name of Wardol, but the cat returned saying Wardol's faith was so great he could not be harmed. She also admitted that she always prayed in Latin, not in English, which seemed to upset the townspeople more than her alleged witchcraft crimes, for it was considered "God's word" that prayers could be said in "the English and mother tongue that they best understand." Waterhouse replied that Sathan would not allow her to pray in English.
While Joan remained free of trouble after the trial, Elizabeth Francis encountered more difficulty with the law. She was later indicted for bewitching a woman, who fell ill for 10 days. Francis pleaded innocent but was found guilty and sentenced to another year in jail plus four confinements to the public pillory.
The second and third mass trials at Chelmsford. In 1579 four women were charged with BEwiTCHMENT; one case involved another evil black dog. One woman was a repeat offender: Elizabeth Francis, who was charged with causing the slow death of one Alice Poole in 1578. Francis pleaded innocent, but this time the court was out of patience. She was hanged.
Ellen Smith was charged with bewitching a four-year-old child, who cried out, "Away with the witch!" as she died. The child's mother then saw a large black dog go out the door of her house. Smith, whose mother had been hanged as a witch, threw herself on the mercy of the court and was hanged.
A third accused witch, Alice Nokes, was also hanged, but the fourth, Margery Stanton, accused of bewitching a gelding and a cow to death, was released because of the weakness of the case against her.
Ten years later, in 1589, nine women and one man were brought up on charges of bewitchment. The bulk of the evidence against them came from children, and once again, testimony as to the existence of familiars was accepted by the court. Trial records indicate the fate of only seven of the 10: four were hanged for bewitching others to death, and three were found not guilty on charges of bewitching persons and property.
Matthew Hopkins comes to Chelmsford. The fourth major trial took place in 1645, at the instigation of England's most notorious witch finder, MATTHEw Hopkins. Hopkins made a substantial living traveling about the countryside whipping up antiwitch hysteria. He promised to find witches, bring them to trial and get them convicted—the last was most important, for his fees were based on numbers of persons convicted. His methods relied heavily upon establishing the existence of familiars and finding witch's marks, and he relied as well on TORTuRE, such as walking and sleep deprivation, to extract confessions.
It is not known exactly how many people were charged by Hopkins at Chelmsford, but the jail calendar and pamphlets published after the trials listed 38 men and women, of whom Hopkins claimed 29 were condemned. Most were hanged; several died in jail. Hopkins amassed evidence against them from 92 persons. Much of the testimony was coaxed from witnesses with plenty of suggestion added by Hopkins. For example, a child who spoke of nightmares and being bitten in bed was not bitten by fleas, which were in the bed, but by a witch's familiar, Hopkins suggested. Once the possibility of a familiar was established, Hopkins ordered a search of the suspect's premises and body. Any animal, from a toad to a rat to a cat, was immediately declared the said familiar, while any unusual marks upon the suspect's body added further proof.
For example, Hopkins succeeded in getting one Margaret Landish to admit that, while lying ill, "something" had come to her and "sucked her on her privy parts and much pained and tormented her." Landish was encouraged to speculate who sent this imp, and she pointed the finger at Susan Cock, another defendant. The familiars soon multiplied to include a rat, mice, kittens, TOADs, cats, rabbits, dogs and frogs, which were alleged to have tormented many and killed children and adults. Margaret Moone admitted to harboring an army of 12 imps, which she dispatched to destroy bread in a bakery and to upset brewing. When her landlord evicted her in favor of a man who would pay a higher rent, Moone said she got her revenge by sending a plague of lice to the landlord's household. Anne Cate signed a confession admitting to sending her four mice familiars to bite the knees of a man who then died.
Hopkins went into great detail regarding the descriptions and activities of these malevolent imps, perhaps because he once claimed to have been frightened by a familiar, which he described as "a black thing, proportioned like a cat oneley it was thrice as big." It stared at him and then ran away, followed by a greyhound.
Of the 38 known accused in the Chelmsford trials, 17 were hanged; six were declared guilty but reprieved; four died in prison; and two were acquitted. The fate of the remainder is not certain.
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