The Second Phase: Bristol and London 1760–79

  • Jonathan Barry
Part of the Palgrave Historical Studies in Witchcraft and Magic book series (PHSWM)


This chapter explores the revived interest in Perks as part of the upsurge in interest in the supernatural post-1760 both in London and Bristol, linked to newspaper coverage of the Cock Lane Ghost in London and the Lamb Inn witchcraft in Bristol. It explores the links of Behmenists, including Quakers and Methodists, who collected and published stories involving spirits (and manuscripts from William Law and Dionysius Freher), and how the familiar spirit in Perks and a magical tree became central to the story. Links to Hutchinsonianism, antiquarianism and the Rowley controversy are explored through George Catcott.


Cock Lane Ghost Lamb Inn witchcraft Behmenism Hutchinsonianism Chatterton methodism conjuring 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Douglas Grant, The Cock Lane Ghost (1965)Google Scholar
  2. E.J. Clery, The Rise of Supernatural Fiction 1762–1800 (Cambridge, 1995), pp. 13–32Google Scholar
  3. Paul Chambers, The Cock Lane Ghost (Stroud, 2006).Google Scholar
  4. 2.
    Sasha Handley, Visions of an Unseen World (2007) (pp. 80–107 discusses Veal)Google Scholar
  5. Owen Davies, The Haunted: A Social History of Ghosts (New York, 2007).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 3.
    BCL 20095. For Dyer see Jonathan Barry, ‘Piety and the Patient’, in Roy Porter (ed.), Patients and Practitioners (Cambridge, 1985), pp. 145–75Google Scholar
  7. Barry (ed.), The Diary of William Dyer (Bristol Record Society, 64, 2012).Google Scholar
  8. 5.
    Baxter, Certainty, pp. 155–6, retold by Thomas Frost, The Lives of the Conjurors (1870) p. 99.Google Scholar
  9. 6.
    Raphael [Robert Cross Smith], The Astrologer of the Nineteenth Century (“seventh edition” 1825), pp. 528–30.Google Scholar
  10. This is repeated in Lauron William De Laurence, Old Book of Magic (1918), p. 307 and from that in ‘Little Men with Axes: Fairies or Clever Conjuring?’ available at 050042866875.Google Scholar
  11. 8.
    His sister Mary (d. 1742) had married Charles Harford (1704–46) in 1738. Their only son was named Joseph (1741–1802) and his only son, Charles Joseph Harford of Stapleton Grove (1764–1830), no longer a Quaker, who was educated at Cambridge and Lincoln’s Inn, a J.P. and Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries, preserved the Beck family papers. Alice Harford, Annals of the Harford Family (1909).Google Scholar
  12. 9.
    Barry, Diary, p. 169; BRO 39041/1–7; C.H.B. Elliott, Winterbourne, Gloucestershire (Bath, 1970), pp. 119–20Google Scholar
  13. Madge Dresser (ed.), The Diary of Sarah Fox (Bristol Record Society, 55, 2003), pp. 8–9, 119, 136, 201.Google Scholar
  14. 11.
    Barry, Diary, pp. 73, 86–7, 98–9, 208–9; Johann Tafel, Documents Concerning the Life and Character of Emanuel Swedenborg (New York, 1847), pp. 83–4Google Scholar
  15. Christopher Walton, Notes and Materials for an Adequate Biography of the Celebrated Divine and Theosopher William Law (1861 edition), p. 507Google Scholar
  16. A.D. Selleck, Cookworthy (Plymouth, 1978), p. 96.Google Scholar
  17. 18.
    Paul Monod, Solomon’s Secret Arts (New Haven and London, 2013), p. 207.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 19.
    Charles Wesley wrote to his brother John on 28 November 1779, regarding a dispute about authority within methodism, that ‘Old Brother Dyer’ told him that he ‘heard the spirit say “Obey those who have the rule over you”’, but this probably referred to the Holy Spirit rather than an individual spirit. M.A. Smith, Raithby Hall (1859), p. 8.Google Scholar
  19. 23.
    Walton, Notes, pp. 158, 593, 602, 604, 608, 620–2, 687; Desiree Hirst, Hidden Riches (1964), pp. 237, 246, 254–5.Google Scholar
  20. On this tradition see C.D.A. Leighton, ‘William Law, Behmenism and Counter-Enlightenment’, Harvard Theological Review, 91:3 (1998), 301–20CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. B.J. Gibbons, Gender in Mystical and Occult Thought (Cambridge, 1996); id., Spirituality and the Occult (2001).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 24.
    Jonathan Barry, Methodism and the Press in Bristol 1737–1775 (Wesley Historical Society, Bristol Branch, bulletin 64, 1992), p. 9; Walton, Notes, pp. 141–2, 175–6, 595–7, 622, 685–7.Google Scholar
  23. 28.
    Michael Neve and Roy Porter, ‘Alexander Catcott: Glory and Geology’; British Journal for the History of Science, 9 (1977), 37–60CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. C.B. Wilde, ‘Hutchinsonianism, Natural Philosophy and Religious Controversy in Eighteenth-Century Britain’ History of Science, 18 (1980), 1–24CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. B.W. Young, Religion and Enlightenment in Eighteenth-Century England (New York, 1998)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. C.D.A. Leighton, ‘Hutchinsonianism’ Journal of Religious History, 23:2 (1999), 168–84CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. D.S. Katz, ‘The Occult Bible’, in James Force and Richard Popkin (eds), The Millenarian Turn (Dortrecht, 2001), pp. 119–33Google Scholar
  28. Derya Gurses, ‘The Hutchinsonian Defence of the Old Testament Trinitarian Christianity’ History of European Ideas 29 (2003), 393–409.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. 29.
    E.H.W. Meyerstein, A Life of Thomas Chatterton (1930), pp. 135–9, 150, 450–4, 477–9, 488Google Scholar
  30. Jonathan Barry, ‘Chatterton in Bristol’ Angelaki 1:2 (winter 1993/4), 55–81CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Nick Groom, ‘Fragments, Reliques and MSS’, in id. (ed.) Thomas Chatterton and Romantic Culture (Basingstoke, 1999), pp. 188–209.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. 32.
    BCL 4756; Peter Marshall, Mother Leakey and the Bishop (Oxford, 2007), pp. 252–3.Google Scholar
  33. 33.
    WB. Davis, ‘Music Therapy in Victorian England’, Music Therapy Perspectives 7 (1989), 17–22CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. H.P. Tyler, ‘Frederick Kill Harford’ Nordic Journal of Music Therapy 11:1 (2002), 39–42. Parts of his library, including manuscripts, were sold by Sotheby’s in 1899.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Jonathan Barry 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jonathan Barry
    • 1
  1. 1.University of ExeterUK

Personalised recommendations