1586: 28 Elizabeth 1 c.2: An Act against Witchcraft and Sorcerie.
[1 Ja. 1. 12. Eng. No condign punishment provided against conjuration, &c.]
WHERE at this present there is no ordinarie ne condigne punishment provided against the practises of the wicked offences of conjurations and invocations of evill spirites, and of sorceries, enchauntments, charms and witchcrafts, whereby mainie fantasticall and devilish persons have devised and practised invocations and conjurations of evill and wicked spirites, and have used and practised witchcrafts, enchauntments, charms and sorceries,
to the destruction of the persons and goods of their neighbours, and other subjects of this realm, and for other lewde and evill intents and purposes, contrarie to the lawes of Almighty God, to the perill of their owne soules, and to the great infamie and disquietnesse of this realm. For reformation whereof, be it enacted by the Queen’s Majestie, with the assent of the lords spiritual and temporal, and the commons in this present Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same,
[Persons using invocation of evil spirits to any purpose, or witchcraft, &c. whereby any one killed or destroyed, their aiders, &c. guilty of felony without clergy.]
That if any person or persons after the end of three moneths next, and immediately after the end of the last session of this present Parliament, use, practise or exercise, any invocation, or conjurations of evill and wicked spirites, to or for any intent or purpose: or else if any person or persons, after the sayd three monethes expired, next after the end of the last session of this present Parliament, shall use, practise, or exercise any witchcraft, enchauntment, charme or forcerie, whereby any person shall happen to be killed or destroied: that then aswell every such offendor or offendors, in invocations or conjurations, as is aforesaid, their aydors, and councelors, and also every such offendor or offendors in witchcraft, enchauntment, charm or sorcerie, whereby the death of any person doth ensue, their aydours and counsellours being of the said offences lawfully convicted and attainted, shall suffer paines of death, as a felon, or felons, and shall lose the priviledge and benefite of clergie and sanctuarie:
[Saving dower, inheritance and rights of others.]
saving to the wife of such person, her title of dower, and also the heires and successors of such person, and all other person and persons, their heires and successors, all titles, rights, seigniories, uses, profites, escheates and hereditamentes whatsoever, of any estate of inheritance, and otherwise, as though no such attayndour had been had or made.
[Using witchcraft, &c. whereby any one wasted or lamed, or goods destroyed, for first offence one year’s imprisonment, and pillory 6 hours once a quarter.]
II. And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, that if any person or persons, after the said end of three moneths next ensuing the end of the last session of this present Parliament, shall use, practise, or exercise any witchcraft, enchantment, charme or sorcerie, whereby any person or persons shall happen to be wasted, consumed or lamed in his or their bodie or member, or whereby any goods or cattels of any person shall be destroyed, wasted or impaired; then every such offendor or offendors, their counsellours and aydours, being thereof lawfully convicted, shall for his or their first offence or offences, suffer imprisonment by the space of one whole yeare without bayle or maineprise, and once in every quarter of the said yeare, shall in some market towne, upon the market day, or at such time as any faire shall be kept there, stand openly upon the pillorie by the space of sixe houres, and there shall openly confesse his or their errour and offence,
[Second offence felony and the like saving as above.]
and for the second offence, being as is aforesaid lawfully convicted or attainted, shall suffer death as a felon, and shall lose the priviledge of clergie and sanctuarie: Saving to the wife of such person, her title of dower, and also to the heir and successours of such person; and likewise saving to all other person and persons, their heires and successours, all and singular his and their rightes, titles, escheates, uses, profites and hereditamentes whatsoever, of any estate of inheritance and otherwise, as though no such attaindour had been had or made.
[A peer to be tried by his peers.]
III. Provided alwayes, that if the offendour in any of the cases aforesaid, for which the pains of death shall ensue, shall happen to be a peere of this realm; then his triall therein to be had by his peeres, as it is used in cases of felonie or treason, and not otherwise.
IV. And further, to the intent that all manner of practise, use or exercise of witchcraft and enchauntment, charme, or sorcerie, should be from henceforth utterly avoid, abolished and taken away; be it enacted by the authority of this present Parliament,
[Persons taking upon them to discover hidden treasure, by witchcraft, or stolen goods, or to provoke unlawful love, &c. first offence one year’s imprisonment.]
that if any person or persons shall, from and after the said end of three monethes next immediately ensuing the end of the last session of this present Parliament, take upon him or them by witchcraft, enchauntment, charme or sorcerie, to tell or declare in what place any treasure of gold or silver should, or might be found or had, in the earth or other secret places, or where goods or things lost or stollen should be found or become, or shall use or practise any sorcerie, enchauntment, charme or witchcraft, to the intent to provoke any person to unlawful love, or to hurt or destroy any person in his or her body, member, goodes or chattels, that then every such person or persons so offending, and being thereof lawfully convicted,
[Second offence forfeiture of goods and chattels to the Queen and imprisonment for life.]
shall for the said offence suffer imprisonment by the space of one whole year, without bayle or maineprise, and once in every quarter of the said yeare, shall, in some market towne, upon the market day, or at such time as any faire shall be kept there, stand openly upon the pillorie by the space of sixe houres, and there shall openly confesse his or her errour and offence. And if any person or persons being once convicted of the same offence as is aforesaid, doe estsoones perpetrate and commit the like offence, being thereof the second time convicted as is aforesaid, shall forfeit unto the Queen’s Majestie, her heyres and successoures, all his goods and chattels, and suffer imprisonment during life.
Further reading: Sneddon, The Devil in the Room.