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
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
From whence then proceeded this his skill? was it from his
profound learning, or from much reading of learned Authors
concerning that subject?
From neither of both, but from experience, which though it be
meanly esteemed of, yet the surest and safest way to judge by.
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 mentioned Causes.
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,
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, &c.
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
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
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
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 him.
You doe him a great deale of wrong in every of these particulars.
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 him.
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.
1. A dried flower. Witch bell
2. A cross apparently made of
raw hide and measuring
2 1/4 x 1 1/4 inches.
3. A leaf-dried rue.
4. A bone plate measuring 2
1/4 x 1 1/4 inches. This is divided
into six sections, each
containing magic (?) signs. It is pierced
with holes along the edges for
the purpose of being sewn into
clothes, or to a cloth.
5 . A branched twig
shaped like a cock's foot, probably rue.
6. A scrap of bark from a
7. A piece of parchment with
"Matthew Hopkins' talisman
against all Witch-craft "
printed upon it in ink.
8. This exhibit appears to be
dried leaves of plant or tree
stuck together with black wax.
9. A wax head having hair and
transfixed with an ancient
10. A piece of decayed wood.
11. A piece of (human?) bone
with dried skin affixed.
12. Four bird-claws.
13. A piece of horn shaped
like a finger-nail,
14. Human little-finger bone
(probably that of Mary Holt).
15. Seal of Solomon worked in
16.Circular piece of (human?)
skin having written upon it
in ink either astrological or
17. A twig bearing moss or
lichen. May be hawthorn.
Gardner, Gerald Brosseau. "Witchcraft." Folklore,
Vol. 50, No. 2. (Jun., 1939), pp. 188-190.