In honor of Halloween, I present the text of a misogynistic 1643 pamphlet about the murder of a witch in Newbury, England. This particular case involves a group of men freaking out that a woman was surfing (!) and killing her for it. The original spelling and punctuation is given here, as reprinted in Walter Money's First and Second Battles of Newbury etc., second ed. (1884).
Certain, Strange, and true Discovery of a
W I T C H
Being taken by some of the Parliamentary Forces, as she was sliding
On a small planck board and sayling on it over the River at Newbery,
Together with the strange and true manner of her death, with the propheticall
Words and Speeches she used at the same time.
Printed by John Hammond 1643.
Many are in the belief that this silly sex of Woman can by no meanes attaine to that so vile and dammed a practice of sorcery and Witchcraft in regard to their illeterateness and want of learning, which many Men of greate learning have become. Adam by temptatation toucht and tasted the deceiving apple so some high learn'd and read, by the same Tempter that deceived him hath bin ensnared to contract with the Devil as for example in the instancing a few English, Bacon of Oxford, Vandermast of Hollande, Bungy of Germany, Fostus of the same place, Franciscus the English monke of Bery, Doctor Blackleach and divars, others that were tedious to relate of, but how weake Woman should attain unto it many are incredible of the same and many too are opposite of opinion gainst the same, that giving a possibility to their doubtings that the malice and inveterate malice of a woman entirely devoted to her revengefull wrath frequenting desolate and desart places and giving way unto their wicked temptation may have commune with that world roaring Lion and covenant and contract upon condition, the like hath in divars places and tymes been tried at the assises of Lancaster, Carlile, Buckingham and elsewhere, but to come to the intended relation of this Witch's and Sorceresse's doings as is manifestly and credibly related by Gentlemen, Commanders and Captaines of the Earle of Essex his Army.
Apart of the Army marching thro' Newbery some of the Souldiers being scattered by reason of theyre loytering by the way in gathering Nuts, Apples, Plummes, Black berries and the like, one of them by chance in climbing up a Tree being pursued by his fellows or Comrade in Waggish Merriment jesting one with another espied on the river being there adjacent a tall lean slender Woman as he supposed to his amasement and great terrour treading of the water with her feete with as much ease and firmnesse as if one should walk or trample on the earth, wherewith he softly calls and beck'ned to his fellows to behold it and with all possible speed that could be to obscure them from her sight, who as conveniently as they could they did observe, this could be no little amasement unto them you may think to see a Woman dance upon the water, nor could all their sights be deluded, though perhaps one might, but arriving nearer to the Shore they could perceive there was a planck or deale overshadowed with a little shallow water that she stood upon which did beare her up, anon rode by some of the Commanders who were eye-witnesses as much as they and were as much astonished as they could be, still too and fro she fleeted on the water, the boord standing firm about upright, indeed I have both heerd and read of many that in tempests and on Rivers by casualty have become ship-wrack'd or cast over-boord where catch'g empty Barrells, rudders, boords or plancks have made good shift by the assisting providence of God to get on shore, but not in this woman kind, when as little thinking who perceived her tricks, or that she did imagine that they were the last she should ever show, as we have heard the Swan sings before her death, at last having been sufficiently upon the water he that deceived her alway, did so then, blinding her that she could not see at her landing the ambush that was laid for her, coming upon the shore she gave the boord a push, which they plainly perceived and crossed the river, they searched after her, but could not find her she being landed. The Commanders beholding her gave orders to lay hold on her and bring her to them straight, the which some were feerfull, but some being more valorous than other some, boldly went to her and siesed upon her by the amies demanding what she was, but the woman no whit replying any words unto them they brought her to the Commanders to whom, tho' mightily she was urged she did reply as little, so consulting with themselves what should be done to her, it being so apparently appear'd she was a Witch, being lothe to let her goe and as loth to carry her with them, so they resolved with themselves to make a shot at her, and gave orders to a couple of their Souldiers that were approv'd good marksmen to charge and shoot her strait, which they purposed to doe, so setting her strait again a Mud Banke or wall two of the Souldiers according to their command made ready when having taken aime, gave fire and shot at her, as thinking sure they had sped her, but with a deriding and loud laughter at them she caught theyre bullets in her hands and shewed them, which was stronger testimony than the water that she was the same that their imagination thought her so to be, so resolving with themselves if either fire or sword or halter were sufficient to make an end of her, one let his Carbine close to her breast, where discharging, the bullett back rebound'd like a ball and narrowly it missed his face that was the shooter, this so inraged the Gentlemen that one drew out his sword and manfully ran at her with all the force his strength had power to make, but it prevayled no more than did the shot, the Woman still, tho' speechless, yet in a most contemptible way of scorn still laughing at them, which did the more exhauste their furie against her life, yet one amongst them had heerd that piercing the temples of the head it would prevayl against the strongest sorcery and quell the force of Withcraft, which was allowyd for trial, the Woman hearing this knew that the Devil had left her and her power was gone, whereupon she began aloud to cry and roare, tearing her haire and making piteous moan, which in these words expressed were, And is it come to passe that I must dye indeed, why then his Excellencie the Earle of Essex shall be fortunate and win the field, after which no more words could be got from her, wherewith they immediately discharged a Pistoll underneathe her eare at which she strait sunk downe and dyed, leaving her legacy of a detested carcasse to the wormes, her soule we ought not to judge of, though the evills of her wicked life can scape no censure. FINIS.
10/31/2019 10:09:16 am
Not long before this incident, religious freaks from the same faction closed the public theaters in London because they promoted “lascivious Mirth and Levity.” The ban wasn’t lifted until after Cromwell died and the crown was restored.
10/31/2019 10:14:32 pm
Given that the VVitchcraft stuff is a lie, presumably ewerything else is a lie. Certainly there vvas no "surfing" but the lie is reminiscent of Criss Angel's trick of vvalking on something a couple inches under vvater to create the illusion of vvalking on vvater. VVhy this vvhore vvas alovved to liwe so long is a mystery to me.
10/31/2019 11:41:33 pm
Cut your shite.
11/1/2019 12:48:23 pm
Yeah, a woman clearly standing on a board floating on the surface of a river is just like me standing on something below the surface of water to give the illusion of walking on water. Great catch there.
10/31/2019 11:38:26 pm
Thanks, Jason, for an awesome Halloween post. Best on the web, Brother.
11/1/2019 02:14:18 am
Is this really a true story? I hope not! All the woman wanted was to catch some waves, but instead had these superstitious, scared European men ruin it for her!
11/4/2019 09:07:38 pm
I guess they hadn't discovered paragraphs in 1643?
11/4/2019 09:37:04 pm
What makes this dumb witch think she can just flout every good rule of God and man in the middle of a civil war and get away with it! Thinking you can floating through life will only lead to drowning once reality hits.
Your comment will be posted after it is approved.
Leave a Reply.
I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Esquire, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
Enter your email below to subscribe to my newsletter for updates on my latest projects, blog posts, and activities, and subscribe to Culture & Curiosities, my Substack newsletter.
Terms & Conditions
Please read all applicable terms and conditions before posting a comment on this blog. Posting a comment constitutes your agreement to abide by the terms and conditions linked herein.