Wallington followed the activities of Matthew Hopkins, Witchfinder General, in Manningtree. In 1645, Hopkins unearthed a supposed coven of local witches and obtained confessions under torture. Nineteen women were hanged as a result; another four died in prison. These events are recorded in Wallington's diary.
The diaries are also witness to Wallington's own religious anxieties. He was a Puritan, but suffered doubts about his salvation (to the point that he once attempted suicide). These journals were intended as a record of his sins and God's mercies: the volume containing the witch trials is entitled 'Great marcys [mercies] continued, or yet God is good to Israel'. This recording of both personal and public is what makes diaries such a rich historical source.
Mannington's diary is now at Tatton Hall Mansion - but no journey is required to see the volume describing the witch trials. John Rylands Library, funded by JISC, have digitised it: this account of the Witchfinder General's activities, in a contemporary's own words and handwriting, can now be read here.
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