Thursday, February 28, 2013

The White Witch of Waverly, from Grose's Antiquities (1785)

The Antiquities of England and Wales, Volume V
Francis Grose (1731-1792)
first published in 1785

"The place derives its name from a popular story, which make it formerly the residence of a white witch, called Mother Ludlam, or Ludlow; not one of those malevolent beings mentioned in the Daemonlogie, a repetition of whose pranks, as chronicled by Glanvil, Baxter, and Cotton Mather, erects the hair, and closes the circle of the listening rustics round the village fire. This old lady neither killed hogs, rode on broom-staves, nor made children vomit nails and crooked pins; crimes for which many an old woman has been sentenced to death by judges, who, however they may be vilified in this skeptical age, thereby certainly cleared themselves from the imputation of being wizards or conjurors. On the contrary, Mother Ludlam, instead of injuring, when properly invoked, kindly assisted her poor neighbors in their necessities..."

The above passage is from pages 111-112 of  the edition linked to above (at googlebooks). If you have another edition just be sure it is volume V, and look for the section on Surrey.

There are many later references to "Mother Ludlam", "The White Witch of Waverly", etc. But Grose is the earliest source I have found to use the phrase "white witch". In fact, Grose is so far the earliest source I have found to use this phrase after the end of the period of the Witch Hunts. Indeed, Grose is a full 36 years earlier than Walter Scott's Kenilworth, which had previously been the earliest post-Witch-Hunt reference to "white Witches" that I had found.

Note to Ronald Hutton, Owen Davies, and Jacqueline Simpson: hey, you guys are supposed to be the pros. If I can find this stuff, why can't you?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The Real Vikings

"We've always represented the Vikings as the other, because their history was written by Christian monks, who wrote propaganda about the Vikings -- how violent they were, how terrifying, how awful their gods were," Hirst tells Zap2it, who has shown his yen for history with "Elizabeth" and "The Tudors." "We've taken on board that propaganda, because it's never really been challenged. What interested me was to go into the Viking world picture, into their gods, into their religion, their rituals. As the season goes on, you understand where the gods came from, you understand the attraction of the pagan worldview and the pagan gods. It's interesting for, let's say, a North American, largely Christian audience for the first time to be presented the pagan worldview that they overthrew, that they replaced, and what it meant. Intellectually and emotionally, it's an interesting ride."

Found the following interesting too. The only monotheist cult in the show is rightly presented as promoting religious fanaticism & the show makers explicitly mention it here: