The fifth Relation.
Being an account of a strange piece of W•thcraft on the body of the Wife of J. H. of Seavington, in the County of Somerset, and upon her Son, about 18 years of Age.
THis Woman had been the Wife of a Vicar belonging to the Quire of Winchester, and had been very honest∣ly and well educated, and lived in good reputation with her first husband, and during the time of her Widow-hood, when she taught a School of Girles in Winchester, which practice she continu∣ed in the Country when the Wife of J.H. And lived with him in modest and virtuous manner: She was then about 57. Years of Age, and had with her a Son by her former husband aged about 17. Years or upward. There lived in the vil∣lage at a house over against this School-Mistress, a woman that had been of Page 190 evil fame among the neighbours, and suspected of divers ill practices. The first apprehension that she had of any danger from the suspected party, was upon this occasion; the suspected agent came to the house of the School-Mis∣tress, and asked her to lend her a piece of small changing money, which she refused to do; whereupon the other told her that she knew she had such a piece about her, and it should be bet∣ter if she had lent it to her, so she de∣parted from the house muttering: In the evening the patient standing at the door of her house, saw a monstrous great Toad walking upon all four like a Cat, and coming from the house of the supposed, directly towards her; upon which she retired into the house, and desired her husband to get some Instrument, wherewithal to dispatch that monstrous vermin; as he was coming towards the door, he met with it in the entry, and before he had the power to strike at it, it rusht sudden∣ly into another room, and was never seen afterwards. That very night the School-Mistriss was taken in a most Tormenting Fit (though before she had still been a brisk healthy woman) with violent prickings and pains, as if Page 191 her inside had been stuck with pins, needles or thorns, insomuch that with the great Tortures of her body, abun∣dance of blood used to come from her in her Urine, which was very ob∣servable the first night. These Fits seized on her very frequently, some∣times twice or thrice in one day, sometimes whole days together: And it was very observable, that just be∣fore the coming of her fit, there would come into the Room a vast large Cat, after that another, and so till the num∣ber were seven, or nine; these would crawl about, and stick against the walls, making a dreadful yelling, hideous noise, and after they had continued about a quarter of an hour, they would suddenly disappear, when they were gone a mighty great light, like a flash of lightning, would strike in at the win∣dow, and hang about the walls in heaps of light like fire, and pass from one room into another, for an hour or more at a time, and sometimes con∣tinued all the night long, shining through the Windows into the Street, and visible to the Neighbours; all the while this light continued, she was in the highest extremity of Misery, and would often cry out, naming the sus∣pected Page 192 party, this continued upon her for the space of about 17 years, for it came first, when she was about the age of 40 years; and it had reduced a strait well proportioned body to a very crooked deformity. The Physicians were all of opinion that the inner parts of her body were wounded by some Diabolical Art, and ordered her to re∣move her Habitation, which she did into a House thereby; but it proved to no purpose, for the evil Instrument followed her there also, and of many young Broods of Chickens, which she attempted to nurse up for many years, she could not raise one; but they would suddenly turn round, twisting their Necks several times about, until they dropt down dead.
She kept two Cats of her own, for which she had a great fancy; but it is very ob∣servable, that as soon as the other sort of Cats entered the room, they would fly as if they were Devil-drove, sometimes into the Fire, sometimes the Oven, sometimes up the Chimny, or any way to avoid the room, whilst the rest were there, nor could they ever be brought to enjoy themselves after, but starved, and pin'd away after a piteous manner. A little time after her removing to the second house, her Son came from Winchester, about the Age Page 193 above specified, he was a strong, and healthful youth for his years; but had not been there above two or three months, before he was taken after a most dreadful manner, in raving, and frantick Fits, so that five or six men could not hold him, he would spring out of their hands, and leap up with his head against the Cieling, sometimes he would catch up a Knife, Pen-knife, or Razor, and therewith endeavour to cut his own. Throat, or do himself some other mischief, roaring out in most frightful manner, That the suspected was by him, and commanded him to do it, or else she would strangle him, or choke him with pins, or such like: So that they very diligently sought up, and laid aside Knives, Scizers, Razors, or whatsoever else might prove dangerous to him on such Occasions: Notwithstanding which, (and though they had cleared his Pocket of such Weapons, at the coming of his Fit) they should see and find in his Hands, and his Pockets, di∣vers of those mischievous Instruments they had just before laid aside. After these Fits, he would cast out of his mouth Pins, and Needles, in great a∣bundance, and with extream weakness be forced to keep his Bed several days.
Page 194One day as the young man was in the height of one of his Fits, his Mother saw the suspected Party scrambling against the wall of the room, and immediately called out to her Husband, John, John! There is the Witch (naming of the Party) run her through with your Sword, upon which he darted his Sword at the place she directed him, and his Wife cryed out, you have cut the Witch, John, you have cut her hand, (naming the hand which she observed to be hurt) and it was ob∣served that that Party had a lame hand for a considerable time after. This af∣flicted Woman would often repair to the Church, but if the Malevolent were there, she had not the power to enter, but could continue in the Porch, or at the Window. The Son continued in those amazing Fits for about five years; and then ran away in one of them, and hath neither been seen, nor heard of since. The Mother continued in that languishing state for about seventeen years, and then died of pain and grief; but died very sensible, having the use of a good reason, and vigorous Faculties to the last. She was of Opinion that o∣thers, beside the suspected Party, con∣tributed to her misery; as for the sup∣posed Malevolent, she lived about five years after the Afflicted.
AND since they are all in their Graves, I think it not proper to disturb them, by raking up their Names so long after. I do not understand that for all this any Justice was applyed to, but many Physici∣ans, who all agreed it to be notorious Withcraft, the Neighbours too were both Ear, and Eye-witnesses of what is here re∣lated; which I had both from the mouth of the Husband himself, and from divers of good reputation, who were often with the Mother and Son in the House, when all that is here related, hath occurred.