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A History of Witchcraft in England from 1558 to 17

And had received but six pounds in Aldeburgh


It

is not a wild guess that Hopkins paused long enough in his active career to write an account of the affair, so well were his principles of detection presented in a pamphlet soon issued from a London press.[56] But, at any rate, before Mother Lakeland had been burned he was on his way to Aldeburgh, where he was already at work on the eighth of September collecting evidence.[57] Here also he had an assistant, Goody Phillips, who no doubt continued the work after he left. He was back again in Aldeburgh on the twentieth of December and the seventh of January, and the grand result of his work was summarized in the brief account: "Paid ... eleven shillings for hanging seven witches."[58]

From Aldeburgh, Hopkins may have journeyed to Stowmarket. We do not know how many servants of the evil one he discovered here; but, as he was paid twenty-three pounds[59] for his services, and had received but six pounds in Aldeburgh, the presumption is that his work here was very fruitful in results.

We now lose track of the witchfinder's movements for a while. Probably he was doubling on his track and attending court sessions. In December we know that he made his second visit to Yarmouth. From there he may have gone to King's Lynn, where two witches were hanged this year, and from there perhaps returned early in January to Aldeburgh and other places in Suffolk. It is not to be supposed for a moment that his activities were confined

to the towns named. At least fifteen other places in Suffolk are mentioned by Stearne in his stories of the witches' confessions.[60] While Hopkins's subordinates probably represented him in some of the villages, we cannot doubt that the witchfinder himself visited many towns.

From East Anglia Hopkins went westward into Cambridgeshire. His arrival there must have been during either January or February. His reputation, indeed, had gone ahead of him, and the witches were reported to have taken steps in advance to prevent detection.[61] But their efforts were vain. The witchfinder found not less than four or five of the detested creatures,[62] probably more. We know, however, of only one execution, that of a woman who fell under suspicion because she kept a tame frog.[63]

From Cambridgeshire, Hopkins's course took him, perhaps in March of 1645/6, into Northamptonshire. There he found at least two villages infested, and he turned up some remarkable evidence. So far in his crusade, the keeping of imps had been the test infallible upon which the witchfinder insisted. But at Northampton spectral evidence seems to have played a considerable part.[64] Hopkins never expresses his opinion on this variety of evidence, but his co-worker declares that it should be used with great caution, because "apparitions may proceed from the phantasie of such as the party use to fear or at least suspect."

But it was a case in Northamptonshire of a different type that seems to have made the most lasting impression on Stearne. Cherrie of Thrapston, "a very aged man," had in a quarrel uttered the wish that his neighbor's tongue might rot out. The neighbor thereupon suffered from something which we should probably call cancer of the tongue. Perhaps as yet the possibilities of suggestion have not been so far sounded that we can absolutely discredit the physical effects of a malicious wish. It is much easier, however, to believe the reported utterance imagined after its supposed effect. At all events, Cherrie was forced to confess that he had been guilty and he further admitted that he had injured Sir John Washington, who had been his benefactor at various times.[65] He was indicted by the grand jury, but died in gaol, very probably by suicide, on the day when he was to have been tried.[66]


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