The absolute glee of historic woman-torture

It seems the academics are fawning with glee over the electronic reproduction of a surviving witch torture notebook, now available online.

Quelle surprise, many women “confessed” to being witches after gawd-knows-how-much torture. Then they were hanged.

In the BBC article about the diary digitisation there is little disgust shown at the content, the content of the written documentary of barbaric misogyny, taken to the extreme. There is no dignity or respect given for the victims of this Women’s Holocaust. Documents of this nature of other atrocities are not gleefully welcomed without regard to the victims involved. Because they were (mainly) women singled out.

Puritan’s witch trial notebook from Tatton Park online

A 17th Century notebook describing how women were tried, tortured, convicted and hanged for witchcraft has been published online.

Puritan writer Nehemiah Wallington describes how Witchfinder General Matthew Hopkins found “a coven of witches” and 19 women were hanged.

Every page of the book, kept at Tatton Park, Cheshire, was photographed by experts from University of Manchester.

The team said they were “delighted” at being able to preserve the document.

The Tatton notebook also describes battles and skirmishes of the English Civil War period and the disturbing violence of the 1640s, in which dozens of East Anglian women were killed.

By 1654 Wallington had catalogued 50 notebooks, of which only seven are known to have survived.

Four are in the British Library, one in the Guildhall Library, one in the Folger Library in Washington DC and one at Tatton Park.

The book notes that in 1645 “Witchfinder General” Matthew Hopkins, notorious for his brutality against women, had been appointed to check villager Elizabeth Clarke for “devil’s marks” – like warts or moles.

Under torture, she named other women, including her daughter Rebecca.

When Rebecca was herself tortured, she implicated her own mother as a witch.

A total of 19 women were eventually hanged, though Rebecca was saved thanks to her confession.

Tatton Park mansion and collections manager Caroline Schofield said: “The Wallington manuscripts are hugely important primary sources for scholars of the period.”

The document can be found online here (this link has been updated to the actual online scanned pages).

On this, International Women’s Day, let us remember our murdered and tortured – at the hands of men, from our holocaust – the burning times – through to the present day. May they all rest in peace.

23 thoughts on “The absolute glee of historic woman-torture

  1. FAB Libber

    The best they come up with is “the disturbing violence of the 1640s”
    They neglect to mention the war of terror that ALL women must have been living under during that period. After all, ‘selection’ for witch/trial, was almost arbitrary.


  2. FAB Libber

    Can the document be copied into the private thread? It’s Fair Use.
    Not quite following you there Dame Jilla.
    Your new title got you stuck in mod 😛


  3. Jilla

    Too much privilege can be a probelem, apparently. So I’m just Jilla again.
    *If* we knew someone who had a p’word to that and could get the full document for us, we could discuss it in the private thread. That would constitute Fair Use.

    I’m going to see if I can get it.


  4. FAB Libber

    The link to the results page probably are not the correct results (looking more closely at the publication dates).

    Library’s Home Page:

    And here are the full 94 results for “Nehemiah Wallington”;jsessionid=99F82E617AA7E50C85FC71EA6759F59E?&dscnt=2&scp.scps=scope%3A%28MU%29%2Cprimo_central_multiple_fe&frbg=&tab=local&dstmp=1299632165783&srt=rank&ct=search&mode=Basic&dum=true&indx=1&fromLogin=true&vl%28freeText0%29=Nehemiah%20Wallington&vid=MU_VU1&fn=search


  5. Jilla

    I have sent you the names of the media relations contact and two of the conservators willing to be interviewed.


  6. FAB Libber

    Via one of the links Jilla sent me
    (general overview / press release of the document)
    it gave a link into the document!!!
    and I have updated the link in the post to this one.

    Probably no need for a private thread or anything, so discussion of the content can continue here.


  7. Jilla

    I’m finding it awfully hard to read. I may have better luck with IE than Firefox.

    I already learned one dope in that comment thread is so excited and can hardly wait to read about this MAN’s life.


  8. FAB Libber

    Jilla – did you notice the zoom function, it is on the actual document in grey semi-transparent. There is an export fuction, and it might be better to export each page (not sure how many in the section). I will play with it tomorrow.

    From the above link, the witch section starts at page 177 (scroll down to almost the bottom of the page). About 7/8ths down. Pages 177-184.

    If you are not used to reading documents of that vintage, double-s is “ff” and also sometimes a single-s is an “f”. Once you get used to reading it, it isn’t too bad.


  9. FAB Libber

    Other tips:
    You can get rid of the junk on the lefthand side, the tiny left button next to “media info”. The exact middle magnification seems to fit the width of the page.
    You can also drag the page-overview box to elsewhere on the page.

    And scroll up and down by dragging with the mousie.


  10. FAB Libber

    Jilla, scrolly wheel on mouse will alter it too. Or click the centre of the magnification -+ transparent thing on the doc.
    I have just had a wizz through the contents, and find it really bizarre that the focus of the article was on the witch torture/trial stuff. It is the tiniest part of the whole manuscript. The civil war stuff is possibly more relevant to most historians (particularly the local stuff, the far away stuff is second-hand news).

    So this focus on woman-torture seems quite the ‘history-porn’.


  11. Jilla

    That would be a good question to ask about. Why the particular focus? (Not that I’m disagreeing with it, but..?”)

    Two names there.


  12. FAB Libber

    It seems that past/present/future torture/death of women is enduring “entertainment”.
    Particularly real life ones rather than fiction, I guess.

    It kinda freaks you out to realise the kind of world we live in, with misogynists getting off on torture porn.


  13. Jilla

    Wow. I have found the appropriate pages. “Many witches in Essex, Suffolk, Norfolk.

    Do I remember correctly that women who were healers were considered to be witches?


  14. Jilla

    But this is only a small portion of the document. They won’t let us, the rabble, have it all. That’s for the Wiffered Dickff.


  15. FAB Libber

    Yes, I am already about halfway through reading the section (my comment above timestamp March 9, 2011 at 1:57 am, 2nd link) is the electronic contents. As I said above, the pages are 177-184, which are located at the bottom of the screen.

    I was having a wtf moment reading stuff like “the devill came to her in the shape of a squirrel”. I am thinking, well yeah, it was probably a squirrel, considering Essex has loads of them.


  16. Jilla

    I’m at the “kitnens” who were Impes, or her children, and so she killed them. . Didn’t they think maybe it was this man who was the Devil?


  17. FAB Libber

    The spelling of “kitnens” had me going for a while, I read it three times, are they kittens? Yeah, they must be kittens. wtf have these people got against harmless small furry animals?

    Actually, in reading it, most of it is really local gossip stuff, and the author dude strikes me as being somewhat of a nosy gossip. With a shitload of gawd-luvvin thrown in. I do know all the places mentioned too, which freaks me out when I think of them now.

    I was actually going to have a look at some of those populations to see what sort of percentage of women hanged would have been. Most of those places are still fairly smallish today (except maybe Ipswich, about the biggest mentioned) so the population was not huge, some places possibly like Manningtree were probably only a couple of hundred people total, so 15 women out of that is significant.


  18. Jilla

    Yeah it works much better to “export” the files, in “small” which is the largest, to “all files” on your desktop, and then you can use your enlarger. I find this really hard. To think of the fear of that poor young girl and her desperation to cooperate and tell them what they insisted was the truth. I’ll stop at the part where they are getting her to admit she had (something) “copulation with the Devil”.



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