A true and most
Dreadfull discourse of a wo-
man possessed with the Devill: who in
the likeness of a headless Bear fet-
ched her out of her Bed, and in the presence of se-
ven persons, most strangely rolled her th-
rough three Chambers, and down a high
pair of stairs on the four and
twentieth day of May last, 1584.
At Dichet in Som-
A matter as miraculous as ever was
seen in our time.
To the Reader
Beloved and curious reader, we have to consider by this strange discourse, how ready Satan is to take hold on us if we fall from God never so little.
He continually runneth up and down seeking whom he may devour: But notwithstanding his temptations which are great, the mercie of God is greater, who never faileth to send comfort in temptation, if we accept thereof.
Great are the examples, both of God's mercy and might, to put us in remembrance of our sins which are infinite and loathsome, wherein if we continue, let us undoubtedly looke for the reward thereof, which is an everlasting destruction both of body and soul.
Let not this which is here declared seem a feined fable unto thee, but assure thyself that all such things are sent as warnings for our wickedness: and to put us in mind of the state of our salvation, which is an assured faith in Christ Jesus: from which piller if we once schrink, the Tempter is ready to drive us into dispair of God's mercy.
Many are the wonders which hath lately happened, as of sudden and strange death upon perjured persons, strange sights in the air, strange births on the Earth: Earthquakes, comets and firy Impressions, and all to put us in mind of God, whose works are wonderful.
Remember the late storm of hailstones in which many things were slain and beaten to the ground, which Hailstones were equal in greatness to a Goose Egg, of eight inches about.
These and such like examples (good Reader) warneth us to be watchful for the day of the Lord which is at hand, lest suddenly his wrath be kindled against us. Let us therefore pray to almighty God to hold back his Rod, to be merciful to us, and to forgive us all that is past: that through the assistance of his Spirits, we may with penitent hearts live in his fear to our lives' end.
Strange News out of
Upon the ninth day of May last past, Anno. 1584, there was a Yeoman of honest reputation, dwelling in the town of Dichet, which is about three miles of Bruton (the most ancient town within Sommersetshire) whose name is Stephen Cooper (a man of good wealth and well-beloved of his neighbors) who being sick and living in a weak state, sent his wife (whose name was Margaret Cooper) upon the ninth day of May last past into Gloster-shire, to take [order] concerning a farm which he hath in a Village called Rockhampton, alias Rockington, at whose coming thither, it seemed all things were not according to her mind. Thus continuing there one day and something more, she returned home to her husband, partly aggreived at such changes as she thought her husband might reform if God lent him life. Now when she was come home again to Dichet, she found her husband recovered to an indifferent health: to whom she began to use very much idle talk, as well concerning the same farm, as also concerning an old groat [a coin] which her son (being a little boy) had found about one week before. Thus she continued (as it were one that had been bewitched or [hastled] with some evil spirit) until Tuesday at night following, which night she took her rest something indifferently until towards the morning: at which time she began with much vain speech to disquiet her husband, and to use much idle talk: but her husband seeing her in such a mind, and finding that she was as it were one that were desperate, he persuaded her to call upon God, and that being the creature of God she should not forget to call upon her Creator in the day of trouble: wherefore he counseled her to pray with him, and to say the Lord's Prayer after him, which she partly did: Yet the devil who always both builds his Chapel so near as he may to [fear?] God's Church, began to withdraw her from Prayer, and put her in mind to call in most fearful sort for the groat which her son had lately found, as also for her Wedding ring, desiring to see them with all speed: her husband made no great haste thereunto, but continued in prayer, that it would please God to send her a more quiet spirit, and to strengthen her, that faith might speedily vanquish such vanity in her. But the more he praised and persuaded her to Praise, the more she seemed to be as it were troubled with some evil Spirit, calling still for the old groat which her husband neglected to show her: whereat she began with a very stern and staring countenance to look on her husband in most wonderful sort, as that he was sore frightened with the same. Then he calld for her Sister, for that he was not able to keep her in the bed: which when her Sister and [Br]other were come to the Chamber, they kept her down violently in the bed: and forthwith she was so sore tormented that she foamed at the mouth, and was saken with such force that the Bed and the Chamber did shake and move in most strange sort: her husband continued praying for her deliverance: so that within one half hour after her shaking was left, she began to tell them that she had been in Town to beat away the Bear which followed her into the Yard when she came out of the Country, which to her thinking had no head. Then her husband and friends persuaded her to leave those vain imaginations, persuading her that it was nothing but the lightness of her brain which was become idle for want of rest. Wherefore her husband and friends persuaded her to say the Lord's Prayer with them, which she did, and after took some small rest: and thus they remained until the Sunday following: in which time she continued raging as it were bestraught of her memory, which came by fits, to the great grief of her husband, friends, and neighbors. Upon the Saturday following there was good hope of her recovery, for that she in the night before had taken some reasonable rest: her friends and neighbors came to comfort her, but sometimes she would talk somewhat idly to them, which came by small fits. And upon the Sunday she seemed very patient and conformable to reason, until midnight: at which time the Candle which was set up burning in the same Chamber was burned out: She then suddenly waking called to her husband and cried out, saying, that she did see a strange thing like unto a Snail, carrying fire in the most wonderful sort: Whereat her husband was amazed: and seeing the Candle was clean burned out, called to his Brother and her Sister (which were in house with other of their friends watching and sitting up, to comfort her if her extreme fit should any way molest her) who hearing her husband call, came in and brought a Candle lighted and set it on the table, which stood near where the woman lay: She began then to [stare?] as one very fearful, saying to her husband and the rest, do you not see the Devil: whereat they desired her to remember God and to call for grace, that her faith might be only fixed upon him to the vanquishing of the Devil, and his assaults. Well (quoth she) if you see nothing now, you shalt see something by-and-by: and forthwith they heard a noise in the street as it had been the coming of two or three Carts, and presently they in the Chamber cried out saying: Lord help us what manner of thing is this that commeth here. Then her husband looking up in his bed espied a thing come to the bed much like unto a Bear but it had no head nor tail, half a yard in length and half a yard in height: her husband seeing it come up to the bed, rose up and took a joined stool and struck at the said thing, the stroke sounded as though he had broken upon a featherbed: then it came to the woman and struck her three times upon the feet, and took her out of the bed, and so rolled her to and fro in the Chamber, and under the bed: The people there present to the number of seven persons were so greatly amazed with this horrible sight, that they knew not what to do, yet they called still upon God for his assistance: but the Candle was so dim that they could scarcely see one another. At the last this Monster which we suppose to be the Devil, did thrust the woman's head between her legs and so rolled her in a round compass like a hoop through three other Chambers down a high pair of stairs in the hall, where he kept her the space of a quarter of an hour: Her husband and they in the Chamber above dared not come down to her, but remained in prayer weeping at the stairs' head, grievously lamenting to see her so carried away. There was such an horrible stink in the hall, and such firy flames, that they were glad to stop their noses with cloths and napkins. Then the woman cried out calling to her husband, now he is gone: then (quoth he) in the name of God come up to me, and so even upon the suddan she was come so quickly that they greatly marveled at it. Then they brought her to bed, and four of them kept down the clothes about the bed, and continued in Prayer for her. The Candle in the Chamber could not burn clear but was very dim, and suddenly the woman was got out of the bed, and the window at the bed's head opened, whether the woman did unpin the window, or how it cameth to pass they knew not, but it was opened, and the woman's legs after a marvelous manner thrust out at the window, so that they were clasped about the post in the middle of the window between her legs: The people in the Chamber heard a thing knock at her feet as it had been upon a Tub, and they saw a great fire as it seemed to them at her feet, the stink whereof was horrible: The sorrowful husband and his brother emboldened themselves in the Lord, did charge the Devil in the name of the Father, the Son, and the holy Ghost, to depart from her and to trouble her no more: then they laid hands on her and cried to the Lord to help them in that their great need, and so pulled her in again and et her upon her feet: Then she looked out at a window and began to say: O Lord (quoth she) methinks I see a little child, but they gave no regard to her: These words she spake two or three times: so at the last they all looked out at the window: and lo they espied a thing like unto a little child with very bright shining countenance, casting a great light in the Chamber, and then the Candle burned very brightly, so that they might one see another, then fell they flat to the ground and praised the Lord that he had so wonderfully assisted them, and so the child vanished away. Then the woman being in some better feeling of herself was laid in her bed and asked forgiveness at God's hands, and of all that she had offended, acknowledging that it was for her sins that she was tormented of the evil Spirit. And so God bethanked she hath ever since been in some reasonable order, for there hath been with her many godly learned men, as Maister Doctor Cottington, Parson of the same Town, and Maister Nicholles Preacher of Bruton, with other chief Preachers from divers places of the Country.
These be the names of the Witnesses, that this is most true:
with divers others.