Friday, June 27, 2008

That women need a female redeemer: the heresy of Postellus





You don’t ever read very far in early modern theological writing before the author, confident in his orthodoxy, gets onto the subject of heresy. Then they can start to enumerate heresies, to collect them like stamps, as many as possible. Being deeply drawn towards your opposite is both a mark of confidence and anxiety. As (I think) the Joker says to Batman in The Killing Joke, you only needed one bad day in your life to have become like me.


Anyway, I was reading John Aylmer’s An harborovve for faithfull and trevve subiectes (1559), which is mainly a reassurance (a 'harbour', a refuge) to his fellow countrymen that they can accept another Queen as a very suitable ruler. The late Mary Tudor makes his case difficult, but he asserts that she was misled into tyranny by her churchmen, while Elizabeth is merciful. But he is dealing with questions of gender and fitness to rule. He has a difficult text in Deuteronomy, which he dutifully cites: ‘ “thou shalt chuse a Kynge among thy brethren, and not among thy systers.” And thereupon is inferred, that we may have no Quene. It is the like reason as if a man shuld say, Christ said Veni ad vocandum peccatores ad penitentiam, that is I am come to cal men sinners, and not women sinners. Therfor, either women be no sinners: or if they be, they shal not bee saved’

Alymer hastens to explain that Hebrew has to be understood as gender-neutral: ‘thoughout the whole scripture the masculine comprehendeth the feminin’. But Aylmer knows where his thoughts have led him, and he continues with the precise heretic involved in controversy about such texts:
‘Or els we must say with the phrenitik postellus: that women be not yet redeemed, but men and that they must have a woman to dye for them, as well as men hadde Christe.’

It seems to me very typical of early modern discourse that making a case that it is allowable for women to rule involves the author in an awkward confrontation with the Bible passage that contradicts him, and so into a view of an opinion (based on another Bible passage) that wildly opposes his own general line, the heresy that deduces from the Bible what would be a complete disqualification of women from rule – they are still awaiting their redeemer.

But I was intrigued by ‘Postellus’. He crops up quite often:


“Others broching it for truth that Christ died not for both Sexes, was not the Sauiour of Women, but Men only. An Assertion of Postellus the Iesuit, who in Paris put forth a booke entituled the Victory of Women, wherein he writes that one Iane was sent from God to be the Sauiour of Women. Contrary to the purpose of Christ, who Died for All, gaue himselfe for All: and directly opposite to the meaning of God, who at the cleansing of the Leaper commanded them to offer Lambes of both kinds, Male and Female: Ex vtroque genere proptereĆ  sacrificium Offerri praecepit vt ostendat quia Christus pro nobis occisus simul Masculum Foeminamque saluabit: To shew (as Isychius excellently inferres) that Christ died for both Sexes, Women no lesse then Men.”

This is Henry King, A sermon of deliuerance Preached at the Spittle on Easter Monday, 1626.


These next five passages are in Thomas Rogers’ The faith, doctrine, and religion, professed, & protected in the realme of England, and dominions of the same expressed in 39 articles, concordablie agreed vpon by the reuerend bishops, and clergie of this kingdome, at two seuerall meetings, or conuocations of theirs, in the yeares of our Lord, 1562, and 1604 (1607):

‘That Christ on the Crosse hath suffered for the redemption of mankinde, and shall suffer againe for the saluation of the Deuills; such heretikes there haue bin; as Iesus, but shal againe suffer as Iesus Christ (which was one of Francis Ket his heresies, for which he was burned); for men, but one mother Iane is the Sauiour of women, a most execrable assertion of Postellus, the Iesuite.’
‘The Sauiour of Men, is Iesus Christ, a man, and no woman, who came into the world to saue no women but men, say some Papists, and redeemed the superior world onely, which is man, said Postellus the Iesuit; and yet not all men neither for S. Francis hath redeemed so many as are saued since his daies, say the Franciscan Friers.’
‘The Sauiour of women from her time till the end of the world, is S. Clare, affirm some, other papists, as Postellus saith it it one mother Iane.’
‘The Sauiour of men, and women, is S. Mary through her virginitie say some, is S. Christina, by her passion, say other Papists.’
‘There is no sufficient sacrifice yet offered for the sinnes of the world. One of F. Kets errors.’

Phew – rich material there, giving us a view of Francis Kett (thought possibly to have been Marlowe’s tutor in Cambridge), probably a Socinian, and apparently teaching that Jesus once exalted would die a second time to redeem the devils. But, heretic wrapped up with heretic, divided or two-part missions of redemption brings up Postellus and his interesting take on the theological position of women (Rogers is very keen to imply that these are the kind of things Catholics and Jesuits come up with).

Postellus apparently lived a very long time (maybe it is surprising he long survived the publication of his own opinions), and as such gets mentioned in George Hakewill’s survey of contemporary cases of longevity: “Gulielmus Postellus, a french man in our age held out to almost an hundred & twenty; the tops of his beard in his higher lip being then somewhat blackish & not altogether white” in An apologie of the povver and prouidence of God in the gouernment of the world (1627). Meric Casaubon seems to take the emollient and not evidently true line that it was only in his dotage that Postellus went so wildly off-message: ‘and was not this the case of learned Postellus, who fallen into some grievous wild fancies in his latter dayes, though sound enough still in other things, could never be reclaimed though means were used from time to time the best and gentlest (in respect to his worth and person) that could be thought of? But what talk we of particular men?A true & faithful relation of what passed for many yeers between Dr. John Dee ... and some spirits (1657)

Joseph Hall comes up with another beauty from Postellus’s repertoire of unorthodox opinions, which seems to have been that Man had been made by God, but just as far as the waist, while all below was the work (I infer) of the devil:

‘There is not one limme, or parcell in this glorious fabrick, wherein there is not both use, and beauty, and wonder. The superior members give influence, and motion to the lower, the lower, supportation to the superiour, the middle contribute nourishment to both: Was it heresie; or frenzy, or blasphemy, or all these, in the Paternians of old; revived of late times, by Postellus at Paris, that mans lower parts were of a worse author? Away with that mad misanthropy: there is no inch of this living pile, which doth not bewray steps of an allwise and holy omnipotence.’

The character of man laid forth in a sermon preach't at the court, March, 10. 1634. By the L. Bishop of Exceter (1635)

A reference in Alexander Ross, Pansebeia, or, A view of all religions in the world with the severall church-governments from the creation, to these times : also, a discovery of all known heresies in all ages and places, and choice observations and reflections throughout the whole (1655) seems to imply that if Postellus thought Christ’s mission to redeem specifically male humankind had left women still to be saved, it had at least been universal salvation for men: “One Postellus taught that men of all Sects and Professions should be saved by Christ.” My learned colleague Justin Champion has retrieved the surprisingly disinterested inquiry made by Richard Smith around 1671 into the authorship of the ‘Blasphemous treatise’ of ‘the Three Grand Imposters’, where Smith dismisses the idea that Postellus had written the treatise: “Guil Postellus, Aretinus, or any other writer of this last age on whom this Blasphemous Treatise is of late tymes by some fathered could not be the Authors thereof
(posted at - eprints.rhul.ac.uk/153/1/Champion_IMPOSTOR.DOC)

Postellus also crops up in the very doubtfully orthodox Anima mundi, or, An historical narration of the opinions of the ancients concerning man's soul after this life according to unenlight[e]ned nature by Charles Blount.

I am rather surprised that Donne doesn’t seem to have picked up on any of this, having as he did a penchant for unorthodox doctrines that leave women short of getting to heaven.

The one more recent scholarly source about Postellus that I have found is a history of heresies on Google books, The History of Heresies and Their Refutation by St Alphonsus M Liguori:
“William Postellus, or Postell, was born in Barenton, in Lower Normandy; he was a learned philosopher, and Oriental traveler, and was remarkable as a linguist, but fell into errors of faith. Some even go so far as to say, that in his work, called Virgo Veneta, he endeavours to prove that an old maid of Venice, called Mother Johanna of Venice, was the Saviour of the feminine sex. Florimund, however, defends him from this charge, and says he wrote this curious work merely to praise this lady, who was a great friend of his, and frequently afforded him pecuniary assistance.”

How much John Donne would have enjoyed insinuating that, say, the Countess of Bedford was the long-awaited saviour for womenkind! How could he have missed it?!

My catholic author continues: “(Postellus) lived some time also in Rome, and joined the Jesuits, but they soon dismissed him, on account of the extraordinary opinions he professed. He was charged with heresy, and condemned to perpetual imprisonment, by the Inquisition; but he escaped to France, and his fame as a linguist procured him a favourable reception from King Charles IX, and the learned of that country. He then wrote several works, filled with the most extravagant errors, as De Trinitate, De Matrice Mundi, De Omnibus Sectis salvandis, De future Nativitate Mediatoris and several others of the same stamp. He was reprimanded by the Faculty of Theology, and the magistracy of Paris, for these writings, but as he refused to retract them, he was confined in the monastery of St martin des Champs, and there got the grace of repentance, for he retracted everything he had written, and subjected all to the judgment of the Church. He then led a most religious life in the monastery, and died on the 7th of September, 1581, being nearly one hundred years old.”

All sects saved, a female saviour for women, man as half made by God, half by the devil, a role in the transmission of the Protevangelion of James: Postellus is surely due a revival of interest.

My image is Filippino Lippi’s ‘Triumph of St Aquinas over the heretics’: the one book of wisdom, and the writers of heresy all looking deeply ashamed of what they have done, as it lies on the ground before them.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Low life imitating low art: blood, basins and ballads, 1647



















I've been reading A true and sad reration [sic] of the great and bloudy murder committed at Ratcliff in Stepney Parish neer the City of London, upon the body of John Hunter, a sea man, who was stabbed to the heart with a long knife, by one Mr. Smith and his wife and a young maid. Wherein is related, the manner how they received his bloud in a bason, and how they were discovered. With their examination the last Sessions in the Old-Bayley, before the honourable bench, and their confession. For which fact, both Smith, his wife, and the other strumpet hath now suffered death January, 22. 1647.

John Hunter married the daughter of one Mr Smith of Ratcliff “who for many years have lived at the fore named place, but in no honest way”. There was a dowry promised him “a certaine summe of money with her”. This was not immediately paid, but after some months of marriage, Hunter with the agreement of his wife, went back to sea. He returned after an unspecified time on his voyage, spent the evening drinking with his shipmates, then went to his Mother-in-Law’s house ‘and being somewhat in drink asked his mother for his wifes portion, who immediately replyed, saying she would pay him his portion before he went to bed.’ Mrs Smith asked him to step into the parlour to receive what was due to him:

“Whereupon, she called in her husband, and another strumpet that were her maid, and having a long knife in her hand, gave him a mortal stab, piercing him to his very heart at the first blow.

The maid (like a cunning strumpet stood ready with a Bason to receive his bloud, the men (sic) also assisting them with his utmost power…”

But, immediately, “by a little Boy it was discovered, who seeing his brother fall, & his bloud to run in a bason, presently ran out, and cryed his Brother were slain.” Mrs Smith tried to get the child back into the house, but it was too late, neighbours called the watch, who, denied entrance at the front door, broke in at the back, and found the corpse.

The three were arrested, and taken to Whitechapel prison. On trial at Newgate, the women had nothing to say, but the husband vainly denied that he had been present. He was sentenced to hang at Tyburn, as was the maid, but the sentence on the old woman was that she was to be to be hanged at her own door. Suddenly, the pamphleteer launches into a bit of biographical detail:

“It is to be noted, that this Mrs Smith hath for many years, lived a most wicked & lewd life, keeping beautiful Creatures, (but many graines too light) within her house. And it is further related, that she had followed the trade so long, that she had worne her nose third-bare, being ashamed of the colour and out-side, insomuch, that her face were very much deformed. But in a short time she got a remedy for it, by getting a counterfeit Nose, having worn it for many years together.”

A sordid tale: a brothel-keeper (a noseless syphilitic) gets her daughter respectably married off to a sailor, but for a price. He is fobbed off from immediate payment of the dowry, and goes back to sea. Counter to Mrs Smith’s sanguine expectations, he survived, and, emboldened by drink, demanded payment of the promised dowry from his formidable Mother in Law. She barely took a moment to plan and execute his killing, accomplished with one accurate stab.

But isn’t this a case of low-life imitating low art? John Lawrence seems to have stepped out of a ballad: the sailor who returns to a marriage that was never meant to last, the sudden violence, the child who exposes the crime, and, as my colleague Adam Roberts reminds me, the collection of his blood in a basin. I suppose that households had basins for medicinal bleedings, and their utility was obvious to an old woman long familiar with doctors, who intends to stab her son in law.

This is the ballad of Lamkin, or ‘Long Lankyn’, in one of its recited forms. Lamkin is a bogeyman, neither alive nor dead (one feels that Mrs Smith probably had more than something of the same creepy vibe), an eternal have-not that will assail those who live well, and find ready allies among servants irked by the ease and sumptuous possessions of the family they work for:

Said my lord to his ladye,
as he mounted his horse,
Take care of Long Lankyn,
who lies in the moss.

~

Said my lord to his ladye,
as he rode away,
Take care of Long Lankyn,
who lies in the clay.

~

Let the doors be all bolted,
and the windows all pinned,
And leave not a hole
for a mouse to creep in.

~

Then he kissed his fair ladye,
and he rode away;
He must be in London
before break of day.
~

The doors were all bolted,
and the windows were pinned,
All but one little window,
where Long Lankyn crept in.

~

'Where is the lord of this house?'
said Long Lankyn:
'He is gone to fair London,'
said the false nurse to him.

~

'Where is the ladye of this house?'
said Long Lankyn:
'She’s asleep in her chamber,'
said the false nurse to him.

~

'Where is the heir of this house?'
said Long Lankyn:
'He’s asleep in his cradle,'
said the false nurse to him.

~

'We’ll prick him, and prick him,
all over with a pin,
And that will make your ladye
to come down to him.'

~

So he pricked him and pricked,
all over with a pin,
And the nurse held a basin
for the blood to run in.

~

'Oh nurse, how you sleep!
Oh nurse, how you snore!
And you leave my little son Johnstone
to cry and to roar.'

~

'I’ve tried him with suck,
and I’ve tried him with pap;
So come down, my fair ladye,
and nurse him in your lap.'

~

'Oh nurse, how you sleep!
Oh nurse, how you snore!
And you leave my little son Johnstone
to cry and to roar.'

~

'I’ve tried him with apples,
I’ve tried him with pears;
So come down, my fair ladye,
and rock him in your chair.'

~

'How can I come down,
'tis so late in the night,
When there’s no candle burning,
nor fire to give light?'

~

'You have three silver mantles
as bright as the sun;
So come down, my fair ladye,
by the light of one.'

~

'Oh spare me, Long Lankyn,
oh spare me till twelve o'clock,
You shall have as much gold
as you can carry on your back.'

~

'If I had as much gold
as would build me a tower,'
[.....]
[.....]

'Oh spare me, Long Lankyn,
oh spare me one hour,
You shall have my daughter Betsy,
she is a sweet flower.'

~

'Where is your daughter Betsy?
she may do some good;
She can hold the silver basin,
to catch your heart’s blood.'

~

Lady Betsy was sitting
in her window so high,
And she saw her father,
as he was riding by.

~


'Oh father, oh father,
don’t lay the blame on me;
'Twas the false nurse and Long Lankyn
that killed your ladye.'

~

Then Long Lankyn was hanged
on a gallows so high,
And the false nurse was burnt
in a fire just by.

Interesting that the lady offers her daughter to the ghoul to buy time – and that they can somehow hang Lamkin. There’s the collection of blood in a basin by the Jew’s daughter, in the ballad of the same name, and by Lavinia in Titus Andronicus. My image is an upmarket 18th century barber's basin, and if you didn't care what it had been used for, it's yours for $1875 from:

http://www.michaeljwhitmanantiques.com/cmpg/gallery2/main.php?g2_itemId=37


Sunday, June 15, 2008

The double sense of Mary Moore

























A long time since I did a witchcraft posting, and one aim for this blog or website is, eventually, to have said something about most of the major pamphlets on British cases.

Mary Moore’s Wonderfull News from the North of 1650 is the one pamphlet about a particular witchcraft accusation written by an early modern English woman. Marion Gibson very understandably therefore selects it in her anthology of photo reprints Women and Witchcraft in Popular Literature. But the editor’s brief introduction to this particular work is curiously indecisive: while the sub-title is ‘Women writing against women’, Gibson does her best to make a partial exoneration of her author: “Moore appears … as a lonely, frightened figure calling for assistance from others … her identity is secondary and relational, and she seems to have no wish to assert herself.’ Gibson concludes “Is the pamphlet more interested in family harmony, economic well being, or the political unity of the divided English nation?”

The editor seems to be unable to shake off a desire to re-make Mary Moore into a woman responding comprehensibly, and not unsympathetically, to problems that she was plunged into by her daughter.

But, counter to Gibson’s claims, Mary Moore was in fact backed by ‘the rest of the parish that feared God’, who gathered in large numbers to witness the latest antics of her murderous little hypocrite of a daughter. When she asked assistance from others, it was in the form of her strident demand to the local JP’s and justices to have her adversary, Dorothy Swinow, hanged as a witch. Her campaign, ruthlessly pushed, divided her own family, seems to have begun in a grievance about an inheritance, and expresses throughout a view of the nation as absolutely divided into the godly and the wicked.

Marion Gibson also seems more minded to emphasise the likelihood that the royalist gentlewoman Dorothy Swinow probably survived, than the sad fact that two other people who died (one by hanging, the other in prison) as a result of an eleven year old girl’s accusations, which were pushed inexorably on by this early modern woman writer.

The case began as these things tended to do: young Margaret Muschamp fell ill. She was one of the many children in two former families brought together by the second marriages of her mother Mary Muschamp and Mary’s husband Edward Moore. It is a household wealthy enough for Margaret to be picking up, secreting, and apparently voiding ‘virginall wires’ (coughed up in her fits along with the more usual small household items and rubbish). The family clearly considered itself as being ‘godly’, but this religiosity yields easily to extraordinary attempts at folk counter-magic. Alongside the assertions of piety, that young Margaret can sing through the words of three psalms gets represented as partial proof of her supernatural godliness: I am not sure that the godliness went all that deep.

Unlike Martha Hatfield of Sheffield

http://roy25booth.blogspot.com/2008/04/wise-virgin-martha-hatfield-1652.html , Margaret opted for, or was pushed into, witchcraft as an explanation of her physical woes. She knows the name of a man reputed locally to be, as her mother puts it, “one it was suspected could do more than God allowed of”, a John Hutton, and she also knows the name of the woman her mother blames for deaths and illnesses which apparently affect property rights and the ownership of estates (adversely so, as far as her mother was concerned). How the accusation gets made is revealing: it is important that this matter be presented as being as providentially guided as possible: in one of her fits, the child seems to be making the movements of writing (interesting in itself that she can), so they lay paper on her prone body, and put a pen in her hand, and on this paper she – or rather, heaven speaking through her without her knowing – writes “Jo. Hu. Do. Swo”. Margaret does not miss a trick: the papers on which she repeats this act, she then seems compelled to destroy: burning them in the fire, tearing and chewing them, and finding them if they have been hidden from her with preternatural acuity.

Mary Moore and her niece (who may be daughter of Mary Moore’s recently dead sister) are represented as, later on, coming to a reassuringly simultaneous expression of their interpretation of ‘Jo. Hu. Do. Swo.’, a joint opinion delivered with all due piety: “the lord pardon our thoughts, if we thinke amiss: So revealing our thoughts to one another, and pitch both on Dorothy Swinow”.

Was Mary Moore really the dupe of her own daughter (one of those 17th century children morally warped by a sense of her own righteousness), or might she be seen as driving and coaching Margaret (much a Brian Gunter used his daughter Anne in the South Moreton village feud in 1605)? Mother and daughter worked in a collusion that was either covert, or unconscious. They both profess to believe that Dorothy Swinow will afflict (and finally kill) member after member of the Muschamp-Moore clan unless she is stopped. But to attack her effectively using the law, what would elsewhere be called a ‘confessing witch’ would be useful. John Hutton, referred to contemptuously as ‘the Rogue’ has a larger part scripted for him than he probably realised. “Mistress sayd he my life is in your hand”: he is represented as so obviously guilty of witchcraft that only cooperation might save him. Hutton was probably drawn into this through familiarity with the role of identifying a witch through magical means: but mother and daughter want to implicate him and Swinow together in deaths that apparently have seen Swinow accruing lands and the possibility of further inheritance.

The gambit is bold: Margaret feigns herself to be fighting off invisible assailants; in these daily battles (for through all this two year campaign, she is reported always to have enjoyed a good night’s sleep) she is assisted by her two ‘good objects’, angels she can see “bodyed like Birds, as big as Turkies, and faces like Christians, but the sweetest creatures that ever eyes beheld”.

These imaginary friends tip Margaret off about who is sending the evil spirits, how long it will be before they can appear again to Margaret, and who will be afflicted next among the children, and (of course) all these things come true. They also apparently advise the girl that relief will come if she gets the blood of Hutton or Swinow: just two drops will save her. So her mother and her entourage descend on Hutton. He thinks he knows what they want him to say, so he busily accuses Swinow of the crime, but he gets represented as somehow knowing that the game was up as far as he was concerned: “if you will have my hearts bloud take it, for my life is in your power, none speaking of bloud to him”. Hutton is made in this verbal anticipation to endorse what they aim to do: “She told him the child had wrote two drops of his or her bloud would save her life; and if the Devill had left so much in him, she would (if it pleased the Lord) have it ere they parted.”

This is a variant on ‘scratching’ the suspected witch above the mouth to break his or her hold. The parenthesis about ‘if’ all this pleases the Lord maybe is a small tremor of suppressed recognition: evil familiar spirits came to the witch for blood, after all. The child jabs away at Hutton’s forehead half a dozen times, but no blood appears. Finally, with Mary Moore saying she will have his heart’s blood rather than miss, some is extracted from his arm, and wiped onto the paper where the girl wrote out this requirement. With this they leave in godly triumph, but Hutton raises a tempest against them on their journey back through Sunderland, and they are shadowed by for a couple of miles by two suspiciously diabolic lambs (yes, white lambs).

This expedition ends with the participants lost in moral anarchy, hanging on the words of a dangerously credited child: “Thus for two hours together she continued in a very heavenly religious Discourse with these Angels, rejoicing that she had got two drops of blood; saying, if her Brother had as much, it would save his life also”. The pious retinue duly visit Hutton again later, to the same sanguinary purpose.

Six closely printed pages are taken up with what purport to be Margaret’s words in her ‘extreme fit’ on 2nd February, 1647: self-congratulatory humbug on never having blasphemed in all her torments, and indignation about being denied justice, which simply means the sentence appropriate to Swinow’s monstrous actions: “It is sayd in the word of God, you shall not suffer a witch to live; yet she consults with witches, and consults with their wayes, which by the Law of God deserves death”

There is a notable stylistic feature in Mary Moore’s pamphlet: chronic ambiguity about the preceding direct object of pronouns: “alas, she sayd I have two weeks and two days yet before my Comforters come, which made her enemies thus cruell, that if it were in her power to take their lives she would…” Here Margaret is lamenting that her good angels are away on one of their dramatic but curiously scheduled absences, so her enemies Hutton and Swinow are attacking her: if it were in (Swinow’s) power to kill Margaret and various of her siblings, she would. But the persistent grammatical ambiguity seems expressive of the ambiguity of the situation: Margaret and her mother want the power to take the lives of Swinow and her allies.

Here’s another example, where young Margaret is “In the Chamber, where the Spectators heard her for two houres, most divinely and heavenly discourse with them … praying for her enemy DOROTHY SWINOW, with the teares running downe her face, that if the Lord had mercy in store to grant her it, lamenting the sad condition she had run her soule into, for satisfying her malice to lessen her hope of eternity…” The godly and edified neighbours briefly flicker into the gawping spectators at a show; and Mary Moore’s string of ‘her’ pronouns subverts the pamphlet against Dorothy Swinow into something like the counter-pamphlet that might have come from ‘her enemy’, in which young Margaret is the sorceress whose malice has imperilled her soul.

Despite the accumulated evidence from the children, all the witnesses to their torments, the voided virginal wires and the rest, the magistracy duck and weave about committing Dorothy Swinow, who lives conveniently for them over the county border in Durham. These legal pretexts for inaction leave Margaret and her mother ‘crying for justice’. In another fit, Margaret addresses her good angels in a complaint about how “that Godlesse theife DOROTHY SWINOW, by the instigation of the Divell, had hardned the heart of both Judges and Justices against her, and now at this instant (sayd she) is using meanes to harden her husbands heart against her too (which she knows will be cruellest to her of all”.

Master Moore had clearly had enough of his second wife and step-daughter’s campaign, and we can see Mary Moore putting into her daughter’s mouth her own explanation of this, all of a piece with the rest of her charges: it is Swinow’s doing. In the naming of Swinow as a ‘godless thief’, the original cause of the rancour between the two women resurfaces: property.

Hutton ‘the rogue’ was elderly, and died in prison. In a strange mirror to the main story, a confessing witch called Margaret White testified that she and her sister Jane, and Dorothy Swinow, had all been witches together. In this case, perhaps aware that this Jane Martin was just the sister of an illiterate woman, and backed by no gentry family, the justices did act, and her own sister’s accusation led to Jane Martin being hanged.

Did anything stop Mary and Margaret Moore? If her second husband had come to disapprove, Mary Moore nevertheless burst into print with her vehement pamphlet. My own surmise would be that what she published was her campaign’s nemesis: in her ambiguous prose, an ambiguous tale gets told. It maybe allowed for cool reflection on her expeditions to take drops of blood from Hutton. People were worried about counter-charms as being identical to witchcraft itself; after this, maybe she lost her supporters.

Maybe there’s another clue escapes about what the other side were saying. On page 9, Margaret Moore finally, explicitly names the perpetrator, and touches on motive. The prose is horribly ambiguous, but might be read as saying that while Mary Moore’s sister, Lady Margaret Hambleton, had died (and her estate, settled on her only for life, was lost)

Swinow’s only son had married the daughter of a Mr. Fauset. Fauset also had a son: to secure the Fauset estate to her own family, Swinow used witchcraft to cause this son to suffer ‘unnatural fits’. “But thinking Mr FAUSET would follow her more strictly there, then we could doe here, let him alone, to be more vehement with us, every fit promising me ease, if I would consent to lay it on my mother…”

Could this possibly be Margaret saying that the evil spirits tormenting her, sent by Swinow, professed that they would leave off tormenting Margaret if Margaret would accuse her mother of causing the ‘unnatural fits’ of the younger Fauset by witchcraft? The possibility creeps out into view that as the Muschamp-Moore family lost land, and Swinow gained, Mary Moore saw herself as liable to be charged with envious malefic witchcraft herself. Her accusations of witchcraft against Swinow massively pre-empted this.

Two women were battling for local property and influence. One of them knows a lot about witchcraft, who practiced it locally, its effects, and counter charms, that is, the author of this chronically ambiguous accusatory pamphlet. Its anger, its rancorous hatred allows a trace of self-accusation to escape. Mary Moore abused her own children in her campaign against Swinow, ruthlessly mobilising them to incriminate her enemy. She tells us that for sixteen weeks, her daughter only allowed her lips to be wetted with ‘a little milk and water’, but was not diminished in ‘fatnesse or favour anything at all’. Mary fed Margaret at night, and coached her on what to say in her contests with Swinow’s spirits, when more evidence was needed, supplied her with the props to substantiate the involuntary possession. It’s not just the only witchcraft pamphlet written by an early modern English woman, it is tantamount to being the only pamphlet written by an early modern witch.