Pyewacket (familiar spirit)

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For other uses, see Pyewacket (disambiguation).

Pyewacket was one of the familiar spirits of a witch detected by the "witchfinder general" Matthew Hopkins in March 1644 in the town of Manningtree, Essex, England. Hopkins claimed he spied on the witches as they held their meeting close by his house, and heard them mention the name of a local woman. She was arrested and deprived of sleep for four nights, at the end of which she confessed and called out the names of her familiars, describing the forms in which they should appear. They were:

  • Holt, "who came in like a white kittling"
  • Jarmara, "who came in like a fat Spaniel without any legs at all"
  • Vinegar Tom, "who was like a long-legg'd greyhound, with a head like an Oxe"
  • Sacke and Sugar, "like a black Rabbet"
  • Newes, "like a Polecat"
  • Elemanzer, Pyewacket, Peck in the Crown, Grizzel, Greedigut, described as imps

Hopkins claims he and nine other witnesses saw the first five of these, which appeared in the forms described by the witch. Only the first of these was in the form of a cat; the next two were dogs, and the others were a black rabbit and a polecat – so Pyewacket was, presumably, not a cat's name. As for the other familiars, Hopkins says only that they were such that "no mortall could invent." The incident is described in Hopkins's pamphlet "The Discovery of Witches" (1647).

In the Hollywood film Bell, Book and Candle (1958) Pyewacket is the name of the Siamese cat/familiar of Gillian Holroyd (Kim Novak). In the 1967 children's novel Pyewacket the title character and protagonist is an alley cat. In the 2008 computer game A Vampyre Story Pyewacket is the name of the familiar of the (missing, presumed dead) sorceress that used to own the castle where the game begins. She is also a Siamese cat.

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