• Motive Hunting in the Case of Richard Hathaway

Richard Hathaway, a London blacksmith's apprentice, was convicted of fraud and imposture in 1702 for falsely accusing Sarah Morduck of bewitching him. Historians of English witchcraft have cited this case as evidence of judicial skepticism toward the crime of witchcraft and of continuing popular belief in it; however, detailed and thorough analysis of the primary sources has been lacking in the scholarly literature. Through a comparative analysis of the four major contemporary accounts, this article explores the motives and representational strategies of the participants in the case and of those who composed the accounts. Hathaway's accusation against Morduck was malicious; a desire to profit from selling the story of Hathaway's bewitchment was a likely motive for the false accusation. The very different versions of Hathaway and Morduck that emerge from this research illustrate the dangers of relying on single sources for witchcraft cases.


On July 28, 1701, Sarah Morduck1 was acquitted at the Guildford Assizes of a charge of bewitching Richard Hathaway, a blacksmith's apprentice. Her accuser, Hathaway, was convicted in March 1702 of being a cheat and an impostor, and for riot and assault. Hathaway's trial was considered important enough to merit an official, verbatim report and to be included in the State Trials collections, even though, as Hal Gladfelder has put it, "it lacked the social profile of a State Trial."2 Francis Hutchinson included an account of the trial in An Historical Essay Concerning Witchcraft (London, 1718), and Hathaway was "the 'famous impostor'" to Edward F. Rimbault in 1865.3 Hathaway's importance, or at least notoriety, continues today: his case is cited frequently in scholarship on English witchcraft as evidence of both judicial skepticism toward the crime of [End Page 72] witchcraft and the continuation of popular belief in it.4 Some scholars regard Hathaway's trial as having played a significant role in the decline of English witchcraft prosecutions. Wallace Notestein, for example, wrote that the punishment of Hathaway established "a precedent that would be a greater safeguard to supposed witches than many acquittals,"5 and Brian Levack has suggested that the prosecution of Hathaway "helped to bring [English witch-hunting] to a complete end."6 In a study of curiosity in early modern culture, Barbara M. Benedict states that "the public account of Hathaway's imposture [in the trial report] dramatized that observation and shrewd curiosity could expose not only witchcraft, but all kinds of deception."7 Despite the relative frequency of references to Hathaway's case, discussions tend to be very brief, limited for the most part to skeletal summaries, with perhaps some additional remarks on one or two aspects of the case. The only detailed analysis is a 1928 paper by William Renwick Riddell, who was concerned primarily to determine whether Hathaway really believed he was bewitched.8 More recently, Hal Gladfelder has devoted a few pages to Hathaway's trial in his study of eighteenth-century English crime narratives.9 Aside from Riddell's article, close readings of the sources are conspicuously lacking; indeed, several descriptions of the case are inconsistent in one respect or another with the source material.

Wallace Notestein, for instance, wrote that Morduck was tried and acquitted twice in 1701. He appears to have made this error as a result of misreading A Short Account of the Tryal of Richard Hathaway, Thomas Wellyn and Elizabeth his Wife, and Elizabeth Willoughby . . . for a Riot and Assault upon Sarah Morduck . . .at the said Assizes (London, 1702). This report, which is appended to The Tryal of Richard Hathaway (London, 1702), describes the trial for riot and assault of Hathaway and three co-accused, not another trial of Morduck.10 In her article on the Jane Wenham case of 1712, Phyllis J. Guskin says that Hathaway "was able to rouse the rabble against a supposed witch for some time until she was finally able to get him indicted on a charge of attempting her life in 1703."11 This rather misrepresents the situation by omitting the fact that Hathaway's indictment stemmed from Morduck's trial. James Sharpe says, "The minister of [Hathaway's] parish in Southwark took an interest in the case, and supervised Hathaway's scratching of the woman."12 According to the report of Hathaway's trial, the minister in question, Dr. Martin, supervised Hathaway's scratching of a different woman, in order to demonstrate that Hathaway was faking his bewitchment. Sharpe's remark puts a very different spin on Dr. Martin's involvement. Owen Davies says, "It was during a mobbing she received . . . that Sir Thomas Lane intervened and ordered that Moredike be scratched [End Page 73] by Hathaway."13 This suggests that Lane took steps to stop the mobbing, but Morduck was taken to Lane's house after the mobbing, and it was not until she consented to the scratching that Lane allowed it. Finally, discussing Morduck's appearance before Sir Thomas Lane, Gregory Durston mistakes Morduck's brother, James Hearne, for an alderman.14

Within the restricted parameters of the existing literature on this case, Hathaway tends to attract the most attention; he is treated as the agent driving events, while Morduck is a passive victim. This is not to suggest that historians have been unsympathetic toward Morduck. With the notable exception of Riddell, who concludes on very little evidence that she "had a nasty temper and a sharp tongue,"15 descriptions of the case emphasize the physical violence done to Morduck and the failure of the authorities to protect her. And yet she remains strangely marginal, to the extent that Richard Hathaway has an entry in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, but she does not.16 One purpose of this article, then, is to enlarge our understanding of Sarah Morduck. More broadly, this paper explores the motives and representational strategies of the case's participants and of those who composed the contemporary accounts. Hal Gladfelder notes that the question of motive "remains naggingly unresolved in the published report [of Hathaway's trial]. Hathaway's violent imposture is never explained, nor does any testimony reveal the reasons for Morduck's status as a pariah."17 Although he exaggerates Morduck's social situation somewhat, Gladfelder identifies clearly the question that this article tackles: why did Hathaway accuse Morduck of bewitching him? The sources available to us do not permit definitive conclusions; however, we may tease out likely motives by engaging in close readings of the contemporary accounts of the case.

My approach has been informed by various scholars' work on witchcraft and representation, most especially by arguments concerning the textuality of witchcraft sources.18 Marion Gibson has argued that historians have been naive in treating "stories about witchcraft as if they were almost transparent, a window through which we can view early modern life and see, vividly, witches and their victims interacting."19 Her reading of pamphlets demonstrates the importance of approaching witchcraft sources more cautiously: "A change in sources, authorship, ideological position, style and genre can entirely change the form and content of pamphlet stories about witchcraft. . . . Since these stories form the basis of our understanding of what witchcraft was, the perception that the stories are flexible or unreliable has important implications for all readers of witchcraft stories, but especially for scholars using witchcraft pamphlets as records. . . . Pamphlets, manuscripts and legal records need to [End Page 74] be recognised as texts, representing, and not merely transmitting, information about witchcraft."20 Gibson was writing of witchcraft pamphlets from earlier in the seventeenth century, but the accounts of the Hathaway case indicate that her argument applies to later documents as well. The four major accounts of the case are very different in tone, style, and content; and while it is possible to piece together a probable sequence of events based on convergences and consistencies between the sources, the authors' agendas have significant effects on the narratives.

We are fortunate to have several contemporary sources of information about the Hathaway case. The two commonly cited sources are the anonymous pamphlet titled A Full and True Account of the Apprehending and Taking of Mrs. Sarah Moordike, Who is Accused for a witch . . . (London, 1701),21 and the report of Hathaway's first trial, which exists in several versions.

The Tryal of Richard Hathaway, upon an Information for being a Cheat and Impostor . . . was published in London by Isaac Cleave in 1702, by the appointment of the judge in the case, Chief Justice Sir John Holt. This edition includes a separate, shorter report titled A Short Account of the Tryal of Richard Hathaway, Thomas Wellyn and Elizabeth his Wife, and Elizabeth Willoughby . . . for a Riot and Assault upon Sarah Morduck . . . at the said Assizes.22 Francis Hutchinson summarized the trial report in An Historical Essay Concerning Witchcraft,23 and it appears in various collections of state trials. It has been reprinted recently in English Witchcraft, 1560-1736.24 This article relies on the London 1702 edition and treats The Tryal of Richard Hathaway and A Short Account of the Tryal of Richard Hathaway as separate sources.

Another anonymous pamphlet, titled The Worlds Wonder Being a most Strange and Wonderful Relation of one Richard Hathaway . . . , was printed for J. Wilson near Aldersgate in 1701. It appears to have been composed on December 13, 1700, before the formal accusation against Sarah Morduck.25 Additional contemporary sources include the indictments from the Guildford Assizes at which Morduck was tried and acquitted,26 and items in the London Post newspaper describing Morduck's arrest and acquittal.

The Worlds Wonder

The Worlds Wonder is the earliest extant source regarding the case of Sarah Morduck and Richard Hathaway. According to its anonymous author, it was composed on December 13, 1700. There is an intriguing reference in The Tryal [End Page 75] of Richard Hathaway to a document that may be The Worlds Wonder: according to Richard Ball, a printer's apprentice who appeared as a prosecution witness in Hathaway's trial, Hathaway asked in December 1700 to have a "Paper" that he had written about his bewitchment printed, but Ball's master refused on the grounds that he believed Hathaway was a fraud. Ball testified that "there was a Paper Printed by Some body" the next day. Hathaway did not, apparently, claim authorship of this paper, saying that it was "not true" and he could "give a better Account."27 The Worlds Wonder might be the second paper that Ball refers to; however, its content suggests no reason for Hathaway to claim that it was untrue. The Worlds Wonder presents Hathaway as a paragon of piety and dutifulness, and emphasizes that the reader may verify the account by speaking with various individuals, including Hathaway's master. It also includes certain details that are suggestive of a more intimate knowledge of Hathaway's alleged affliction than one might expect from a third-party author. Given that Hathaway faked his bewitchment, it is certainly possible, even probable, that he is the author or coauthor of The Worlds Wonder.

The Worlds Wonder is markedly different from the other sources. It begins with a preamble concerning "wicked People, who neither regard God nor Man, nor have the least regard to their Souls Healths, but on the contrary will give themselves full and wholly over to the Devil, than serve God, so they may be reveng'd on any Persons they shall have any Spite or Malice against." The stated purpose of The Worlds Wonder is to be "set up in all Families" as a reminder of God's providence and an example to others. Hathaway's bewitchment and cure reveal God's goodness and power; the reader is encouraged to repent before it is too late, "for the Kingdom of God is at hand."28

According to the pamphlet, Hathaway was born at Taunton Dean in Somersetshire and was apprenticed to the smith Mr. Welling, who lived at the Falcon Stairs in Southwark.29 We are told that Hathaway has served three years of his apprenticeship, which would date his indenture to 1697.30 This is consistent with testimony given in his imposture trial, which dates his apprenticeship to 1696 or 1697. If Hathaway was bound to Welling for seven years, he was nearly halfway through his term of indenture when he claimed to be bewitched. According to Joan Lane, "The heavy physical work of the blacksmith's craft meant that the young, small or weak boy was of little use, and the majority of apprentices were 14 or more with a seven-year term predominant."31 Thus Hathaway might have been only seventeen years old in December 1700; however, it is likely that he was physically strong, which should be kept in mind when considering the other sources' accounts of his attacks on Morduck. The Worlds Wonder states [End Page 76] that Hathaway "behaved himself very well" in his apprenticeship. He "always was very Pious, and took delight in doing his Duty toward God, and was always respective to his Master . . . he behaved himself among the Neighbours with a very civil Behaviour and Modest Carriage to all Men, not having been heard to speak the least Idle Word." The author concludes with the hope that Hathaway "may live to be a Pattern to all Youth, and at the time of his departure from this, receive Everlasting Bliss to all Eternity." The author notes several times that the reader may verify the account with the "Eminent Dr. Smith in Christ-Church Parish in Southwark"; Madam Goodwin of Goodman's Fields, who cured Hathaway; the doctors at Saint Thomas's Hospital; or Hathaway's master. Indeed, the author suggests that Hathaway's master has more to tell anyone who "is so curious as to see him."32

The Worlds Wonder tells two versions of Hathaway's story. The first version is vague and brief, while the second version includes more details about the same events. For example, in the first version, we are told that Hathaway's affliction began after he went to put a lock on a neighbor's door and "asked for a little Drink, which she instantly gave him, which he thought was pretty strong, and just after he drank it, he was seized in a most strange sort of manner, making a most strange sort of Noise." The neighbor is not named, the type of drink is not described, and the manner and noise are characterized weakly as "most strange." Hathaway was not sick but remained afflicted in this manner, and so after some time his master, Welling, had him treated by Dr. Smith of Christ-Church parish in Southwark. Dr. Smith treated Hathaway for about a month. The afflicted apprentice was then sent to Saint Thomas's Hospital, where he spent about seven months. He went home after this time, "being somewhat eased." The account states that "they" boiled his urine in a bottle over the fire several times, and that this sometimes gave him ease, but it is not clear whether this occurred at the hospital or at home.33

The second version of the story, which is contained in a lengthy postscript, provides more colorful and intimate details:

When he was first taken Ill, he foamed at the Mouth, and made the strangest Noise as ever was heard, stareing in a most strange and wonderful manner like one Distracted, with the White of his Eyes, turn'd clear another way. When this Woman gave him the Drink first, his Belly swell'd and boyl'd; and the time of his continuance in the Hospital, he was visited by several Doctors, who ordered him to take Quicksilver 14 times, one time 9 Ounces, and 7 Ounces every time besides, and it never made him [End Page 77] go to Stool but once, after he voided it again; all which is most admirable to all Men, it being Dose enough to Kill the strongest Man as is.34

In this version, upon returning home from the hospital, "every now and then he would cry, She is coming. And also at every little Noise in the Street he would do the same." There is no mention of this behavior in the first account, which states simply that about a month previously, that is, in November, he became afflicted again, and that while "they" were boiling his urine over the fire, the bottle burst, at which point "he was struck stone Blind, and hath continued so ever since till now." Compare this to the postscript version: "When he was first struck Blind, he fled about the Floor, Roaring, to the great Admiration of all People that beheld him; his Legs and Arms being scalded a little; after that his Eyelids were shut quite close, insomuch that he could not see one jot."35

The first version then states that Hathaway stopped eating and that he vomited up anything he drank. On December 11, he vomited up nine rusty pins, followed by twenty-five pins on December 12. These pins "are now to be seen."36 Following the vomiting of pins, he was "advised by several People" to scratch the witch. This was "the most common form of counter-magic in the early modern period";37 making the witch bleed, typically by scratching, was thought to undo the bewitchment. Two women then went to fetch the "witch," about whom we are told only that she is sixty or seventy years old and that she is a neighbor. She ran upstairs upon seeing the two women; someone else then persuaded her to let Hathaway scratch her. He "took a drop of her Blood" on a rag and his sight was restored immediately, at which point he went home to his master. The postscript adds that "just as he scratcht her, before the Blood came, he cryed out with a Loud Voice, O Lord my Eyes. And instantly after the Blood came, his Eyes burst open, at which time he received his Sight, most of the Neighbours being then present, heard her [Morduck] to say, They are open now, but how long will they keep so?" He had to be led to Morduck because of his blindness, but after the scratching, "with great Joy he run home without Guide, having many People following him."38

The postscript also adds that despite the successful scratching, Hathaway continued every day to visit Madam Goodwin, who seems to have been a faith healer or cunning woman. Whoever she was, going to her evidently was not seen as shady or illicit. The reader is left to infer that the scratching restored Hathaway's sight but did not cure the vomiting. We are told that Hathaway's illness is remarkable because he vomited pins even though he did not swallow any, and because he retained his "Fat" and remained in good physical condition [End Page 78] despite his period of involuntary fasting. The postscript notes, too, that several of the neighbors had suffered various afflictions for many years, "not in the least imagining what should be the occasion of all their Illness."39

The two narratives contained within The Worlds Wonder suggest that the postscript was composed in order to address doubts about Hathaway's bewitchment. This supports the theory that Hathaway wrote The Worlds Wonder. The first part of the account could have been the paper he wanted Ball's master to print, while the postscript could be his response to the paper that he told Richard Ball was not true.

A Full and True Account

A Full and True Account of the Taking and Apprehending of Mrs. Sarah Moordike describes the events leading up to and including Morduck's examination before the Justice of the Peace Sir Thomas Lane, but does not discuss her trial. The London Post for April 23-25, 1701 reported that "this day a woman living in Southwark, was by a warrant, brought before Sir Thomas Lane, being accused of bewitching a young-man in her neighbourhood. . . . She is at present committed to one of the Compters, till such time as it shall appear, what proof can be brought against her; and that in the mean time, several examinations are taking upon oath, in writing, relating to that affair."40

The pamphlet title says Morduck was taken on the 24th "of this Instant," so we can, therefore, place the publication of this pamphlet to sometime between April 24 and the end of the month. It is clear that the author had access to Morduck's examination and to the other depositions. The author may have had another source as well, which is most likely to have been The Worlds Wonder. Peter Elmer suggests that A Full and True Account was produced by Hathaway's supporters, which is very likely, and that "it may possibly constitute the 'papers' that Hathaway sought to publish at this time," but this is not consistent with Richard Ball's testimony that Hathaway sought publication several months earlier, in December 1700.41

A Full and True Account begins with a long, convoluted statement that Richard Hathaway, a servant of Thomas Welling, went to "fix a Key to a Lock" for Sarah Morduck, the wife of a waterman at Paul's Wharf, "commonly call'd by the name of Moll Dike." According to the account, Sarah and her husband "had divers words together," her husband removed some "Linnings" that had belonged to his first wife, and went "over the Water," taking the key to their door [End Page 79] with him. Morduck then took her own things, but decided to have a key made. She went to her neighbor, who was a blacksmith, but he was not at home, so she went to Thomas Welling, who "willingly sent his Apprentice," Hathaway, to do the job. "No sooner had he done," the pamphlet says, "but she, the said Sarah Moordike, ask'd him to Drenk, which he deny'd, but by much importunement he did." Hathaway became ill sometime after this. He could not eat, drink, or do any work for his master, Welling. This continued for several months, part of which time he spent at St. Thomas's Hospital in Southwark. He could not be cured by any means, and "at length, thinking upon some Words of what she [Morduck] used to say, they caused her to be brought to him." After scratching Morduck, he instantly recovered his sight (having been blind for "a considerable time") and could eat again, but passed excrement with pins in it.42

This account is probably a synthesis of several depositions, including Morduck's. It seems unlikely that there were witnesses to her argument with her husband, or we would expect the pamphlet to say so; likewise, the statement that she went first to her blacksmith neighbor, and then to Welling, is probably hers. The remark that Welling sent Hathaway willingly comes most probably from Welling's deposition, since it presents him in a favorable light. The statement that Hathaway refused to drink with Morduck, only giving in after "much importunement," similarly presents the alleged victim as favorably as possible. He goes to her house, does his job, agrees under pressure to drink with her, and suffers months of incapacitating illness as a result. As in The Worlds Wonder, Hathaway is blameless. Morduck, in contrast, is estranged from her husband (and thus not under a man's control) and acts inappropriately toward Hathaway. Note that in this narrative, Hathaway does not ask for the drink, as he does in The Worlds Wonder. Given that he does drink with her,43 there appears to be no motive to bewitch him, but buried in the narrative is the crucial phrase "thinking upon some Words of what she used to say." The recollection of what were presumably angry or quarrelsome exchanges with Morduck leads to the conclusion that she is the cause of his misfortune.

Following the first scratching, with its mixed results, "they" went to someone in Goodman's Fields "who seemed to have some skill," who advised them to boil Hathaway's urine in a stone bottle.44 The bottle burst and Hathaway lost his sight again. Here we see another inconsistency with the account given in The Worlds Wonder, which states that Hathaway scratched Morduck for the first time after he became blind. He scratched Morduck a second time, "by the help of some Neighbours," with the same results as before: he could see, eat, and drink, but voided pins with his excrement. Curiously, there is no mention of [End Page 80] vomiting pins, as in The Worlds Wonder; in this account, he excretes them. After some time, he became ill again. According to the pamphlet, he was now not the only victim: a boatbuilder named Parrot and a child living in the neighborhood were "taken in as bad a manner, tho' not altogether so strange." This caused "the whole Neighbourhood to imagine [Morduck] to be the Person guilty." Hathaway was taken to scratch her again, and then, after another relapse, he was "ordered a third time to do as before." (This seems to be an error, for by this point he has already scratched Morduck three times; but perhaps this means he was ordered by the cunning woman for the third time.) During this scratching, Morduck allegedly said, "Her Blood shoul[d] do him no good, but rather worse." Yet again, he recovered for a short time before relapsing once more. Now various individuals, including some officers of the parish, took an interest in determining whether his illness was genuine. On April 12 they placed Hathaway in a house, under twenty-four-hour watch, "therefore to discover the truth."45

In this section of the narrative, there is little said about Morduck, and the information appears to come from Hathaway or the Wellings, though possibly also from other witnesses. There is no mention of Morduck submitting willingly to the scratchings, or of any injuries done to her. The impression given is of an innocent young man suffering an incomprehensible illness, trying all possible cures, only to be frustrated by the malice of the witch, as expressed in her alleged remark that her blood would only make him worse.

This almost fits the "motiveless malignity narrative" pattern Marion Gibson has identified in some late sixteenth-century witchcraft pamphlets. Gibson has found that such narratives "are usually connected with gentle or noble victims, [who are] not constructed by narrators as blameworthy but as totally innocent victims." The victim may have acted aggressively toward the witch, but his or her actions are represented as blameless in contrast with the witch's behavior or general character.46 In this case, the victim is neither gentle nor noble, and there is no specific motive for the alleged attack by the witch; even the reference to things Morduck used to say is too vague to suggest a concrete motive for bewitching Hathaway. The lack of motive in the narrative may, therefore, have been one factor in Morduck's acquittal. Gibson has pointed out that motiveless malignity narratives could backfire: "A lack of motive for attack leads to suspicion of the victim. . . . Suppressing, or neglecting to provide, a motive for revenge, such as cruelty by the victim, insult or denial, leaves contemporaries searching the representation for imperfections in the idealised victim, logical reasons for witch attack, and gaps in their story."47 Further research will be needed to determine whether Gibson's observation holds true in other late witchcraft cases, [End Page 81] but it is suggestive that a clear motive was imputed to Jane Wenham, who was convicted by the jury at her trial in 1712.48 Without a report of Morduck's trial, we cannot know for certain whether or how the question of motive was considered by the court, but it seems reasonable to assume that the apparent lack of a clear motive for Hathaway's bewitchment would not have helped his cause.

To return to the pamphlet, the section dealing with Morduck's examination is a jumble of information drawn from the depositions. It begins with the statement, "Being carried before the fore-mentioned Sir Thomas Lane, she was examined as to the Fact; which she denyed."49 There is no context for Morduck being brought to Lane; the pamphlet leaves the impression that the tests of Hathaway showed he was bewitched, and that as a result Morduck was taken to the justice of the peace.

The pamphlet reports various witness statements, including that Morduck "had privately been reputed to be an Ill Liver for many Years." It is interesting that there is no mention of a reputation specifically for witchcraft, which we have come to expect in witchcraft accusations. Her alleged comment that her blood would do Hathaway no good, but would make him worse, is repeated. After several attempts by a Dr. Hambleton (Hamilton), who happened to be present, to make Hathaway eat and drink, Hathaway was permitted to scratch Morduck yet again. According to the pamphlet, Morduck asked that he not scratch her face and "that some Body would be bound that he might not scratch her any more." She was granted her request not to be scratched on the face, but not the guarantee against further scratchings. Supposedly she said "that he would be well when [he] had scratched her," which he was: Hathaway was soon able to eat and drink, and to urinate and void excrement. Morduck was therefore committed to jail to await further examination and trial. The pamphlet ends with the comment, "As she was going it was observed, she said she would be Reveng'd of several of them, &c."50

If this pamphlet were our only source for this case, our view would be greatly skewed. Although it appears on the surface to be a neutral document (Morduck is not referred to directly as a witch, and the text is free of obvious authorial commentary), it is clear that the information presented in the depositions has been arranged as a chronological narrative that casts Morduck in a poor light. It begins with her husband leaving her after an argument and ends with her swearing to take revenge on her accusers; in between, we are told that she has said things in the past that made her a suspect, and that she has said her blood would make Hathaway worse. We are given the impression that she was uncooperative about being scratched, and that Morduck had no friends, family, or other support. [End Page 82]

While we should not be surprised by the negative tone of a pamphlet based on accusers' depositions, it is interesting that the author has not included any information that would tend to exculpate Morduck. At least one source should have been available: according to the report of Hathaway's trial, Morduck's brother, James Hearne, was present during the examination by Sir Thomas Lane, and told Lane that his sister had been abused by Hathaway and his supporters. 51 Also in the report of Hathaway's trial, the clergyman Dr. Martin testified that he had been present while several people were examined, and that he told Lane about Hathaway scratching the wrong woman.52 Assuming that his information was written down, it would appear that the pamphlet's author has deliberately omitted Dr. Martin's information suggesting that Hathaway was a fraud. The author of the pamphlet has also avoided the more sensational aspects of the case, such as the attack on her by several men that led to her being taken to Lane after her brother called in the constables to intervene;53 in the pamphlet, she is merely "carried before" the justice of the peace,54 with no explanation given of the immediate context—most likely because the context would not reflect favorably on Hathaway and his supporters. Indeed, the title of the pamphlet suggests that Morduck was captured, as if she had been on the run.

We see, therefore, that this apparently neutral document has been constructed in order to slant the reader's perception of the accusation against Morduck, in ways that we would be unaware of if not for the existence of other sources that add to and contradict the information presented in it. As an example of a historical document, it reinforces the need for great caution in interpreting witchcraft pamphlets. It also raises the question of why the pamphlet was produced. Given the focus on Hathaway's sufferings, and the clear slant against Morduck, it is probably safe to conclude that whoever wrote the pamphlet was on Hathaway's side.55

The Tryal of Richard Hathaway

Morduck was tried at the Surrey Summer Sessions held at Guildford, on July 28, 1701. She pleaded not guilty and was acquitted.56 Subsequently, Richard Hathaway was held in jail for having accused her falsely and pretended to be bewitched.57 His trial, on March 25, 1702, is the subject of The Tryal of Richard Hathaway. This report follows the same format and style as other state trial reports. It appears to be a verbatim account of the proceedings. Rather than one single narrative, we see several as presented by the various lawyers and witnesses. [End Page 83] It is Chief Justice Holt, in his summing up, who constructs the final narrative (allowing for the intervention of the report's unknown author). The stories converge and diverge in interesting ways. The overall impression is of accuracy, completeness, and objectivity. John Langbein, commenting on the collections of state trials, has noted that by the end of the seventeenth century, "Major trials were transcribed in short-hand by professional scribes, promptly published in pamphlet editions represented to be accurate and complete, and scrutinized by contemporary audiences that included many of the official participants."58 In one sense, this report is the most transparent of the sources for this case.

Peter Elmer has suggested that "the desire to produce a printed refutation of the claims of Hathaway's supporters may . . . have stemmed from the need to answer an earlier pamphlet [A Full and True Account] produced by the latter." Elmer also suggests that Chief Justice Holt was probably "one of the main promoters of the printing of the treatise," and points out that the printer, Isaac Cleave, "had specialised early on in his career in the production of popular anti-catholic material" and "had printed numerous accounts of political show trials."59 Given that A Full and True Account appeared several months before Morduck's trial, it seems unlikely that The Tryal of Richard Hathaway was intended as a direct response to it; it is more likely that it was a response to rumors that the judge and jury in Morduck's trial had been bribed. One of the stated reasons for prosecuting Hathaway was the need to vindicate "the Justice of the Nation. Here was a Woman that underwent a solemn Tryal, and upon a full Hearing was acquitted; yet afterwards, notwithstanding the thorough Examination of the Fact, and such an Evidence given as convinced every unprejudiced Hearer of the innocence of the Defendant . . . such a Spirit did reign, that it was represented that the Defendant [Hathaway] had hard measure; and not only the Jury, but the Court too, were reflected on."60

Everything about The Tryal of Richard Hathaway is intended to fulfill this purpose of vindicating the "Justice of the Nation." The exact date of the trial is given. It is noted that "Proclamation was made for all Persons concerned to attend," and that Hathaway was "acquainted what liberty he had to Challenge those Gentlemen that were called." The reader is informed that he did not challenge any members of the jury, all of whom are named.61 Holt's own attitude toward witchcraft is likely to have influenced the decision to print the trial account: according to Francis Hutchinson, Holt had presided over the acquittals of ten women accused of witchcraft prior to Morduck's trial.62 It is also worth noting that Holt had defended the dignity of his decisions on prior occasions: in 1696 he ordered a bookseller's arrest for a trial account that offended [End Page 84] him, and in 1699 he reprimanded three clergymen for criticizing one of his judgments.63 The publication of The Tryal of Richard Hathaway could, then, be considered part of a pattern of behavior on Holt's part.

Although beyond the scope of this article, the political aspect of English witchcraft trials in this period should not be ignored. A few years after the Hathaway trial, the Jane Wenham witchcraft trial of 1712 was the subject of a highly charged public debate in which Wenham became "part of the Whig mythology of Tory superstition."64 The Hathaway trial may be considered a precursor to the Wenham case, with Whigs and Tories lined up on opposing sides just as they would be in 1712. Holt was politically committed, in Paul Halliday's words, "to the revolution settlement and to the king, who made him a privy councilor . . . and a judge." Holt advised the House of Lords in January 1689 that James II had abdicated the English throne; as a member of the Commons, he "promoted William of Orange's claim to the throne independent of any right by his wife, Mary."65 In contrast, Serjeant Jenner, Hathaway's lawyer, was probably Sir Thomas Jenner, who had been captured while attempting to flee England with James II and was imprisoned until January 1689. He had been involved in several of the events leading up to the revolution, and in December 1688 a London mob hanged and burned his effigy.66 While none of the sources for this case indicates that party politics were behind Hathaway's accusation of Morduck, further research might reveal that political connections and alliances were at work as the case developed.

There does not appear to have been a printed report of Morduck's trial, despite the negative reaction to her acquittal. If there had been, we should expect to find it mentioned in The Tryal of Richard Hathaway as evidence of Hathaway's fraud; in response to an objection by Hathaway's lawyer, the prosecutor Broderick says, "What can be more proper Evidence of that Charge [of imposture], than that altho' he really was not bewitched, yet he had so prevailed upon the Opinions of the People, that they still believe him bewitched, and affronted Dr. Martin for being instrumental in her Acquittal." Dr. Martin, who had supported Morduck from the beginning, testified that after her acquittal, "I thought all People would be satisfied with the Justice that was done. But when I came to Town, I was abused by many People, both openly and privately. . . . One Woman followed me to the Water-side, and said, I was the occasion of the Ruin of that innocent Man." He also testified that "it was reported that I had been bribed; I was told I had received several Guineas; that the Judge was bribed, and the Jury brib'd, and the Judge would not suffer the Woman to be searched, he being brib'd."67 [End Page 85]

Richard Hathaway is the focus of the report, but the statements and testimony presented within it also offer new representations of Morduck. After her identification as the wife of the Southwark waterman Edward Morduck, the report says that Sarah "for the whole course of her Life was an honest and pious Woman, and not a Witch, nor using Witchcraft, Inchantement, Charm or Sorcery." This positive statement is repeated in the next paragraph as part of an opening statement by Mr. Raymond, who reads the attorney general's information against Hathaway. Another lawyer for the prosecution, Conyers, reiterates what Raymond said about Hathaway's scratching of Morduck, and says, "The poor Woman has been very much abused, by her Neighbours reputed a Witch, and brought to a Trial for her life as such," all as a result of "nothing but a malicious Design." The third lawyer, Broderick, further emphasizes Morduck's innocence and Hathaway's "malice and hypocrisie."68

The lawyers' representations of Morduck paint her as a blameless victim, in a neat reversal of the representation of Hathaway in A Full and True Account. Given that the purpose of the trial is to prosecute Hathaway for being a cheat and impostor, the emphasis on Morduck's innocence is no surprise, and we should suspect the lawyers' characterization of her as honest and pious, as much as we should the pamphlet author's representation of Morduck as quarrelsome and malicious. There are no unbiased or uninterested voices; everything that is reported to have been said must be read as serving some purpose.

The report begins with the indictment against Hathaway, followed by four opening arguments by the lawyers for the prosecution. These statements summarize the evidence of Hathaway's imposture, presenting him as entirely malicious. The lawyer Broderick says that there is no reason to "trouble the Court" with evidence concerning Morduck's alleged witchcraft, and indeed the report does not include the information about Hathaway putting a lock on Morduck's door, or about the drink she gave him. We are told right away that Hathaway knew Morduck was not a witch but maliciously accused her in order to profit from attracting people to come and see him. Morduck is represented to the reader as an old woman, who was "used . . . so barbarously, she was forced to leave Southwark, where she had lived many Years, and also her Employment, which had been profitable to her, and to go live in London." 69 Not just falsely accused, she has lost her home, livelihood, and personal security.

The witness testimony begins with Dr. Martin, a clergyman. He is asked to describe when "the first discourse of this Witchery" occurred. He testifies [End Page 86] that he spoke with Morduck on February 9, 1701, when her presence in church disturbed the congregation:

Hearing a great hurly-burly in the Church, I sent the Sexton to know what was the occasion of it. He brought Word that there was a Witch in the Church; so the Curate could not go on in reading Prayers; and the Sexton went and brought in one Sarah Morduck to me; and after her came a great many of the People into the Vestry; so that, tho' it be pretty large, it was presently filled. And this Sarah Morduck came up to me, and told me what was the occasion of her being brought there. I ask'd her how she had behaved her self amongst her Neighbours, that should give such occasion to deal thus with her. She began to cry, and said, she had given no occasion for it.70

Martin told her to stay in the vestry because "the whole Congregation being so much disturbed, that they would go out of the Church if she staid in it." He turned everyone else out, locked Morduck in, and went to the sermon. Afterward, he discovered that Morduck had left because "if she staid till all the People were out, she should be torn in pieces."71 It is difficult to imagine the woman represented in A Full and True Account crying or hiding from her neighbors, but this Sarah Morduck is very vulnerable.

She is not, however, without support. Martin also testified that after he met with Hathaway, he left word that he wanted to speak with Morduck again. Her brother, James Hearne, met him instead, and thanked him for "preserving his Sister from the Mob." Martin explained his plan to expose Hathaway. Hearne replied, "I am afraid my Sister will be so silly that it will fail in the Execution." Martin reassured him that he would explain his plan in such a way that it could not possibly miscarry. This is somewhat different from what Hearne says in his testimony; Hearne says that he was afraid they would be betrayed, but not that his sister would be responsible through her foolishness. Is Dr. Martin perhaps elevating his own cleverness by suggesting his plan was, literally, foolproof? Both men agreed that when asked if she would allow Hathaway to scratch her (in fact, another woman was scratched, to show that Hathaway was faking), Morduck said she would give him her "Hearts Blood if it will do him any good."72

Hathaway then scratched the other woman, Elizabeth Johnson, believing her to be Morduck. When he claimed to be able to see again, Martin brought Johnson in and explained the ruse. Following this, Martin was accosted by Johnson, who told him "this wicked Woman" (Morduck) had "spread around" that Hathaway's recovery after scratching Johnson showed that Johnson was [End Page 87] the witch. Martin had to go and reassure Johnson's husband that she was not a witch, and Morduck was "dragged" again to Hathaway's bedside to be scratched, some time after Martin had left.73

Morduck's allegation that Johnson was the witch is intriguing. Did she believe in witches? Did she really believe Johnson was responsible for Hathaway's illness? Or was this a cynical manipulation of the neighbors' beliefs in order to deflect suspicion from herself? These are not necessarily mutually exclusive. Morduck may or may not have shared her neighbors' strong belief in witchcraft, but either way, she seized an obvious opportunity to shift the blame to another woman. It is also interesting that we see here a breakdown in the representation of Morduck as an innocent victim. In Johnson's words, as related by Martin, she is a "wicked woman" who has caused her trouble for, in effect, doing her a favor (Martin had to persuade Johnson after another woman refused to take part in the trick).74

Martin's testimony includes an account of his meetings with Hathaway. His first visit was in response to the urgings of several of his parishioners, who told him "it was taken very ill That [he] had defer'd [seeing Hathaway] so long." He went to the Wellings' house the day after the incident at the church, prayed with Hathaway, and then spoke with Hathaway's master, Thomas Welling. He asked Welling why he thought Hathaway was bewitched. Welling replied, "An evil Tongue, and a bad Woman, Sarah Morduck, had bewitched him." He knew that Morduck was the witch because Hathaway's condition had been relieved after scratching her. Welling then told Martin that he wanted the churchwardens to take Hathaway off his hands, or he would be ruined (presumably because of the doctors' bills for an apprentice who was doing no work). At this point, Martin says, he came up with the idea to have Hathaway scratch a different woman.75

The experiment proved, at least to Martin, that Hathaway was pretending to be bewitched. He left the Wellings' house with the situation apparently resolved; but upon returning later that day to ask about Hathaway, the Wellings accused him of ruining them by saying that Hathaway was a cheat. Hathaway's condition had not only returned but worsened, and two doctors were prepared to say that he was bewitched. Some time after this, and after Morduck had been scratched again, Martin sent for Hathaway. He asked Hathaway why he was causing so much trouble in the parish, to which Hathaway replied that Morduck had bewitched him and "done him all the Prejudice he laboured under." Martin suggested that Hathaway should go into the country to escape the bewitchment, but Hathaway argued that he was bound to his master, the parish must keep him, and if he went into the country he would only be sent back again. Hathaway then said that if Martin did not believe he was bewitched, he "may as well not believe what you say in the Pulpit; I may say to you, as our Saviour said [End Page 88] to the Jews, Tho' you see Miracles, you will not believe." Martin then sent him away, and did not see him again until he was called to the Justice of the Peace Sir Thomas Lane. Hathaway claimed not to know Martin. Martin called for Thomas Welling and challenged him about his apprentice, asking why, if Welling had wanted Martin to get Hathaway off his hands, he had retrieved Hathaway after a press-gang took him. The clear implication is that Welling was benefiting from Hathaway's bewitchment, although the smith denied making any money from it when Martin suggested this after the scratching experiment.76

James Hearne provides the details of the various assaults on his sister. According to Hearne, she was "fall'n upon" and scratched by Hathaway in September 1700, then scratched again six weeks later. At this point, he and Morduck went to Justice Riches, who (contrary to the impression given by historians that the local justices consistently ignored or persecuted Morduck) "perswaded them [Hathaway et al.] to be quiet, and not to trouble this Woman, and he perswaded her to remove to some other place." Hearne's accounts tend to emphasize the physical violence done to his sister. He notes that after scratching Johnson (before his mistake was revealed), Hathaway seized Morduck's apron so hard that "with all the Strength I had, I cou'd hardly loosen his hands." Later that night, he testified, "they got half a Dozen lusty Fellows" to go to Morduck's house and abuse her. After this assault, Morduck sent for Hearne. He found "her Shift on her Back was as wet as Muck. She sent for me, because she had none to assist her but me, and I found her that Night in that pickle." Hearne went to Justice Riches again and received a warrant "to take some of them." He took a man named Osburn to Riches, but Osburn was discharged, apparently on the basis that there was not enough evidence to show that Morduck had been injured. Morduck was subsequently targeted after she moved to Paul's Wharf, and Hearne called in a constable to intervene. Morduck was then taken before Sir Thomas Lane, who, as we have seen, allowed Hathaway to scratch her, ordered that she be stripped and searched, and committed her for trial. Hearne testified that he offered Lane a hundred pounds as security for his sister, but Lane refused; it was not until Dr. Martin had been to see him that Lane agreed to bail.77

Morduck does not testify during Hathaway's trial, although she was present. Broderick says, before Hathaway's lawyer Serjeant Jenner opens his defense, "We have the Woman here that they pretended was the Witch, but it may be they may think it not proper, and therefore we shall let her alone." It is not clear who "they" are: The judges? Hathaway and his lawyer? The report does not contain any comment on this. Perhaps Broderick means that the judges will not think it is appropriate for Morduck to be questioned because doing so would open up the issue of whether she was a witch.78 [End Page 89]

In his rather anodyne opening statement for the defense, Serjeant Jenner avoids any direct characterization of Morduck, but, as part of his defense that Hathaway genuinely believed he was bewitched, remarks that after Hathaway came home from the hospital with the "diagnosis" that "he must lye under some evil Tongue," his master and mistress, the Wellings, "consider[ed] what Person it should be that should have any evil design against him. And at last they recollect that his Master had taken a Room over the Head of this Sarah Morduck, and she had gone to the shop often, and had given them very ill words, and she should be even with him one time or other; and therefore they concluded this Woman was the Person." This is the strongest suggestion of a motive for bewitchment in any of the sources. A promise of revenge suggests, after all, some cause for grievance. If the statement that Welling had taken a room over Morduck's head means that he took a room that she had wanted, then the case as a whole begins to make more sense, for now there is a reason for the conflict between Morduck and the Wellings. Jenner also says of Morduck, "When she was accused by them of bewitching him, she offer'd herself to be scratch'd," thus glossing over the violence done to her on several occasions. At the same time, this statement implies that Morduck was a witch, especially since after she had been scratched, "from thence this man found ease."79

Sir Thomas Lane, the justice of the peace who committed Morduck for trial, has little to say about her other than that she was brought before him upon suspicion of being a witch (amusingly, he says, "But there having been a Tryal, I shall wave [sic] that"; he is put in his place by Holt shortly afterward). Lane has more to say about Hathaway; he testifies that he asked Welling "what kind of life he had lived," and that Welling "gave him a very good character." Evidently anxious to clear himself of blame, he says that he told "them," presumably Hathaway and the Wellings, that he could not order the scratching because if Morduck did not consent, it would be an assault. He says that Morduck wanted security against further scratchings, and that she consented after he told her, "If you do it, do it in your own way." He says he pulled her arm away from Hathaway (suggesting yet another violent scratching).80

In his summation for the jury, Holt has little to say about Morduck, except to note the instances in which she was assaulted. He does, however, refer to her as an old woman—which, while perhaps factually accurate, also serves to emphasize her vulnerability. The main issue, however, is Hathaway's alleged fraud, so most of the summing-up consists of the evidence regarding Hathaway's fasting, vomiting, and excretion of pins.81 [End Page 90]

A Short Account

The jury found Hathaway guilty "without going from the Bar."82 He was before Holt again the next day, on March 26, along with Thomas and Elizabeth Welling and Elizabeth Willoughby, to be tried for riot and assault. The account of this trial is only three pages long. Unlike the account of Hathaway's solo trial, the testimonies are summarized, not presented in "transcript" format. Much of the information reiterates what was presented in Hathaway's first trial, but with more details concerning the physical violence done to Morduck. The tone concerning the defendants and the others who attacked Morduck is markedly stronger than that of the previous account. The author is forthright about the fact that the statements in court are not presented verbatim, noting that the King's Counsel "opened the case to this effect" and Sarah Morduck "deposed to this effect."83 Though this remark is not repeated for all of the witness statements, is it reasonable to assume that the reader is intended to understand that these are summaries. All the statements are presented as indirect discourse, although some remarks may have been recorded verbatim.

Morduck is described at the outset as "an honest woman, and not a Witch, nor ever using Witchcraft, Inchantment, Charm or Sorcery," repeating the formula used in the information against Richard Hathaway. In the opening statement by King's Counsel, her attackers are "rabble" who act against Morduck in a "barbarous," "violent," "riotous," and "cruel" manner.84

Morduck's testimony is summarized in one paragraph in the account. It is clear from the style that we are not reading her own words, but that they have been filtered and altered by at least one hand in the process of writing them down. References to "the said Hathaway" and "this Informant," that is Morduck, are footprints of this process of alteration.85 We cannot reconstruct what Morduck actually said; we can only guess at how she would have spoken. Also, we do not know what has been left out. Perhaps Morduck provided more information that she felt was relevant, such as the account of her argument with her husband, but the author of the account chose to omit it. Lacking the original deposition, we cannot know.

The Sarah Morduck represented in the summary of her testimony is the most victimized yet. She is (to summarize the summary) attacked on several occasions, without warning, "as she was opening her Window," scratched, her teeth were knocked out, her clothes and hair were torn, and she was kicked in the stomach, thrown on the ground, stamped on, and taken forcibly from her home [End Page 91] by people in disguise. After one attack, she was "so much bruised . . . that she was forced to keep her bed for about a fortnight." When she went to Newgate Market one day, a boy shouted out "there goes the Old Witch," and a crowd mobbed her and threatened to throw her in a horse pond. She believed the crowd would have murdered her, but some watermen helped her escape into an alehouse, and later her landlord escorted her home.86

Witnesses corroborate Morduck's account. Sarah Hall, for example, testified that she helped Morduck back into her house during one of the attacks, and that Hathaway and those with him "beset her house and threatened to pull it down, unless they had Morduck delivered to them," and it took the intervention of Hall's husband to make them leave. Two other witnesses, the watermen Robert Adams and John Bowrer, said that they saw Hathaway pull Morduck from her window and scratch her until she bled; even after Morduck escaped into a neighbor's house, they said, Hathaway "would have pursued in at a window" had Adams not stopped him.87

It does not take a great deal of imagination to recognize that these must have been terrifying experiences for Sarah Morduck, and to feel sympathy for her. It is satisfying to read at the end of the account that the jury found all four defendants guilty. This response is in part an effect generated by the way the case is represented. As pointed out earlier in this article, the pro-Hathaway pamphlet A Full and True Account omits information that might exculpate Morduck or suggest Hathaway was faking his bewitchment. In this account, everything "proves" the charges—there is no testimony for the defense whatsoever. Perhaps, since Morduck had already been acquitted and Hathaway had already been convicted of being a cheat and impostor, there was no defense. It seems odd, however, that his co-accused would not have offered one. The only comment in the account is that the defendants "pleaded Not Guilty, and Issue was taken thereupon."88 It seems probable that the author of the account omitted whatever testimony for the defense there may have been, thus skewing the representation, but in a direction that we would not normally question because it accords with what most modern readers would consider a just outcome.

Motive Hunting

Taken together, what do the accounts of this case tell us about why Richard Hathaway accused Sarah Morduck of bewitching him? There is certainly no clear statement of motive, and the question is never posed directly in [End Page 92] Hathaway's trials. The closest we get is the prosecution statement that Hathaway pretended to be bewitched in order to profit from attracting people to come and see him. Unfortunately, none of the witnesses is asked about whether people paid money in order to see the spectacle of the young man vomiting pins. If the Wellings were charging admission, this would be strong evidence in support of the prosecution's claims, so the failure to present such evidence suggests that this was not happening. We do know that money was collected to cover Hathaway's trial expenses, including the cost of bringing Morduck to trial; but unless the money collected was significantly more than what was required for the trials, this seems an unlikely motive for the pretended bewitchment. Gregory Durston has suggested a more likely motive: profiting from the publication of a pamphlet about Hathaway's ordeal.89 Both The Worlds Wonder and A Full and True Account would have fulfilled the intent to earn money through selling the story. A Full and True Account could only have been opportunistic and may not have profited Hathaway or the Wellings at all, depending on who wrote it; however, The Worlds Wonder, as I have argued, may well have been written by Hathaway himself. Given the emphasis in The Worlds Wonder on Madam Goodwin's cures, it is possible that she was either in on the scheme or that she was a well-known figure whose name lent, or was perceived to lend, credibility to Hathaway's story.

These reflections presuppose that Hathaway was a deliberate fraud. That conclusion is difficult to avoid in the face of the trial's exposure of his various fakeries. The only evidence speaking against it is the ferocity of his attacks on Morduck, as described in A Short Account. The violence seems beyond what would have been necessary; perhaps Hathaway truly believed he was bewitched, but also believed he had to resort to fake symptoms in order to convince others. 90 A genuine belief that Morduck had bewitched him would explain the severity of the assaults against her—but, on the other hand, so would a sense of spectacle. Aggressively pursuing the alleged witch could have bolstered Hathaway's claims, and we should not discount the possibility that Hathaway simply enjoyed the safe opportunities to act violently.

Why was Sarah Morduck the target of the witchcraft accusation? Assuming that the biographical information in our sources is accurate, we can say the following with reasonable certainty. Born Sarah Hearne, Morduck was an "old" woman in her sixties or seventies. She lived in Southwark, sold fruit, and was the second wife of a waterman who left her and, apparently, did not return to defend her against her accusers. It was her brother who came to her defense, along with other members of her local community. She was a member of Saint [End Page 93] Saviour's parish in Southwark,91 and attended church at least once. We have no information about any children, so she may not have been a mother, or may not have had any living children or stepchildren. She was acquitted of witchcraft and saw her accuser convicted of fraud. She seems to have stayed in Paul's Wharf after her ordeals, for she was buried in the churchyard at Saint Benet and Saint Peter, Paul's Wharf, on January 8, 1713.92

Beyond this, we can only speculate as to who Morduck "really" was and why she was accused of bewitching Richard Hathaway. As this article has shown, our sources represent her in very different ways according to the purposes and interests behind their publication. In one representation, she is a malicious witch; in another, she is an honest and pious victim of false accusation and assault. Other representations slip into these primary portraits: she is silly according to Dr. Martin (and possibly also to her brother), and wicked according to Elizabeth Johnson.

There is no reason, of course, to assume that only one of these representations is accurate (or, for that matter, that any of them are). Perhaps Morduck was argumentative, and perhaps she did threaten to get even with the Wellings. Or perhaps she was simply an honest, pious old woman who happened to become the target of a cynical, malicious accusation. These characterizations are not necessarily mutually exclusive; Morduck may have been all these things.


. I wish to thank Andrew Gow, Jill Maciak-Walshaw, and Lianna Ryan for reading an early draft. I am grateful also to my audience at Athabasca University's 2009 Learning Services Conference, where I presented a short version of this article.

1. Also spelled Moredike and Moordike. I have used the spelling given in the record of her burial on January 8, 1713, at Saint Benet and Saint Peter, Paul's Wharf. See London, England: Parish and Probate Records (Provo, Utah: Generations Network, 2001), accessed May 4, 2007, http://www.ancestry.com/.

2. Hal Gladfelder, Criminality and Narrative in Eighteenth-Century England: Beyond the Law (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2001), 67.

3. Edward F. Rimbault, "Goldsmith's Pamphlet on the Cock-Lane Ghost," Notes and Queries, 3rd ser., 7, no. 176 (1865): 372.

4. See, for instance, James Sharpe, Instruments of Darkness: Witchcraft in England, 1550-1750 (London: Penguin, 1997), 227-29; and Owen Davies, "Urbanization and the Decline of Witchcraft: An Examination of London," Journal of Social History 30, no. 3 (1997): 600.

5. Wallace Notestein, A History of Witchcraft in England from 1558 to 1718 (1911; New York: Apollo, 1968), 324. [End Page 94]

6. Brian Levack, "The End of Prosecutions," in Witchcraft and Magic in Europe: The Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries, ed. Bengt Ankarloo and Stuart Clark (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1999), 83.

7. Barbara M. Benedict, Curiosity: A Cultural History of Early Modern Inquiry (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2001), 55.

8. William Renwick Riddell, "A Curious 'Witchcraft' Case," Journal of the American Institute of Criminal Law and Criminology 19, no. 2 (1928): 231-36.

9. Gladfelder, Criminality and Narrative in Eighteenth-Century England, 67-69.

10. Notestein, History of Witchcraft in England, 419. Notestein also lists as a separate case the acquittal of a woman reported in the London Post in August 1701. Although the notice in the Post refers to the Assizes ending at Kingston, the date and the statement that the Assizes "acquitted the woman, accused of bewitching a smith," suggest strongly that this is Sarah Morduck. See London Post, August 1-4, 1701, in Early Eighteenth-Century Newspaper Reports: A Sourcebook, compiled by Rictor Norton, accessed July 25, 2010, http://grubstreet.rictornorton.co.uk/witches.htm.

11. Phyllis J. Guskin, "The Context of Witchcraft: The Case of Jane Wenham (1712)," Eighteenth Century Studies 15, no. 1 (1981): 55.

12. Sharpe, Instruments of Darkness, 227-28.

13. Owen Davies, Witchcraft, Magic and Culture, 1736-1951 (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1999), 84.

14. Gregory Durston, Witchcraft and Witch Trials: A History of English Witchcraft and Its Legal Perspectives, 1542 to 1736 (Chichester, U.K.: Barry Rose, 2000), 246-47.

15. Riddell, "Curious 'Witchcraft' Case," 233.

16. Owen Davies, "Hathaway, Richard (fl. 1696-1702)," in Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, accessed July 25, 2010, http://www.oxforddnb.com/.

17. Gladfelder, Criminality and Narrative in Eighteenth-Century England, 69.

18. See, for example, Bernard Rosenthal, Salem Story: Reading the Witch Trials of 1692 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993); Peter Rushton, "Texts of Authority: Witchcraft Accusations and the Demonstration of Truth in Early Modern England," in Languages of Witchcraft: Narrative, Ideology, and Meaning in Early Modern Culture, ed. Stuart Clark (New York: St. Martin's Press, 2001), 21-40; Malcolm Gaskill, "Reporting Murder: Fiction in the Archives in Early Modern England," Social History 23, no. 1 (1998): 1-30; and Malcolm Gaskill, Crime and Mentalities in Early Modern England (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000). Studies of representation in specific English witchcraft cases have tended to focus on the self-representations of women as accused and accusers, with a strong psychoanalytic slant. See, for example, Diane Purkiss, The Witch in History: Early Modern and Twentieth-Century Representations (London: Routledge, 1996); Deborah Willis, Malevolent Nurture: Witch-Hunting and Maternal Power in Early Modern England (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1995); and Frances Dolan, "Witchcraft and the Threat of the Familiar," in Dangerous Familiars: Representations of Domestic Crime in England, 1550-1700 (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1994), 171-236.

19. Marion Gibson, Reading Witchcraft: Stories of Early English Witches (London: Routledge, 1999), 4. [End Page 95]

20. Ibid., 7. See also Gibson's more recent publications, such as "Understanding Witchcraft? Accusers' Stories in Print in Early Modern England," in Clark, Languages of Witchcraft, 41-54; and "Thomas Potts's 'Dusty Memory': Reconstructing Justice in The Wonderfull Discoverie of Witches," in Lancashire Witches: Histories and Stories, ed. Robert Poole (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2003), 42-57.

21. The pamphlet consists of a single sheet, printed on both sides. The full title is A Full and True Account of the Apprehending and Taking of Mrs. Sarah Moordike, Who is accused for a Witch. Being taken near Paul's Wharf, on Thursday the 24th of this Instant, for having Bewitch'd one Richard Hetheway, near the Faulken-Stairs in Southwark. With her Examination before the Right Worshipful Sir Thomas Lane, Sir Owen Buckingham, and Dr. Hambleton in Bow-lane. The publishing info provided reads, "Printed for John Alkin, near Fleet-street." At the end of the account is the statement "Licensed according to Order." There is no date. I have used a reproduction of the copy in the British Library, London. I wish to thank Dr. Malcolm Gaskill for his assistance in locating this document.

22. The publishing info is given as follows: "Printed for Isaac Cleave, next to Serjeants-Inn in Chancery Lane, 1702." The document consists of thirty densely printed pages (not including the front matter), of which Hathaway's first trial takes up twenty-six and a half pages. Following the title page is a statement by Holt: "I do appoint Isaac Cleave to print the Tryal of Richard Hathaway, and that no other person presume to print the same."

23. Francis Hutchinson, An Historical Essay Concerning Witchcraft (London: R. Knaplock and D. Midwinter, 1718), 224-28.

24. In his introduction to the report, Peter Elmer writes that there was a third publication, titled A Short Account of the Trial Held at Surry Assizes . . . on an Information Against Richard Hathaway. He says he was unable to locate this publication, and that it was probably a pirated version of the main pamphlet. See "The Case of Richard Hathaway, 1702," in English Witchcraft, 1560-1736, vol. 5, The Later English Trial Pamphlets, ed. J. A. Sharpe (London: Pickering and Chatto, 2003), 63. It seems likely that this third publication is simply the account of Hathaway's second trial; as mentioned, it is appended to the account of the first trial.

25. There seems to be only one existing copy of this pamphlet, at Trinity College, Cambridge. Owen Davies refers to but does not describe it, in Witchcraft, Magic and Culture, 321n114. I wish to thank Athabasca University's interlibrary loans office for their diligence in obtaining a copy of this pamphlet for me.

26. Abstracted and translated in C. L'Estrange Ewen, Witch Hunting and Witch Trials: The Indictments for Witchcraft from the Records of 1373 Assizes Held for the Home Circuit, a.d. 1559-1736 (London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner, 1929), 264-65. The original indictments are available through the National Archives, Kew, ASSI 94/174.

27. The Tryal of Richard Hathaway, 11.

28. The Worlds Wonder, 2, 5.

29. The Worlds Wonder, 2.

30. Ibid., 8.

31. Joan Lane, Apprenticeship in England, 1600-1914 (London: UCL Press, 1996), 150.

32. The Worlds Wonder, 2, 8, 7.

33. Ibid., 2-3. [End Page 96]

34. Ibid., 6.

35. Ibid., 6, 3.

36. Much attention was paid to the pins in Hathaway's trial. It is clear from the report in The Tryal of Richard Hathaway that he was secretly swallowing pins, sometimes chains of them, in order to vomit or excrete them later as evidence of his bewitchment; presumably it was thought to be impossible that someone would swallow pins. The same trick was played in a 1662 case in Lowestoft in which two girls, Elizabeth and Deborah Pacy, vomited pins and nails after having severe stomach pain and fits supposedly caused by witchcraft. The pins were probably meant to be a literal sign of the stomach pain, which the girls claimed was like the pricking of pins. Amy Denny and Rose Cullender were hanged for witchcraft based on the girls' accusations. See Gilbert Geis and Ivan Bunn's micro-history of the case, A Trial of Witches: A Seventeenth-Century Witchcraft Prosecution (London: Routledge, 1997).

37. Purkiss, Witch in History, 129-30.

38. The Worlds Wonder, 3-4, title page, 6, 7.

39. Ibid., 7.

40. London Post, April 23-25, 1701, in Norton, Early Eighteenth-Century Newspaper Reports.

41. Elmer, "Case of Richard Hathaway," 63.

42. A Full and True Account, front page.

43. Diane Purkiss has discussed the significance of food and drink in women's witchcraft narratives. She notes, "In shaping their stories of witchcraft, women focused on an encounter with the suspected woman involving either an exchange, usually of food or food-related items, or a failed exchange of food, or sometimes merely a discussion about food. Elizabeth Lord brought a drink in a cruse to John Francis, after which he sickened and died." Witch in History, 96. Purkiss's analysis of the limitlessness of the witch's body, and the symbolic significance of houses and boundaries in women's witchcraft narratives, suggests an intriguing way of reading elements such as the making of a key for Morduck's door. See also Lyndal Roper, Witch Craze: Terror and Fantasy in Baroque Germany (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2004).

44. A Full and True Account, front page. This must be a reference to the Madam Goodwin mentioned in The Worlds Wonder.

45. Ibid., front and back pages.

46. Gibson, Reading Witchcraft, 104-5.

47. Ibid., 108.

48. See, for example, A Full and Impartial Account of the Discovery of Sorcery and Witchcraft, Practis'd by Jane Wenham . . . (London: E. Curll, 1712).

49. A Full and True Account, back page.

50. A Full and True Account, back page.

51. The Tryal of Richard Hathaway, 12.

52. Ibid., 7.

53. Ibid., 12.

54. A Full and True Account, back page.

55. It also suggests that the outcome of a witchcraft trial at this time was not a foregone conclusion; the pamphlet may have been meant to sway opinion against Morduck before her trial. [End Page 97]

56. Ewen, Witch Hunting and Witch Trials, 264.

57. Ibid., 265.

58. John Langbein, "The Criminal Trial Before the Lawyers," University of Chicago Law Review 45, no. 2 (1978): 265.

59. Elmer, "Case of Richard Hathaway," 63.

60. The Tryal of Richard Hathaway, 3.

61. Ibid., 1.

62. Hutchinson, Historical Essay Concerning Witchcraft, 46. There is a charming story in Towers's British biography in which the "wild" young Holt, while on a journey with his "raking companions," earned free lodging at an inn after he gave the landlady "a few unintelligible words on a scrap of parchment" and told her to bind it to her sick daughter's wrist. The girl recovered from her illness and the landlady granted him a week's free accommodation. Many years later, when Holt was a Justice of the King's Bench, the same landlady appeared before him on a charge of witchcraft—the chief evidence of which was a spell "with which she could either cure such cattle as were sick, or destroy those that were well." The spell turned out to be the scrap of writing that Holt had given her as a young man. After Holt told the court that it was "a senseless scrawl which I wrote with my own hand," the people "blushed at the folly and the cruelty of their zeal," and the landlady "was the last person that ever was tried for witchcraft in that country." See Joseph Towers, "The Life of Sir John Holt, Knt. Lord Chief Justice of the Court of King's Bench," in British biography: or, An accurate and impartial account of the lives and writings of eminent Great Britain and Ireland . . . , 10 vols. (Sherborne, U.K., 1766-72), 7:213-14. See also W. N. Welsby, Lives of Eminent English Judges of the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries (Philadelphia: T. & J. W. Johnson, 1846), 99-101.

63. Paul D. Halliday, "Holt, Sir John (1642-1710)," in Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, accessed April 2, 2011, http://www.oxforddnb.com/.

64. Ian Bostridge, Witchcraft and Its Transformations, c. 1650-1750 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1997), 135. Bostridge offers a detailed analysis of the role of party politics in English witchcraft debates. On the Wenham case, see also Guskin, "Context of Witchcraft."

65. Halliday, "Holt, Sir John."

66. Richard S. Kay, "Jenner, Sir Thomas (1638-1707)," in Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, accessed April 2, 2011, http://www.oxforddnb.com/.

67. The Tryal of Richard Hathaway, 8, 9.

68. Ibid., 1-3.

69. Ibid., 5.

70. Ibid.

71. Ibid, 5.

72. Ibid., 6, 11.

73. The Tryal of Richard Hathaway, 7.

74. Or is it perhaps Martin who feels Morduck is wicked for having said Johnson was the witch? It is difficult to tell from the statement as presented in the report.

75. The Tryal of Richard Hathaway, 6.

76. Ibid., 7-8.

77. Ibid., 11-12.

78. Ibid., 16. [End Page 98]

79. Ibid., 17.

80. Ibid., 23-24.

81. Ibid., 24-27.

82. Ibid., 27.

83. A Short Account, 28.

84. Ibid., 27-28.

85. Ibid., 28.

86. Ibid.

87. Ibid., 29.

88. Ibid., 28.

89. Durston, Witchcraft and Witch Trials, 24.

90. Riddell argues that both Hathaway and Welling believed he was bewitched and that Hathaway was non compos mentis. See "Curious 'Witchcraft' Case," 232-33.

91. Ewen, Witch Hunting and Witch Trials, 264. The indictment refers to Morduck as the wife of Edward M. and also as a widow.

92. London, England: Parish and Probate Records. [End Page 99]

Additional Information

Print ISSN
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.