Perspectives on Male Witches in Early Modern England

  • S Morgan

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Historians agree that those accused of witchcraft during the
early modern period were predominantly women. Yet not all of those
brought before the assize courts in England were female. Approximately
twenty-five percent of those accused were men. However, they have
generally been dismissed as by-products of the witch hunts, accused only
through relationships with a woman or else as part of the mass hysteria
created by witch panics in which traditional stereotypes often broke down.
This work seeks to challenge these assumptions and ask how men found
themselves to be accused of witchcraft when there was such a strong
association with magic and women in the learned demonology of the period.
Were they just by-products of a campaign directed against women or were
they legitimate targets for accusations of witchcraft? Through an
examination of the major demonological texts of early modern England,
popular witchcraft pamphlets and records from the secular and ecclesiastical
courts of England this work argues that male witches could be independent,
legitimate targets of witchcraft accusations and that the learned
demonologists and theologians of early modern England possessed no
conceptual barrier to the idea of a male witch. It is not the aim of this thesis
to challenge the place of women within witchcraft historiography. Rather it
suggests that our current theory needs to integrate the idea of male witches
and examine how they fit within the wider context of witchcraft beliefs
during the early modern period in an effort to advance further our
understanding of the early modern English mentalities to witches and
Date of Award25 Jun 2019
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Bristol
SupervisorKenneth R G Austin (Supervisor) & Ronald E Hutton (Supervisor)

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