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Internet Shakespeare Editions

About this text

  • Title: A Declaration of Egregious Popish Impostures
  • Author: Samuel Harsnett
  • Editors: Michael Best, Sarah Milligan
  • Coordinating editor: James D. Mardock

  • Copyright Michael Best. This text may be freely used for educational, non-profit purposes; for all other uses contact the Editor.
    Editors: Michael Best, Sarah Milligan
    Not Peer Reviewed

    A Declaration of Egregious Popish Impostures

    The examination of Sara Williams

    The examination of Sara Williams, taken upon her oath, the 24 of April 1602. before the Lord Bishop of London, Master Doctor Andrews, Dean of Westminster, Master Doctor Stanhop, and Master Doctor Mountford.

    Also she saith that it is likewise very false that is written of her, as that she should upon the 30 of October "see the likeness of a wren upon the top of the priests fingers." This examinate further hearing the report out of the book how it is said that "she was troubled upon All Saints' Day," she saith she doth not remember the particular times when they bound her in the chair and applied their relics unto her. But addeth that they troubled her very often, praying God to forgive them, and saying that when she came to the chair she was so used as that every time; if she might have had her choice, she would rather have chosen to have ended her life than to have gone into it.

    And concerning her dumbness and coldness, that "she could not speak till they had signed her throat with the sign of the cross and applied holy relics unto it." She saith that she doth not remember any such thing, but thinketh it is altogether untrue. At the least, if at any time she were past the use of her senses, it was by reason of such waters and drinks as they compelled her to take, and that if she were at any time silent and did afterwards speak, it was not because they had signed her throat with the sign of the cross or applied holy relics unto it; albeit she confesseth that whatsoever she did or spake they would ever expound it as they list themselves, and say it was done or spoken by virtue of holy water and other consecrated things.

    Further, touching the report of that which is pretended to have been seen and spoken of by this examinate upon All Souls' Day after dinner, she saith she is ashamed to hear such things to be written, God almighty knowing that they are very false. And this she affirmeth, she saith, as in the sight of almighty God, and would so say if all the priests that were there were here present. And she further affirmeth that she is well advised that she never saw any devil in the form of a man that should depart from her, when she used these words as is pretended, Credo sanctum ecclesiam Catholicam, Almighty God forgive them.

    . . .

    45Thus much also of Hobberdidaunce, as it is in the book, she well remembereth, and saith that her mistress, as they were at work, had told them a merry tale of Hobberdidaunce that used his cunning to make a lady laugh, which tale she this examinate doth very well yet remember, and therefore is fully persuaded that when the priests did pretend that the spirit was gone out of her and urged her to tell what name it had, she affirmed it to be called Hobberdidaunce.

    There being read to this examinate out of the same book the pretended names of divers spirits which the priests gave out that they cast out of her, and that the said priests delivered whilst they were in her, as Lustie Dick, Killico, Hob, Cornercap, Puff, Purr, Frateretto, Fliberdigibet, Haberdicut Cocobatto, Maho, Kellicocam, Wilkin, Smolkin, Nur, Lusty Jolly Jenkin, Portericho, Pudding of Thame, Pour-dieu, Boniour, Motubizanto, Bernon, Delicate. This examinate saith that there were very strange names written upon the walls at Sir George Peckham's house, under the hangings, which they said were names of spirits. And addeth that she, perceiving still that when they said it was the devil that spake in her and that they would needs have her from time to time to give it some name, she, to content them, did always devise one name or other, and verily thinketh that she came near sometimes to some of the names which were written upon the wall because she had often heard them, and saith that they run then in her head. And she further thinketh that the priests themselves did set them down in better order than she did utter them. But amongst the rest, she saith that the name of Maho came into her mind, for that she had heard before her uncle read the same out of a book, there being a tale therein of Maho.