THE WITCH of WAPPING.
MAny are of opinion, that there are no Witches, but let them read in Leviticus, and they shall find that in the time of Moses there were Magitians and Sor∣cerers; and that Saul went to the Witch of Endor: This is enough to confirm that there were Witches in the no∣nage of the world; and that this latter Age hath produced such creatures, this following Relation will sufficiently testifie; wherein is fully related the Life and Practises of one Joan Peterson, who lived in Spruce Island, near Shadwel, all which was proved against her at the Sessions holden at the Old Baily on Wednesday Apr. 7. 1652.
There are two sorts of Witches, which the Vulgar peo∣ple distinguish by the names of the Good Witch, (I won∣der how that can be,) and the Bad; by reason, when one bewitcheth a party, the other unwitcheth him again: Now this Joan Peterson, it should seem, was both; for as it was clearly proved, that she had done much mischief, so there were divers that came to witnesse that she had cured them of several diseases, amongst the rest I heard one of them say, that he had been so grievously troubled with the Head∣ache, Page 4 that he could take no rest for 5 Weeks together, and that he had made tryal of many Doctors, but could have no redress, and comming to Peterson, she gave him a Drink, which after he had drunk of thrice, he was as well as ever he was; I demanded of him if the Drink did purge him, and so removed the humours, and he answered, it did not purge him at all; which seemed very strange to me, the man being so grievously tormented with that intolerable pain.
Also there was a Cow-keepers Wife, that had one of her Cows lay in such a condition, that she and all that saw the Cow did verily perswade themselves that it was be∣witched; whereupon she came to this Peterson, and promi∣sed her a reward, if she would cure her Cow: She desired the woman to save her water, and bring it to her, which she did; then taking the water, shee set it on the fire, and it had not been on long, but the water rose up in bubbles, in one of the which she shewed her the face of the woman which the Cow-keepers wife suspected to have bewitched it, and so prescribing what she should do to recover it, she took her leave; divers other things of this nature, and severall cures she hath performed, but whether they were done in Gods name, or whether she used unlawfull means, I shall leave that to the charitable reader to judge of, my self desi∣ring to wave my judgement herein.
Now concerning her evil actions I shall relate only such as were clearly proved against her, by very credible wit∣nesses at the Old-Bayly on the 7 of April, and for which she was condemned to die, viz. One Christopher Wilson, being very sick and weak came to this Peterson and agreed with her for a certain sum of money to cure him, which she un∣dertook to do, and in a short time cured him, but demand∣ing her money of him, he denied to pay her so much as they had agreed for, whereupon she burst out into these spee∣ches; Page 5you had been better you had given me my money for you shall be ten times worse then ever you were; and very suddenly after he fell into very strange fits, and for twelve hours together would rage and rave like a mad man, and afterwards for twelve hours more would slabber out his tongue, and walk up and down like a meer changeling; in this condition he remained certain days, and then he fell very sick, and at this instant (if he be not dead) languisheth away, and rots as he lies.
Also there was one of her neighbours, who had a young child, which was very strangely torment∣ed, having such strange fits that the like was never known and had continued certain days in that condi∣tion to the great grief of the Parents, and the admira∣tion of all those that beheld it, and it was brought so low, that they expected every hour when it should depart the world, and the Parents were forced to procure one or other every night to watch with it, whereupon two women that were neighbours, desired that they might watch with it, which was ve∣ry thankfully accepted of; about midnight, they es∣pied (to their thinking) a great black cat come to the cradles side, and rock the cradle, whereupon one of the women took up the fire-fork to strike at it, and it immediately vanished, about an hour after the cat came again to the cradle side, whereupon the other woman kicked at it, but it presently va∣nished, and that leg that she kicked with, began to Page 6 swell and be very sore, whereupon they were both afraid, and calling up the master of the house, took their leave; as they were going to their own homes they met a Baker, who was likewise a neighbours servant, who told them that he saw a great black cat that had so frighted him, that his hair stood an end, whereupon the women told him what they had seen, who said he thought in his conscience that Peterson had bewitched the aforesaid child, for (qd the Baker) I met the witch a litle before going down the Island: the Baker witnessing of this which is formerly related, was demanded whether he had not at other times as well as that been afraid of a cat, who answered no, and that he never saw such a cat before, and hoped in God he should never see the like again.
There was one likewise who had been a Maid-servant to the foresaid Peterson, witnessed that one night lying with her Mi∣stresse, being in bed she told her that a Squirrel would come to her, but wished her not to be afraid, for it should do her no harm, and accordingly about midnight there came a Squirrel (or a Familiar in that likenesse) and went over the wench to Peterson, which so affrighted her that she lay as if she were in a trance; and she further affirmeth, that her Mistresse and it talkt together a great part of the night; but being demanded what they discoursed on, she replied, that she heard her conference very perfectly, but she was so bewitched by it, that she could not remember one word. Also her son (a boy of about 7 or 8 years of age) being askt by some of his School-fellows how his mother could do such strange things, he said, Page 7 that she had a Squirrel that taught her what she should do. More∣over it was affirmed by a man that lived by her, that sitting by the fire side late one evening talking with her, on a sudden Peterson shrieked and cried out, who asking her what she ailed, she said do you see nothing? not I replied the other, look where it comes, saith she, and then he perceived as it were a black dog, who went di∣rectly to Peterson, and put his head under her arm-pits, whereat the man was so astonished, that he ran out of the house as if he had been frighted out of his wits. These and other strange things being proved against her, she was condemn'd to be hanged at Tyborn on Munday the 12 of April, 1652.
On Saturday the 10 of this instant April, one Prudence Lee, was burned in Smithfield for mur∣thering of Philip Lee her husband, who was a Bai∣liffe, and lived in Bell-Alley in Golding-Lane. She came from Newgate to Smithfield on foot, between two of the Sheriffs Officers, attired in a Red Waste-coat; and being brought to the Stake, and death presenting himself before her, she confessed as fol∣loweth.
That she had been a very lewd liver, and much given to cursing and swearing, for which the Lord being offended with her, had suffered her to be brought to that untimely end, she further confessed that being jealous of her husband, and some unfit∣ting words passing between them, in her passion she stabbed him, for which she earnestly prayed to the Page 8 Lord that he would forgive both that all her o∣ther grievous sins, desiring than as she was a Presi∣dent, so she might be a warning to all women, that they attempt to do nothing rashly, especially against their husbands. Then the Executioner setting her in a pitch barrel, bound her to the stake, and placed the straw and Faggots about her; whereupon she lifting up her eys towards Heaven, desired all that were present to pray for her; and the Executioner putting fire to the straw, she cried out; Lord Jesus have mercy on my soul; and after the fire was kind∣led she was heard to shrike out terribly some five or six several times.
It is reported that her husband was a very wicked liver, and that he kept company with strange wo∣men; and that when she committed this abhomi∣nable murther, she found him in company with an∣other woman, at the sign of the Last, an Ale-house in Rotten-Row in Old-street; which occasioned very evil language to pass between them; upon vvhich she drew her knife and stab'd him.