Witchcraft


A Detection of Damnable Driftes

Sixteenth-century pamphlet describing prominent Chelmsford witchcraft trials against Elizabeth Francis and others

Black cat

The numerous folk beliefs about black cats, and cats in general, are often contradictory. Superstitions surrounding black cats are almost certainly some of the most prevalent even today, along with the number thirteen and walking under a ladder.

Jean Lyon, Countess of Angus

Scottish countess named in North Berwick witch trials as consulting with witches

John Kincaid, witch-finder

John Kincaid or Kinkaid was a professional witch-finder or pricker of witches based in Tranent, East Lothian.

Joseph Neil Paton

Damask designer and antiquarian with an extensive collection containing witchcraft paraphernalia that included the skull of Lilias Adie. Father of the artist Joseph Noel Paton

Maleficium

Maleficium is an act of sorcery, historically usually performed by a witch, intended to cause harm or injury.

Malkin Tower

Malkin Tower was the home of Elizabeth Southerns, also known as Demdike, and her granddaughter Alizon Device, two of the chief protagonists in the Lancashire witch trials of 1612.

Matthew Hopkins

Matthew Hopkins (c. 1620 – 12 August 1647) was an English witch-hunter who claimed to hold the office of Witchfinder General, although that title was never bestowed by Parliament.

Newes from Scotland

Pamphlet describing the North Berwick witch trials in Scotland detailing the confessions given by the accused witches before the King.

Osculum infame

Osculum infame, also known as the Kiss of Shame, the Obscene Kiss, is the name commonly given to the ritual of a witch paying homage to the Devil by kissing his genitals, anus or feet.

Seely wights

The seely wights were fairy-like creatures at the centre of a shamanistic Scottish cult that existed in the 16th century. Members were able to enter into a trance which allowed them to fly out at night on swallows and join with the seely wights.

Summis desiderantes affectibus

Summis desiderantes affectibus, (Latin for “Desiring with supreme ardor”), sometimes abbreviated to Summis desiderantes was a papal bull regarding witchcraft issued by Pope Innocent VIII on 5 December 1484.

The examination and confession of certaine Wytches at Chensforde

First pamphlet describing witchcraft trials in England; it covers the testimony of witches at Chelmsford Assizes in 1566.

The Wonderfull Discoverie of Witches in the Countie of Lancaster

The Wonderfull Discoverie of Witches in the Countie of Lancaster is the account of a series of English witch trials that took place on 18–19 August 1612, commonly known as the Lancashire witch trials.

Witch-Finding

Methods used to identify witches.

Witch’s broomstick

Although witches in the popular imagination are widely believed to have flown through the air on broomsticks, only a very small number ever confessed to having done so.

Witchcraft Act 1735

The Witchcraft Act 1735 (9 Geo. II c. 5), sometimes referred to as the Witchcraft Act 1736 owing to dating complexities, repealed the earlier statutes concerning witchcraft throughout Great Britain, including Scotland, which had its own legal system.

Witchcraft Acts

Until the passage of Henry VIII’s Act of 1542 witchcraft was dealt with by the ecclesiastical courts rather being seen as a secular felony. It is unknown what triggered the perceived need for such a law, but it undoubtedly suited Henry’s agenda of wresting power from the Catholic Church.

Witchcraft in Orkney

Witchcraft in Orkney possibly has its roots in the settlement of Norsemen on the archipelago from the eighth century onwards. Until the early modern period magical powers were accepted as part of the general lifestyle, but witch-hunts began on the mainland of Scotland in about 1550.