Discovery of Witches:
Answer to severall QUERIES,
Delivered to the Judges of Assize for the
County of NORFOLK.
And now published
By MATTHEW HOPKINS, Witch-finder,
The Benefit of the whole KINGDOME.
M. DC. XLVII.
Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live.
Certaine Queries answered, which have been and are likely to be
objected against MATTHEW HOPKINS, in his way of finding out Witches.
That he must needs be the greatest Witch, Sorcerer, and Wizzard
himselfe, else hee could not doe it.
If Satan's kingdome be divided against
it selfe, how shall it stand?
If he never went so farre as is before
mentioned, yet for certaine he met with the
Devill, and cheated him of his Booke, wherein
were written all the Witches names in England, and if he looks on any
Witch, he can tell by her countenance what she is; so by this, his helpe
is from the Devill.
If he had been too hard for the devill and got his
book, it had been to his great commendation, and no disgrace
at all: and for judgement in Phisiognomie, he hath no more
then any man else whatsoever.
From whence then proceeded this his skill? was it from
his profound learning, or from much reading of learned Authors concerning
From neither of both, but from experience, which
though it be meanly esteemed of, yet the surest and safest way to
I pray where was this experience gained? and why
gained by him and not by others?
The Discoverer never travelled far for it, but in March
1644 he had some seven or eight of that horrible sect of Witches
living in the Towne where he lived, a Towne in Essex called
Maningtree, with divers other adjacent Witches of other towns,
who every six weeks in the night (being alwayes on the Friday
night) had their meeting close by his house and had their severall
solemne sacrifices there offered to the Devill, one of which this
discoverer heard speaking to her Imps one night, and bid them
goe to another Witch, who was thereupon apprehended, and searched,
by women who had for many yeares knowne the Devills
marks, and found to have three teats about her, which honest
women have not: so upon command from the Justice they were
to keep her from sleep two or three nights, expecting in that time
to see her familiars, which the fourth night she called in by their
severall names, and told them what shapes, a quarter of an houre
before they came in, there being ten of us in the roome, the first
she called was
1. Holt, who came in like a white kitling.
2. Jarmara, who came in like a fat Spaniel without any legs at
all, she said she kept him fat, for she clapt her hand on her belly
and said he suckt good blood from her body.
3. Vinegar Tom, who was like a long-legg'd Greyhound, with
an head like an Oxe, with a long taile and broad eyes, who when
this discoverer spoke to, and bade him goe to the place provided
for him and his Angels, immediately transformed himselfe into
the shape of a child of foure yeeres old without a head, and gave
halfe a dozen turnes about the house, and vanished at the doore.
4. Sack and Sugar, like a black Rabbet.
5. Newes, like a Polcat. All these vanished away in a little
time. Immediately after this Witch confessed severall other
Witches, from whom she had her Imps, and named to divers women
where their marks were, the number of their Marks, and
Imps, and Imps names, as Elemanzer, Pyewacket, Peckin the Crown,
Grizzel, Greedigut, &c. which no mortall could invent; and upon
their searches the same Markes were found, the same number, and
in the same place, and the like confessions from them of the same
Imps, (though they knew not that we were told before) and so
peached one another thereabouts that joyned together in the like
damnable practise that in our Hundred in Essex, 29. were condemned
at once, 4. brought 25. Miles to be hanged, where this
Discoverer lives, for sending the Devill like a Beare to kill him in
his garden, so by seeing diverse of the mens Papps, and trying
wayes with hundreds of them, he gained this experience, and for
ought he knowes any man else may find them as well as he and
his company, if they had the same skill and experience.
Many poore People are condemned for having a Pap, or
Teat about them, whereas many People (especially antient People) are,
and have been a long time troubled with naturall wretts on severall
parts of their bodies and other naturall excressencies, as Hemerodes,
Piles, Childbearing, &c. and these shall be judged only by one man alone
and a woman, and so accused or acquitted.
The parties so judging can justifie their skill to any,
and shew good reasons why such markes are not meerly naturall,
neither that they can happen by any such naturall cause as is before
expressed, and for further answer for their private judgements
alone, it is most false and untrue, for never was any man
tryed by search of his body, but commonly a dozen of the ablest
men in the parish or else where, were present, and most commonly
as many ancient skilfull matrons and midwives present
when the women are tryed, which marks not only he, and his
company attest to be very suspitious, but all beholders, the skilfulest
of them, doe not approve of them, but likewise assent that
such tokens cannot in their judgements proceed from any the above
It is a thing impossible for any or woman to judge
rightly on such marks, they are so neare to naturall excressencies
and they that finde them, durst not presently give Oath they were
drawne by evil spirits, till they have used unlawfull courses of torture
to make them say any thing for ease and quiet, as who would not do?
but I would know the reasons he speakes of, how, and whereby to discover
the one from the other, and so be satisfied in that.
The reasons in breefe are three, which for the present
he judgeth to differ from naturall marks which are:
1. He judgeth
by the unusualnes of the place where he findeth the teats in or on
their bodies being farre distant from any usuall place, from
whence such naturall markes proceed, as if a witch plead the
markes found are Emerods, if I finde them on the bottome of the
back-bone, shall I assent with him, knowing they are not neere
that veine, and so others by child-bearing, when it may be they
are in the contrary part?
2. They are most commonly insensible, and feele neither pin,
needle, aule, &c. thrust through them.
3. The often variations and mutations of these marks into severall
formes, confirmes the matter; as if a Witch hear a month
or two before that the Witch-finder (as they call him) is comming
they will, and have put out their Imps to others to suckle
them, even to their owne young and tender children; these upon
search are found to have dry skinnes and filmes only, and be close
to the flesh, keepe her 24. houres with a diligent eye, that none
of her Spirits come in any visible shape to suck her; the women
have seen the next day after her Teats extended out to their former
filling length, full of corruption ready to burst, and leaving
her alone then one quarter of an houre, and let the women go up
againe and shee will have them drawn by her Imps close againe:
Probatum est. Now for answer to their tortures in its due place.
How can it possibly be that the Devill bring a spirit, and
wants no nutriment or sustentation, should desire to suck any blood?
and indeed as he is a spirit he cannot draw any such excressences, having
neither flesh nor bone, nor can be felt, &c.
He seekes not their bloud, as if he could not subsist without
that nourishment, but he often repairs to them, and gets it,
the more to aggravate the Witches damnation, and to put her in
mind of her Covenant; and as he is a Spirit and Prince of the ayre,
he appeares to them in any shape whatsoever, which shape is occasioned
by him through joyning of condensed thickned aire together,
and many times doth assume shapes of many creatures;
but to create any thing he cannot do it, it is only proper to God:
But in this case of drawing out of these Teats, he doth really enter
into the body, reall, corporeall, substantiall creature, and forceth
that Creature (he working in it) to his desired ends, and useth
the organs of that body to speake withall to make his compact
up with the Witches, be the creature Cat, Rat, Mouse,
When these Paps are fully discovered, yet that will not
serve sufficiently to convict them, but they must be tortured and kept
from sleep two or three nights, to distract them, and make them say any
thing; which is a way to tame a wilde Colt, or Hawke, &c.
In the infancy of this discovery it was not only thought
fitting, but enjoyned in Essex and Suffolke by the Magistrates,
with this intention only, because they being kept awake would be
more the active to cal their imps in open view the sooner to their
helpe, which oftentimes have so happened; and never or seldome
did any Witch ever complaine in the time of their keeping for
want of rest, but after they had beat their heads together in the
Goale; and after this use was not allowed of by the judges and
other Magistrates, it was never since used, which is a yeare and a
halfe since, neither were any kept from sleep by any order or direction
since; but peradventure their own stubborne wills did not
let them sleep, though tendered and offered to them.
Beside that unreasonable watching, they were extraordinarily
walked, till their feet were blistered, and so forced through that
cruelty to confesse, &c.
It was in the same beginning of this discovery, and the
meaning of walking of them at the highest extent of cruelty, was
only they to walke about themselves the night they were watched,
only to keepe them waking: and the reason was this, when they
did lye or sit in a chaire, if they did offer to couch downe, then
the watchers were only to desire them to sit up and walke about,
for indeed when they be suffered so to couch, immediately comes
their Familiars into the room and scareth the watchers, and heartneth
on the Witch, though contrary to the true meaning of the
same instructions, diverse have been by rusticall People, (they hearing
them confess to be Witches) mis-used, spoiled, and abused,
diverse whereof have suffered for the same, but could never be
proved against this Discoverer to have a hand in it, or consent to
it; and hath likewise been un-used by him and others, ever since
the time they were kept from sleepe.
But there hath been an abominable, inhumane, and unmercifull
tryall of these poore creatures, by tying them, and heaving
them into the water; a tryall not allowable by Law or conscience, and
I would faine know the reasons for that.
It is not denyed but many were so served as had Papps,
and floated, others that had none were tryed with them and sunk,
but marke the reasons.
For first the Divels policie is great, in perswading many to
come of their own accord to be tryed, perswading them their
marks are so close they shall not be found out, so as diverse have
come 10. or 12. Miles to be searched of their own accord, and
hanged for their labour, (as one Meggs a Baker did, who lived
within 7. Miles of Norwich, and was hanged at Norwich Assizes
for witchcraft) then when they find that the Devil tells them false
they reflect on him, and he (as 40. have confessed) adviseth them
to be sworne, and tels them they shall sinke and be cleared that
way, then when they be tryed that way and floate, they see the
Devill deceives them againe, and have so laid open his treacheries.
2. It was never brought in against any of them at their tryals as
3. King James in his Demonology saith, it is a certaine rule, for
(saith he) Witches deny their baptisme when they Covenant
with the Devill, water being the sole element thereof, and therefore
saith he, when they be heaved into the water, the water refuseth
to receive them into her bosome, (they being such Miscreants
to deny their baptisme) and suffers them to float, as the Froath
on the Sea, which the water will not recieve, but casts it up and
downe till it comes to the earthy element the shore, and there
leaves it to consume.
4. Observe these generation of Witches, if they be at any time
abused by being called Whore, Theefe, &c, by any where they
live, they are the readiest to cry and wring their hands, and shed
tears in abundance & run with full and right sorrowfull acclamations
to some Justice of the Peace, and with many teares make
their complaints: but now behold their stupidity; nature or the
elements reflection from them, when they are accused for this horrible
and damnable sin of Witchcraft, they never alter or change
their countenances nor let one Teare fall. This by the way,
swimming (by able Divines whom I reverence) is condemned for
no way, and therefore of late hath, and for ever shall be left.
Oh! but if this torturing Witch-catcher can by all or
any of these meanes wring out a word or two of confession from any of
these stupified, ignorant, unitelligible, poore silly creatures, (though
none heare it but himselfe) he will adde and put her in feare to confesse
telling her, else she shall be hanged; but if she doe, he will set her
at liberty, and so put a word into her mouth, and make such a silly
creature confesse she knowes not what.
He is of a better conscience, and for your better understanding
of him, he doth thus uncase himselfe to all, add declares
what confessions (though made by a Witch against her selfe) he
allowes not of, and doth altogether account of no validity, or
worthy of credence to be given to it, and ever did so account it,
and ever likewise shall.
1. He utterly denyes that confession of a Witch to be of any
validity, when it is drawn from her by any torture or violence
whatsoever; although after watching, walking, or swimming, diverse
have suffered, yet peradventure Magistrates with much care
and diligence did solely and fully examine them after sleepe, and
2. He utterly denyes that confession of a Witch, which is
drawn from her by flattery, viz. if you will confess you shall go home,
you shall not go to the Goale, nor be hanged, &c.
3. He utterly denyes that confession of a Witch, when she confesseth
any improbability, impossibility, as flying in the ayre, riding
on a broom, &c.
4. He utterly denyes a confession of a Witch, when it is interrogated
to her, and words put into her mouth, to be of any force
or effect: as to say to a silly (yet Witch wicked enough) you have
foure Imps have you not? She answers affirmatively, Yes: did
they not suck you? Yes, saith she: Are not their names so, and so?
Yes, saith shee; Did not you send such an Impe to kill my child? Yes
saith she, this being all her confession after this manner, it is by
him accompted nothing, and he earnestly doth desire that all Magistrates
and Jurors would a little more then ever they did examine
witnesses about the interrogated confessions.
If all those confessions be denyed, I wonder what he
will make confession, for sure it is, all these wayes have been used and
took for good confessions, and many have suffered for them, and I know
not what, he will then make confession.
Yes, in brief he will declare what confession of a Witch
is of validity and force in his judgement, to hang a Witch: when
a Witch is first found with teats, then sequestred from her house,
which is onely to keep her old associates from her, and so by
good counsell brought into a sad condition, by understanding of
the horribleness of her sin, and the judgements threatned against
her; and knowing the Devils malice and subtile circumventions,
is brought to remorse and sorrow for complying with Satan so
long, and disobeying Gods sacred Commands, doth then desire
to unfold her mind with much bitterness, and then without any of
the before-mentioned hard usages or questions put to her, doth of
her owne accord declare what was the occasion of the Devils appearing
to her, whether ignorance, pride, anger, malice, &c. was
predominant over her, she doth then declare what speech they
had, what likeness he was in, what voice be had, what familiars
he sent her, what number of spirits, what names they had, what
shape they were in, what imployment she set them about to severall
persons in severall places, (unknowne to the hearers) all
which mischiefes being proved to be done, at the same time she
confessed to the same parties for the same cause, and all effected,
is testimony enough again her for all her denyall.
How can any possibly beleeve that the Devill and the
Witch joyning together, should have such power, as the Witches confesse
to kill such such a man, child, horse, cow, the like; if we beleeve
they can doe what they will, then we derogate from Gods power,
who for certaine limits the Devill and the Witch; and I cannot beleeve
they have any power at all.
God suffers the Devill many times to doe much hurt,
and the devill doth play many times the deluder and impostor
with these Witches, in perswading them that they are the cause
of such and such a murder wrought by him with their consents,
when and indeed neither he nor they had any hand in it, as thus:
We must needs argue, he is of a long standing, above 6000. yeers,
then he must needs be the best Scholar in all knowledges of arts
and tongues, & so have the best skill in Physicke, judgment in Physiognomie,
and knowledge of what disease is reigning or predominant
in this or that mans body, (and so for cattell too) by reason
of his long experience. This subtile tempter knowing such a man
lyable to some sudden disease, (as by experience I have found)
as Plurisie, Imposthume, &c. he resorts to divers Witches; if they
know the man, and seek to make a difference between the Witches
and the party, it may be by telling them he hath threatned to
have them very shortly searched, and so hanged for Witches, then
they all consult with Satan to save themselves, and Satan stands
ready prepared, with a What will you have me doe for you, my deare
and nearest children, covenanted and compacted with me in my hellish
league, and sealed with your blood, my delicate firebrand-darlings.
The Divells speech to the Witches.
Oh thou (say they) that at the first didst promise to save us thy
servants from any of out deadly enemies discovery, and didst promise
to avenge and flay all those, we pleased, that did offend us;
Murther that wretch suddenly who threatens the down-fall of
your loyall subjects. He then promiseth to effect it. Next newes
is heard the partie is dead, he comes to the witch, and gets a world
of reverence, credence and respect for his power and activeness,
when and indeed the disease kills the party, not the Witch, nor the
Devill, (onely the Devill knew that such a disease was predominant)
and the witch aggravates her damnation by her familiarity
and consent to the Devill, and so comes likewise in compass of
the Lawes. This is Satans usuall impostring and deluding, but
not his constant course of proceeding, for he and the witch
doe mischiefe too much. But I would that Magistrates and Jurats
would a little examine witnesses when they heare witches
confess such and such a murder, whether the party had not long
time before, or at the time when the witch grew suspected, some
disease or other predominant, which might cause that issue or
effect of death.
All that the witch-finder doth is to fleece the country
of their money, and therefore rides and goes to townes to have imployment,
and promiseth them faire promises, and it may be doth nothing
for it, and possesseth many men that they have so many wizzards
and so many witches in their towne, and so hartens them on to entertaine
You doe him a great deale of wrong in every of these
particulars. For, first,
1. He never went to any towne or place, but they rode, writ,
or sent often for him, and were (for ought he knew) glad of
2. He is a man that doth disclaime that ever he detected a
witch, or said, Thou art a witch; only after her tryall by search,
and their owne confessions, he as others may judge.
3. Lastly, judge how he fleeceth the Country, and inriches
himselfe, by considering the vast summe he takes of every towne,
he demands but 20.s. a town, & doth sometimes ride 20. miles for
that, & hath no more for all his charges thither and back again (&
it may be stayes a weeke there) and finde there 3. or 4. witches, or
if it be but one, cheap enough, and this is the great summe he takes
to maintaine his Companie with 3. horses.