Thomas Darling's Voices

Thomas Darling was the second victim of possession to be exorcised by the Church of England John Darrell. In 1596, when Darrell was minister of Ashby-de-la-Zouch in Leicestershire, he was summoned to Burton to assist in the case of a 13-year-old boy called Thomas Darling, who had begun to exhibit symptoms of writhing, convulsions and colloquies with invisible devils, and had also accused an old woman named Alice Gooderidge of having bewitched him. By the time Darrell arrived on the scene, the boy had succeeded in having Alice Gooderidge committed to Derby prison, but his spectacular fits still persisted. Darrell prescribed fasting and prayer and gave some assistance, which seemed to work very effectively. This account of the voluble defeat and departure of Thomas Darling's devils is from one of the only two known copies of a narrative of Darling's possession and dispossession by his friend, Jesse Bee, both of them in Lambeth Palace Library. Compiled by Steven Connor. as part of The Dumbstruck Archive, a continuing, online supplement to Dumbstruck: A Cultural History of Ventriloquism (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000).
After a while he fell into a trance, and at length a small voice came from him saying; Brother Glassop, we cannot preuaile, his faith is so strong, and they fast and pray, and a Preacher prayeth as fast as they. After these words, he fell into a fit, and so into a trance, a voyce being heard from him (big and hollow) saying, Brother Radulphus, I will goe vnto my master Belzebub, and he shall dubble their tungs. Then beginning again to pray, hee fell into a fit, and after into a trance: afterward comming to himself, he poynted towards the chimney, saying; Low where Belzebub standeth, & the watch by him. I charge thee in ye name of the Father the Sonne and the Holy Ghost, to tell mee whether this be shee that did bewitch mee or no? Dost thou say it was shee? Now the Lord ( I beseech him) forgiue her. Further he said: I charge thee in the name of the Father the Sonne and the Holy Ghost to get thee from mee, & come no more at me: so it is written Resist the diuell, and he will fly from thee: and (at the third word) was thrown into a fit and a Traunce: wherein a voyce was heard from him (hys mouth being wide open, as still it was when these voyces were uttered) saying; Radulphus, Belzebub can doo no good, his head is broken off with a word: but I wyll goe fetch the flying Eagle and his flock. Presently after these words, he fell into another fit and a traunce: and (lying so) sayd; I see an Angell in the windowe, like a milke white Doue, sent from the Lord to bee with mee to comfort and assist us: but that is nothing in respect of the Lord himselfe.

 Then (beginning to pray againe) he fell into a fitte and a Traunce: in the which one of the old voyces was heard from him, saying; We cannot preuayle, let vs goe out of him, and enter into some of these heere. This voyce came twice, and it made the Standers by afrayde. Then (reading againe) he fell into a Traunce: and the former voyce was heard from him, speaking verie hollowly (as both those unnaturall voyces not uttered by himselfe were) and saying; I would they were all gone but one that is among them: and then wee should doo well inough.

 Then he read againe, and (being cast into a trance) one of those voyces was heard, saying; There is a Woman earnest at prayer, get her away. One in the Companie (called Iohn Alsop) aunswered alowd and sayd; Wee cannot spare her: yet did none of them all that were there know that shee was praying; till (looking back) they saw her earnestly at prayer in a corner being behynde them.

 Beginning againe to read, hee was sodainly cast into a traunce, and a voyce was heard which sayd: He shall be tormented till to morrow at night, do God & you what you can: but Sathan was prooued a liar. Recouering & reading againe, he was againe snatched into his traunce, the voyce beeing heard againe, saying; Wee cannot preuaile, wee cannot preuaile, their Church increaseth: at which time came in two to ioyne in Praier with ye Companie. After this, reading againe, he fell into a traunce, and a voyce was heard from him saying; Here commeth one of my people: with that they looked back, and were ware of a man of bad life comming into the parlor; and albeit the Boy was in his fit, yet he made signes with his hand to the Compagnie to get him away; which one of them perceiuing did so. Presently he awaked and read, and was interrupted by a trance, wherein a voyce said; Teare the booke, teare the booke: and with that (although his eyes were closed) he snatched at the Booke (which one had in his hand) and tare foorth one leafe of it: which thing also from that time till two of the clocke, he attempted in euerie of his fits....

 Betweene 8 in the morning and 2 in the afternoon, his countenance was strangely disfigured, his mouth set wide open, & sometime drawne awrie, his face turned backward, and his armes and shoulders thrust out of ioynt: in which time he had one fitt and trance, wherein a voyce sayd; We cannot preuaile, for they will not be holpen with Witches. Brother Radolphus, we cannot preuaile: let vs go to our mistres and torment her, I haue had a draught of her blood to day, Foorthwith it ceased, and straight waies he was in a trance againe, and a small voyce was heard, saying; I will stop thy mouth, I will stop thy mouth: at which instant he was so stopped in his throate, that the Companie thought he had been strangled. In another fit, a voyce said; Your prayers preuaile not, they are not heard. Whereunto M. Rampan (schoolmaster of Burton) replied; Thou art a liar Sathan, for it is written: Wheresoeuer two or three are gathered together in my Name, there am I in the middest of them, &c. About two of the clocke he had a meruailous strange fit, tormenting him most pittifully: in the end whereof he strained to cast with great vehemencie, and got up some steame and choller; at which time, if he were possessed with two spirits, (as it is probable he was) one of them went out of him. so from 2 till 4, his fits continued but decreasing in strength, and beeing without speeches....

 At last (being laid upon his bed) anone hee began to heaue and lift vehemently at his stomacke, and getting up some steame and choller (poynting his finger and following with his eyes) hee said; Looke, Looke, see you not the Mouse that is gone out of my mouth: and so poynted after it into the furthest part of the parlor. Then he fell into a quiet trance; which ended, he was well till 7. a clocke: at which time he and 2. or 3. more went to supper: and as he sate at the table he fell into a traunce, and was thence caried to bed; as he lay there, a Voice was heard, saying; My son arise up and Walke, the euill spirit is gone from thee: arise and walke. Upon this accident his keeper said; let us see if he can goe betwixt us. But he answered no, I can goe of my self, I thanke God: and so (standing on his feete) went presently forward without anie difficultie.

 Jesse Bee, The most wonderfull and true storie, of a certaine Witch named Alse Gooderidge of Stapenhill, who was arraigned and conuicted at Darbie at the Assizes there. As also a true report of the strange torments of Thomas Darling, a boy of thirteene yeres of age, that was possessed by the Deuill, with his horrible fittes and terrible Apparitions by him vttered at Burton upon Trent in the Countie of Stafford, and of his maruelous deliuerance (London: Printed for Iohn Oxenbridge, 1597), pp. 34-8