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Name Description Original Text
Thomas SpatchetA man from Dunwich and Cookly in the county of Suffolk, described as Bailiff twice in Dunwich in the county of Suffolk. Thomas Spatchet allegedly suffered a variety of fits, a condition attributed to Aubrey Grinset. Born in January of 1614, he was the son of Mr. James Spatchet, and the grandson of Mr. Robert Spatchet, who conversed frequently with the late Lord Chief Justice Sir Edward Coke. Thomas Spatchet is said to have been watched over by the Providence of God from a young age. As an infant, he was dropped on his head against stone by a careless servant, leaving deep seam on the left side. As a young man, he went to draw water and fell down the well instead. He suffered no broken bones, but lost flesh from one hand, suffered a hole in his wrist, lost some skin, and was sick and bedridden for days after. Therafter, Spatchet began to have fits. At first, he would find himself abruptly unable to speak; this soon interfered with fulfilling his religious duties and prayer. His fits later took three forms: Benumbing, in which he could hear but would be unable to move; a shake that would end with his legs and feet moving with agility and harmony; finally, skipping and jumping until his strength ran out. Within a year and a half, he lost all ability to hear or partake in worship, and had difficulty eating. By the winter of 1693, he would shake throughout the day, so that he would be unable to eat until evening and be forced to do so while walking. He suffered kneading fits in 1665, which ended when he seemed to catch a thumb in his mouth and bite it. The witch Aubrey Grinset was searched and found to have an impression on her toe. A year later, the fits resumed. In 1665, Aubrey Grinset confessed to being a witch and sending an imp to cause his fits. However, she denied causing his roaring fits, which he suffered from 1665 to 1666. When he was urged to scratch her, he refused, being too tender-hearted. He attempted to visit Grinset shortly before her death, at the urging of a Mr. R., but was repelled and made to curtsey back from her. His fits remained until the death of the witch, leaving him the last two years entirely unable to pray or otherwise participate in worship. Taking physic made his fits worse, but when he stopped for two years, the fits became violent. The fits allegedly end eight weeks before Grinsets death. Before she died, she said others had him in hand as well, and that her death would not free him. He found himself unable to travel before her death, but discovered himself able again after. He continued to suffer fits to his death, though far less frequently, and he continues to have trouble praying.(2-21, 23, 27, 31, Postscript)He had almost a miraculous preservation in his very Infancy; for, being then carried by a Servant carelesly upon her shoulders, in a Yard set with Stone; she stumbling, he fell over her head, and pitched his head upon a Stone, whereby his Skull was broken, and the wound so deep and dangerous, that the mark is still apparent; there is a great seam to be seen on the left side of his Head, down towards the outside of his Eye, and the upper part of it turneth like a square about the midst of the sore-part of his Head; it seemeth to be two Inches or more both ways. But here the Lord had given his Angels such a charge concerning him, that altho' he dashed his head against a stone, yet he was preserved and kept from this threatned death, and delivered, that he might declare the mighty Works of God. Afterward[,] when he was between 21, and 22 years of Age; being in a married state, going to a Well (in the same Yard where he had the aforementioned fall) upon occasion to draw Water; the Pully and Bucket falling, he fell with them headlong into the bottom of the Well, which was about 21 yards deep; the Water therein was at that time about knee deep; but the All-wise God so directed his fall, that he missed the bucket, the fatt and great s[t]ones at the bottom (which were afterward seen there) else his brains had been dash'd out; the Lord brought him out of this horrible Pit, and since hath pitched his Soul upon the Rock of Ages. A Man going down, found him standing on his legs, and fetched him up; but when he came to the Air, he grew very ill, and kept his Bed many days after this his retirement into the Chambers of Death; he having been but a little while in the bowels of the Earth (that whilst he was alive he might have a foretast of the Grave) he hardly knew how to live in the common Air any longer; but the Lord had intendments to make his Power known in his restoration; he had further work for him to do, and more for him to suffer; and therefore altho' the dreadful effects of this fall began now to shew themselves in a Vrin red like blood, and many other [d]istempers of body, such as at first he could not turn himself in his bed, yet a Vein being opened, and other means us'd, with a Divine blessing thereupon, he so far recovered within the space of a month, as he was able to go a little about the house and so by degrees returned to a good measure of health again. It is not to be passed in silence, what mercy was mixt with this sad dispensation, that in this dangerous fall not one of his bones was broken; that hand that held the Rope lost some flesh, almost to the bone, and he had a hole in his wrest, a range on the forehead, and the skin beaten off his ankles, no other hurt outwardly appearing either in head or elsewhere, the skin not so much as broken, but as aforesaid. It also deserveth observation that a Woman in the same Town falling into a Well, was taken up alive, but soon died. [...] About the m[o]nth of March 1660. as he was speaking to some, he found a mutation or alteration in his head, causing such a failure either in the use of his understanding, memory or senses (call it what you will) as put him to a stand; he was at a loss, knew not how to go on in speaking what he intended to his friends, but quickly recover'd again; and not long after (the same day) was at the same loss again, finding a grinding pain round about the crown of his head, near half way downward (as he hath done ever since upon such occasions) it was not violent, but moderate and easie to be born; this to his head hath been answerable to the jarring of the elbow by a blow; much differing always from the ordinary pain of the head, without belching. [...] But to proceed, the next day after he was first taken (& since) he was subject to the same distemper, to be at a loss upon speaking; yet went up and down that week, and when he did set about Religious duties, as Prayer, he could go but a little way without faultring and failing therein. [...] The same spring, he seemed to have inward nippings and smitings in his head, which caused a great amazement and astonishment in him, and hath continued in some degree long since, at times; and hath hindred a free and uninterrupted exercise of his understanding, or rather the use of speech; for it was not so much a failing in perception or apprehension of things, as inability for expression, he knew what he would say, and what others said or did, but could not utter it: he was disabled for proceeding at present in what he would say; so that it seemeth to be rather a failing of speech than of understanding. Afterward it brake forth into Fits of two sorts or kinds. 1. Benumming him, that he could neither stir hand nor foot, nor rise from the seat he sate on, and by and by did flie up; his hands would hang down, he not being able to lift them u[p]; his eyes shut, not able to open them; no breath sometimes perceiv'd to be moving a great while together, yet then knew what others said; his teeth fast set, that it was difficult (if any thing were put into his mouth) to get the spoon either in or out; his nether chap sometimes would fall, as when a man is in a swound, and then immediately it would come outward: Sometimes these benumming Fits would continue two or three hours; Then, 2. A moderate shaking followed (when it came outward) like a Palsy; and then it would proceed to a shaking with violence, first his head, his Body then standing still; then from the Neck to the Middle, hi[s] Head that time standing still, after this from the Middle downward shaking in gre[a]t Violence, and in that [t]ime his head and other upper parts would stand still; after this one Leg would shake and no other part, and then his whole Body, Chair and all in Violent Motion. Before the shaking fits came, his hands would be lifted up, and cast down upon his knees, beating them for some time. Afterwards his leggs and feet would move with much agility and harmony, in fits striking upon the ground as if in ringing of Bells, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. without Changes, a great while together; sometimes as if in playing in Musick, diverse Musical Tunes, and keeping orderly stops, a[s] though he never was acquainted with the[a]rt of Musick, cannot dis[t]inguish the Tunes if they be played on Musick Instruments; yet such as were with him in his Fitts, and knew the Tunes, were able by their hearing the beating of his Feet to discerne his acting the part of a Musician therein: His Feet would strike 7 or 8 times or oftener, one Foot first and than the other answering imediately after, except where the Tune required to have it otherwise, and in ringing, his Feet every st[r]oak had a several place of the ground, in its setting down. [...] At first he had but two or three of these fits in a day then they came to Four in a day constantly, and so continued week by week, and month by month, and when Four in a day, than each of them were two Hours in a day, and sometimes he had half an hours respite between, at other times a quarter of an hour, and it mSingle illegible lettery be one day in a Month or Five weeks without a Fit. Then they altered from 4 to 5 in a day, and than to 6 or 7 or 8, and so on to 20 or more in a day, but then came to be shorter when more in number, yet in the same manner for actions as aforesaid. After he comming to be tyred out with being in the Chair, he did lie down on a Bed, and rising to come off his Bed, both leggs would go sidewise or not at all, and then his whole Body raised up two Foot, Capering about in the Chamber, till he fell down, and then the fit left him. Also he had Skipping or Iumping Fits, wherein sometimes his Feet being close together his whole Body hath been lifted up, and his Feet from the ground (as hath been said) two Foot or more, sometimes right up & down often at other times hath been lifted up and both his legs carried sidewise at a great distance as if he had jumped, and then back again as far sidewise, thus a great while together till his strength hath failed, and Spirits have been spent, all this time bearing himself upon a strong staff; If he hath been beaten against a Wall, or after his strength hath failed, if a Chair hath been set behind him and he helped into it, then he hath rested there untill he hath been a little revived. [...] Within a year and half or thereabout (after his being first taken with the Fits) he lost his liberty for any such act of Worship; he could not attend upon God in any Religious Service[s], so much as a quarter of an hour without falling into Benumming, Shaking, and other violent Fits; He could not[t] Pray or joyn with others in Prayer, not exercise himself about the word of God, or hear others Preach the word, not crave a Blessing himself before eating his Meat or give thanks after it, nor be present when others acted therein [(]unless they were very Brief) but presently he was cast into those aforementioned Torturing Fits thereby. [...] There was Mercy not only in sustaining his Soul, but his body also; for so soon as the Fits were off, he could now eat his meat whether the fits were long or short. Also he had a partial [(]not a total) freedom from his Fits in the latter end of the year 1662 For the space of near ten weeks and this was a great Mercy. [...] In the Winter 1693. then it came to a Continual shaking like a Palsy head and body, and not many violent Fits, but shaking all the day long, from the time of his rising, till night six or seven a Clock, and then went off with a sharp shaking Fit. At the beginning of the shaking he could neither eat nor drink, nor all the day long, till it was off at night about six a Clock; afterward he could eat, if he would walk up and down in the House eating. If he felt those nippings in his head, he must keep it in his Mouth untill the fear and amazement was over, and then chew aud swallow it down, and thus by degrees he could eat a Supper; but if he ceased walking and sate down (as many times he did for tryal) by that time he had eaten 8 or 9 Morsels either he could not rise off the Seat he fate on, or could not speak, or else could not keep the Seat, by reason of Violent shaking, and thus it continued about 16 or 17 Weeks. [...] Afterwards they ceased from shaking Fits, and came to Wringing Fits. His Hands lying one upon or in another would Wring one out of the other and then the fore finger would rise up first, and so the rest one after another, till all met, viz. the Fore-finger of one hand with the fore-finger of the other hand, the Second finger of one hand with the second of the other, and so for the rest [...] After [t]his, his hands would be still unless he forced them to his Thighs, and then they would fly out and beat one against another very smartly, and he dur[...] not seek to alter the motion. Or if one hand did at any time get hold of the other, it was so wrung as if it would tear it in pieces; If any did seek to hold him in a Chair (though he were a man of strength) yet he was easily cast off, and it added to his affliction, made it the more fierce if any attempted to stop the Motion Above half an hour would these Wringing Fits continue, and all that while no shaking. [...] But to return to our Story, about this time (1665) When the Lord hath given him any Intermis[s]ions or freedoms from his fits, for some days, a night or two before their return again when in Bed, he hath been cast into a heavyness and benumness, as if in a sleep, yet not asleep, if any were on the other Chamber, he knew what they said; after that, he hath had a blow as if a punch with the finger, either on his Breast[-]Side, or shoulder, soon after as if two did strike in the same manner; Presently as if a Hand did smite him, and then a Kneading on his Side or Breast, (as if Bread had been kneading there) for some space, untill he hath been Sore, with some Intermission; and then it hath been repeated again in like manner, till he hath seemed to be near Death, and then he hath revived again and come to himself; and for the most part the next Day or the Day after, the Fits have returned again. In these Kneading Fits he hath thrust down his hand and seemed to Catch a Hand, and put it into his Mouth and bite it; at one time he thought it was a Thumb that he did Bite, and it was observed that about the same time, She (that since hath confessed her self to be the Witch) was seen to go with a great shoe which She borrowed, and her Toe was hurt; when She was Searched since, her Toe was found with an impression as if sawn [at]; and since that seeming to Bite the Hand that hurt him, for about a Year he was free from that way of Kneading, and since the Fits have been as if gr[a]sped in Arms, and as handling his backparts to his great Trouble and affrightment; these were but seldom. [...] After this, Mr. Spatche[t] spake with her, and did seriously and solemnly charge her as in the presence of God, that She would speak the Truth, that if She were not such a one, She should not own it, and if She were, then not to deny it, for God would bring it to light. She answered, that She must Confess the Devil had beguilded her, and that She had been a Witch above 20 years, that she [had] made an agreement with the Devil, and She thought the time was nea[r] out; she declared also as before, how She became a Witch, and in what shape her Imp (which She imployed[)] appeared to her, and such like. He asked her whether She had imployed her Imp to him and why She did it? She Confessed that She had sent it to him and said that She did bear him no Ill will, but it was against her Will, She could not help it, the Devil would let her be at no quiet till She had done it; adding, that he never did her hurt, but had been loving and kind to her, in giving her Money (for She was Poor) but She was the worse to him. He speaking to her about his biting, in the aforementioned Kneading Fits; She s[a]id that he had bitten too hard sometimes. She said, if it were possible She would never send her Imp to him again, adding O that I could not, it would be happy for you, and more Happy for me. When She would have Confessed more to him, She was stoped in her Throat and could not, saying if She could tell all, there might be Mercy for her. She also said, if She were to be Hanged presently She had no Hand in his Roaring Fits. [...] Some excited him to s[c]ratch the Witch or such like, but he had no disposition to it, his heart was so tender that he durst not do it, though his fits continued; that Scripture helped him, Prov. 20.22. Say not thou, I will recompense [e]vil; but wa[i]t on the Lord and he shall save thee He was enabled to wait on the Lord for his Salvation; and that, Deut. 32. v. 35, 39, 41. It was enough to him that their foot shall slide in due time, and their [ca]lamity maketh haste; if there be any such means of his affli[c]tion a[s] by Witch[es] yet vengeance was Gods, and he would recompense any that oppress or abuse his People. [...] In those years 1665 and 1666 he had Roaring Fits, his mouth being stretched open, and such violent Fits, and those which hindred travel were superadded. [...] In such a condition he remained untill the death of that Woman which confes[s]ed her self to be a Witch, with fits of one kind or another above mentioned. And the two last years before her death, he had no liberty either to Pray or to joyn with others in Prayer, or other Religious exercises more than is before expressed. [...] About a Week before she Dyed, Mr. R. (a Conformist) sent for him to go to her, when she was Ill; he went about a Close length, and the[n], if it had been upon his Life, he could not get one step further forward; he indeavoured very earnestly to go on but could not; he did get back again in [a] long time and with much difficulty; and was forced to make many Courtesies (like Women) all the way back again, with many other like actions which were unavoidable. [...] Ordinarily after taking Physick he was the worse; often Physick did greatly increase the Violence of his Fits, all the time of his taking it, and after ceasing to take, they would return to the posture they were in before. About two years before the Violent Fits left him, he had some respite from Fits for several Days before he began with Physick, and the first Day wherein he took it he had a Fit, and so one Fit every Day that he was taking, till it came t[o] the last Dose, which (upon some occasion) he deferred, and that Day of omission he had no Fit, the Day followi[n]g he did take it, and then had a Fit, and so having finished it he had no Fits for some time. He desisted taking Physick almost two years before his Violent Fits ceased, and yet the last Fits were very Violent. One Professing Physick, observed him in his Fits, and concluded it was no ordinary Contraction of Nerves, but a continual Motion sometimes of all parts, Arms, Hands, Legs, Feet, first stamping his feet, beating upon the ground very swiftly and strongly, at a great distance each from other; his Arms at the same time flying out with a swift and Violent Motion, inward and outward all at once as fast as may be, for a considerable time together, till at last the Fit went off, leaving him sometimes stretSingle illegible letterhed out like a Dead-man. Yet in all the time of his Fits (when he could Eat his Meat) there was not any abatement or Consumption of his flesh perceived, no Pining away, though there was some Weakness of Body by them. [...] HIS Violent Fits continued until the Thirteenth Day of the Month of Febru[a]ry, 166[7] and from that Day he hath been freed from them, which was about 8 weeks before the Death of that Woman which Confessed her self to be a Witch for she Dyed about April, 1667. before this 8 Weeks she was under Tortures from the Devil, and whether she had no leisure to send to and Afflict him, or whether it were only from God, laying a restraint upon that grand Enemy of Mankind Satan that he injoyed this Eight Weeks freedom from those Fits, must be left to others to Judge: it is good to ascribe all to God; but it being thus long before her Death, this argueth that it was no Corroboration of his Imagination by her Death that was the Cause of his freedom. Indeed, he had not a freedom from all Fits so early, he was under a Restraint from Travel until the very time of Her Death. [...] Also she had said to some persons before her Death, that if she Dyed, yet Mr. Spatchet should not be fully Free, for others had him in hand as well as she. But yet the same Week that she Dyed, and the next time after when he attempted to visit Friends, he found a liberty for Travel; and hath injoyed that freedom ever since, viz. for the space of above two Years. [...] I Lately Conversed with a near Relation of M. Spatchet, with whom he lived after the time of the foregoing Narrative, until he Dyed, who informed me that he had Fits to the last, Shaking his Head, and other Limbs, but not frequently, sometimes many weeks without; yet ordinarily could not Pray or Ioyn with others in Prayer. And thus he continued till his Death.()