting their teeth'.
3. Dog.--At Chelmsford in 1556 Joan Waterhouse 'dydde as she had seene her mother doe, callynge Sathan, whiche
[1. Pitcairn, iii, p. 613.
2. From a trial in the Guernsey Greffe.
3. Boguet, pp. 8, 70, 411.
4. La Tradition, v (1891), p. 215.
5. Howell, viii, 1034, 1036.
6. Pinkerton, i, p. 473.]
came to her (as she sayd) in the lykenes of a great dogge'. In 1616 Barthélemy Minguet of Brécy was tried for witchcraft. 'Enquis, comme il a aduis quand le Sabbat se doit tenir. Respond, que c'est le Diable qui luy vient dire estant en forme de chien noir, faict comme vn barbet, parle à luy en ceste forme. Enquis, en quelle forme se met le Diable estant au Sabbat. Respond, qu'il ne l'a iamais veu autrement qu'en forme de barbet noir. Enquis, quelles ceremonies ils obseruent estant au Sabbat. Respond, que le Diable estant en forme de barbet noir (comme dessus est dit) se met tout droit sur les pattes de derriere, les preche', etc. In Guernsey in 1617, Isabel Becquet went to Rocquaine Castle, 'the usual place where the Devil kept his Sabbath; no sooner had she arrived there than the Devil came to her in the form of a dog, with two great horns sticking up: and with one of his paws (which seemed to her like hands) took her by the hand: and calling her by her name told her that she was welcome; then immediately the Devil made her kneel down: while he himself stood up on his hind legs; he then made her express detestation of the Eternal in these words: I renounce God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost; and then caused her to worship and invoke himself.' Barton's wife, about 1655, stated that 'one Night going to a dancing upon Pentland-hills, he went before us in the likeness of a rough tanny-Dog, playing on a pair of Pipes, and his tail played ey wig wag wig wag'. In 1658 an Alloa witch named Jonet Blak declared that he appeared to her first as 'a dog with a sowis head'. In 1661 Jonet Watson of Dalkeith said that 'the Deivill apeired vnto her, in the liknes of ane prettie boy, in grein clothes, and went away from her in the liknes of ane blak doug'. According to Marie Lamont of Innerkip in 1662, 'the devill in the likeness of a brown dog' helped to raise a storm., Margaret Hamilton, widow of James Pullwart of Borrowstowness in 1679, was accused that she met 'the devil in the likeness of a man, but he removed from you in the
[1. Witches of Chelmsford, p. 34; Philobiblon Soc., viii.
2. De Lancre, L'Incredulité p. 805.
3. Goldsmid, p. 12.
4. Sinclair, p. 163.
5. Scottish Antiquary, ix, 51.
5. Pitcairn, iii, p. 601.
7. Sharpe, p. 132.]
likeness of an black dog'. The Highland witches in the eighteenth century saw the devil as a dog; he was 'a large black ugly tyke', to whom the witches made obeisance; the dog acknowledged the homage 'by bowing, grinning, and clapping his paws'. In the case of the dog-disguise, there is again a similarity with Lapp beliefs and customs, the appearance of the Devil as a dog being not uncommon in Lapland.
4. Goat.--An interesting point as regards this form of disguise is that it does not occur in Great Britain, nor have I found it so far in Belgium. It prevailed chiefly in France, from which all my examples are taken. At Poictiers in 1574 'trois Sorciers & vne Sorciere declarent qu'ils estoyent trois fois l'an, à l'assemblée generale, où plusieurs Sorciers se, trouuoyent prés d'vne croix d'vn carrefour, qui seruoit d'enseigne. Et là se trouuoit vn grand bouc noir, qui parloit comme, vne personne aux assistans, & dansoyent à l'entour du bouc.' At Avignon in 1581 'when hee comes to be adored, he appeareth not in a humane forme, but as the Witches themselues haue deposed, as soone as they are agreed of the time that he is to mount vpon the altar (which is some rock or great stone in the fields) there to bee worshipped by them, hee instantly turneth himselfe into the forme of a great black Goate, although in all other occasions hee vseth to appeare in the shape of a man. In Lorraine in 1589 the Devil 'sich in einen zottelichten Bock verwandelt hat, und viel stärker reucht und übeler stinckt als immer ein Bock im Anfang des Frühlings thun mag'. In Puy de Dôme in 1594 Jane Bosdeau's lover took her to a meeting, and 'there appeared a great Black Goat with a Candle between his Horns'. In 1598 'Satan apres auoir prins la figure d'vn Bouc, se consume en feu'. In the Basses-Pyrénées in 1609:
'le Diable estoit en forme de bouc, ayant vne queue, & audessoubs vn visage d'homme noir, & n'a parole par ce visage
[1. Scots Magazine, 1814, p. 201. Spelling modernized.
2. Stewart, p. 175. The whole account is marred by the would-be comic style adopted by the author.
3. Pinkerton, i, p. 473.
4. Bodin, p. 187.
5. Michaelis, Discourse, p. 148.
6. Remigius, pt. i, p. 90.
7. F. Hutchinson, Historical Essay, p. 42.
8. Boguet, p. 141.]
de derriere.--Marie d'Aguerre dit qu'il y a vne grande cruche au milieu du Sabbat, d'où sort le Diable en forme de bouc.--D'autres disent qu'il est comme vn grand bouc, ayant deux cornes devant & deux en derriere; que celles de devant se rebrassent en haut comme la perruque d'vne femme. Mais le commun est qu'il a seulement trois cornes, & qu'il a quelque espece de lumiere en celle du milieu. On luy voit aussi quelque espece de bonet ou chapeau au dessus de ces cornes. On a obserué de tout temps que lorsqu'il veut receuoir quelcun à faire pacte auec luy, il se presente tousiours en homme, pour ne l'effaroucher ou effraier: car faire pacte auec vn Bouc ouuertement, tiendroit plus de la beste que de la creature raisonnable. Mais le pacte faict, lors qu'il veut receuoir quelqu'vn A l'adoration, communeme[n]t il se represente en Bouc.'
Silvain Nevillon confessed at Orleans in 1614 'qu'il a veu le Diable en plusieurs façons, tantost comme vn bouc, ayant vn visage deuant & vn autre derriere'.
5. Horse--I give here only the references to the Devil when actually disguised as a horse, but there are a very great number of cases where he appeared riding on a horse. These cases are so numerous as to suggest that the horse was part of the ritual, especially as the riding Devil usually occurs in places where an animal disguise was not used, e.g. in 1598, in Aberdeen, where Andro Man 'confessis that Crystsunday rydis all the tyme that he is in thair cumpanie'. The actual disguise as a horse is not common. Elizabeth Stile of Windsor in 1579 'confesseth, her self often tymes to haue gon to Father Rosimond house where she found hym sittyng in a Wood, not farre from thence, vnder the bodie of a Tree, sometymes in the shape of an Ape, and otherwhiles like an Horse'. Helen Guthrie in 1661 stated that when the Forfar witches were trying to sink a ship, 'the divell wes there present with them all, in the shape of ane great horse. They returned all in the same liknes as of befor, except that the divell wes in the shape of a man.' Mary Lacey of Salem in 1692 said that
[1. De Lancre, Tableau, pp. 67, 68, 69, 126.
2 Id., L'Incredulité, p. 800.
3. Spalding Club Misc., i, p. 125. Cp. Elworthy on the Hobby-horse as the Devil, Horns of Honour, p. 140.
4. Reehearsall both Straung and True, par. 24.
5. Kinloch, pp. 122-3.]
he appeared in the shape of a horse, 'I was in bed and the devil came to me and bid me obey him."
6. Sheep.--The sheep-disguise, which is perhaps a form of the goat, is usually found in France only. In 1453 'Guillaume Edeline, docteur en théologie, prieur de S. Germain en Laye, et auparavant Augustin, et religieux de certaines aultres ordres . . . confessa, de sa bonne et franche voulonté, avoir fait hommage audit ennemy en l'espèce et semblance d'ung mouton'. Iaquema Paget and Antoine Gandillon in 1598 said that 'il prenoit la figure d'vn mouton noir, portant des cornes'. In 1614 at Orleans Silvain Nevillon was induced to reveal all he knew; 'dit qu'il a veu le Diable en plusieurs façons, tantost comme vn bouc, ores comme vn gros mouton'.
The rarer animal disguises are the deer and the bear. Of these the deer is found at Aberdeen in 1597, Andro Man 'confessis and affermis, thow saw Christsonday cum owt of the snaw in liknes of a staig'; at Auldearne in 1662, 'somtym he vold be lyk a stirk, a bull, a deir, a rae, or a dowg'; at Hartford, Connecticut, 1662, Rebecca Greensmith said that 'the devil first appeared to her in the form of a deer or fawn'. The bear is still rarer, as I have found it only twice-once in Lorraine, and once in Lancashire. In 1589 'es haben die Geister auch etwann Lust sich in Gestalt eines Bären zu erzeigen'. In 1613 Anne Chattox declared that the Devil 'came vpon this Examinate in the night time: and at diuerse and sundry times in the likenesse of a Beare, gaping as though lie would haue wearied [worried] this Examinate. And the last time of all shee, this Examinate, saw him, was vpon Thursday last yeare but one, next before Midsummer day, in the euening, like a Beare, and this Examinate would not then speake vnto him, for the which the said Deuill pulled this Examinate downe.'
[1. Howell, vi, 663-4; J. Hutchinson, ii, pp. 36-7.
2. Chartier, iii, 44-5.
3. Boguet, p. 70.
4. De Lancre, L'Incredulité, p. 800.
5. Spalding Club Misc., i, p. 121.
6. Pitcairn, iii, p. 613.
7. Taylor, p. 98.
8. Remigius, p. 98.
9. Potts, E 3.]