A rare copy of a manuscript detailing a 17th-century witchcraft trial in England’s North Yorkshire county is up for sale after it was discovered by an antiquarian bookseller.
The manuscript, “A Discourse of Witchcraft As It Was Acted in the Family of Mr. Edward Fairfax of Flinstone”, was written by Fairfax himself, following the death of his youngest daughter in October 1621, reports the Guardian. It details the case he brought against six local women, and offers the “Christian reader a narration of Witchcraft of which I am a Woeful Witness”.
The text was not printed until the 19th century, according to Tom Lintern-Mole of Antiquates booksellers, and the original was now believed lost. Only a small number of copies remain one of which Lintern-Mole recently discovered for sale at a small London auction house.
He is now selling the manuscript, priced at 7,500 pounds, at the rare book and art Ink Fair in London, which runs from 25-27 October.
Fairfax opens his discourse dramatically, promising that “the actors in this be no walking ghosts, nor dancing fairies”, and that “in this appeareth the work of Satan, not merely his own, but assisted by some wicked coadjutors, by whose cooperation these innocents were thus cruelly afflicted”, the Guardian reported. He goes on to tell of how his three daughters, Ann, Elizabeth, and Ellen, were bewitched by six local women, and how they told him of their visions. The youngest of his daughters, Ann, died in October 1621, and Fairfax went on to declare the women witches.The women were brought to trial the next year, but the case collapsed.