The haunting of Paul Fox, a silke weaver

The following is an excerpt from the chapbook Strange and Fearful News from Plaisto in the Parish of Westham (1645). The author speaks of one Paul Fox, a silke weaver, who found his house haunted for a period of one month. Witnesses of events were said to be in the thousands, including notable scholars of the time.

Two years after the release of Strange and Fearful News from Plaisto in the Parish of Westham of 1645 came the release of another piece entitled The Most Strange and Wonderful Apparition of Blood in a Pool at Garreton (1647).  Both pieces are analysed in the book The Battle of the Frogs and Fairford’s Flies by Jerome Friedman.

In the parish of Westham in the County of Essex liveth one Paul Fox, a silke Weaver, a man of an honest life and conversation, and hath a wife and children. This mans house for the space of one month last past or more hath beene haunted with a Spirit.  There hung a sword in the Chamber with the hilts downwards, and the point in the sealing of the house, which in a sudden came flourishing about the roome, flying up and downe, no hand touching it.  The said Paul Fox being then in the roome, and some others, but the Sword came not neere any of them: and although at first it was some terror to the Beholders, the said Fox took hold of it by the hilt, the point still turning in his hand in severall ways, and he forthwith ran into the next room with it, laying it downe upon a Bench where it lay still.  After, he lockt the Chamber door, the Sword being in it, but while he was talking of this business, the Sword came again into the roome and flourished about as before, the doore not opening, nor any signe appearing how it came out of the roome.

Then there being a Cane standing in the Kitchen (such a one as men usually walk withall in the street) the Cane itself came hopping up the staires, giving a tap on every stair as it came, and presented itself in the Roome, standing upright on one end.  It began to dance round about the Table on which the Sword lay for the space of halfe a quarter of an hour.  This being ended, Paul Fox was in good hopes that he should heareafter have quiet, but one good Evening there was a strange kind of rapping at the doore, and a Spirit with a soft hollow voyce commanded him to open the doore.  To which Paul Fox replyd that he thought it was an evill spirirt and wished it to return to Hell Gates.  But it seems this made the Spirit angry, for the next day at noon, Fox and his son and two servants were at their worke, cutting peeces in the Loome, when the silke shot off, and great stone Tyles, Brick-bats, Oyster shells, peeces of bread, and other things, came in at the Window and broke all the Glasse, and frightened young Fox and two servants out of the roome but did not hurt any of them.

In the yard lay a great stone of about half a hundred weight, and as Paul Fox and divers others were in a roome, one paire of staires high, this stone came tumbling up stairs into the middell of the room without any thing seene to move it.  One of Fox’s men tooke up the stone and laid it back down in the yard, but within a quarter on an hour, the same stone came tumbling up the stairs as before.  These things being behold by at least 100 people at once.  I should be too tedious to relate every particular that hath happened here within this month, how Fox and his sons are sometimes pulled by the hayre, lugged by the ears, knockt on the head, pulled out of their beds, troubled with many noyses, their bookes and bread throwne about the room.  The wife of Paul Fox, having made a porrage, left the pot with the residue in the corner at the end of the kitchen, but after it had stood there close covered for the space of half an houre, the lid suddenly sprung right up, and the porrage dashed against the walls and was dispersed about the roome.

In some parts of the Countries whole flocks of Geese have been feeding on the greens over night and in the morning some of them have been found fluttering on their back with their heele upwards, others running and reeling up and down and making hidious noyse, and many of them starke dead.  In those that were dead was found a long quill (as it were) thrust the length of ones finger into the fundament of the Geese and in others that were but half dead the quill was in but about an inch and a halfe, and within a few houres they dyed also.  These things are thought apparently to exceed from witchcraft.

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