Primary Resource

"An Acte against Conjuration Witchcrafte and dealing with evill and wicked Spirits" (1604)

In this act, "An Acte against Conjuration Witchcrafte and dealing with evill and wicked Spirits," passed by Parliament in the session that began on March 19, 1603, and ended July 7, 1604, the English government, not for the first time, outlawed witchcraft. It was the this law, however, that authorities used to prosecute accused witches in Virginia. Some contractions have been expanded. The last witchcraft trial in the mainland colonies took place in 1730, and Parliament repealed the law in 1736. Some spelling has been modernized and contractions expanded.

Transcription from Original

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BE it enacted by the King our Soveraigne Lorde the Lordes Spirituall and Temporall and the Comons in this present Parliament assembled, and by the authoritie of the same, That the Statute made in the fifte yeere of the Raigne of our late Soveraigne Ladie of moste famous and happie memorie Queene Elizabeth, intituled An Acte againste Conjurations Inchantmente and Witchcrafte, be from the Feaste of St. Michaell the Archangell nexte cominge, for and concerning all Offences to be comitted after the same Feaste, utterlie repealed.

AND for the better restrayninge the saide Offenses, and more severe punishinge the same, be it further enacted by the authoritie aforesaide, That if any pson or persons, after the saide Feaste of Saint Michaell the Archangell next cominge, shall use practise or exercise any Invocation or Conjuration of any evill and wicked Spirit, or shall consult covenant with entertaine employ feede or rewarde any evill and wicked Spirit to or for any Intent or purpose; or take up any dead man woman or child out of his her or theire grave, or any other place where the dead bodie resteth, or the skin bone or any other parte of any dead person, to be imployed or used in any manner of Witchcrafte Sorcerie Charme or Inchantment; or shall use practise or exercise any Witchcrafte Inchantment Charme or Sorcerie, wherebie any pson shalbe killed destroyed wasted consumed pined or lamed in his or her bodie, or any parte thereof; that then everie such Offendor or Offendors, theire Ayders Abettors and Counsellors, being of any the saide Offences dulie and lawfullie convicted and attained, shall suffer pains of deathe as a Felon or Felons, and shall loose the priviledge and benefit of Cleargie and Sanctuarie.

AND further, to the intent that all manner of practise use or exercise of Witchcrafte Inchantment Charme or Sorcerie should be from henceforth utterlie avoyded abolished and taken away, Be it enacted by the authoritie of the present Parliament, That if any pson or psons shall from and after the saide Feaste of Saint Michaell the Archangell next cominge, take upon him or them by Witchcrafte Inchantment Charme or Sorcerie to tell or declare in what place any treasure of Golde or Silver should or might be founde or had in the earth or other secret places, or where Goods or Things loste or stollen should be founde or become; or to the intent to pvoke any person to unlawfull love, or wherebie any Cattell or Goods of any pson shall be destroyed wasted or impaired, or to hurte or destroy any pson in his or her bodie, although the same be not effected and done; that then all and everie such pson & psons so offendinge, and beinge thereof lawfullie convicted, shall for the said Offence suffer Imprisonment by the space of one whole yeere, without baile or maineprise, and once in every quarter of the saide yeere, shall in

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some Market Towne, upon the Market Day, or at such tyme as any Faire shalbe kepte there, stande openlie upon the Pillorie by the space of sixe houres, and there shall openlie confesse his or her error and offence; And if any pson or psons beinge once convicted of the same offences as is aforesaide, doe eftsoones ppetrate and comit the like offence, that then everie such Offender, beinge of any the saide offences the second tyme lawfullie and duelie convicted and attainted as is aforesaide, shall suffer paines of death as a Felon or Felons, and shall losse the benefitt and priviledge of Clergie and Sanctuarie: Savinge to the wife of such person as shall offend in any thing contrarie to this Acte, her title of dower; and also to the heire and successour of everie such person his or theire titles of Inheritance Succession and other Rights, as though no such Attaindor of the Ancestor or Predecessor had bene made: Provided alwaies, That if the Offendor in any the Cases aforesaide shall happen to be a Peere of this Realme, then his Triall therein to be had by his Peeres, as it is used in cases of Felonie or Treason, and not otherwise.