Kent the first Christian, last conquered, and one of the most flou∣rishing and fruitful Provinces of England, is the Scene, and the beautifull Town of Maidstone, the Stage, whereon this Tragicall Story was publickly acted, at Maidstone Assizes, last past.
AMongst many others that then made their entrance, and were presented as suspe∣cted of Witch-craft, before the Reve∣rend and honourable Judge Warburton, who then sate Judge over criminall Of∣fendors: the most notorious were, Anne Ashby, alias Cobler, Anne Martyn, Mary Browne, Mildred Wright, and Anne Wilson, all of Cranbrooke, a Market Town in Kent, and Mary Read of Lenham in the same County; all which were convicted of the exe∣crable and Diabolicall crime of Witch-craft, and for the same received sentence of death, on Friday the 30. day of July last; of whose actions and confessions I shall give you a few particulars, but those you will confesse, very rare and remarkable.
Anne Ashby alias Cobler, who was the chief Actresse, and who had the greatest part in this Tragedy, and Anne Martyn, confessed at the time of their triall, that the Divell had known them carnally, and that they had no hurt by it.
Page 4 The said Ashby alias Cobler, in view of this Observa∣tor, fell into an extasie before the Bench, and swell'd into a monstrous and vast bigness, screeching and crying out very dolefully; and being recovered, and demanded if the Divell at that time had possessed her, she replyed she knew not that, but she said that the spirit Rug came out of her mouth like a Mouse.
And further concerning this spirit Rug, it is reported, that the said Ashby alias Cobler being under Examination before a Justice of Peace, before whom she was carried by certain Souldiers of Colonell Humfreys Regiment; at the same time of her examination, a certain Groom that was in presence said come Rug into my mouth, which Groom, as it is reported, died within a fortnight after, near unto the City of London.
The said Anne Ashby further confessed, that the Di∣vell had given them a piece of flesh, which whensoe∣ver they should touch, they should thereby affect their desires.
That this flesh lay hid amongst grasse, in a certain place which she named, where upon search it was found accordingly.
This flesh was of a sinnewy substance, and scorched, and was seen and felt by this Observator, and reserved for publique view, at the sign of the Swan in Maidstone.
The said Anne Ashby, Anne Martyn, and one other of their Associates, after they were cast, and upon the pronunciation of Judgement against them, pleaded that they were with child pregnant, but confessed it was not by any man, but by the Divell.
One Dock of Gresham, alias Cresham, Doctor to Anne Ashby, is committed to close imprisonment, and not per∣mitted Page 5 to speak with any person, without the presence of his Keeper.
A Pin being thrust to the head into one of their arms, the party did not feele it, neither did it draw bloud from her, which was Mary Browne, Anne Wilson, or Mildred Wright.
Mary Read of Lenham had a visible Teat under her tongue, and did shew it to many, and it was likewise seen by this Observator.
It is likewise to be noted, that the aforesaid Anne Ashby, alias Cobler, during the time of her extasie, when she swell'd in that prodigious manner before mentioned, uttered many speeches which did greatly amaze and astonish the Auditory, proceeding from her in that manner, of which there was no small number of Wit∣nesses, in so great and generall a confluence of people, some of which the Observator remembreth, but for∣bears at present to set down the particulars.
So upon the proceedings aforesaid, and the evidences brought in against them, the said Anne Ashby, alias Cobler, Anne Martyn, Mary Browne, Anne Wilson, and Mildred Wright of Cranbrook, and Mary Read of Lenham, being legally convicted, were according to the Laws of this Nation, adjudged to be hanged, at the common place of Execution.
Some there were that wished rather they might be burnt to Ashes; alledging, that it was a received opi∣nion amongst many, that the body of a Witch being burnt, her bloud is prevented thereby from becomming hereditary to her Progeny in the same evill, which by hanging is not; but whether this opinion be erroneous, or not, I am not to dispute.
Page 6 Besides these former six condemned Witches, there were at the same time some others of Greanes Arraign∣ed, who although sentence of death did not then passe against them, yet one whose name was Creed, was by three severall Indictments found guilty by the Grand Jury, consisting of persons of good integrity, and estates. And in the aforesaid black List, were mustred one Rey∣nolds, and one Wilson, with both their Wives.
It is supposed that nine children, besides a man and a woman, were bewitched; 500 pounds worth of Cattel lost, and much Corn at Sea wrack'd, by Witchcraft.
They confessed they had bewitched a child, that had been languishing along time; this child died about the time of their trials, whose pourtraicture in wax was found, where they had laid it, under the Threshold of a doore.
To this discourse the bodies of three Children lately found at Chatham, may have some reference, which however it will not be much amisse to insert here; al∣though it be doubtfull, whether their deaths be to be attributed to Sorcery, or any other violent means; two of these bodies appeared but in part, the rest being con∣sumed; the third was the entire body of a Male-child, having a Navell five inches long.
And here you may observe the hellish and infernall estate of those wretched deluded people, calld Witches, whom their Grand-master the Devill, at one time or other leaves in the lurch; as here you may perceive in the Story of these miserable Wretches, who deserved∣ly received the Sentence of Condemnation, as afore∣sayd; for it is written, Thou shalt not suffer a Witch to live.