Ever wonder what it would have been like to be accused of witchcraft in the 17th Century? A 350-year-old notebook, documenting the trials of women convicted of witchcraft in England during the 17th Century, is now available online thanks to a team at The University of Manchester's John Rylands Center for Heritage Imaging and Collection Care who spent two weeks photographing it. The author was an English Puritan named Nehemiah Wallington. The manuscript is one of Wallington's seven surviving notebooks. The woodturner wrote 50 journals about religion, the civil war and witchcraft trials during the course of his life.
Within its pages, she recounts the fate of women accused of having relationships with the devil during a time when England was deep in civil war. Specifically, it relays the details of a witchcraft trial held in Chelmsford in July 1645. More than a hundred suspected witches were serving time in Essex and Suffolk at the time of this trial. Of the 30 women on trial in Chelmsford, 14 were hanged.
"Divers (many) of them voluntarily and without any forcing or compulsion freely declare that they have made a covenant with the Devill," he wrote.
"Som Christians have been killed by their meanes," he added.
Wallington also speaks of the experiences Rebecca West, a suspected witch who confessed to sleeping with the devil, endured. She subjected to torture leading to her confession because "she found her selfe in such extremity of torture and amazement that she would not enure (endure) it againe for the world." In turn, this spared her.
I'm sure this document will provide much insight to all readers. The notebook can be viewed free of charge at http:/chiccmanchester.wordpress.com.