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Name Description Original Text
William DrageA man from Hitchin in the county of Hertfordshire (baptized at Raunds, in the county of Northamptonshire), an author, physician, and apothecary, who published a medical compendium, _A Physical Nosonomy (1664)_ and _ Daimonomageia_ (1665) a description of the symptoms of and treatments for witchcraft. Drage provides, in this tract, eye witness testimony about the possession of Mary Hall, and second hand accounts of numerous other bewitchments. Drage's interest in possession and bewitchment may not have been completely academic; he allegedly suffered (not unlike Mart Hall herself) from "poor health throughout his life, being subject to dropsy and convulsions."()Drage, William (bap. 1636, d. 1668), physician and apothecary, was baptized at Raunds, Northamptonshire, on 8 January 1636, the son of William and Elizabeth Drage, who were able to provide him with a good grammar-school education. He was then apprenticed to an apothecary, and in 1658 settled in Hitchin, Hertfordshire, where he opened an apothecary's shop and established himself as a physician, with a large practice that included local gentry. On 5 October 1659 he married Elizabeth Lawndy, of Baldock, who embarrassed him in 1664 by turning Quaker. Drage read very widely in English and continental medical works, compiling from them in 16589 several treatises on specific diseases, which he incorporated in his major work, A Physical Nosonomy (1664), a compendium of medical symptoms and treatments, reissued in 1665 and again with different title-pages in 1666 and 1668. In a combative introduction Drage condemned the reverence still given to ancient writers, contrasting the Sons of Superstition and Tradition with the Sons of Experience (Physical Nosonomy, 1665 edn, 8) and championing modern authors, such as Felix Platter, who relied on their own observations. The work also drew on Drage's own notes on 1400 medical case histories. Despite his pugnacious spirit he accepted traditional medical theories based on the four humours and on herbal and other therapies designed to restore a proper balance between them. His work upheld the importance of astrology in medical practice but cautioned that more weight should always be given to observed symptoms than to the astrological chart. In 1665 Drage published Pyretologie, a treatise on fevers, in both English and Latin editions. Another work, Physiology, iatrosophy and pneumatography, was then ready for the press but was never published, though Drage referred frequently to it in his Nosonomy. In 1665 Drage also published Daimonomageia, a short work for physicians treating diseases caused by witchcraft and possession. Drage was more concerned to find cures than to punish witches, and though he considered it legitimate to frighten them with threats, he pointedly did not advocate execution. The subtitle explained that the tract was also designed to confute Atheistical, Sadducistical, and Sceptical Principles, and it was heavily influenced by the writings of Henry More, as well as by Drage's own wide reading in continental demonology. Though this work now appears highly credulous, accepting accounts of possessed people able to walk upside down across ceilings, Drage's critical faculties had not altogether deserted him. He freely acknowledged that some cases of possession were fraudulent and others wrongly diagnosed, but was overwhelmed by the volume of well-authenticated case studies from different places and times, and by his own first-hand experience. The tract included a vivid account of the recent local case of Mary Hall of Little Gaddesden, Hertfordshire, the teenage daughter of pious nonconformists, who was possessed by two spirits in 1663. Drage was summoned after Baptist preachers and the specialist Dr Woodhouse of Berkhamsted had attempted in vain to cure her. Drage too was unable to help, but used his meetings in 1664 with Mary, her family, and Woodhouse to pen one of the best accounts we have of demonic possession. The spirits, speaking through Mary, declared they had tried to kill her father, and their blasphemous outbursts that God was a Bastard, and demands that she should have a new gown, hoods, scarves, and Ribbons, Hay! Ribbons, Ribbons, Ribbons, Ribbons (Daimonomageia, 34, 38) suggest powerfully the role of possession in providing an outlet for suppressed desires in a highly repressive environment. Drage suffered poor health throughout his life, being subject to dropsy and convulsions. He died at Hitchin on 17 November 1668, and was buried there on 23 November at St Mary's Church. By his will, drawn up in 1666 and revised on 12 November 1668, he left his house and shop to his widow, his patrimony at Raunds to his eldest son, William, and property at Morden, Cambridgeshire, to his younger sons Theodorus and Philogithus, and his daughter Lettice.()