Manuscript telling story of 17th century Yorkshire witchcraft trial to go on sale

A copy of a manuscript telling the story of a Jacobean witchcraft trial held in North Yorkshire is set to go on sale.

By The Newsroom
Monday, 23rd October 2017, 8:24 pm
Updated Tuesday, 12th December 2017, 10:23 am
The manuscript by Edward Fairfax.
The manuscript by Edward Fairfax.

Penned by English literary translator Edward Fairfax, the manuscript outlines the case of witchcraft he brought against six women in the village of Fewston in 1622 following the unexplained death of his youngest daughter.

The copy of A Discourse of Witchcrafte as it was Acted in the Family of Mr. Edward Fairfax of Fuistone will go on sale as Halloween approaches at the Ink Fair London, which runs from Wednesday until Friday.

“I present the Xtian (Christian) Reader a narration of Witchcraft of which I am a Woeful Witness,” Fairfax wrote in the original manuscript.

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The manuscript by Edward Fairfax.

“And so I can best report it, read this without vindicatory passion, and in reading let thy descretion proceed thy judgement.”

All three of the author's daughters, Ann, Elizabeth and Ellen, fell ill.

The youngest, Ann, died in October 1621.

As their beleaguered father sat by their bedsides, the girls allegedly spoke of visions.

The manuscript by Edward Fairfax.

After Ann’s death, Mr Fairfax branded six local women as witches, who were brought to trial the following year.

The case collapsed when a friend of his daughter Ellen confessed that the visions were in fact an attention-seeking ruse, devised as a means of attracting their own father’s attention.

After two trials and a campaign protesting their innocence, the women were all acquitted.

The copy of the manuscript, made by Thomas Beckwith of York, is priced at £7,500 and will be sold by Antiquates Ltd of Wareham.