STAC 5/A1/36 - B - Trin 27 Eliz - Lancashire - Alexander Atherton v Ellen Wynstanley, Alice Wynstanley, Elizabeth Wynstanley see STAC Atherton
Transcribed by Helen Good
To the Queen’s most excellent Majesty
Most humbly complaining sheweth unto your most excellent Majesty your dutiful and obedient subject Alexander Atherton of Norley in the county of Lancaster yeoman That whereas among sundry the great and heinous abuses committed and practiced within this your highness Realm and dominions no one is either more ungodly or pernicious than the use of sorcery witchcraft and enchantments whereby divers and sundry your highness loving subjects are most miserably tormented dismayed spoiled and otherwise utterly cast away and destroyed to the great displeasure of god, and to the grievous spoil and and destruction of a multitude: And albeit by sundry of your Majesty’s laws and Statutes the practicers and offenders therein are to receive sharp and sever punishment, yet nevertheless the froward wicked and perverse people will and dare attempt to practice and put in ure their vile and abominable devices to attain their unlawful purposes. So it is (most gracious sovereign) that one Rafe Osbarston late of Wigan on the said county of Lancaster Ellen Wynstanley widow, Alice Winstanley and Elizabeth Wynstanley daughters of the said Ellen, at Pemberton the twentieth of August in the four and twentieth year of your Highness reign, did confederate and join together in this practice following. That is to say She the same Ellen Wynstanley then having to her daughters the same Alice and Elizabeth and each of them marriageable whom the same Ellen was willing and desirous to match and bestow in marriage without any portion or other advancement to be given with them or either of them: and well knowing that your said subject stood in good possibility to inherit a competent and reasonable living in the said county of Lancaster, They the said Ellen Alice and Elizabeth did by sundry rewards by them given to the same Rafe Osbarston procure and cause the same Rafe by sorcery witchcraft and enchantment or some of those ways to bring your said subject unlawfully to love the said Elizabeth. Which device and practice of witchcraft, he the same Rafe Osbarston at Pemberton the three and twentieth day of August in the said four and twentieth year of your Highness Reign to the purpose and end aforesaid did most wickedly execute and putt in ure, upon your said subject, in a potion or drink ministered unto him at Pemberton aforesaid, by the said Elizabeth: By means whereof your said subject was drawn unlawfully to love of the said Elizabeth, and being thus drawen, hath ever sithence most miserably languished and pained, and in that pitiful case yet continueth without any hope of recovery either by physic or diet. And your said subject although in this sort abused yet careful for the safeguard and preservations of his life, did make means by himself and other his friends to have been matched in marriage with the said Elizabeth , which to do she seeing the extremity your poor subject was brought unto hath utterly refused and yet doth. So as your poor subject by their enchantments is so extremely tormented and daily pined away by the space of these three years last past. As that by no possibility he is or shall be able long to endure or avoid death by the only occasion of the same. All which enchantments sorceries and witchcraft they the same Ellen Wynstanley Alice and Elizabeth can not gainsay, but they have procured and caused and, both before and sithence the doing thereof, gave Rewards unto the said Rafe for the practicing and performing of the same, to your poor subject’s utter ruin spoil and undoing, and contrary to your Majesty's laws and statutes in that behalf made and provided. And they the said Ellen Alice and Elizabeth not thus contented, but for mere malice and hatred born towards your poor subject, for that he and his friends have (as the truth is) charged them with their foul and lewd dealings in this behalf, now of late the tenth of December last past, have earnestly vowed and practiced to slay your poor subject. And for that purpose they the same Ellen Alice and Elizabeth accompanied with six other persons, of very desperate and light condition, to your subject as yet unknown, all the same men being weaponed with long staves swords bucklers and daggers at Norley aforesaid, the said tenth day of December last before recited, forcibly and riotously did assault and set upon your poor subject, as then being sick, and two of his brethren and them did then and there outrageously beat and wound, and would (no doubt) have slain your poor subject if he had not been by some other willing to see the peace observed, by main force rescued and so his life for that time saved. All which said riots routs unlawful assemblies, bewitchings and enchantments tending to bereave your subject of life are for example sake meet and needful to receive examination and sever and due punishment in your Highness most honorable Court of Starchamber. In tender consideration whereof and forasmuch as your poor subject is now always resident at Physick upon the occasion before remembered here in your Highness City of London: May it therefore please your Highness of your accustomed clemency to award your Highness most honorable writ of Subpoena unto them the said Ellen Wynstanley Widow, Alice and Elizabeth Wynstanley and to every of them to be directed thereby commanding them and every of them to appear before your Highness in the said Court of Starchamber at Westminster to answer to the premisses, and to stand to such further order and direction therein as to your highness most honorable Council of the said Court shall be thought most meet and convenient. And this your poor subject shall daily pray to god for your Highness long life in health, long and most prosperously to reign over us.