A horrible stinke in the Hall

These odd fragments come from a 17th century account of demonic possession.

Upon the 15th day of November now last past, 1641, there was a yeoman of good and honest reputation, dwelling in the towne of Edinbyres upon Darwent in the Bishopprick of Durham, whose name was Stephen Hooper.  A man of good wealth, his neighbours being sicke, and lying in a weake state, he sent his wife whose name was Margaret Hooper to a farme which hee had in a village some three miles off.  Thus continuing there one day, she returned home to her husband as if she had beene bewitched, or haunted with an evill Spirit, untill the Wednesday at night following, which night she tooke her rest something indifferently untill the morning, at which time she began with much vaine speech to disquiet her husband, and to use much idle talke.

Her husband seeing her in such a mind, and finding that she was, as it were desperate; he persuaded her to call upon God, & that being the Creature of God, she should not forget to call upon her Creator in the day of trouble, wherefore he councelled her to pray with him, and to say the Lords Prayer after him, which shee partly did.  But shee began with a very sterne and staring countenance to looke on her husband in most wonderfull sort, that he was sore affrighted, and he called for her sister for he was not able to keepe her in the bed. When her sister and others were come into the chamber, they kept her downe violently in her bed, and forthwith she was so sore tormented that she foamed at the mouth, and was shaken with such force, that the bed and the chamber did shake and move in most strange sort.  Thus she continued untill the Saturday following, in which time she continued raging, to the great griefe of her husband, friends, and neighbours.

Upon the Sunday she seemed to be very patient, and comfortable until midnight, at which time the candle which was set burning in the same chamber was burned.  She then suddainly awaking, called to her husband, and cryed out saying that she did see a strange thing like a snail, carrying fire. Whereat her husband was amazed, and seeing the candle was cleene burnt out, called to his brothers and sisters that were in the house, with other of their friends watching, and sitting up to comfort her, who came in, and brought a candle lighted, and set it upon the table, which stood neere where the woman lay.  She began to wax very fearefull, saying to her husband and the rest, ‘Do not you see the Devill?’ Whereat they desired her to remember God, and to call for grace that her faith might onely be fixed upon him to vanquish the Devill and his assaults. ‘If you see nothing now,’ quoth she, ‘you shall see something by and by.’ And forthwith they heard a great noise in the street, as if it had beene the coming of foure or five carts, and presently they in the chamber cryed out saying, ‘Lord helpe us, what manner of thing is this that commeth here?’

Then her husband looking up in his bed, espied a thing coming to the bed, much like a beare, but it had no head nor taile, halfe a yard in height, and halfe a yard in length.  Her husband seeing it come to the bed, rose up and tooke a stoole and stroke at the said thing.  The stroke founded as though he had strucken upon a feather-bed, then it came to the woman, and stroke her three times upon the feet, and tooke her out of the bed, and so rolled her too and fro in the chamber, and under the bed.  The people then present, to the number of seven persons, were so greatly amazed with this horrible sight, that they knew not what to do. The candle was so dim that they could scarcely see one another. At the last, this Monster, which wee supposed to be the Devill, did thrust the womans head betweene her leggs, and so rolled her like a hoope through the other chambers, downe a high paire of staires into the Hall, where he kept her the space of a quarter of an hour.

Her husband and they in the Chamber above, durst not come downe to her, but remained in prayer, weeping at the stairs head, grievously lamenting to see her so carried away.  There was such a horrible stinke in the Hall, and such fiery flames, that they were glad to stop their noses with clothes, and napkins.  Then the woman cryed out to her husband, ‘Now he is gone.’  Upon the suddain, she came up quickly. They greatly marveiled at it, then brought her to bed, and foure of them kept downe the clothes about the bed, and continued in prayer about her.  The candle in the Chamber could not burne cleare, but was very dimme.  Suddenly the woman was out of the bed and at the Window. The womans legs after a miraculous manner thrust out of the Window, so that they were clasped about the post in the middle of the Window betweene her legs.  The people of the Chamber heard a thing knock at her feet as if it had beene upon a tubb, and they saw a great fire at her feet, the stink whereof was horrible. The sorrowfull husband and his brother, imboldened themselves in the Lord, and did charge the Devill in the name of the Father, the Sonne, and the holy Ghost, to depart from her, and to trouble her no more, then they laid hands upon her, and cryed to the Lord, to helpe them.  Then the candle burned very brightly so that they might one see another, and the woman being in better feeling of her selfe was laid in her bed.  And she was thus so delivered of the evill spirit. And God be thanked she hath beene ever since in some reasonable order.

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