A Full and True Relation of the Tryal, Condemnation, and Execution of Ann Foster

A Full and True Relation of the Tryal, Condemnation, and Execution of Ann Foster, (Who was Arrained for a Witch) on Saturday the 22th of this Instant August, at the place of Execution at Northampton.

With the Manner how she by her malice and VVitchcraft set all the barns and corn on fire belonging to one Joseph Weeden living in Eastcoat, and bewitched a whole Flock of Sheep in a most lamentable manner, and betwitching all his Horses, with his other cattle, to the utter ruin and undoing of the said Joseph Weeden.  And also in what likeness the Devil appeared to Her while she was in Prison, and the manner of her Deportment at her Tryal.

London, Printed for D.M. 1674

A Full and True Relation of the Tryal, Condemnation and Execution of Ann Foster, (who was Arraigned for a Witch) on Saturday the 22th of this instant August, at the place of Execution at Northampton.

Notwithstanding that many have taken very great pains to confute, by reason of the opinon so long held in the world, that there have been and are Witches, arguing against the Express Text of Scripture, Thou shalt not suffer a Witch to live; and falsly finding out Sophismes to make the Witch of Endor, I know not what kind of Cunning Woman, taught only to play tricks by the Idolatrous Priests; for why should a Law be made so severely against Witches if there had been none? Or why should the Scripture record so peculiar a Story of the witch of Endor, if she had known no more then some few Tricks of Legerdemain, and had not had a particular converse with Infernal Spirits. 

I say, notwithstanding all the clutte, these men have made to introduce this unbelief of witches into the World, by alleadging first that there is such thing as a witch in Scripture.  And secondly, that the […] of Witchcraft first took Birth from Heathen Fables, and was afterwards improved by Popish Impostures, and laughing at all the strange and wonderful stories related by so many credible witnesses in Confirmation of it, yet certainly there are such lewd and wicked people, who give themselves over to the Dominion of the Prince of the Power of the Air to have his aid and assistance in executing their Malice and Revenge; of what follows will be a very pregnant Testimony, which being no less true than it is sad and wonderful.

There lived and still liveth in the Town and Eastcoat near Fosters-Booth in Northampton Shire, a Rich and substantial Grazier, who happening about April last, (when Mutton was very dear and scarce) to have killed a Sheep for the use of his own Family, there came to his house an old woman who long had been observed to be muttering to herself, came into his House, and would needs have some of his Mutton, but he neither willing to spare it, nor she to give the price it was then worth, he utterly refused to let her have any; whereupon she went away murmerring and grumbling, and told him he had as good have done what she desired, and took her mony; He took so little notice of what she said, that some few days after he did not all remember it, when it happened, that going into his Pasture he found thirty of his sheep in a condition dead, and in a strange and miserable manner, their Leggs broke in pieces, and their Bones all shattered in their Skins; whereupon amazed at the strangeness of the spectacle, he sent for several of his Neighbours to view them, who no loss wondring at it then he, entred into a suspition that they must needs be bewitched, and advised him to take one of them and burn it, for they said, that they had heard it confidently affirmed by Men of  reputed knowledge, that upon doing so the Witch would appear; Whereupon, the honest Grazier, over-perswaded by his Neighbours, took one of the Sheep and threw it into the Fire; but though they could by no means burn it, yet immediately came the same old Woman runing in a great hurry, that would some days before have brought some of this Mutton, and in a mighty Chase, asked him what he meant, to offer to burn his Sheep, which fully increasing his suspition, having a knife in hand, and led, perhaps by that general opinon, that fetching blood of the witch takes a way her power of doing any harm, he gave her a little cut over the hand and fetching blood of her, she little regarding and neglecting to apply any remedy to it, it wrankled and swell’d extreamly, whereupon she came again, and threatened that she would arrest and trouble him for it; and he to avoid any thing of trouble, being a quiet Man, was content to give her twenty shillings towards her cure, which she had no sooner received of him, but she returned these of the link words, that that was the Divils money, and that now she had power enough to punish him, nor did she delay to execute her Malice, but soon after, being afflicted by Satan, her colleague, about the 22th of May laft fer his House and Barns on fire, and notwithstanding all the help of his Neighbours to quench it, they could nothing prevail, but that one of his Barns was quite burnt to the ground, and sometimes the fire would be in his wheat, and sometimes in his Chambers, so that they knew not which way to turn themselves to extinguish it, at length with much pain and labour and the good Spirit prevailing over the bad, they made a shift to put it out.  Without any considerable damage to his houshould Goods, save only that the Barn beforementioned, was quite consumed; among the rest of the Neighbours that came to assist at this fire, came likewise this old woman, who was observed to tell several of the others, that all they did, was but in vain, and that do what they could, the should never be able to quench the fire, whereupon they were more and more confirmed in the former strong presumptions they had, that all this mischief was done by her devilish art, and thereupon laying hands on this suspected witch, carried her before the next Justice of the Peace, where being charged for having by Devlish practises and combination with the Prince of Darkness ; first causeed this poor mans Sheep to die in that strange and miserable manner, and afterwards to have kindled the fire in his Barns and Houses, she freely confessed all, and boasted that she would make many more die as well as herself: Upon which confession of hers, she was by Mittimus from the Justice of Peace committed to Northampton Goal, there to remain till the next Affizes. 

No sooner was she brought in, but the Keepers of the Goal caused her to be Chained close to a Post that was in the Goal; but she had not been long so tied before she began to swell in all parts of her Body, that her skin was ready to bust, which caused her to cry out in a most lamentable manner, insomuch that they were forced to unchain her again, and to give her more liberty that the devil come to such her, the which he usually did, coming constantly about the dead time of the Night in the likeness of a Rat, which at his coming, made a most lamentable and hideous noise which affrighted the people that did belong to the Goal, which caused many to come and see her during her abode there, and several hath been with her when the Devil hath been coming to her, but could see nothing but things like Rats, and heard a most terrible Noise; Not long after, the Affizes being come, this witch that went by the Name of Ann Foster, was called to the Bar, and being asked whether she were guilty of those crimes that were there alleadged against her: she at the first pleaded non guilty, but it being so evidently proved that she was the person that had committed al those things before mentioned, she then confessed, and said that the Devil did provoke her to do all those mischiefs, and seeing that sentence of death was past upon her, she prayed to God to forgive her, and desired the Man (on whom she had so much spent her Malice, which was to the Ruine of him) to forgive her likewise, for she could no way make him amends but only by satisfying the Law, according to the sentence which was pronounced against her.  She said that she could bring out many more that were as bad as her self.  After Sentence of Death was past upon her, she mightily desired to be burned, but the Court would give no Ear to that, but that she should be hanged at the Common place of Execution, which accordingly was performed on Saturday last being the 22th of this Instant August.


How to Cite

Anon. A Full and True Relation of the Tryal, Condemnation, and Execution of Ann Foster. ed. Kirsten C Uszkalo. The Witches in Early Modern England Project. 2011. [date of access]. <http://witching.org/>.

All site content copyright © Uszkalo except where noted. Images courtesy of the Wellcome Collection.