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Catholic Exorcism in Early Modern England: Polemic, Propaganda and Folklore

  • Francis Young
Extract

Exorcism was an integral part of the post-Reformation Catholic mission in England and, from the late sixteenth century, an ideological battleground between Catholic and Protestant. As in the Gospels, the obedience of demons was seen as the ultimate sign and supernatural seal of religious authority. Exorcism, unlike other aspects of Catholic mission, often brought recusant priests into direct contact with non-catholics and provided an unparalleled opportunity for conversions.

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Notes

1 Kittredge, G. L., Witchcraft in Old and New England, Russell and Russell, New York, 1956, n. p. 552.

2 Scot, R., The Discoverie of Witchcraft, London, 1584, p. 106 (reprinted by Elliot and Stock, London, 1886).

3 Ibidem, p. 101.

4 According to Reginald Scot this was also the title of the 1572 pamphlet recording the activities of Van der Schuere and Stikelbow, A verie wonderfull and strange miracle of God, which was presumably intentional on the part of the author of the 1574 pamphlet. See Scot, Discoverie (1584), p. 106.

5 Freeman, T. S., ‘Foxe, John’ in DNB, 20, pp. 703–4.

6 L’Estrange Ewen, C., Witchcraft and Demonianism, Heath Cranton, London, 1933, p. 108 gives the date as 1572/3 and claims that Nyndge was assisted by seven ministers.

7 Freeman, T. S., ‘Nyndge, Alexander’ in DNB, 41, p. 309.

8 Wootton, D., ‘Scot, Reginald’ in DNB, 49, pp. 454–5.

9 Scot (1584), pp. 375–6.

10 James, King VI, Daemonologie, Bodley, London, 1924, p. 18.

11 Foley, p. 445.

12 Freeman, T. S., ‘Darrell, John’ in DNB, 15, p. 166 . For an account of Darrell’s career see also Brownlow, pp. 53–62.

13 Freeman, p. 167.

14 Cranfield, N. W. S., ‘Harsnett, Samuel’ in DNB, 25, p. 554.

15 Brownlow, p. 63.

16 Thomas, K., Religion and the Decline of Magic, Penguin, Harmondsworth, 1971, p. 134.

17 Kittredge, n. p. 572.

18 Constitutions and Canons Ecclesiastical, 1678, op. cit. in Thomas, p. 579.

19 Kittredge, p. 319.

20 Harmsen, T., ‘Weston, William’ in DNB, 58, p. 314.

21 Brownlow, p. 22.

22 Weston, W. (trans. P. Caraman), William Weston: The Autobiography of an Elizabethan, Longmans, Green and Co., London, 1955, p. 24.

23 For the influence of Harsnett’s book on King Lear, see Brownlow, pp. 107–31.

24 Harsnett, p. 1.

25 Brownlow, p. 21.

26 Ibidem, p. 22.

27 Ibidem.

28 Harmsen, p. 314.

29 Brownlow, p. 12.

30 According to Brownlow, Friswood was ‘a government informer who must always be suspected of lying’, Brownlow, p. 75.

31 Harsnett, pp. 6–7.

32 Ibidem, p. 11.

33 Harmsen, p. 314.

34 Brownlow, p. 28.

35 Weston, p. 26.

36 Ibidem, pp. 26–7.

37 Brownlow, p. 27.

38 Weston, p. 27.

39 Ibidem, p. 2.

40 John Cornelius (1554–94). See Bellenger, p. 51.

41 Robert Dibdale (ord. 1584). See Bellenger, p. 54.

42 Probably Christopher Thompson (ord. 1577). See Bellenger, p. 114.

43 Probably Thomas Stamp (ord. 1575). See Bellenger, p. 110.

44 Anthony Tyrrell (1552–1615), whose testimony was the source of much of Harsnett’s book. See Bellenger, p. 117.

45 Christopher Dryland, S.J. (ord. 1582). See Bellenger, p. 55.

46 Tulice is called Thulys by Brown, p. 24 and could be Christopher Thules (ord. 1584), Bellenger, p. 115, but this identification is tenuous.

47 This could be John (ord. 1583), Phillip (ord. 1570) or Richard Sherwood (ord. 1584). See

Bellenger, p. 107.

48 Bellenger has no record of this priest.

49 Bellenger has no record of this priest.

50 Edward Dakins (b. 1554). See Bellenger, p. 53.

51 John Ballard (ord. 1581). See Bellenger, p. 36. Brownlow thinks Ballard a later addition by Tyrrell. See Brownlow, pp. 79–80 on the accuracy of the list of exorcists.

52 Harsnett, p. 113.

53 Harsnett, p. 39. See also L’Estrange Ewen, p. 109.

54 Harsnett, p. 286. See also Brownlow, n. p. 29.

55 See Thomas, n. p. 583. In 1599, as part of Bancroft’s campaign against exorcism, Abraham Hartwell published an account of the violent exorcism of Marthe Brossier in France. See Brownlow, p. 63.

56 Harsnett, p. 14.

57 See for instance Hutchinson, F., An Essay Concerning Witchcraft, London, 1720, pp. 301–4.

58 For an abbreviated account of the ‘Boy of Bilson’ see Baxter, R., Jesuit Juggling: Forty Popish Frauds Detected and Disclosed, London, 1659, pp. 184–7 (reprinted by Craighead and Allen, New York, 1835).

59 ‘H. W.’ is named as Wheeler by Harsnett but Bellenger has no record of a priest of this name.

60 L’Estrange Ewen, p. 236.

61 Erasmus (trans. C. R. Thompson), Colloquies, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1965, pp. 231–37.

62 Davies, O., The Haunted: A Social History of Ghosts, Palgrave Macmillan, London, 2007, p. 166.

63 Harsnett, p. 135.

64 Harmsden, T., ‘Gee, John’ in DNB, 21, p. 715.

65 Bellenger has no record of this priest.

66 George (ord. 1606), Ralph (ord. 1598) or Thomas Fisher (ord. 1603), all seculars. See Bellenger, p. 59.

67 The Jesuit John Sweet (1570–1632). See Bellenger, p. 112.

68 Bellenger has no record of this priest.

69 Perhaps the secular priest Christopher Wainman. See Bellenger, p. 118.

70 Bellenger has no record of this priest.

71 Perhaps the Benedictine John Richardson (prof. 1618). See Bellenger, p. 101.

72 Bellenger has no record of this priest.

73 Gee, J., The Foot Out of the Snare with a Detection of Sundry Late Practices and Impostures of the Priests and Jesuits in England, London, 1624, p. 102.

74 Ibidem, p. 109.

75 Scot, R., The Discoverie of Witchcraft, London, 1651, p. 113.

76 Davies, , The Haunted, p. 167.

77 Taylor, Z., The Devil Turn’d Casuist, London, 1696, p. 5.

78 For a contemporary discussion of the opinions on this issue, see Burton, R., Anatomy of Melancholy, Chatto and Windus, London, 1881, p. 125.

79 Zimmerman, B., Carmel in England, Burns and Oates, London, 1899, p. 256.

80 Davies, , The Haunted, p. 167.

81 Taylor, p. 2.

82 Brooks was probably Robert Brooke, S.J. (1663–1714), Bellenger, p. 43. Two of the other priests are named as Skinner and Kennel; these were probably John Skinner, S.J. (1662–1708), Bellenger, p. 108 and the secular John Baines alias Kendall (1653–1727), Bellenger, p. 35.

83 The placing of part of the stole on the neck of the possessed was part of the Rite of Exorcism of 1614 but seems to have been misinterpreted as a violent act by Protestant authors. See Rituale Romanum, Libreria Editrice Vaticana, Rome, 2004 (facsimile of 1614 edition), p. 203.

84 Taylor, p. 2.

85 Ibidem, pp. 7–8.

86 Ibidem, pp. 9–10.

87 Ibidem, p. 1.

88 Ibidem, p. 14.

89 Potts, T., The Wonderfull Discoverie of Witches in the Countie of Lancaster, London, 1613, p. 87.

90 Ibidem, p. 88. See also L’Estrange Ewen, p. 227.

91 Bellenger, p. 110.

92 Kittredge, p. 300.

93 Foley 3, p. 445.

94 Ibidem, p. 446.

95 Ibidem.

96 Foley 2, p. 571.

97 Foley 5, p. 993.

98 Harsnett, p. 15.

99 Thyraeus, P., Benedictio domus novae aut daemonibus infestae in Daemoniaci cum Locis Infestis et Terriculamentis Nocturnis, Cologne, 1604, pp. 242–54.

100 Foley 3, pp. 22–23.

101 Ibidem.

102 Foley 4, p. 500.

103 The autobiography of Fr. Bede of St. Simon Stock is included in Zimmerman, Carmel in England, p. 254.

104 Ibidem, pp. 254–55.

105 Ibidem, p. 257.

106 Foley 4, p. 448.

107 Foley 7(2), p. 1141.

108 Foley 2, p. 6.

109 Foley 2, p. 20.

110 Rituale Romanum, p. 201.

111 Foley 7(2), p. 1133.

112 Foley 2, p. 22.

113 Foley 2, pp. 20–21.

114 Rituale Romanum, p. 199.

115 Foley 7(2), p. 1200.

116 Thyraeus, pp. 55–8.

117 Foley 3, p. 123.

118 Foley 7(2), p. 1098.

119 Wheeler, H., A Faithful Relation of the Proceedings of the Catholicke Gentlemen with the Boy of Bilson, London, 1620 , op. cit. in L’Estrange Ewen, p. 237.

120 Foley 7(2), p. 1121.

121 Foley 7(2), pp. 1137–8.

122 Foley 2, p. 21.

123 Foley 5, p. 993.

124 See M. Gaskill, Witchfinders, John Murray, London, 2005, p. 4.

125 Foley 2, p. 21.

126 Foley 7(1), p. xxvi.

127 Foley 7(2), p. 1145.

128 Foley 4, p. 448.

129 Zimmerman, p. 258.

130 Ibidem, p. 260.

131 Foley 2, p. 569.

132 Taylor, p. 15.

133 Thomas, p. 587.

134 Kent Clark, J., Goodwin Wharton, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1984, p. 27.

135 Ibidem, pp. 97–99.

136 Zimmerman, p. 260.

137 Davies, O., Popular Magic: Cunning-folk in English History, Hambledon Continuum, London, 2007, p. 36.

138 Hutchinson, F., An Essay Concerning Witchcraft, London, 1720, pp. 274–5 (an account of Darrell’s exorcisms derived from Harsnett), p. 301–4 (an account of the ‘Boy of Bilson’ derived from Baddeley).

139 Bourne, H., Antiquitates Vulgares, London, 1725, p. 90.

140 Ady, T., A Perfect Discovery of Witches, London, 1661, p. 59.

141 Atkinson, J., Forty Years in a Moorland Parish, London, 1840, p. 59.

142 For an official Jesuit view of superstition, see Martin del Rio (trans. P. G. Maxwell-Stuart), Investigations into Magic, Manchester, Manchester University Press, 2000 (originally published 1599–1600), p. 1.

143 Davies, , Popular Magic, p. 36.

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British Catholic History
  • ISSN: 2055-7973
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