Hopkins, Matthew


Hopkins, Matthew
(d. 1647)
   Notorious for having instigated England's only large-scale witch-hunt, in East Anglia in 1645/6, in which nearly 250 people were tried or investigated; court records being incomplete, the actual number executed is unknown, but 100 seems a reasonable minimum. Hopkins belonged to the minor Puritan gentry, being the son of a Suffolk minister and himself a lawyer; he called himself the 'Witch-Finder General', and at first was well supported by the local communities. He and his associate John Stearne claimed expertise in identifying witches; suspects were stripped and their bodies examined for marks where familiars sucked, and then kept awake, still naked and tied in uncomfortable positions, till they confessed. This came close to torture, which was illegal; when circuit judges from London next visited Essex, the activities of Hopkins and Stearne were terminated. After a blistering attack from a clergyman, John Gaule, both men wrote booklets defending their work: Hopkins, The Discovery of Witches (1647), and Stearne, A Confirmation and Discovery of Witchcraft (1648). Hopkins died in 1647, probably of tuberculosis; legend alleged that he had himself been suspected of witchcraft and made to undergo the swimming test, but there is no evidence to support this.
   His reputation was maintained in popular memory. In the 1930s, Gerald Gardner was given a rod topped with a cross, carved with the name 'Matthew Hopkins', and labelled 'Matthew Hopkins's sceptre or tutti-stick, used by him in his travels in the South of England finding and exposing witches. Circa 1790'. Likewise, a box containing various dried leaves, twigs, scraps of skin and bone with magical signs on, a doll's head pierced with a pin, a human finger bone, a lead six-pointed star, and a parchment reading: 'Matthew Hopkins's talisman against alle witches craft.' A label on the box itself reads: 'This talisman, made and sold by Matthew Hopkins about 1790, was given to me by my father, Joseph Carter, of Home Farm, Hill Top, near Marlborough, and contains the finger etc. of Mary Holt, a notorious Wiltshire witch. Signed S.
   Carter' (G. B. Gardner, Folk-Lore 50 (1939), 18890, with illustrations). The date is obviously wrong; perhaps these objects were bought in 1790 from a Wiltshire cunning man, who was claiming either to have inherited them from Hopkins or to be following a Hopkins recipe.
   ■ There are references to Hopkins in all books on English witchcraft, the fullest analysis being in Sharpe, 1996: 128-47; see also Deacon, 1976.

A Dictionary of English folklore. . 2014.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Hopkins, Matthew — ▪ English witch hunter born , Wenham, Suffolk, Eng. died Aug. 12, 1647       English witch hunter during a witchcraft craze of the English Civil Wars.       Little is known of Hopkins before 1644, but apparently he had been a lawyer, practicing… …   Universalium

  • Matthew Hopkins — Witchfinder General redirects here. For other uses, see Witchfinder General (disambiguation). Frontispiece from Matthew Hopkins The Discovery of Witches (1647), showing witches identifying their familiar spirits Matthew Hopkins (c. 1620 – 12… …   Wikipedia

  • Matthew Hopkins — Dos brujas muestran sus espíritus familiares a Matthew Hopkins. Matthew Hopkins (c. 1620 – 1647) fue un cazador de brujas inglés, cuya actividad se desarrolló principalmente en tiempos de la Guerra Civil Inglesa. Tenía, o decía tener, el cargo de …   Wikipedia Español

  • Matthew Hopkins in popular culture — Matthew Hopkins (ca. 1620–1647) was an English witchhunter whose career flourished during the time of the English Civil War. Between 1644 and 1645, Hopkins and his associates were responsible for the deaths of more accused witches than had been… …   Wikipedia

  • Matthew Hay — Professor Matthew Hay ... assailed by the furies of typhoid, measles, influenza, whooping cough and scarlet fever …   Wikipedia

  • Matthew Puckett — Website Matthew Puckett Matthew Puckett is an American composer, songwriter, and music producer. He is best known for his song Everything I Want , the theme song to ABC s critically acclaimed mini series Boston Med. Puckett also wrote the song So …   Wikipedia

  • Hopkins (Name) — Hopkins ist ein Familienname und ein Vorname aus dem angelsächsischen Sprachbereich. Bekannte Namensträger des Familiennamens Inhaltsverzeichnis A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Hopkins — is an English and Irish patronymic surname meaning son of Hob . Hob derives from a short form of Robert. The name is also common in Ireland, where it may be an Anglicisation of the Gaelic name Mac Oibicin , of uncertain derivation. Hopkins is an… …   Wikipedia

  • Matthew Levitt — is an American expert on Islamist terrorism. Levitt is a senior fellow and director of the Stein Program on Counterterrorism and Intelligence at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and professorial lecturer in International Relations… …   Wikipedia

  • Matthew Walker, Sr. — Matthew Walker, Sr., (December 7, 1906 July 15, 1978) was an African American physician and surgeon. He was one of the first African Americans to become a fellow of the American College of Surgeons.[1] He was one of the most prominent Black… …   Wikipedia