Transcribed by Mr. D. Craine, MA.
Document No. 151.
In the early part of 1666 envious neighbours drew the attention of the Kirk Arbory Chapter Quest to the fact that Elizabeth Kewin, alias Cubon, was goeinge abroad the country and bringinge home with her burdens of come, meale, fish, etc., and suspected to have gotten the same for sorcery and wicked practices, and by deludinge poor ignorant people; also (by report) many resorting to her house to gett of her sorcery, and bad signes seen by credible persons. . .
As a result she was lodged in the ecclesiastical prison in the Peel. This was not her first visit, for with another reputed sorceress, the Ben Vane, she had been sent there in ' the usurpation tyme (i.e., 1651-1660). The evidence of that trial was not on record as it had been carried off to England by Slader, a member of the Court. In June, 1666, the Vicars-General, Robert Parr and John Harrison, directed the vicars of Kirk Malew and Kirk Arbory [Thomas Parr and John Crellin] to impanel and swear a jury to take the evidence of those who were witnesses against her in the usurpation court, and of
any prson who can give further evidence against her for witchcraft or sorcery. . . . In the interim the woman may be released upon good bounds to answere and make her prsonall apparance whensoevr requyred that such judgrnt may then be inflicted upon her as the law requires.
Two good Samaritans, Henry Maddrell, of Ballamaddrell, and William Cubbon, of Ballacubbon, stood surety for her. The main charges brought against her were that she had cast evil spells upon cattle, crops, and churning ; that she could transform herself into a hare ; and that she claimed the power to lessen or increase a mans store. Regarding this last, Thomas Stole testified that Elizabeth (with an intelligent anticipation of some phases of modern high finance)
said in the usurpation court before Slader it was as easie to take away the substance of one mans corne to another, as it was to turne a Cake of bread upon the Girdle.
Phinlo Cubon, who himself had been presented a short time before for his indiscretion in saying that their wer a company of witches takeing up the tythe, asserted that Elizabeth asked him and his wife, when she came upon them winnowing,
Was that all the come they had for that aboundance of chaffe? and also said: You have gott hurt in that corne and you are soe hard that you will not give anythinge to one that would mend or help that.
According to Captain Charles Stanley, Elizabeth came to the house of Mr. Henry Calcott after churning. His wife gave the visitor
som of the churnde milke, and the sd Elizabeth said to the sd Mrs. Calcott, You have given me some of your broath, give me alsoe some of your flesh (meaninge some of the butter) and soe the sd Mrs. Calcott gave her some of the butter. But when she churned againe she could gett noe butter upon her milke. Then she sent to the sd Elizabeth, who returned this answer: to hould her peace and she should have twice as much butter the next time. . . Now the churning is as good as formerly.
John Quay complained that when Elizabeth frequented Keg ny Hows house there were great losses in his cattle. As for his own crop after her visit in May,
nothinge grew but oats and darnell; that he did not reape of 2 dayes plowing of barley but one bowle. Eliz: frequented those places att the beginninge of every quarter of the yeare and that his cattle dyed, and since he gott an oath of her his cattle dyed not.
The viragoes who lived at Knock Rushen and the Friary, however, used more drastic methods to remove the witchs spells:
Mr. William Tyldesley said . . . the wife of Jo: Norris of Scarlett come into his house and findinge herselfe very much agreeved that she cold not make butter nor cheese for a longe tyme, sent for the sd Eliz: into his house, and in his entry she fell upon the sd Eliz:, did beat and scrate her wth her nayles and hands and drew her blond. And likewise his owen wife cold not make butter nor cheese and drew her blood as Jo: Norris wife did. . . . And afterward made butter and cheese well enough.
John Norriss wife gave evidence on her own account:
Chatherin Norris als ffargher . . . saith that for 12 years she could not reare a calfe but all still died; nor make butter or cheese right . . . . all wch tyme the sd Eliz: frequented the house of Knock Rushen, as the examinant conceived, useing witchcraft and sorcery there. . . . Also . . . for a longe tyme they were very low in estate every way whilst the sd Eliz: used and frequented the house. . .
All which tyme their owene Dryster could never goe to the kilne but still mett a haire about the kilne or out of the gorse. . . . Also that when anythinge ayled anythinge or prson in Knock Rushen that . . . . Norris of the Red Gap was still sent with a horse for the sayd Elizabeth Kewne . . . . who still came with him to doe what they required and that they burnt a Calfe in their Lyme Kilne.
When she could not make butter nor cheese and suspected the sayd Eliz: to have done hurt to her, she went one day purposely to the Priorey to draw blood upon the sd Eliz. And havinge mett her in the Entry of the sd Priorey, fell upon her and scratted her nose and face and drew bloude. Then the sd Eliz: asked the said Chatherin and sd, What do you want or would have? who answered, I would have my owne restored me againe. And the sd Eliz: replyed and wiped the blood of her face and nose and threw it to her and sayd, If that doe thee good, take it and much may it do thee. . . . And saith further that all things prsped well with them att Knock Rushen.
Several witnesses gave evidence regarding the change of the witch into a hare:
George Houldinge .. . said that in May last goeing to Bewmaccans foulds and beinge neere, spied a haire goeing from the sayd foulds; who followed the haire untill it went into the Pound wch was hard by; and as soone as he lookd over the hedge for the maire he saw the sd Elizabeth walkinge by the hedge within the Pound, and beinge amazed att the sight went his way and left her there, in that bodily shape that he ever did see her in.
Elizabeth, however, protested that she was not att all in the sayd pound since Candlemas last. Daniel Bell said,
. . . that some yeares agoe beinge drinkeinge att Dan. Comish house, and coming from there up the highway to the Ballabegg his wife would have him goe home across the fields, for that there was people drinkeinge at Eliz: Kewne als Cubon in the way; who answered, What care I for any witch, etc., and John Kewne son to the sd Eliz: lieareiiige the words found fault xanihlt went home, being the begininge of the night. But the next morninge or about sunrizinge the Exanint gott up an went in his shirt to the doore . . . who spied a haire sitting in the very doore (the door beinge broken and full of hoes) unlocked and opened the doore and the haire hopped a litle from the Door, som 3 yards and sate upon a dounge hill. It was close before the door. then the examint did butt looke aboute for a shue or some things to thrw att the haire, and when he looked towards the haire agane did see noe haire but the sd Eliz: within 4 yds or 4 butts of ground from the very place where the haire sate on the dounge hill, and the field (beinge open and wide without any hedge or place to hide) before the door, did not see her or any person, etc, till after this quick looke about saw the woeman afosed instead of the haire; who fell arailing . . . for calling her a witch, and the Examinant being very much troubled at the sight said, if thou hast any-thing to doe goe aboute it. . . . Soe she went away.
Finally, according to Edward Clauges report,
William Tyidesley, Mr. H. Calcott . . . . with others goeings to Peele . . . through the Garry More where Eliz: Kewne was pullinge of lynge, and Mr. Tyldesley spyinge her there, said, Look, a haire; and Mr. Calcott replyinge sd, What, doe you call Elizabeth Cubon a haire? And soe they went to Peele, and the maire that Mr. Calcott rid on went well enough to and fro till they returned to the very selfe same place where the sd Mr. Calcott said, What, doe you call Elizabeth Cubon a haire and there his Maire fell sick that she was not able to goe further, and was forced to leave her there and rid home behind Capt Jo: Stanley . . . . and his sd Mare came home after but soone dyed.
The jury returned its verdict on October 25th, 1666:
Wee whose names ensue being jurors upon the accompt of the allegacons or suspition had of Eliz: Kewin alias Cubon of being a witch, wee give for answer that forasmuch as wee have not had any proofe that she is postitively a witch therefore wee doe cleere her and say (being questioned) that shee is not guilty of death. [In original for her life has been crossed out for of death.] But notwithstanding, the proofs already taken by us taken into consideracon of the Spirituall officrs, wee leave her to be punished at their discrecon.
Don Corrin x
Mich Kinry x
Wm Quayle x
Hen Corrin x
Wm Costen x
W. Costen x
Elizabeth Kewn for useing of unlawfull meanes in the nature of sorcery as appears by the foregoeing proofes is censured to doe 3 Sundayes penance in the parish churches of Kirk Malue, Kirk Arborey and KK Christ Rushen with a scheadule on her breast:
Shedule of Elizabeth Cubon:
(to be done in penitential manner and habitt
Forasmuch as I have forgotten my Duty towards God and his Holy Church in practising the cursed art of charming and other foolleries arguing my weake faith and tending to the seduceing of others the dishonor of God and offending of holyminded Christians and the endangeringe of my owne soule without true repentance, for whch fault I am here duly censured to bringe me to Christian conformity,
I do herebye, brethren, confesse my weekness and am harty sory for the same and upon my knees and from the bottome of my heart doe aske forgiveness of God his holy Church and all whom I have offended thereby, and doe wish all Good people by my example to take heed of comittinge the like sinne. . .
[She then recited the Lords Prayer.]
Elizabeth was to enter into bonds of £3 not to use herafter the sd unlawfull means either in her own house by inticeing and drawing ignorant people thither or goeing abroad to any other houses nere or farre of, to that intent, or sending of her charmes abroad privately or openly.
Otherwise she was to be cast into St. Germans prison. In March, 1667, the Vicars of the three parishes concerned certified that Elizabeth had performed her penance and purged her offence.