Being Bewitched: A True Tale of Madness, Witchcraft, and Property Development Gone Wrong

Kirsten C. Uszkalo

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In 1622, thirteen-year-old Elizabeth Jennings fell strangely ill. After doctors’ treatments proved useless, her family began to suspect the child had been bewitched, a suspicion that was confirmed when Elizabeth accused their neighbor Margaret Russell of witchcraft. In the events that followed, witchcraft hysteria intertwines with family rivalries, property disputes, and a web of supernatural beliefs. (EMS 20)

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Description

Early Modern Series, Vol. 20

In 1622, thirteen-year-old Elizabeth Jennings fell strangely ill. After doctors’ treatments proved useless, her family began to suspect the child had been bewitched, a suspicion that was confirmed when Elizabeth accused their neighbor Margaret Russell of witchcraft. In the events that followed, witchcraft hysteria intertwines with family rivalries, property disputes, and a web of supernatural beliefs.

Starting from a manuscript account of the bewitchment, Kirsten Uszkalo sets the story of Elizabeth Jennings against both the specific circumstances of the powerful Jennings family and the broader history of witchcraft in early modern England. Fitting together the intricate pieces of this complex puzzle, Uszkalo reveals a story that encompasses the iron grip of superstition, the struggle among professionalizing medical specialties, and London’s lawless and unstoppable sprawl. In the picture that emerges, we see the young Elizabeth, pinned like a live butterfly at the dark center of a web of greed and corruption, sickness and lunacy.

Contents

List of Illustrations

Principal Dramatis Personæ

Genealogical Charts

Chronology

Introduction: “My mother sawe her in the kitchin”
Provenience and Pattern

Chapter 1: The Background: Landed Power, Lunacy, and Libraries
Power in the Land
The Lunatic Lord
Being in Thistleworth

Chapter 2: Blood Evidence: Sickness in the Blood
Summoning Simeon Foxe
Mentioning Margaret Russell

Chapter 3: Comparables: Familial Witchcraft
Scandalized Cecils
Bad Manners

Chapter 4: Models and Accusations for Being Bewitched
Dazzling Demoniacs
Preternatural Authority

Chapter 5: Tensions: Prohibitions and Projects
Law Men and Long Acre
Langford, Churchill, Fenlands

Chapter 6: Tensions: Magics and Medicines
Gunpowder Alley
Black and White Court
Clerkenwell & Newgate
The Female Physician

Chapter 7: The New Suspect: The Apothecary
The House of Higgins
Piccadillies and Piccadilly

Chapter 8: Witnesses and Persons of Interest, Bedside & Barside
Frequent Visitors
Ordinary Visitors

Chapter 9: Wrap Up: The Final Expert Assessment
Richard Napier

Chapter 10: Post-bewitchment: Elizabeth Jenyns of St. Mary le Savoy
“East, west, north and south, all these lye”

Conclusion: “They had power over all them”

Appendix 1: “Of Elizabeth Jennings being bewitched,” 1622

Appendix 2: Indictments, October 27, 1616 / December 3, 1616

Appendix 3: Napier on Jennings, 1622

Appendix 4: Napier on Bulbeck, Arpe, and Latch, 1623

Appendix 5: John Latch’s signature, 1620, 1622

Bibliography

Inde

About the Author

Authors

Kirsten C. Uszkalo is a specialist in seventeenth-century literature, early modern cultural studies, and women's writing. She is the author of numerous scholarly articles on witchcraft, possession, and digital culture. She is the lead of the Witches in Early Modern England Project and the founding editor of Preternature: Critical and Historical Studies in the Preternatural (Penn State Press). Her first book, Bewitched and Bedeviled (Palgrave Macmillan, 2015) uses cognitive science and neuroscience to understand possession phenomenon in early modern England. She is currently teaching digital humanities at Athabasca University.

Reviews

In lively and vivid prose, Uszkalo’s analysis of the 1622 possession of Elizabeth Jennings exposes the social, political, and intellectual fault lines running across the sprawl of early modern London. The product of painstaking research, this history will be of great use to scholars and students alike.
—Richard Raiswell, professor of history, University of Prince Edward Island