Cursed Through the Generations – Excerpt 1
In the year of our Lord, Sixteen Hundred and Fifty Five. Matthew Hopkin, the self proclaimed Witchfinder General selected a pathetic one-legged old hag named Elizabeth Clarke as his first victim. A woman whose own mother had been hung as a witch before her.
At his instigation she was thrown in to prison on suspicion of practising the Art of Witchcraft. So as not to leave any incriminating evidence against himself, he devised many subtle methods of torture, which were used during her interrogation, even thought torture was illegal in England at that time.
Due, I suspect, more to the torture than her guilt, she confessed and implicated five other women, who she claimed were also practising witches.
All of the named witches resided in Manningtree, in the county of Essex where Matthew Hopkin also resided. The word was that he had eavesdropped on their coven, and they had threatened his life for his daring too.
Under his interrogation, with the aid of Jack Stearne, An unsavoury character with a penchant for excessive cruelty. Elizabeth Clarke after the pain and humiliation of being stripped naked, then prodded and poked in a search for witches marks. She, ‘was found to have three teats about her, which honest women have not’ Witchcraft meant keeping imps and familiars. ‘Witches suckled imps and familiars, not merely to feed them, but more to aggravate a witches damnation.’
Elizabeth was then deprived of food and sleep for three consecutive nights, and so, on the fourth night of her torture, broke down and confessed to being a witch and in doing so, implicated five other women.
(C) Damian Grange 2018