"Who pretended that we have part of Faylesworth Common within our Newton Heath, which cannot be proved, I am sure. We wer agreed that James Traves (being his bayly) and Franis Nutthall, his servant for him, shold with me understand all circumstances, and so duly to proceed."
The close of the year was marked by an episode which might have gone far towards clearing Dee's character from the aspersions still being cast upon him. Nowhere was superstition and belief in witchcraft more prevalent than in Lancashire, and in November and December of this year he seems to have been applied to for advice as regards a woman and seven children, said to have become demoniacally possessed through the influence of one Hartley, a "conjurer." Dee's curate, Matthew Palmer, happened to go in as Hartley was praying over the woman in a fit. He demanded what he was doing.
"`Thou pray! thou canst not pray,' quoth he. `What prayer canst thou say?'
"`None,' saith he, `but the Lord's Prayer.'
"`Say it,' quoth he, the which as I remember, he could not say."
Dee "utterly refused to meddle with the affair, and advised the father to consult with godlye preachers and appoint a private fast." Perhaps he remembered that when he asked, long before, if he had done well concerning Isabel Lister, vexed of a wicked spirit, the angel's reply had been "Friend, it is not of thy charge." He sent for Hartley, and "so sharply rebuked him that the children had more ease for three weeks after." The devils were finally exorcised by a godly preacher, John Darrell, or, as we suspect, by the children's release from Hartley's attentions, who was hanged soon after. Dee's library, a good part of which he must have moved to Manchester, was constantly in request at this time. It was rich in books on demonology and possession, and Lancashire justices of the peace who had to deal with these cases of witchcraft brought before them seem to have resorted to such works, for and against the persecution and annihilation of witches, as the De Praestigiis Daemonum (Basle, 1566) of John Wier, the Fustis Daemonum and the Flagellum Daemonum of the monk Hierom Menghi (Frankfort 1582, Boulogne 1586). All these Dee records lending to Mr. Edmund Hopwood, of Hopwood, a deputy-lieutenant and ecclesiastical commissioner, as well as a J.P. Wier or Weier was very likely known to Dee at Louvain. He was one of the earliest apologists for these unfortunate folk, and pleaded that, their brains being disordered by melancholy, they merited pity, not punishment. His book contains the first account of "The Pied Piper of Hamelin," from the archives of the town of Hamelin. A Spanish grammar was lent to Mr. Barlow for his son. Mr. Matthew Heton was the borrower of theological works, including the Concordantiae Bibliorum (1555) of Robert Stephens, the illustrious printer of the New Testamentl; and a Calvinistic treatise, De Coena Domini, written by Dr. Pezel, who had, we remember, commemorated Dee's departure from Bremen in 1589 by verses. Dee lent Heton books,but Heton lent Dee ten pounds on a bill of hand. To John Cholmeley "I lent my Latyn boke in 8vo, De Morbis Infantum."
The disputes over tithes and lands belonging to the college naturally
affected the Warden's income, and Dee found himself compelled
to borrow small sums as before. Finally he was reduced to raise
money on his plate, and especially on the handsome double gilt
tankard, with a cover, which was the christening gift of the Countess
of Hertford to her god-daughter Frances. It weighed 22 ounces,
and Dee tells how he delivered it to Charles Leigh, one of the
college "singing men," to lay in pawn in his own name
with Robert Welsham, the goldsmith, "till within two days
after May-day next. My daughter Katherine and John Crocker [the
old servant], and I myself [John Dee], were at the delivery of
it and waying of it, in my dyning chamber. It was wrapped in a
new handkercher cloth." All that was obtained on the tankard
was £4 of the current value.
|Previous page||Table of Contents||Next page|