The witchcraft trial of Christian Stevenson:
Here ffolloweth several attestations taken agaynst Christian Stevenson and Alice Moore upon suspition of witchcraft*
The examynation of Christian Stevenson taken before Capt Josias fforster Gounor Capt Roger Wood and the Secretary the 9th of Maye 1653.
1 Christian Stevenson having been accused in open court by John Midleton to be a witch and she being now examined she denyeth it & saith that she is noe witch yt being then demanded of her how she came by the dnggs & markes of a witch that were found on the inside of her cheekes she answered that those markes came by reason of an Impostume of the one side And the other came by a ragged Tooth on the other side and this was about 5 yeares since and saith that Goody Todd badd her lay the curd of a lemon possett unto the said impostume and Mrs. Dunscombe was then present) whch curd brake it And it hath bin ever since and the other by the ragged tooth aforesd which was filed by Thomas Dunscombe & further saith not
2 Thomas Dunscombe being examyned saith that if he did file any such Tooth of Goody Stevenson it was more than he remembers
3 The wife of Thomas Dunscombe being then examyned also sayth that she doth remember that Goody Stevenson askt her husband to file a Tooth but whether he did file it or noe she knoweth not & further saith not
4 Thomas Murrill examined the same day as Thomas Dunscombe Who saith that goody Stevenson came unto his house to buy something & she brought with her a croseleth wrought with gould & wold have him purchase it but he refused yt & would not meddle with her tone & then she would buy some paper for a dollar that she had he refused that alsoe at wh she went awaye very much discontented as it seemed to him And before even the same day his child fell extreamly sicke & it continued with sore & vnnaturall paynes untill it died & further & saith not Signed with the mke of Thomas Murrill
5 The attestation of Dorothy Budd taken the same tyme Who saith that she being nurse of the wife of Thomas Murrill when she came first into the house she saw the wife of the said Murrill to have sore Breasts and heard Goody Stevenson bid her lay a ragg dipt in rayne water to her breast But she told her that she would have none of her medicenes After this her child was taken with a greavous groaning & paynes until yt died Signed with the marke of Dorothy Budd
6 The examynation of Goody Burch taken at the same time Who saith that she being sent for to Mrs Murrill when the child was sicke she went to yt & Looking uppon yt & found yt very ill & yt had boils upon the breast wch had a black speck or spott on y head of the same to wch they layd a plaister & saith that yt ran to & fro in the body and at length yt broke and ran And after that the flesh grew away from the bones so that they might see the ribbs very greavous to behould and after that there arose another boil with a blacke spott or specke on the backe of the child She affirmeth that when the child came into the world at first yt was borne healthful and without spott or blemish and as free as any child in the world & further saith not Signed with the marke of Elizabeth Bcech
7 Mary the wife of Robert Dickenson being present the same tymo affirmeth upon her oath that wch the other 2 witnesses hath declared as the truth so doth Mtrs Murrell ye wife of Thomas Murrill affirme the same also
8 The attestation of Anne wife to Daniell Buller taken the same tyme Who saith that Goody Stevenson & herselfe having had dealings together formerly at length they fell out about two pence yet afterwards they grew friends agayne And one afternoone she said Goody Stevenson came unto her & gave her a Rose & this deponent saith that she kept the rose in her bosom all the night following And in the night as she was in bedd she felt a perfect hand in her bosome In her best Judgment wh hand did by force pluck her upright in her bedd do what she could to the contrary And then she herd a voyce say unto her doe not strike I le do thee no harm & the next morning herselfe & children sought for the rose in the bedd & up & downe the house but could not see nor fynd so much as one leafe of yt Then the next morning Goody Stevenson came to her house & then this deponent askt her if she had fetched away the rose that she had given her to wch Goody Stevenson replyed & said that she came not that way since until now and after all this this deponent affirmeth that she was haunted every night for the space of a yeare & half after until at length a thing having the shape of a woman came in the night and took her by the throat & this deponent saith that then she got her by the throat also wth one hand And with the other hand got her by the head and she percoiued her to have short haire upon her head & then she paid of her bed clothes and laid them under her thinking to keep them safe enough but could never after that fynd them and then this declarant saith that she still held her by the throat wh one hand & wh the other got her thumb in her month & bitt it soe long that her mouth was all clammy with the blood And in the morning she found 3 drops of blood upon her neckcloth & this deponent saith that the thing that harmed her appeared unto her in divers shapes when she had that combatt and found the dropps of blood aforesaid this deponent saith that Goody Stevenson came unto her & had a clout bound about her thumbe & when she asked her whether she did not bite her by the thumbe or not last night for she had bitten somebody by the thumbe last night and ajter this she saith she was never after hunted any more but alter these passages hetwnte this deponent and Goody Stevenson she had spoken of her biting by the thumbe to divers people upon wh goody Stevenson would neede be searched by wonmen and after that searchme i e saith that they had several cattell died & had severall hoggs that were in good plight yet would not eat though they had corne by them & were forst to kill them or else they had died & saith that they had a sow that had young piggs sucking w h turned sicke & would turn round & dyd soudaynely This declarant saith that she had child borne into the world very likely to live & doe well And it pyned away by the space of 3 quarters of a yeare & then died & further saith not The marke of Anne Buller
9 The Attestations of Elizabith the wife of Henery fiord & Nicholas Ellis taken the same tyme Who saith that her mother Mrs Pitt having three shoates (a provincialism for young pigs - see Obituary** below) loose that would turne round & soe 2 of them died at length the third turned round alsoe and was dying wch they perceiuing went & told M Pitt who coming to see yt badd thim stoeke yt & scald it but when they could not get the hayer off wth skalding they laye the shoat upon two trevitts & said it may be Goody Stevenson will come by & by & before they could get the hayre of one side goody Stevenson came thither and askt them if Mrs Pitts had her spiders tooth sic home yet or noe to wch was answered you know yt is come home well enough for your self left word wth Mrs Jones to bring yt home but Elizabeth saith that she doth not perfectly remember whether it were horselfe that answered goody Stevenson or some other that stood by & further they say not Nicholas Ellis confirmes this attestation to be tho truth also.
10 The attestation of Prudence Seares wife to Guy Seares of Pembroke Tribe taken the same tyme Who sayth that she was entreated by Mrs Bnrrowes to demand 12d of goody Stevenson due for a payer of Spectacles or in lew thereof to get her 2 fowles if she had not money and at length they fell to words abont yt And this deponent saith that Goody Stevenson called her plunder mouth & said that she could teare her flesh from her bones & many other speaches to the like purpose & that very night the deponent saith that her tongue was puld out of her head and hanged out like a beastes tungne & was rough like a beastes tongue so that she could not eat nor goe to church by the space of many days. She saith that this discourse was at Mr Elwickes house in Pembroke & she affirmeth further that yt was 3 tymes that she had differences with goody Stevenson & all these tymes her tongue was drawn out & rufe like a beastes tongue Signed with ye marke of Prudence Seares.
11 The attestation of the Widow Hopkins late wife to Henery Hopkins of pembroke tribe taken the same tyme Who saith that the said Goody Stevenson lent her some butter and she came for yt & demanded yt this declarant told her she had not enough to pay her but prayd her to stay till she had churned & could provide yt for her & this declarant saith that she went churning & continued soe doeing all the day untill night & she saith that goody Stevenson came to the house severall tymes whilst she was churneing & asked her if she had done But this declar replyed & said her butter would not come & coming at last to aske This depon told her yl would never come now fur her husband had throwne yt into the Piggs & then she went her way and when she was gone goodeman Hopkins said to her Wife pray god that this woman be not a witch and within a while after about an hour she said goody Stevenson came to the house & said to this deponent & to her husband that neither she nor her husband had bewitched her butter This deponent saith further that she being present at the search of goody Stevenson by woomen at Mr Barkleys house she was taken with differs paynes & tortuers in her body so that she lost her child that she carried withal in a Strang & unnaturall wanner & farther saith not. Signed with the mko of Widow Hopkins.
12 The attestation of Thomas Wiuerley taken the same tyme as flls. Who saith that about two years agoe goody Stevenson offered him a Rose wh he refused to take at her hand wch she percieuing said to him I am noe witch And saith that after this he was haunted as he laye in his bedd & saith that he is fully persuaded that he saw Goody Stevenson in one of those fitts twice being demanded what manner of fitt he had sayth that as soone as he was tnrned npon his side he was presently turned upon his backe with voyolence & is then in great tortuer & saith that he hath been thus haunted this halfe yeare & doth veryly beleive that thus being haunted in this manner is the cause of a great weaknes that is upon him & saith further that the side of his wife that lyeth next to him in the night is very blacke although it is not soe when they lye downe together. Signed with the marke of Thomas Wiuerley.
13 The attestation of Marye Hopkins taken the 17 day of Maye 1653 by Antho Jenour Seery Who saith that about 4 or 5 yeares since she had bin at goodman Sanders his house & as she was goeing home she oertook goody Stevenson & coming behind her goody Stevenson would have her goe before her wh she refused to doe because she was her elder & told her it was not meet for her to goe before her wth that she came to her & pusht her forwards And then she askt her if Treesdall were at home that day. She answered noe then Goody Stevenson sayd to her that she would come or send for him betweene this & night And at night goeing into her master Stowe his Buttery to carry in some planteing rootes and being there she felt herselfe bitten by the arme. Signed Marye Hoprins her mke.
14 The Attestation of Sarah Denicombe taken the same tyme as ffg. Saith that this declaration delivered by Mary Hopkins is the truth according as the said Mary Hopkins told yt them at the tyme being & saith further that she had at that tyme in her ffather Jones his house herd her cry out & say oh lord oh lord goody Stevenson was pinching her or biteing her She saith further that her mother herd the words the same tyme spoken by the said Mary Hopkins & this deponent affirmeth that she peeld up her sleeve to look what she ailed & that she saw her Arme as though she had bin Bitten & further sayth not. Signed with tho mark of Sarah Denicombe.
15 The examination & attestation of Henery Bishop taken the same daye Who saith that about 4 years agoe he being at Mr Attwoodes house in Hamilton tribe and ther was Goody Stevenson and MTM Attwood askt this deponent if he had a ny Aookes & lynes to sell to goody Stevenson he answered no Then goody Stevenson replyed & said that old lynes would doe her turne for her some to catch her some small fish wthall Then this declarant went home and picked some such he found & sold them to her And that night after she was gone he saith that he dreamed that he saw a sperritt follow him And he running to shun it fell into a cave & called out to William fford as he was shuning yt to help him & when William fford came he askt him how he came there & he thought he tould him that Stephen Stevenson had bewitched him and as soon as he thought he desiered him to have a care & take heed how he came nigh but he fell into the cave also and he thought he made somethinge to come downe to him & offered to lift him up And then he thought that he was emediately very sensible desiring god to blesse him for what a Strang dreame have I bin in And now he knew himselfe to be perfittly awake and desiered to sleep & going to turn himselfe in his bedd was not able to stirre & so contynued for the space of a month not able to turne himselfe without great paynes wch griefe caused him to cry out grieuously & further sayth not. Signed Henery Bishop.
16 The Attestation of Thomas Seewarde taken by the Grand Inquest taken the 17 Daye of maye 1653 Who saith that about 7 or 8 yeares agone he had a daughter abone a yeare old well & in health & of a soddaynly yt fell sickly and pyned away her side hunched up & her eyes grew out of her head & a great bunch grew upon her head And yt fell into Strang fitts insomuch as yt falling into such Strang fitts he carried it unto Mrs Seymer who could not tell what to saye to yt by reason of the strangnes of the fitts wch caused Mrs Seymer to thinke it was betwitched & told this depon that she had a grand child that mett with goody Stevenson and came home & fell into such Strang fitts & was strangly taken And she askt her who She mett wthall and she said with goody Stevenson. And then this depon told Mrs Seymer that goody Stevenson was very busy with his child and would ever & anon be giving yt green plantains & such thinges. And this Mrs Seymer bad this deponent that he should not suffer her to giue her anything and this deponent saith that he forbadd her to giue the child any more thinges. And she would answere this deponent wth do you thinke I am a witch And ye Child lying sick she would be with yt and do what he could And when the child was quiett she would disappear when we thought not of her she would be wth the child And the child moaning would still cry knock my Gammer on the head knock my Gammer on the head. And often tymes since the child died she would say you think hardly of me because of your child this deponent would say I thinke not hardly of you and she would answer Oh but you do Oh but yuu do: And further this deponent saith that Goodman Stevenson gave him a Cocke Turkey for the pastuer of a peece of ground for her goat & depont saith that goody Stevenson was not willing to giue it and a certayne time after she came to his deponts house & asked whiche is the Turkey you had of my husbande she tould her not. And she went awaye and the very next morning was as blacke as a shoe. And also after this deponent came hither out of England this goody Stevenson came to him to bay a combe and lie said he had none to sell and she went away mumbling. And presently he a shoat began to pine awaye & droope & afterward died and this depont cut the tayle & left eare & threw them in the fier saying yt may be Goody Stevenson will come by & soe she did & saith not. Signed with the mark of TS Thomas Sawarp.
17 The names of the women that were empanelled to search the body of Christian Stevenson supposed to be a witch
Mrs Lun Forewoman. Dame Coursby.
Mrs Elizabeth Rener. Widdow Robinson.
Mrs Elizabeth Jenour. Dame Port.
Who made reporte as followeth:
That upon the search of the body of Goody Stevenson they found in her mouth two small Teates or Duggs the one on the one side of her month & the other on the other side of her mouth which they prickt with a needle but there came forth noe blood at all from them and when they prickt they askt her if she felt when they prickt them & she confest that she felt them not. And they say further that because they would not mistake They did all seuerally search her mouth & prickt these Teates but they affirm that there came not forth any blood when they did soe. And say also that they found a blew spott or like wart very suspitious & against natuer out of which came waterish blood when they prickt yt.
18 The Names of the Grand Inquest. 16 names.
The Jury for Life & Death. 12 names
The Jury for the keeper of the comonwealth of England presente Christian Stevenson of Pembroke tribe in the Som Islands spinster for that she not having the feare of God before her hath feloniously wickedly & abbominably consulted contracted consented to and with the Devill to become a Witch as doth by severall signes & markes upon her body. And that sinne of witchcraft hath put into practice from tyme to tyme the persons & cattell of severall people within these Somers Islands And upon the body of a child of Thomas Murrell wch was suddaynely smote with grieuous and Tormenting paynes soe that died And upon the Body of Anne Butler her hogges & cattell also upon the Body of Prudence Sheare Also npon the Body Thomas Winerley & also upon the Body of Widdow Hopkins and daughter Mary Hopkins and upon the piggcs of Mr Christopher- And upon the work of Thomas Denicomb blacksmith and upon persons & goods of diners others besides these afore mentioned hath by her Diabolicall practises tormented vexed disquieted & destroyed contrary to the peace of the comonwealth of England & dignity thereof. To wh Indictment she pleaded not guilty but being by the Grand Inquest found a true bill she put herself for her tryall upon god and the Cuntry wh Cuntry being a Jury of 12 men sworne found her guilty of witchcraft & for the same was adjudged to be carried to the place of execution And to be hanged by the neck until she was dead dead (sic) wh sentance of death was put in execution accordingly the 20 May 1653. (Lefroy, Sir John Henry. Memorials of the discovery and early settlement of the Bermudas or Somers Islands 1511 - 1687, vol. II 1650-1687 compiled from the Coloniel Records and other original sources. London : Longmans, Green, & Co., 1879).
*The entries in the original are much confused they are here put in thet es consecutive order t he case allows the conventional use of & in the MS sod tac varieties of spelling are retained.
**Obituary Died on Friday last of suffocation on board Mr Somner a Mail Carriage while on its way from St George's to Hamilton a fine fat shote by no means regretted by his fellow passengers The deceased was at first accorded a berth inside the carriage but manifesting a strong inclination to jump into ths laps of some gentlemen at their suggestion was removed to the box where in a short time he shuffled off this mortal coil We nover have had the good fortune before to travel in a country where pigs were considered the eligible and elbow passengers of gentlemen but it seems to be all right on board the St George's Mail Car the contract does not say it is wrong that document states that provision shall be made for five passengers the presumption is five well conducted members of society but as this is not distinctly specified in the contract we suppose that a pig if he pays his fare which is all the Contractor cares about has as much right to travel by Mail as Messrs Brown Jones or Robinson What say the P. 0. Authorities. Is this view of tho subject wrong? Bermuda Colonist i September 1872 The word occurs also in vol i p 577.