Saducismus Triumphatus: or, Full and Plain Evidence Concerning Witches and Apparitions/Dr. H. More's Letter

Dr. H.M. his Letter with the Postscript to Mr. J. G. minding him of the great Expedience and usefulness of his new intended Edition of the Dæmon of Tedworth, and briefly representing to him the marvellous weakness and gullerie of Mr. Webster's display of Witchcraft.


WHen I was at London, I called on your Bookseller, to know in what forwardness this new intended Impression of the Story of the Dæmon of Tedworth was, which will undeceive the World touching that fame spread abroad, as if Mr. Mompesson and your self had acknowledged the business to have been a meer Trick or Imposture. But the Story with your ingenious Considerations about Witchcraft, being so often printed already, he said, it behoved him to take care how he ventur'd on a new Impression, unless he had some new Matter of that kind to add, which might make this new Edition the more certainly sailable; and therefore he expected the issue of that noised Story of the Spectre at Exeter, seen so oft for the discovering of a Murther committed some thirty Years ago. But the event of this business, as to juridical process, not answering expectation, he was discouraged from making use of it, many things being reported to him from thence in favour to the party most concerned. But I told him a Story of one Mrs. Britton her appearing to her Maid after her Death, very well attested, though not of such a Tragical kind as that of Exeter, which he thought considerable. But of Discoveries of Murther I never met with any Story more plain and unexceptionable than that in Mr. John Webster his display of supposed Witchcraft: The Book indeed it self, I confess, is but a weak and impertinent piece; but that Story weighty and convincing, and such as himself (though otherwise an affected Caviller against almost all Stories of Witchcraft, Apparitions) is constrained to assent to, as you shall see from his own Confession. I shall for your better ease, or because you haply may not have the Book, transcribe it out of the Writer himself, though it be something, Chap. 16. Page 298 about the Year of Lord 1632 (as near as I can remember, having lost my Notes and the Copy of the Letters to Serjeant Hutton, but am sure that I do most perfectly remember the Substance of the Story). Near unto Chester in the Street, there lived one Walker a Yeoman of good Estate, and a Widower, who had a young Woman to his Kinswoman that kept his House, who was by the Neighbours suspected to be with Child, and was towards the dark of the Evening one Night sent avvay with one Mark Sharp, who was a Collier, or one that digged Coals under ground, and one that had been born in Blakeburn Hundred in Lancashire; and so she was not heard of a long time, and no noise or little was made about it. In the Winter time after, one James Graham, or Grime, for so in that Country they call them) being a Miller, and living about 2 Miles from the place where Walker lived, was one Night alone very late in the Mill grinding Corn, and about 12 or 1 a Clock at Night, he came down the Stairs from having been putting Corn in the Hopper, the Mill doors being shut, there stood a Woman upon the midst of the Floor with her Hair about her Head hanging down and all Bloody, with five large Wounds on her Head. He being much affrighted and amaz'd, began to bless himself, and at last asked her who she was, and what she wanted? To which she said, I am the Spirit of such a Woman who lived with Walker, and being got with Child by him, he promised to send me to a private place, where I should be well lookt to till I was brought in Bed and well again, and then I should come again and keep his House. And accordingly, said the Apparition, I was one Night late sent away with one Mark Sharp, who upon a Moor, naming a place that the Miller knew, flew at me with a Pick, such as Men dig Coals withal, and gave me these five Wounds, and after threw my Body into a Coal-pit hard by, and hid the Pick under a Bank; and his Shoes and Stockings being bloody, he endeavoured to wash them but seeing the Blood would not forth, he hid them there. And the Apparition further told the Miller, that he must be the Man to reveal it, or else that she must still appear and haunt him. The Miller returned home very sad and heavy, but spoke not one Word of what he had seen, but eschewed as much as he could to stay in the Mill within Night without Company, thinking thereby to escape the seeing again of that frightful Apparition. But notwithstanding, one Night when it began to be dark, the Apparition met him again, and seemed very fierce and cruel, and threatened him, that if he did not reveal the Murder she would continually persue and haunt him; yet for all this, he still concealed it until St. Thomas Eve before Christmas, when being soon after Sun set walking in his Garden, she appeared again, and then so threatned him, and affrighted him, that he faithfully promised to reveal it next Morning. In the Morning he went to a Magistrate and made the whole Matter known with all the Circumstances; and diligent search being made, the Body was found in a Coal-pit with five Wounds in the Head, and the Pick and Shoes and Stockings yet bloody, in every Circumstance as the Apparition had related unto the Miller; whereupon Walker and Mark Sharp were both Apprehended, but would confess nothing. At the Assizes following, I think it was at Durham, they were Arraigned, found Guilty, Condemn'd and Executed; but I could never hear they confest the Fact. There were some that reported the Apparition did appear to the Judge, or the Fore-man of the Jury, who was alive in Chester in the Street about ten Years ago, as I have been credibly inform'd, but of that I know no certainty: There are many Persons yet alive that can remember this strange Murder and the discovery of it; for it was, and sometimes yet is, as much discoursed of in the North Country as any thing that almost hath ever been heard of, and the relation Printed, tho' now not to be gotten. I relate this with the greater confidence (though I may fail in some of the Circumstances) because I saw and read the Letter that was sent to Serjeant Hutton, who then lived at Goldsbrugh in Yorkshire, from the Judge before whom Walker and Mark Sharp were tried, and by whom they were Condemn'd, and had a Copy of it until about the Year 1658, when I had it and many other Books and Papers taken from me; and this I confess to be one of the most convincing Stories, being of undoubted verity, that ever I read, heard or knew of, and carrieth with it the most evident force to make the most incredulous Spirit to be satisfied that there are really sometimes such things as Apparitions; thus far he. This Story is so considerable that I make mention of it in my Scholia on my Immortality of the Soul, in my Volumen Philisophicum, Tom. 2. which I accquainting a Friend of mine with, a Prudent, Intelligent Person, Dr. J.D. he of his own accord offered me, it being a thing of such consequence, to send to a Friend of his in the North for greater assurance of the truth of the Narrative, which motion I willingly embracing he did accordingly. The Answer to this Letter from his Friend Mr. Shepherdson, is this, I have done what I can to inform my self of the Passage of Sharp and Walker; there are very few Men that I could meet that were then Men, or at the Tryal, saving these two in the inclosed Paper, both Men at that time, and both at the Trial; and for Mr. Lumley, he lived next door to Walker, and what he hath given under his Hand, can depose if there were occasion. The other Gentleman writ his Attestation with his own Hand; but I being not there got not his name to it. I could have sent you twenty Hands that could have said thus much and more by Hearsay, but I thought these most proper that could speak from their own Eyes and Ears. Thus far Mr. Shepherdson, the Doctor's discreet and faithful Intelligencer; now for Mr. Lumly of Lumly, being an ancient Gentleman, and at the Trial of Walker and Sharp upon the Murder of Anne Walker, saith, That he doth very well remember that the said Anne was Servant to Walker, and that she was supposed to be with Child, but would not disclose by whom; but being removed to her Aunts in the same Town called Dame Caire, told her Aunt that he that got her with Child would take care both for her and it, and bid her not trouble her self. After some time she had been at her Aunts, it was observed that Sharp came to Lumly one Night, being a sworn Brother of the said Walker's; and they two that Night called her forth from her Aunts House, which Night she was Murder'd; about fourteen Days after the Murder, there appeared to one Graime a Fuller, at his Mill, six Miles from Lumly, the likeness of a Woman with her Hair about her Head, and the appearance of five Wounds in her Head, as the said Graime gave it in Evidence, that that Appearance bid him go to a Justice of Peace, and relate to him, how that Walker and Sharp had Murthered her in such a place as she was Murthured; but he fearing to disclose a thing of that nature against a Person of Credit as Walker was, would not have done it; upon which the said Graime did go to a Justice of Peace and related the whole Matter. Whereupon the Justice of Peace granted Warrants against Walker and Sharp, and committed them to a Prison; but they found Bail to appear at the next Assizes, at which they came to their Tryal, and upon Evidence of the Circumstances, with that of Graime of the Appearance, they were both found Guilty and Executed.

William Lumly

The other Testimony is of Mr. James Smart of the City of Durham, who saith, that the Trial of Sharp and Walker was in the Month of August, 1631, before Judge Davenport. One Mr. Fairhair gave it in Evidence upon Oath, that he saw the likeness of a Child stand upon Walker's Shoulders during the time of the Trial, at which time the Judge was very much troubled, and gave Sentence that Night the Trial was, which was a thing never used in Durham before nor after; out of which two Testimonies several things may be corrected or supplied in Mr. Webster's Story, though it be evident enough that in the main they agree; for that is but a small disagreement as to the Years, when Mr. Webster says about the Year of our Lord 1632, and Mr. Smart 1631. But unless at Durham they have Assizes but once in the Year, I understand not so well how Sharp and Walker should be apprehended some little while after St. Thomas day, as Mr. Webster has it, and be tried the next Assizes at Durham, and yet that be in August according to Mr. Smarts Testimony. Out of Mr. Lumley's Testimony the Christian Name of the young Woman is supplied, as also the name of the Town near Chester in the Street, namely Lumley; the Circumstances also of Walker's sending away his Kinswoman with Mark Sharp, are supplied out of Mr. Lumley's Narrative, and the time rectified, by telling it was about fourteen Days till the Spectre appeared after the Murther, when as Mr. Webster makes it a long time.

Two Errours also more are corrected in Mr. Webster's Narration by Mr. Lumley's Testimony; the distance of the Miller from Lumley, where Walker dwelt, which was six Miles, not two Miles as Mr. Webster has it; and also that it was not a Mill to grind Corn in, but a Fullers Mill, the Apparition Night by Night pulling the Cloths off Gralmes's Bed, omitted in Mr. Webster's Story, may be supplied out of Mr. Lumley's, and Mr. Smart's Testimony puts it out of Controversie that the Trial was at Durham and before Judge Davenport, which is ommitted by Mr. Webster. And whereas Mr. Webster says, there were some that reported that the Apparition did appear to the Judge, or the Fore-man of the Jury; but of that, he knows no certainty. This Confession of his, as it is a sign he would not write any thing in this Story of which he was not certain for the main, so here is a very seasonabie suppiy for this out of Mr. Smart, who affirms that he heard one Mr. Fairhair give Evidence upon Oath, that he saw the likeness of a Child stand upon Walker's Shoulders during the time of the Trial: It is likely this Mr. Fairhair might be the Fore-man of the Jury, and in that the Judge was so very much troubled, that himself also might see the same Apparition as Webster says report went, though the mistake in Mr. Webster is, that it was the Apparition of a Woman; but this of the Child was very fit and apposite, placed on his Shoulders as one that was justly loaded or charged with that crime of getting his Kinswoman with Child, as well as of complotting with Sharp to Murder her.

The Letter also which he mentions writ from the Judge, before whom the Trial was heard, to Serjeant Hutton, it is plain out of Mr. Smart's Testimony that it was from Judge Davenport; which in all likelihood was a very full and punctual Narrative of the whole business, and enabled Mr. Webster in some considerable things, to be more particular than Mr. Lumley; but the agreement is so exact for the main, that there is no doubt to be made of the truth of the Apparition. But that this forsooth, must not be the Soul of Anne Walker, but her Astral Spirit, this is but a fantastick Conceit of Webster and his Paracelsians, which I have sufficiently shewn the Folly of in the Scholia on my Immortality of the Soul, Volum. Philos. Tom, 2. Page 384.

This Story of Anne Walker I think you will do well to put amongst your Additions in the new Impression of your Dæmon of Tedworth, being so excellently well attested, and so unexceptionably in every respect; and to hasten as fast as you can that Impression, to undeceive the half witted World, who so much exult and triumph in the extinguishing the belief of that Narration, as if the crying down the Truth of that of the Dæmon of Tedworth, were indeed the very flaying of the Devil, and that they may now with more gaiety and security than ever sing in a loud Note, that mad drunken Catch

Hay ho! the Devil is Dead, &c.

Which wild Song, though it may seem a piece of Levity to mention; yet believe me, the Application thereof bears a sober and weighty intimation along with it, viz. that these sort of People are very horribly afraid there should be any Spirit, least there should be a Devil & an account after this Life; & therefore they are impatient of any thing that implies it, that they may with a more full swing, and with all security from an after reckoning, indulge their own Lusts and Humours in this; and I know by long experience that nothing rouzes them so out of that dull Lethargy of Atheism and Sadducism, as Narrations of this kind, for the being of a thick and gross Spirit, the most subtile and solid deductions of Reason does little execution upon them; but this sort of sensible Experiments cuts them and slings them very sore, and so startles them that by a less considerabie Story by far than this of the Drummer of Tedworth, or of Anne Walker, a Doctor of Physick cryed out presently, If this be true, I have been in a wrong Box all this time, and must begin my account anew.

And I remember an old Gentleman in the Country of my Acquaintance, an excellent Justice of Peace, and a piece of a Mathematician, but what kind of a Philosopher he was you may understand from a Rhime of his own making, which he commended to me at my taking Horse in his Yard, which Rhime is this,

Ens is nothing till Sense finds out:
Sense ends in nothing, so naught goes about.

Which Rhime of his was so rapturous to himself, that the reciting of the second Verse, the old Man turn'd himself about upon his Toe as nimbly as one may observe a dry Leaf whisk'd round in the corner of an Orchard-walk by some little Whirlwind. With this Philosopher I have had many Discourses concerning the Immortality of the Soul and its distinction; when I have run him quite down by Reason, he would but laugh at me and say, this is Logick, H. calling me by my Christian name, to which I reply'd, this is Reason, Father L. (for I used and some others to call him) but it seems you are for the new Lights and immediate Inspiration, which I confess he was as little for as for the other; but I said so only in way of Drollery to him in those times, but truth is, nothing but palpable experience would move him, and being a bold Man and fearing nothing, he told me, he had used all the Magical Ceremonies of Conjuration he could to raise the Devil or a Spirit, and had a most earnest Desire to meet with one, but never could do it. But this he told me, when he did not so much as think of it, while his Servant was pulling off his Boots in the Hall, some invisible Hand gave him such a clap upon the back that it made all ring again; so, thought he, now I am invited to the converse of my Spirit; and therefore so soon as his Boots were off and his Shoes on, out he goes into the Yard and next Field, to find out the Spirit that had given him this Familiar clap on the Back, but found none neither in the Yard nor Field next to it.

But though he did not feel this stroke, albeit he thought it afterwards (finding nothing came of it) a mere delusion; yet not long before his Death it had more force with him than all the Philosophical Arguments I could use to him, though I could wind him and non-plus him as I pleased; but yet all my Argument, how solid soever, made no Impression upon him; wherefore after several Reasonings of this nature, whereby I would prove to him the Souls distinction from the Body and its Immortality, when nothing of such subtile Considerations did any more execution on his Mind, then some Lightning is said to do, though it melts the Sword on the fuzzy consistency of the Scabard: Well, said I, Father L, though none of these things move you, I have something still behind, and what your self has acknowledged to me to be true, that may do the business; do you remember the clap on your Back, when your Servant was pulling off your Boots in the Hall? Assure your self, said I, Father L, that Goblin will be the first that will bid you welcome into the other World. Upon that his Countenance changed most sensibly, and he was more confounded with this rubbing up his Memory than with all the Rational or Philosophicai Argumentations that I could produce.

Indeed, if there were any Modesty left in Mankind, the Histories of the Bible might abundantly assure Men of the Existence of Angels and Spirits; but these Wits, as they are taken to be, are so jealous forsooth, and so sagacious, that whatever is offered to them by way of established Religion, is suspected for a piece of Politick Circumvention; which is as silly notwithstanding, and childish, as that Conceit of a Friend of yours when he was a School-Boy in the lowest Form of a Country Grammar School, who could not believe scarce that there were any such Men as Cato and Æsop, Ovid, Virgil and Tully much less that they wrote any such Books, but that it was a trick of our Parents to keep us up so many Hours of the Day together, and hinder us from the enjoying our innocent Pastime in the open Air, and the Pleasure of planting little Gardens of Flowers, and of hunting of Butter-flies and Humble-Bees.

Besides, though what is once true never becomes false, so that it may be truly said it was not once true; yet these shrew'd Wits suspect the truth of things for their Antiquity, and for that very reason think them the less credible: Which is wisely done as of the old Women the Story goes of, who being at Church in the Week before Easter, and hearing the Tragical Description of all the Circumstances of our Saviours Crucifixion, was in great sorrow at the reciting thereof, and so solicitous about the business, that she came to the Priest after Service with Tears in her Eyes, dropping him a Courtsie, and asked him how long ago this sad accident happen'd; to whom he answering, about fifteen or sixteen Years ago, she presently begun to be comforted, and said, Then in Grace of God it may be true. At this pitch of Wit in Children and old Wives is the Reason of our professed Wit-would-be's of this present Age, who will catch at any slight occasion or pretence of mis-believing those things that they cannot endure should be true.

And forasmuch as such course grain'd Philosophers as those Hobbians and Spinozians, and the rest of the Rable, slight Religion and the Scriptures, because there is such express mention of Spirits and Angels in them, things that their dull Souls are so inclinable to conceit to be imposable; I look upon it as a special piece of Providence, that there are ever and anon such fresh Examples of Apparitions and Witchcraft as may rub up and awaken their benum'd and Lethargick Minds into a suspicion at least, if not assurance that there are other intelligent Beings besides those that are clad in heavy Earth or Clay; in this I say, methinks the divine Providence does plainly outwit the Powers of the dark Kingdom, permitting wicked Men and Women, and Vagrant Spirits of that Kingdom to make Leagues or Covenants one with another, the Confession of Witches against their own Lives being so palpable an Evidence, besides the miraculous Feats they play, that there are bad Spirits, which will necessarily open a door to the belief that there are good ones, and lastly that there is a God.

Wherefore let the small Philosophick Sir-Foplings of this present Age deride them as much as they will, those that lay out their pains in committing to writing certain well attested Stories of Witches and Apparitions, do real service to true Religion and sound Philosophy, and the most effectual and accommodate to the confounding of Infidelity and Atheism, even in the Judgment of the Atheists themfelves, who are as much afraid of the truth of these Stories as an Ape is of a Whip, and therefore force themselves with might and main to disbelieve them, by reason of the dreadful consequence of them as to themselves. The Wicked fear where no fear is, but God is in the Generation of the Righteous; and he that fears God and has his Faith in Jesus Christ, need not fear how many Devils there be, nor be affraid of himself or own his Imnmortality; and therefore it is nothing but a foul dark Conscience within, or a very gross and dull constitution of Blood that makes Men so averse from these truths.

But however, be they as averse as they will, being this is the most accommodate Medicine for this Disease, their diligence and care of mankind is much to be commended that make it their business to apply it, and are resolv'd, though the pevishness and perversness of the Patients makes them pull off their Plaister, as they have this excellent one of the Story of the Dæmon of Tedworth by decrying it as an Imposture, so acknowledged by both your self and Mr. Mompesson, are resolv'd I say with Meekness and Charity to bind it on again with the addition of new filletting, I mean other Stories sufficiently fresh and very well attested and certain. This worthy design therefore of yours, I must confess I cannot but highly commend and approve, and therefore wish you all good success therein; and so commit you to God, I take leave and rest

Your affectionate

Friend to serve you

H. M.