An Exorcism in Elizabethan London
Jessie Childs recounts the chilling story of an exorcism performed in an Elizabethan household in Hackney.
On New Year’s Day 1586 an English Catholic priest decided that ‘all was not well’ with a young female servant in the Hackney household of Lord Vaux. So he tied her to a chair, gave her a ‘hallowed drink’ that made her vomit and forced her to inhale burning brimstone until her face was as black as a chimney sweep’s. For more than ten hours, Sara Williams, who was in her mid-teens, was exorcised of the demon that was presumed to have possessed her. ‘It was,’ wrote an eyewitness: