October 2017 | Rebecca Rego Barry

Bewitching Manuscript from the 'British Salem'

Long before Salem's notorious witch trials in 1692, England experienced its own witchcraft scandal. In 1622, English literary translator Edward Fairfax (c.1580-c.1635) brought to trial six local women following the unexplained and strange illnesses of his three daughters who "spoke of visions and named names" before the youngest died in October 1621. Fairfax wrote up his case in a manuscript titled A Discourse of Witchcrafte as it was Acted in the Family of Mr. Edward Fairfax of Fuistone.    

Witch.jpeg"I present the Xtian Reader a narration of Witchcraft of which I am a Woeful Witness, & so I can best report it, read this without vindicatory passion, & in reading let thy descretion proceed thy judgement."

A copy of the accusatory manuscript made by eighteenth-century painter and antiquarian Thomas Beckwith will be on exhibit and for sale at INK Fair London next week, offered by Tom Lintern-Mole of Antiquates Fine & Rare Books. It is priced at £7,500 ($10,000). The perfect Halloween treat, you say?  
Fairfax's legal case (and a second) ultimately collapsed. His manuscript was published under the title Daemonologia in 1882.

Image courtesy of Antiquates.