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The Confession of a Lancaster Witch, 1613

The following text is the official contemporary account of the facts surrounding the Lancashire Witch Trials, which took place at Lancaster Assizes, England on the 18th and 19th of August, 1612. Of the twenty accused men and women of Pendle Hill or Samlesbury, eleven were found guilty and hanged, with another pilloried.

Elizabeth Southerns (known as Demdike, below) was in her 80s when tried, and had been regarded as a witch for a half-century. The following account includes details of the devil obtaining blood from Demdike, which presumably leaves the witch marked.

Based on this testimony, Demdike was sent to Lancaster Gaol (jail), accused of witchcraft, child murder and cannibalism. She died while awaiting trial.

The voluntarie Confession
and Examination of Elizabeth Sowtherns alias
Demdike, taken at the Fence in the Forrest
of Pendle in the Countie
of Lancaster.

The second day of Aprill, Annoq; Regni Regis Iacobi
AnggliŠ, &c. Decimo, et ScotiŠ, Quadragesimo quinto;
Before Roger Nowell of Reade Esquire, one of his
Maiesties Iustices of the peace within
the sayd Countie, Viz.

He said Elizabeth Sowtherns confesseth, and sayth; That about twentie yeares past, as she was comming homeward from begging, there met her this Examinate neere vnto a Stonepit in Gouldshey, in the sayd Forrest of Pendle, a Spirit or Deuill in the shape of a Boy, the one halfe of his Coate blacke, and the other browne, who bade this Examinate stay, saying to her, that if she would giue him her Soule, she should haue any thing that she would request. Wherevpon this Examinat demaunded his name? and the Spirit answered, his name was Tibb: and so this Examinate in hope of such gaine as was promised by the sayd Deuill or Tibb, was contented to giue her Soule to the said Spirit: And for the space of fiue or sixe yeares next after, the sayd Spirit or Deuill appeared at sundry times vnto her this Examinate about Day-light Gate, alwayes bidding her stay, and asking her this Examinate what she would haue or doe? To whom this Examinate replyed, Nay nothing: for she this Examinate said, she wanted nothing yet. And so about the end of the said sixe yeares, vpon a Sabboth day in the morning, this Examinate hauing a litle Child vpon her knee, and she being in a slumber, the sayd Spirit appeared vnto her in the likenes of a browne Dogg, forcing himselfe to her knee, to get blood vnder her left Arme: and she being without any apparrell sauing her Smocke, the said Deuill did get blood vnder her left arme. And this Examinate awaking, sayd, Iesus saue my Child; but had no power, nor could not say, Iesus saue her selfe: wherevpon the Browne Dogge vanished out of this Examinats sight: after which, this Examinate was almost starke madd for the space of eight weekes.

And vpon her examination, she further confesseth, and saith. That a little before Christmas last, this Examinates Daughter hauing been to helpe Richard Baldwyns Folkes at the Mill: This Examinates Daughter did bid her this Examinate goe to the sayd Baldwyns house, and aske him some thing for her helping of his Folkes at the Mill, (as aforesaid:) and in this Examinates going to the said Baldwyns house, and neere to the sayd house, she mette with the said Richard Baldwyn; Which Baldwyn sayd to this Examinate, and the said Alizon Deuice (who at that time ledde this Examinate, being blinde) get out of my ground Whores and Witches, I will burne the one of you, and hang the other. To whom this Examinate answered: I care not for thee, hang thy selfe: Presently wherevpon, at this Examinates going ouer the next hedge, the said Spirit or Diuell called Tibb, appeared vnto this Examinat, and sayd, Reuenge thee of him. To whom, this Examinate sayd againe to the said Spirit. Revenge thee eyther of him, or his. And so the said Spirit vanished out of her sight, and she neuer saw him since.

And further this Examinate confesseth, and sayth, that the speediest way to take a mans life away by Witchcraft, is to make a Picture of Clay, like vnto the shape of the person whom they meane to kill, & dry it thorowly: and when they would haue them to be ill in any one place more then an other; then take a Thorne or Pinne, and pricke it in that part of the Picture you would so haue to be ill: and when you would haue any part of the Body to consume away, then take that part of the Picture, and burne it. And when they would haue the whole body to consume away, then take the remnant of the sayd Picture, and burne it: and so therevpon by that meanes, the body shall die.

From The Wonderfull Discoverie of Witches in the Countie of Lancaster , by Thomas Potts, Clerk of the Lancaster Assizes, 1613.