A Guide to Grand-Jury Men

A Guide to Grand-Jury Men — in full, A Guide to Grand Jury Men, Divided in two books. In the first, is the Author’s best advice to them what to do, before they bring in a Billa vera in cases of Witchcraft, with a Christian Direction to such as are too much given upon every cross to think themselves bewitched. In the Second, is a Treatise touching Witches good and bad, how they may be known, evicted, condemned, with many particulars tending thereunto was first published in 1627 and written by a puritan clergyman named Richard Bernard. The work is a collection of two dissertations on the legal aspects of witchcraft and how those participating in the trials may be deceived by deceit and counterfeited accounts but further elaborates on how many natural ills can be taken as bewitchment. Bernard gives advice on how to determine an actual account of witchcraft from that of a false accusation and even more, the signs one should seek to determine if a man is truly bewitched or suffering from a natural sickness. The dissertation was written to help reform the laws on witchcraft and also to educate the men commissioned to seek out, investigate and prosecute instances of witchcraft, and as a guide to witchfinding with a combination of scientific analysis and theological understanding that was not previously used.[1] Previously, the Justices of Peace did not always expect direct evidence, and seeing that the works of witches were works of darkness, there were often no witnesses present with them to accuse them.[2]

A Gvide to Grand-Jury Men
Richard Bernard Cover
Cover page of the second edition
AuthorRichard Bernard
LanguageMiddle English
Series2 books in one volume
GenreOccult, Religion, Philosophy, Dissertation, Legal treatise
Publication date
First Edition: 1627
Second Edition: 1629
Media typePrint

Book One

The first book covers a wide range of topics but focuses on some key points. The first is the scientific aspect to witchcraft; that strange diseases can happen to both men and animals that are neither inflicted by devils or witches.[A 1] There were many who were falsely accused of witchcraft based on their natural ailments, but it was Richard Bernard's belief that men were also able to counterfeit various claims of bewitchment for their own financial, social or political purpose[A 2] and that if the devil were involved, he could work without the consent or association of a witch. [A 3]

Book Two

The second book delves into the study of demonology and the theology of witchcraft, and works to prove through theological study what witches are real [A 4] and how a witch is said to enlist a spirit to conduct mischief and bewitch others.[A 5] Bernard explains the behavioral characteristics of an individual most likely to become a witch[A 6] and how the Devil solicits an individual and prepares them to partake in the practices of witchcraft and deceit. [A 7] Bernard felt that a person who goes to a witch, wizard, or blesser for assistance is just as guilty of witchcraft in the biblical perspective.[A 8] There are also elaborations on the following topics:

  • The sealing and confirmation of a Contract with the devil and the various kinds of individuals that may establish such a pact
  • The shapes and appearances which Satan may take
  • How a Christian may be overtaken and yielded by witchcraft
  • The differences between a good witch and a bad witch
  • The various occupations a witch may take
  • That many rituals and preparations must be made before anything can be bewitched
  • The manner and methods of examining a witch
  • The difficulties in discovering a witch and the causes of those difficulties
  • The political reasons for executing witches
  • How trials of bad witches should be conducted and rules for the persecution, conviction and condemnation of witches in the course of justice.

See also


  1. ^ Bernard, Richard. A Guide to Grand-Jury Men: In Modern English. ISBN 1542697077.
  2. ^ The Observations for the discovery of Witches. 1645.
  • Richard, Bernard. A Guide to Grand-Jury Men: In Modern English. 2017. ISBN 1542697077.
  1. ^ p. 7.
  2. ^ p. 19.
  3. ^ p. 34.
  4. ^ p. 55.
  5. ^ p. 115.
  6. ^ p. 58.
  7. ^ p. 65.
  8. ^ p. 92.

Further reading

  • King James. Daemonologie. A Critical Edition. In Modern English. 2016. ISBN 1-5329-6891-4.
Black magic

Black magic has traditionally referred to the use of supernatural powers or magic for evil and selfish purposes. With respect to the left-hand path and right-hand path dichotomy, black magic is the malicious, left-hand counterpart of the benevolent white magic. In modern times, some find that the definition of "black magic" has been convoluted by people who define magic or ritualistic practices that they disapprove of as "black magic".

Bute witches

The Bute witches were six Scottish women accused of witchcraft and interrogated in the parish of Rothesay on Bute during the Great Scottish Witch Hunt of 1661–62. The Privy Council granted a Commission of Justiciary for a local trial to be held and four of the women – believed by historians to be Margaret McLevin, Margaret McWilliam, Janet Morrison and Isobell McNicoll – were executed in 1662; a fifth may have died while incarcerated. One woman, Jonet NcNicoll, escaped from prison before she could be executed but when she returned to the island in 1673 the sentence was implemented.


Daemonologie—in full Daemonologie, In Forme of a Dialogue, Divided into three Books: By the High and Mighty Prince, James &c.—was written and published in 1597 by King James VI of Scotland (later also James I of England) as a philosophical dissertation on contemporary necromancy and the historical relationships between the various methods of divination used from ancient black magic. This included a study on demonology and the methods demons used to bother troubled men. It also touches on topics such as werewolves and vampires. It was a political yet theological statement to educate a misinformed populace on the history, practices and implications of sorcery and the reasons for persecuting a person in a Christian society accused of being a witch under the rule of canonical law. This book is believed to be one of the main sources used by William Shakespeare in the production of Macbeth. Shakespeare attributed many quotes and rituals found within the book directly to the Weird Sisters, yet also attributed the Scottish themes and settings referenced from the trials in which King James was involved.


A demon is a supernatural and often malevolent being prevalent historically in religion, occultism, literature, fiction, mythology, and folklore; as well as in media such as comics, videogames, movies and television series.

The original Greek word daimon does not carry negative connotations. The Ancient Greek word δαίμων daimōn denotes a spirit or divine power, much like the Latin genius or numen. The Greek conception of a daimōn notably appears in the works of Plato, where it describes the divine inspiration of Socrates.

In Ancient Near Eastern religions and in the Abrahamic traditions, including ancient and medieval Christian demonology, a demon is considered a harmful spiritual entity which may cause demonic possession, calling for an exorcism.

In Western occultism and Renaissance magic, which grew out of an amalgamation of Greco-Roman magic, Jewish Aggadah and Christian demonology, a demon is believed to be a spiritual entity that may be conjured and controlled.


Evocation is the act of calling upon or summoning a spirit, demon, deity or other supernatural agent, in the Western mystery tradition. Comparable practices exist in many religions and magical traditions and may employ the use of mind-altering substances with and without uttered word formulas.

Great Scottish Witch Hunt of 1597

The Great Scottish Witch Hunt of 1597 was a series of nationwide witch trials that took place in the whole of Scotland from March to October 1597. At least 400 people were put on trial for witchcraft and various forms of diabolism during the witch hunt. The exact number of those executed is unknown, but is believed to be about 200. The Great Scottish Witch Hunt of 1597 was the second of five nationwide witch hunts in Scottish history, the others being The Great Scottish Witch Hunt of 1590–91, The Great Scottish Witch Hunt of 1628–1631, The Great Scottish witch hunt of 1649–50 and The Great Scottish Witch Hunt of 1661–62.

Kirkjuból witch trial

The Kirkjuból witch trial was a witch trial that took place in Kirkjuból in 1656, in what is today Ísafjörður, in Iceland. It is the most famous witch trial in Iceland.

Martha Brossier

Martha Brossier (1556- d. after 1578) was a French woman, infamous for feigning demonic possession at the age of 22. The fraud was discovered by Charles Miron, bishop of either the Diocese of Angers or the Diocese of Orléans. According to Augustin Calmet, Martha, the daughter of a weaver in Romorantin, claimed to have been demonically possessed, drawing considerable notoriety. Her case of demonic possession is often cited by theological historians along with the Loudun possessions because both cases consist of notorious accounts of apparent demonic possession which are now presumed to have been fraudulent.

Pittenweem witches

The Pittenweem witches were five Scottish women accused of witchcraft in the small fishing village of Pittenweem in Fife on the east coast of Scotland in 1704. Another two women and a man were named as accomplices. Accusations made by a teenage boy, Patrick Morton, against a local woman, Beatrix Layng, led to the death in prison of Thomas Brown, and, in January 1705, the murder of Janet Cornfoot by a lynch mob in the village.

Cornfoot's murder was investigated by members of the aristocracy appointed by the Privy Council two weeks after the killing. Subsequently, four men were held in custody and charges were to be brought against the burgh bailie. The release of the four accused men was authorised by Patrick Cowper, the local minister, who had been involved with the initial witchcraft allegations and the torture and confinement of the alleged witches. Despite instructions from the Privy Council that another committee should look into the events, no suspects were ever prosecuted for the murder.

Two of the accused women, Layng and Nicholas Lawson, were imprisoned again in 1708–1709 after charges of witchcraft were levelled against them by Cowper and another local minister. They were released in April 1709 and pardoned after Queen Anne issued an Act of Indemnity. Another of the accused women, Janet Horseburgh, sued the bailies responsible for her incarceration; she received an apology and monetary recompense.

Richard Bernard

Richard Bernard (1568–1641) was an English Puritan clergyman and writer.

Summis desiderantes affectibus

Summis desiderantes affectibus (Latin for "Desiring with supreme ardor"), sometimes abbreviated to Summis desiderantes was a papal bull regarding witchcraft issued by Pope Innocent VIII on 5 December 1484.

White magic

White magic has traditionally referred to the use of supernatural powers or magic for selfless purposes. Practitioners of white magic have been given titles such as; wise men or women, healers, white witches or wizards. Many of these people claimed to have the ability to do such things because of knowledge or power that was passed on to them through hereditary lines, or by some event later in their lives. White magic was practiced through: healing, blessing, charms, incantations, prayers, and songs. (manipulation of the world and its events). With respect to the philosophy of left-hand path and right-hand path, white magic is the benevolent counterpart of malicious black magic. The eternal dualism of night and day may compromise the totality of its sphere of action. Because of its ties to traditional Paganism (nature worship), white magic is often also referred to as "natural magic".

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