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Although familiars generally appeared in the shape of normal, domesticated beasts – such as the ‘whyte, spotted Catte’ that originally attended the Chelmsford witches – others were more exotic.A talking familiar with a head like an ape appeared at the foot of one witch’s bed in 1618.Although it took on a rather harmless-looking, even charming form, familiar spirits were believed to be the devil or agents of the same.These creatures appeared to witches and attempted to convince them to give their soul to Satan, who they often themselves embodied.

[1] This narrative comes from one of the very first witchcraft pamphlets published in England.

[5] Similarly, cats tormenting a woman appeared rather mundane until they cried out like young children.

[6] Others portrayed distinctly devilish characteristics, such as a dog with cloven feet.

For the next 170 years, witchcraft remained a state-sanctioned crime for which between 5 people were hanged, with many more formally or informally accused throughout the country.

Across the period, popular accounts of witchcraft trials were published in numerous broadsides, ballads, and pamphlets.

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