More woodcuts from English Witchcraft Pamphlets

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In this first image, the demented author of a pamphlet describing a purported witchcraft case has had himself depicted hauling his suspect with a rope in front of the magistrate (who in fact offers him no satisfaction). Only a small boy has come out to assist in this gratuitous and entirely personal act of persecution:

A witch dragged off to the magistrate

1628: Dr Lamb, the Duke of Buckingham's wizard, is attacked in the street after being seen on a visit to the Fortune theatre. He suffered injuries from which he never recovered, dying within days. Lamb was hated by association with the universally reviled Buckingham, from his imputed magical practices, and he had apparently raped an 11 year old girl. The pamhlet is a strange production, mixing the moralistic with incidents exactly like the comic scenes in 'Dr Faustus', and Lamb magically getting wine from the Globe Tavern fetched to him instantly by a spirit boy (who turned up at the tavern in green to take delivery).

1628:Dr Lamb attacked by the mob

Here, in a pamphlet woodcut of c1592 commisioned by himself, John Dee presents himself as a victim of a many-headed detraction. God hears his prayers, and will vindicate his studies with the sword of heaven:

Dee as Christian

The title page of the first quarto of 'The Witch of Edmonton' should be familiar to you. The edition wasn't until 1658, but the page shows the Black Dog Tom, delivering his entry line, Mother Sawyer uttering her charm, and Cuddy Banks, lured by the spirit into the pond.

Title page of 'Witch of Edmonton'

Anne Baker, Joan Willimot and Ellen Greene, as depicted in a pamphlet of 1618, with their variety of familiars, a cat, a dog, an owl sat on one witch's shoulder like a pirate's parrot, and a rat (perhaps!). Note that Joan Willimot is depicted as a cripple, who can only walk with two sticks.

Three witches with familiars

Images from a late witchcraft 'edutainment' of 1688. R.B.'s book is an encyclopaedia of stories and wonders, which also offers itself as a confutation of those who deny witchcraft. The title page has a wizard conjuring up demons, who throng outside his magic circle, a banquet with the devil presiding, a hanging, and a tempest wrecking a ship at sea.

Title page, The Kingdom of Darkness'

Another scene of conjuration, where small demons and familiar spirits are raised in a circle (not outside it)

A spirit-raising

and a lively dance of women witches and demons, with an angry witness in the background:

A dance of witches and devils

A splendid demon conjured up by this witch, who seems to be using it to elicit some cheap fish from the fish wife. The woodcut is merely decorative, printers at this end of the market would often save money by taking a picture ready made in their stock of blocks, rather than having one cut specially.

A witch with a devil in hand

A victim of imputed witchcraft: the facially disfigured Tannakin Skinker seems to have been famous across Europe. Bewitched in the womb, she will only be delivered, the title page tells us, if a man will marry her. She seems to be oinking at a suitor, who bids her a hasty valedictory 'God save you'

A victim of bewitchment

This witch is spoon feeding her familars, two toads and a cat. A brief search on toad-licking on the internet reveals that it is unlikely that the pet toads were used as sources of a hallucinogen. This seems to be confined to the Colorado river toad, which does seem to have been used by early American natives. The toad is not licked, but squeezed till it emits from its glands a powerful chemical, which is then dried and smoked. All toads can release bufotine, which is simply a poison to deter predators. Licking any toad will make you ill, so now you know.

A witch feeding her familiars