Cover image for Witchcraft and society in England and America, 1550-1750
Witchcraft and society in England and America, 1550-1750
Gibson, Marion, 1970-
Publication Information:
Ithaca, NY : Cornell University Press, [2003]

Physical Description:
xiii, 270 pages ; 24 cm
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BF1581 .W56 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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A unique collection of materials, including works of literature as well as historical documents, Witchcraft and Society in England and America, 1550 1750 provides a broad view of how witches and magicians were represented in print and manuscript over three centuries. It combines newly annotated selections from famous texts, such as Macbeth, Doctor Faustus, and The Faerie Queene with unjustly obscure ones: portrayals of witchcraft and magic from private papers, court records, and little-known works of fiction. In this rich, broad context, Marion Gibson presents the voices of "witches," accusers, ministers, physicians, poets, dramatists, magistrates, and witchfinders from both sides of the Atlantic. Each text is introduced with a short essay and fully annotated to explain unfamiliar words and concepts, give biographical details of participants and/or authors, and explore the context in which the text was produced."

Author Notes

Marion Gibson teaches at the University of Exeter in Cornwall, England

Table of Contents

Edmund SpenserBen JonsonMiles Gale (?)Cotton MatherIncrease MatherJohn Hale
Acknowledgementsp. viii
Introductionp. ix
Chapter 1 Witchcraft in the courtsp. 1
1. Acts: how was witchcraft defined?p. 1
An Act against Conjurations, Witchcrafts, Sorcery, and Enchantments 1541/2p. 1
An Act against Conjurations, Enchantments and Witchcrafts 1563p. 3
An Act against Conjuration, Witchcraft and dealing with evil and wicked Spirits 1604p. 5
The Witchcraft Act 1735p. 7
2. Legal documents: how was witchcraft prosecuted?p. 9
Information, Examinations and Indictmentsp. 9
Chapter 2 Witchcraft in Elizabethan and Jacobean Englandp. 19
1. A cunning man in a church courtp. 19
The examination of John Walsh or Welshe, 1566
2. Witches and magistrates: Essex 1582p. 24
A true and just Recorde (London, 1582)W.W.
3. Witchcraft at the Assizes: Northamptonshire 1612p. 52
A Brief abstract of the Arraignment of nine Witches at Northampton, 1612
Chapter 3 English demonologiesp. 61
1. Warnings from a witchcraft believerp. 61
A Dialogue concerning Witches and Witchcraftes (London, 1593)George Gifford
2. Sweeping scepticp. 74
The Discoverie of Witchcraft (London, 1584)Reginald Scot
3. Expert observerp. 90
The Triall of Witch-craft (London, 1616)John Cotta
Chapter 4 Stage and page--witches in literaturep. 97
1. Comedyp. 97
The Witch (1613-15?)Thomas Middleton
2. Tragedyp. 112
Macbeth (1606?)William Shakespeare
3. Tragi-comic documentaryp. 124
The Witch of Edmonton (1621)John Ford and Thomas Dekker and William Rowley
4. Poetryp. 149
The Faerie Queene (Books 1-3, 1590)p. 149
The Masque of Queenes (1609)p. 152
'Witchcraft ye practice of deluded minds'p. 154
Chapter 5 Possession--the devil and the witchp. 155
1. The Boy of Burtonp. 155
The Most Wonderfull and True Storie, of a certaine Witch named Alse Gooderige ... (London, 1597)Jesse Bee, others
2. Frustrations of a failed witch-hunterp. 162
'A Discourse of witchcraft' (1621-2)Edward Fairfax
Chapter 6 Learned men and magicp. 171
1. Tragedyp. 171
The Tragical History of Dr Faustus (A Text; London, 1604)Christopher Marlowe
2. Comedyp. 187
The Merry Devil of Edmonton (1604?)
Chapter 7 Magic and money--two trickstersp. 193
1. A wise womanp. 193
The Wise Woman of Hogsdon (1604?)Thomas Heywood
2. A 'chemical cozener' and an astrologerp. 199
The Alchemist (1610)Ben Jonson
Chapter 8 Witchcraft in Americap. 207
1. Legal documentsp. 208
Examination of Bridget Bishopp. 208
Indictment of Bridget Bishop for afflicting Mercy Lewisp. 214
Susannah Sheldon, evidence against Bridget Bishop and othersp. 215
2. Demonologiesp. 217
The Wonders of the Invisible World (Boston and London, 1693)p. 217
Cases of Conscience ... (Boston and London, 1693)p. 220
A Modest Enquiry Into the Nature of Witchcraft (Boston, 1702)p. 223
Chapter 9 Decline and change--Restoration to eighteenth centuryp. 227
1. Against the scepticsp. 227
Saducismus Triumphatus (London, 1681)Joseph Glanvill
2. The 'last word' in scepticismp. 240
An Historical Essay Concerning Witchcraft (London, 1718)Francis Hutchinson
3. Against the devil's partyp. 242
A System of Magick, or a History of the Black Art (London, 1727)Daniel Defoe
Select bibliography and further readingp. 251
Indexp. 263