The detection of a Popish Cheat

The detection of a Popish Cheat or a True Account of the Invention and Discovery of a Boys conversing with the DEVIL, which has lately occasioned so much Noise and so many Reports

A Boy Named James Day, Aged about eighteen years, formerly bred in the Blew Boy-Hospital, and now an Apprentice to Roger Day, Smith, on Lazy-Hill in St. Andrew’s Parish, Dublin, seemed to be troubled in Mind, and gave out, That he was in League with the Devil, which was the more easily believ’d, by reason of an unuseal Sullenness of Temper, and distraction of Look that appear’d in him.  Mr. Travers Minister of the Parish hearing of such a one Pray’d for in his Church, enquir’d after him, and made him a visit on Monday the 17th of June last; he found him as he had heard and discourcing him, had from him the following Story; which is related as near as is possible, in the Boy’s own Words.

Viz.  That some time since, he had made Complaint to a Journey-man Smith, who wrought under his Master, that he wanted five or six Shillings to spend among some Friends in the Country, whome he was minded to visit; and that the said Man answered him, That if he shook hands with the Old Gentleman, he should never want Money; whereupon he asked him how he should beget an acquaintance with him; and the man told him, The way was to go into a private Place, and write some Prayer to him in his own Blood; and that accordingly he went on Saturday the 8th day of June, into a Field near St. Patricks Well, and writ in his own Blood these Words; In the Name of the Devil, I command you to appear; and that immediately there came to him a Tall Slender Black Man, of a thin Visage, and a thick Speech; and that they conversed together for some time; and that he said black man made him great Offers of Money, and Wordly Goods; if he would become his Servant; particularly, That he should win at all sorts of Game; and that after they parted, he went immediately by some secret Direction, to the Lottery on Essex Bridge, where he won that evening Eleven Shillings and Four Pence : That on Saturday the 15th day of June, he went in the morning to St. Patrick’s Well for a Pitcher of Water, and in his return homewards, there met him of a sudden, a man in colour’d Cloths, who told him, That there was a Gentleman in the fields near the Gallows desir’d to speak with him, and bid him bring with him a Knife, a piece of Paper and a Pan ; and that accordingly he did go to those fields, and there met the Devil, and that after a a good while Conference with him, he agreed to Sell himself to him for ever, in consideration of seventeen years Life and Happiness, and that pursuant to this Agreement, the Boy was writing a Lease, or Deed, or Sale in his own Blood, having cut his Finger for that purpose; but when he had written part of it, the Devil bid him tare it, for that he himself could do it better and faster; and accordingly the Devil did draw up a Lease, and read it to the Boy, wherein he was assured of Gold and Silver in great plenty, but some of the Words he could not understand; and that the Devil would have had him sign the said Lease at that time, which he was unwilling to do, without some further time to consider it, but appointed to meet him again the Saturday following for the perfecting of it; and that the Devil carry’d him that afternoon to a House that lookt like a Tavern, he knows not where, but that they had there Sack and March Beer sugar’d, with other Liquours; and that all the while they were drinking, the sat one on each side of a Table hand in hand, the Devil pressing him all the time to sign the said Lease; and that they had no Drawer, or Attendant to supply them with Drink, but that notwithstanding, they drank plentifully, the Cups were always full; and that there were in the said Tavern a great many people of all sorts, little and big: When they were parted thence, the Boy came home Frighted and Disorder’d as ‘twas thought, and he told these things to his Master and others of the Neighbourhood, telling them withal. That all their Advice, and that all they could do for him would be in vain.  For that he must necessarily go to the Devil the Saturday following, according to the appointment that was made.

There were some Circumstances that render’d the foregoing Story somewhat probably, for the Journey-Man Smith confess’d, That he had said something to the Boy of Shaking hands with the Old Gentleman, tho in Jest.  There was a visible Gash or two in one of his Fingers: There appeared I him some symptoms of a disturb’d mind; and several Persons of Credit went with him on Sunday the 16th to the field near the Gallows, where he said he had been in Conference with the Devil the day before, and there they found the torn Paper written in blood as he had said, and putting the Scraps together, they could read the date of the Months and Year, and the words Promise and Law, and some other words; upon these Accounts, some Cridit was given to this Relation for three or four days.


On Wednesday the 19th of June, This Boy’s Uncle Patrick Dawson a Papist, who lives in Yorkstreet, sent a Coach for him, and had him brought to his House, where he staid some time; however he returned home to his Masters in the evening, and told his Master, that he was resolved to serve him no longer, but to bring himself to his Uncle James Tuit, (a Papist) Woolsted Comber in Thomas Court, and that he would turn Papist, for that he was sure, no one but a Priest could do him any good in that condition, and that Mr. Travers need not trouble himself any more with him, but would tell them nothing of what occasion’d this new sudden change in him: As soon as Mr. Travers was informed of this by the Boy’s Master the next morning, he went to him, and with much ado, prevail’d upon him to discover what had happen’d to him the evening before at his Uncle Dawson and ‘twas as follows.

When he first went to the house, he heard his Aunt Dawson bid a little Girl run with all speech and fetch (as he understood) Father Barnwell, and that soon after a Person came in, in the appearance and dress of an Old Woman, with a Friar’s Mantle like a Fryars Habit, who told him, that she had been Dead, and was Risen from the Dead, and that while she was Dead, she was in Heaven, where she saw and conversed with God, and Christ, the Angels, the Virgin Mary and Saints, and that they all told her, there was no Salvation any where but in the Church of Rome and that she saw King Charles II in Heaven, and that the reason of his being there was his dying a Papist; that there was great Virtue in Holy Water, and shew’d him a Cruicifix, and ordered him to hang one about his neck as a constant Charm; with these and such like perswasions she tempted the Boy to change his Religion and turn to Mass, but the Boy made answer, that he could not be benefited by the Mass Service; it being in Latin, which he did not understand; but she told him the Mass was Celebrated in as good English as was used, either in Church or Meeting: Upon this, Mr. Travers went immediately to Patrick Dawson’s House, and they confess’d that such a Woman had been there that evening in the Boy’s company, and that she lived in the end of the Town, but when he was earnest to have her produced, they deny’d they knew where to find her, that she was only a begger Woman that came in by accident, tho they own’d then they had seen her there several times before, and knew her by sight very well.

This Passage made it reasonable to believe, that the Story had been designedly forg’d: And according due care and diligence were apply’d for the sifting and finding out of the matter; which was done with good success, for on Friday the 21st day of June, the Boy disclosed the whole Plot, and gave his Confession; First, to Mr. Travers in writing, and afterwards upon Oath, to Sir Humphery, Jervise.

The Substance of his Confession was as follows; That his Uncle James Tuit, and Patrick Dawson, with their Wives, being all Papists, had frequently Advis’d and Press’d this Boy their Nephew, to come over to their Religion; and that on the 8th of June, the said James Tuit did first put the foregoing Story in the Boys Head; and that afterwards the same day, his Aunt Joan Tuit did carry him to the Popish Chappel at St. Audoen’s Arch, where the doors being shut, and none present besides her and one Man; two supposed Priests, or Fryars, repeated to him the very same Story and caused him to swear by the Mass Book to relate and stand by it, and they themselves swore by the same Book, as also Joan Tuit and the other man, never to discover the secret.

He Confesses farther that his Uncle James Tuit did many times tempt him to leave his Master Roger Dav’s service and live with him, promising him that he should never be without pence in his Pocket, that he was directed to leave a torn Paper written in blood, in a field near the Gallows, and to carry some people there to find it, as also to say he had won the money at the Lottery as aforesaid, as Confirmations to the Story, that the grand design of this contrivance was the carry him to St. John’s Well, on Sunday the 23rd of June, being St. Johns Eve (the day before having been appointed to perfect the Lease to the Devil) and that he was to return on Monday in his right mind, thro the miraculous Virtue of that Well.  He prays God to forgive his Uncles and Aunts, and those Priests, and promises amendment of life and diligence in his Masters service for the future : He owns, that the Journey-man Smith said nothing more to him, only that of Shaking Hands with the Old Gentleman, and that ‘twas in Drollery.

Upon this Declaration of the Boy, Sir Humphery Jervise issued his Warrants immediately that same day, for the Apprehending the abovenamed Dawson and Tuit: with their Wives, who were all accordingly Apprehended and bound over to the next Quarter Sessions, which have not been yet held; in the mean time, they do not discover either the Priests, or the Old Woman; however, Joan Tuit confesses that she did intend to carry the Boy with her, as he said, to John’s Well; which besides the Boys Oath, is a strong presumption, that his Confession is real in the other parts of it, and that she knows the whole matter.

This Publication has been hitherto deferr’d, in hopes of finding out the Priests Names, but ‘tis believed an indulgence will legitimate a false Oath, rather than the holy Fathers should be brought to any disgrace or punishment, This is one fair proof of the corrupt practices, and Priestcraft of the Roman Church; ‘tis a good specimen of their pretended Miracles, and it shews evidently that they themselves suspect very much the Truth and Soundess of their Religion, when they are forced to fly to such base Tricks and Frauds, for the support of it: ‘Tis hoped that this Discovery will Help to awaken and forwarn all Protestants to beware of the Deceitfulness of Popery; and if the Papists were not Hoodwinked with an implicite Faith, and enslaved in an absolute Subjection to the Imposition of their Clergy; they would soon discern abundant Reason to Renounce such Unchristian Principles, and embrace the Pure and Sincere Religion of the Reformation.


How to Cite

Anon. The detection of a Popish Cheat. ed. Kirsten C Uszkalo. The Witches in Early Modern England Project. 2011. [date of access]. <>.

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