J u l i a n C o x ~~~~~~~~

Trial for Witchcraft at Taunton Assizes 1663

 

A woman accused of practising the Black Art upon a young maid......

'Whereby her body languished and was impaired of health, by reason of the strange fits upon account of the said Witchcraft'.

A large part of the evidence went to prove her a ... WITCH IN GENERAL ... an indictable offence. The rest purported to show the specific damage done by sorcery to the maid. A huntsman said he once started a hare, and the dogs were just upon it when it slipped under a bush. He ran round the bush to save it from the dogs where he discovered that it was Julian Cox, with her head grovelling in the ground. Horror-stricken, he questioned her, but she was so out of breath (from the chase) that she could not utter a word.

'And the Huntsman with his dogs went home presently sadly affrighted'.

Another witness claimed ....

'Julian set a monstrous gret toad to bother him as he sat taking a pipe of tobacco

when at home he cut it in pieces but the paddock pieced itself together again'.

Another said that his cattle were driven mad so that they drove their heads against trees. He was advised to cut off the ears of the bewitched beasts and burn them, this being as good as burning the witch ......

'Who would be in misery and not rest until they were plucked from the fire'

Julian came and took them out and all was well again!!!

Next a woman swore she had seen the accused ......

'Fly into her own Chamber-Window In her full proportion; she very well knew her and was sure it was she'. 

Finally, by JULIAN COX's own admission ......

'It was to this purpose: that she had been tempted by the Devil to be a Witch, but never consented; that one evening she walked out about a mile from her own house, when there came riding towards her, three persons upon Broom-Staves borne up about a yard and a half from the ground. Two of them she formerly knew, a Witch and a Wizard that were hanged for witchcraft several years before. The third person she knew not; he came in the shape of Black Man and tempted her to give him her soul, or to that effect and to express it by pricking her finger and giving her name in her blood as a token of it, and told her that she had Revenge against several persons that had wronged her, but could not bring her purpose to pass without his help; and that upon the Terms aforesaid he would assist her to be revenged against them'

She said she did not consent to it .....

[But clearly she believed in the genuiness of these apparitions] 

There was little difficulty in finding her guilty after, of “PRACTISING” upon the maid. It was shown that Julian was angry with her for refusing her alms and had told her that she would regret it ere' night. The maid had convulsions and saw Julian ........

'Where they in the same Chamber did not see or hear anything'.

Judge & Jury concluded her guilty and she was hanged four days after her trial. Some spoke harshly of Judge Archer for his zeal and precipitance, openly declaring Julian's innocence too late.

 

I am indebted to Mr. Bernard Knight (deceased) a former editor of the Somerset and Dorset FHS Journal "The Greenwood Tree"

 For this and many other donations to my research.