A History of Witchcraft in England from by Wallace Notestein The Project Gutenberg EBook of A History of Witchcraft in England from 1558 to 1718, by Wallace Notestein This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.org Title: A History of Witchcraft in England from 1558 to 1718 Author: Wallace Notestein Release Date: March 5, 2010 [EBook #31511] Language: English Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1 *** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK WITCHCRAFT *** Produced by Suzanne Lybarger, Brian Janes, Meredith Bach, and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at http://www.pgdp.net PRIZE ESSAYS OF THE AMERICAN HISTORICAL ASSOCIATION
A History of Witchcraft in England from by Wallace Notestein 1909 To this Essay was awarded the Herbert Baxter Adams Prize in European History for 1909 A HISTORY OF WITCHCRAFT IN ENGLAND FROM 1558 TO 1718 BY WALLACE NOTESTEIN ASSISTANT PROFESSOR OF HISTORY IN THE UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA PUBLISHED BY THE AMERICAN HISTORICAL ASSOCIATION WASHINGTON, 1911 COPYRIGHT, 1911 BY THE AMERICAN HISTORICAL ASSOCIATION WASHINGTON, D.C. THE LORD BALTIMORE PRESS BALTIMORE, M.D., U.S.A. PREFACE.
In its original form this essay was the dissertation submitted for a doctorate in philosophy conferred by Yale University in 1908. When first projected it was the writer's purpose to take up the subject of English witchcraft under certain general political and social aspects. It was not long, however, before he began to feel that preliminary to such a treatment there was necessary a chronological survey of the witch trials. Those strange and tragic affairs were so closely involved with the politics, literature, and life of the seventeenth century that one is surprised to find how few of them have received accurate or complete record in history. It may be said, in fact, that few subjects have gathered about themselves so large concretions of misinformation as English witchcraft. This is largely, of course, because so little attention has been given to it by serious students of history. The mistakes and misunderstandings of contemporary writers and of the local historians have been handed down from county history to county history until many of them have crept into general works. For this reason it was determined to attempt a chronological treatment which would give a narrative history of the more significant trials along with some account of the progress of opinion. This plan has been adhered to somewhat strictly, sometimes not without regret upon the part of the writer. It is his hope later in a series of articles to deal with some of the more general phases of the subject, with such topics as the use of torture, the part of the physicians, the contagious nature of the witch alarms, the relation of Puritanism to persecution, the supposed influence of the Royal Society, the general causes for the gradual decline of the belief, and other like questions. It will be seen in the course of the narrative that some of these matters have been touched upon. This study of witchcraft has been limited to a period of about one hundred and sixty years in English history. The year 1558 has been chosen as the starting point because almost immediately after the accession of Elizabeth there began the movement for a new law, a movement which resulted in the statute of 1563. With that statute the history of the persecution of witches gathers importance. The year 1718 has been selected as a concluding date because that year was marked by the publication of Francis Hutchinson's notable attack upon the belief. Hutchinson levelled a final and deadly blow at the dying superstition. Few men of intelligence dared after that avow any belief in the reality of witchcraft; it is...