|William Sommers||A man Nottingham in the county of Nottinghamshire, who at the age of 19 or 20 allegedly had several fits after being bit by a familiar named Lucie. During this time, William Sommers was imprisoned, where the Devil appeared to him in the shape of a mouse and demanded that Sommers let him back in, promising to save him from death if he yielded. Sommers allegedly agreed to being repossessed and, though he was still tormented in truth, pretended that everything he had done under possession before had been faked. Yet, when the high Sheriff demanded in the name of God that Sommers tell the truth, Sommers was cast into a fit. To determine whether he was faking, pins were thrust into his hand and leg; when he roused from the fit, he said it was the other hand which had been pricked, and that he had fallen due to stomach problems. When they brought him back to question a second time, he tried to fling himself over the gallery and break his neck. The second questioning proved to everyone's satisfaction that he was indeed possessed. Sommers was brought to London and kept first by a barber of evil repute, then by the Bishop of London. Sommers continued to insist that he had only been pretending to be possessed, and furthermore, Mr. Darrell had hired him to do it. Mr. Darrell countered, insisting that Sommers' actions while possessed were not listed in Scripture as impossible, therefore they were indeed possible and proof of possession; this argument is regarded as a poor one. It is nonetheless agreed that there is no way Sommers could have counterfeited such things as his eyes, hands and face becoming unnaturally black, or turning his head all the way around. Numerous depositions are given, and taken as proof of Sommers' possessions. After his dispossession, Sommers named Millcent Horselie as a witch, and was able to give details of her examination despite not being present for it. John Darrell later faced trial on charges of instructing Sommers and others to counterfeit both their possessions and their dispossessions to bolster his own reputation. Sommers gave deposition against Darrell, and demonstrated a counterfeit swelling before the high Commission at Lambeth in support of his claim.(Images 3, 6, 7, 8, 15, 20-21)||Yf it were particularlie a[n]d fullie discovered (as we wish it might be) howe strangelie this William Sommers came to be possessed by meanes of a witch in Worcester shire, who sent a wicked spirit into him, witch he called Lucie: howe he was torme[n]ted during his possession: howe the foule spirit raged, and the Lord Iesus prevailed at his dispossession: howe he was subtillie tempted, a[n]d estsoones repossessed: howe extraordinarelie he hath caried himselfe since his dispossession[.]
WIlliam Sommers of Nottingham: of the age of 19. or. 20 yeares, about the beginning of October 1597. began to be strangelie tormented in bodie and so continued for diuerse weekx, to the great astonishment of the beholders, and trouble of his frends: and gaue great tokens that he was possessed by a wicked spirit, wherevppon the MAIOR and some of the Aldermen of Nott: vnderstanding that Mr Dorrell, a minister of Gods worde dwellingh in Ashbie de la zouche, had by praier and fasting restored 8. or 9. persons that in like sort had bene vexed, did insta[n]tlie se[i]d for the said Mr Dorrell to com to Not. to bestwe some paines about the faid sommers[.]
So[m]mers was committed to prison, where the Deuil appeared vnto him in liknes of a mouse: threatning that if he would not let him reenter, and would not saie that all that he had done touching his tormenting during his possessio[n] was but counterfeyt, then he should be hangd: but if he would yeeld to him, he would save him. Thus anew stipulation being made betwene them, the Devill entred: And afterwards Som: still pretented that all which before he had done was onelie counterfeyt. Yet this notwithstanding, vppon his repossessio[n] he was as horriblie (spite of his face) tormented as before[.]
The highe Sheriffe exhorted him in the name of God to tell the truth: then sodenlie Som. was violentlie cast into one of his fits before them all where he wallowed vp and downe the chamber where they sate, in a farefull maner. There were pius thrust deepe into his hand, and leg, to trie if he did counterfeyt: but he was senseles, and no bloud followed. At length being re[turn]ed as out of sleepe: they asked what he had done. He said, he could not tell: whether he had not bene pricked with pins, he said, yes: they asked where, and he shewed the wrong hand: when he was examined, howe the hole came in his other hand wich had bene pricked he said it was there before: being demaunded, why he fell downe? he aunswered, a qualme came ouer his stomack. Then he was conveied awaie: and being absent he was worse tormented them before. They brought him back againe to knowe if he would confesse, who perswaded him to saie, he had counterfeited. As he should haue gone vp a paire of staires, through a gallerie, if he had not bene hindred, he had cast himselfe headlong ouer the gallerie, to haue broken his neck. When he was the second time brought before the Commissioners, he was more terriblie handled them before, in so much that the Commissioners, and all that were present were fullie satisfied, that he the[n] was corporallie possessed[.]
Som: was brought vp to London, and committed to a barber of East Smithfeild, a man of evill report. And afterward was take[n] into the Bisschop of London his house. The matter was so well handled that Som: persisted in saiing that he had bene a counterfeyt: and at length seing this to be so plausible, grewe to be so impudent, that he said Mr Dorrell had hired him to counterfeyt, and had bene acquained with him 4. yeares before, and caused him to practise his feats in Ashbie parck: and informed him after his comming to Nott: howe he should demeane himselfe in time of his dispossession. All which Mr Dorrell vppon his othe denied, but Som: bare word (nowe growone to be a mam of great credit, though he had confessed himselfe, heretofore to haue bene a counterfeyt) was better beleiued then Mr Dorrell a godlie, and faithfull man, of honest conversation, long approved by the best Christians, and ministers where he lived.
Mr Dorrell affirmed, there were twelue things deposed co[n]cerning Som: his possession, wich he could not possiblie counterfeit: he was suffered to produce the running of this lump up and downe his bodie, for one of the[m] wich was directlie proued by manifold witnesses. When som that had seene the depositions knwe this to be most certenlie deposed, thy had nothing to obiect but: Where finde you that in Scripture. Wherby they shwe manifestlie, that some of the[m] doe fight against the light of their owne conscience. for themselues knowing that Som: could not counterfeit this, neither could Mr Dorrel possiblie instruct him how to practise anie such feat, they had nothing in reason to answer but least by their silence they should seeme to be co[n]vinced and confounded, they obiect a matter nothing to the purpose, namelie that this is not found in Scripture. The weight of wich obiection is this.
All impossibilities are found in Scripture: this is not found in Scipture: therefore this is not an impossibilitie. Who feeleth not the grosnes of this argume[n]t. as if a ma[n] mihht not name a 1000 things vnposible to be performed by W Som: wich yet are not to be found in Scrip: It is not possible for Som: to goe to Rome in an houre, yet this is not found in Scripture. It is not possible for Som: to touch the stars, yet this is not found in Scrip: no more surelie is it possible for Som: to counterfeit such a variable motion, as was euidentlie seene, and felt vppon his bodie though it be not to be fonnd in Scrip. This one thing alone (if there were nothing els) is sufficient to conuince anie man whose heart is not hardned, that Som: did not conterfeit: much les coold Mr Dorrell be accessarie to him in such iniquitie.
which Maister Dorrel and Mr Aldred caried to Mr Parkins to be examined, and the boye about one of the clock in the same daye in his fits vttered these words. Note in marg: extraord. knovvledge. Nowe they have her, and are examining her: and she sayth she doth all by prayer, & nowe she is saying her prayer, and this was not knowne to this Examinant, or anie other then present to her knowledge. And she further deposeth, and sayth that at diverse tymes she hath heard a clapping in his bed, as though it had bene the clapping of 3. hands. and that she hath seene a motion in the bed, Note in marg: kitlings. as though it had bene the creeping off 3. kitlings, which she, and diverse others have endevoured to take hold of, but never could, for when they have attempted the same: Note in marg: knocking. It hath vanished: and his hands and feete never sturring to theyr sights and that at other tymes, at his beds feete a knocking as though it were vnder the bed to theyr vnderstanding: and in some of those extreme fits, he would crie, Note in marg: Nec troend & mouth dravvne aside immeasurablie. Nowe she comes, nowe she comes, nowe she wil breake my neck, and therevppon his neck was throwen about as though it had bene broken, with his mouth drawne of the one side vnmeasurablie, some tyme on thone side, and some tymes on the other.
THus much touching the objections which have bene made to prove the pretended counterfeiting of W. Sommers. But howe by counterfeyting he could speake a quarter of an houre together his mouth being shut: howe he should staye his temples, and pulses from a[n]d beating: howe his eye, hands, a[n]d face should be vnnaturallie black and turne by and by into theyr naturall colour: howe there should be extraordinarie smells in the place where he laye: howe he should violentlie be with great force cast-against the yron bars, a[n]d posts of the chimneies receyving no hart: howe he could be taller then the highest man in Nott: howe all his bodie should be as cold as ice, and heavie as yron: howe his face should be turned quite backward his neck throwen round about without hurt vnto him: howe he being naturallie weake should so oftentimes belabour so manie strong men, himselfe not panting, sweatting, or changing colour: howe he made his tongue to swell to the bignes of a Calves tongue, and his eies as great as beasts eies: howe he should forget continuallie what he did, or was done vnto him in his fits: howe his legs crooked with falls, should be inflexible as anie yron: howe the collick should run along all his bodie, in a variable quantitie: Howe such a collick should be cured by prayer, and fasting: howe in his fits he should vtter strange voices, which at other tymes he could not doe agayne, as is deposed: howe he did counterfeyt all these impossibilities, when the Sadduces, Galenists, and Naturalists of our time have considered of the matter, we will expect some newe objections sutable in discretion to the former.
A BREIFE OF THE FORESAID DEPOSItions, proving that William Sommers of Nottingham of the age of 20. yeares was possessed by Satan, & did not counterfeit as some pretend.
1 THere seemed to run along his leg, and thence into his toe. bellie throate, tongue, cheeke, eie, & other parts a lump sometimes lesse, sometimes bigger then an eg: being soft, deposed by eleue[n]. 16. 17.
2 The lump being in his leg, it was heavie, & inflexible like yron by 4. the 6. 12. 14. 16.
3 He had such extraordinarie strength that sometimes 3. 4. 5. 6. or moe, were skarce able to rule him deposed by 6: the 2. 6. 9. 11. 12. 13th.
4 When 4. or 5. strugled with him so as they were wearied; he did not sweat pant, or chaunge colour. deposed by 3. the 9. 11. 13.
5 He wallowed, gnashed with his teeth, stared with his eies, & foamed at his mouth excessivelie: by 5. the 2. 5. 9. 12. 13.
6 There seemed to run vnder the coverlet where he laie as it were kitlings to the number of 4. or 5 deposed by 3. the 2. 6. 10.
7 His face, and mouth fearefullie distorted one lip toward one eare & the other toward thother deposed by 3. the 5. 6. 13.
8 His face turned directlie backward not moving his bodie at all, by 2. the 6. 13.
9 His neck doubled vnder him. by Richard Mee. the 13.
10 His bodie doubled, his head betwene his legs, sodenlie plucked round like a round browne loafe, cast vp like a ball from the bed 3. or 4. times together, halfe a yard highe. deposed by Ioane Pie. 6.
11 Being cast into the fyre against the wals, & yron bars of the chimneie with great violence, & there liing some time, he received no apparance of hurt at all, deposed by 3. the 6. 12. 13.
12 His boie seemed to be extented to the height of the tallest ma[n] whe[n] once he ondevoured to hang himselfe, deposed by Ioane Pie 6.
13 He told of diverse things done in his absence, without notice given by anie person: deposed by 2. the 6. & 13.
14 Strange speeches vttered by him in his fits, in a strange voice, that he was his, that he was God, Christ, & a King, that he made Baptisme & I wil vse W: Som, tongue, & member for 3. daies; EGO SVM REX, EGO SVM DEVS: that there vvas no God, that he vvas King & Prin[n]ce of darknes. Also before Mr Dor. had seene him he saide Dorrel comes; Dorrel comes he vvil haue me out, but I vvil com againe; for Nott. & Lenton are jollie tovvnes for me. deposed by the 2. 7. 13. 14.
15 Being recovered out of his fits, he knevve nor vvhat he had said, or done by the 6. 11.
16 In his fits, strange smels vvere in the place vvhere he laie, by the 6. & 13.
17 A strange knocking perceived about his bed in his fits, his both feete, & hands being field vnmoveable. by 4. the 2. 6. 14. 15.
18 He cried hideouslie sometimes like a bul, beare, svvine, & in a smal voice vnpossible to be counterfeyt, by 3. the 2. 9. 13.
19 His leg vvould be crooked vvith his fals, & remaine inflexible. by 2. the 1. 13.
20 He spake in a continued speeche, his mouth being vvide open, his tongue dravven into his throat, neyther lips, nor chaps moving, by 4. the 6. 7. 8. 12.
21 He spake a quatter of an houre together his mouth being close shut. by the 17.
22 In his fits, his temples, & pulses did not beat, he laie for dead, cold as Ice. deposed by the 9. 14.
23 His eie vvas black, & chaunged colour in his fits, by the 3. 4. 13.()|