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Jane Abray

Lecture HIS389 November 30, 2010 Outline: A Case Study in Belief and Disbelief, Jane Wenham, 1712 18 century sceptics- better not to start witchcraft trials Francis Hutchinson, Historical Essay on Witchcraft, 1718- said witchcraft was Medieval superstition, argues science has refuted it - Many agreed with him, that reason and science drove it out and witchcraft was only an illusion and any reality was false - But did the educated class really stop believing? - Lets look at a late case: Jane Wenham with sir John Powell Phyllis J. Guskin, “The Context of Witchcraft: The Case of Jane Wenham (1712),” Eighteenth Century Studies, 15:1 (1981), 48-71. Walkern, Hertfordshire, 1712- Case of Jane Wenham - Produced pamphlets attacking women and accusers - Case stirred up 2 young women recent graduates of Cambridge university, one defended the trial the other rejected arguments, not alone in writing- at least 8 pamphlets written, one written by a physician - Some had second editions, some had 5 editions - Anti-side produced biggest work – substantial writing, more like a book - Half defend the witnesses and the jury’s verdict/ half reject - Some other authors brought into case - Phyllis J. Guskin – article about the case – eighteenth century studies online – e-resources Robarts Walkern, Hertfordshire – bit north than London- low land part of England - Anne Thorne who works in Mr. Gardiner’s home as a maid falls under strange compulsions and experiences fits and blames Jane Wenham (classic suspect: female, old, poor and nasty and may have been what English call a decenter (someone who rejected the established Church of England) 20% of village people are decenters - Victim: Anne Thorne - Accused: Jane Wenham - Mr. Strutt- Anglican clergyman - Gardiner and Strutt with help of Francis Bragge investigates Thorne’s claim assisted by local JP Arthur Chauncy and Thomas Ireland. - Bragge’s pamphlet Francis Bragge, A Full and Impartial Account of the Discovery of Sorcery and Witchcraft practiced by Jane Wenham of Walkern in Hertfordshire, upon the Bodies of Anne Thorn, Anne Street, &c, London, 1712 o Sold for 6 pence- 6 hours of wood chopping = not a huge amount, not trivial o First of a series of controversial pamphlets of what happened o Bragge says it starts in Gardiner’s home, Anne Thorne in kitchen dislocated knee, Mr. Gardiner checks on Anne while in parlor previously, hear scream, Anne down to shift wraps clothes around oak twigs, speechless with horrible noises, says she is undone, felt compulsion to go out and run about, despite hurt knee, saw some people, got another bundle, had gone 7 or 8 miles in 67 minutes – Mrs. Gardiner believed it was witchcraft, burn twiggs thinking witch will come, appears Jane Wenham… people report they saw Anne Thorne swiftly running about, Jane Wenham sees Anne next day asking why she said she accused her – same day pointing, speechless trembling Wenham pushed Anne aside o Arthur Chauncy and Thomas Ireland follow Anne Thorne who collects more twiggs (took pin from hand offering who claim it was Jane’s hand- eyes roll back, tries to drown self, runs back, races) o Tall gate- Anne jumps over despite hurt foot o Constable to arrest Wenham – Anne Thorne tries to scratch Wenham thinking if she causes blood the witchcraft will be done – Jane does not bleed… defends self saying she is not a witch o Clergymen ask Wenham to say Our Father who cannot say it correctly = formal investigation o To be investigated for witches mark o Sir Henry asks people what they saw o Anne Thorne continues to have fits outside courtroom o Gardiner testifies to Anne Thorne’s good character o People critically testify about Wenham who supposed stole, cursed, made sheep fall ill, maleficia stories pile up… o Next day Gardiner visit Wenham who meet cousin Mr. Archer Sir John Powell, presiding judge at the trial, held as part of the spring Assizes Anne Thorne, Mr. Gardiner’s maid, the principal victim Mr. Gardiner, the local clergyman, Church of England Mrs. Gardiner, his wife Jane Wenham, the suspect Mr. Strutt, the C of E clergyman in the next parish Francis Bragge, a recent Cambridge graduate Arthur Chauncy, son of the local JP Sir Henry Chauncy, the local Justice of the Peace Thomas Ireland, a neighbour Anne Street, another victim - Best thing for salvation Wenham is advised to confess, follows Strutts leading questions, confesses she has a familiarity with devil, cousin abandons her - 3 accomplices named - Chauncy has women summoned to him, in Gardiner house where Anne Thorne has fit and does not pay attention to 3 women – tries to attack Wenham when she comes in while previously quiet - 3 accomplices released until better evidence - Thorne says she sees things like cats - Anne Thorne becomes so ill people think she will die - Jane Wenham comes back and Anne Thorne tries to attack Wenham - Chauncy sees Wenham with pin in hand, tries to stab Wenham with pin but no blood singing and dancing in pub prison - Gardiner sees Anne trying to hurt self with pins, so moves out - Thorne urine – watch Wenham at pub who seems very tormented, bottle of urine bursts when Wenham calm - Wenham daughter wants her mother to repent - Wenham taken to proper prison who spoke of devil following her and trying to make her commit suicide Francis Bragge, A Full and Impartial Account of the Discovery of Sorcery and Witchcraft practiced by Jane Wenham of Walkern in Hertfordshire, upon the Bodies of Anne Thorn, Anne Street, &c, London, 1712 John Chapman, two of his men, and his son Daniel Chapman The bone-setter or surgeon, William Green Thomas Adams, owner of a turnip field and a flock of sheep Mr. Archer, Jane Wenham’s cousin Mr. Chishull, another clergyman Jane Wenham’s daughter Matthew Gilston, Susan Aylott, Elizabeth Field, William Burroughs, James Burville, Uriah Wright and Thomas Harvey, further witnesses against Jane Wenham “a Clear Woman” Mr. Glanvil, an Anglican clergyman who wrote on the reality of witchcraft - Old stories of witches- find stuff in their pillows? So look in Wenham’s pillow- find feather that will not separate- Anne Thorne feels better once cakes are gone and once cat killed by Chauncy - England- must wait for properly trained judges to come, decide if enough evidence to go ahead with trial Powell only allow conversing with familiar – when Wenham present Thorne has fit – enough for trial to go ahead March 4- trial- Wenham pleads not guilty, jury sworn and 16 witnesses (1 Anne Thorne, followed by Gardiner (Thorne has fit- wants her recovered) Prayer- anne thorne recovers Bragge- limited to talk about investigation of strange cakes found in Anne Thorne’s pillow 16 witnesses speak against Wenham “I am not guilty I am a clear women” Jury verdict- guilty – reprieved until further orders, Powell sentences death to hanging for witchcraft but suspends Bragge says Anne Thorne continues to have fits – cakes were devilish enchantment Appendix describing Anne Street William Green= fast writer, 40 page pamphlet March 4 published Aimed to set record straight, pressure Powell to let execution go ahead Wants to defend own reputation and Gardiner people Anon., The Impossibility of Witchcraft, Plainly Proving, from Scripture and Reason, that there n
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