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Demonology and Witchcraft - "Less we forget"

Richard Baxter

Written and compiled by George Knowles

Richard Baxter was a prominent Puritan church leader, poet, hymnodist, theologian, and controversialist who influenced 17th century English Protestantism.  Known as a peacemaker he sought unity among the clashing Protestant denominations, and was at the centre of nearly every major controversy in England during his time.  He was the author of some 200 works covering some of the most controversial church subjects of his time including Witchcraft.

Baxter was born on the 12th November 1615 at the house of his maternal grandfather in a small village called Rowton, Shropshire.  He was later baptised in the local parish church at High Ercall.  In February of 1626 his parents’ returned with him to there own home (now called Baxter’s House) located in Eaton Constantine, Shropshire.

Baxter’s House as it still stands today

Baxter’s early education was poor, provided mainly by the local clergy who themselves were virtually illiterate.  He was helped by John Owen, a master of a nearby free school at Wroxeter, where he studied from 1629 to 1632, during which he showed a growing propensity for languages.  On Owen’s advice he did not go to Oxford (which he afterwards regretted), but instead went to Ludlow Castle and studied with Richard Wickstead, chaplain to the Council of Wales and the Marches.

Under the patronage of Sir Henry Herbert, the then Master of the Revels, Baxter worked for a short time at his court in London, but soon returned home to care for his mother who was seriously ill.  After the death of his mother, which deeply affected him, he resolved to change his studies to theology and divinity.  In the meantime he worked with his old tutor John Owen as a teacher at the free school in Wroxeter, while at the same time studying theology with Francis Garbet, a local clergyman.  In about 1634, he met Joseph Symonds and Walter Cradock, two Nonconformists who sowed the seeds of his early doubts regarding current Church of England episcopacy, doubts that would characterise the rest of his life causing conflict and persecution.

In 1638 Baxter received ordination into the Church of England from John Thornborough, the Bishop of Worcester, and was made master of the free grammar school at Dudley, in Worcestershire, where he commenced his initial ministry.  His success as a preacher was at first small; but he was soon transferred to Bridgnorth, in Shropshire, where as an assistant to a Mr Madstard, he established a reputation for vigorously discharging the duties of his office.

Baxter remained at Bridgnorth for nearly two years, during which time he took a special interest in the controversy relating to church nonconformity.  He soon became alienated from the Church on several matters; and after the requirement of the “et cetera oath”; he rejected episcopacy in its English form.  He became a moderate nonconformist; and continued as such throughout his life.  Though he was regarded as a Presbyterian, he was not exclusively tied to Presbyterianism, and often seemed prepared to accept a modified Episcopalianism.  He regarded all forms of church government as subservient to the true purposes of religion.

One of the first measures of the Long Parliament (first summoned in November 1640 by King Charles I) was to reform the church’s clergy; to which a committee was appointed to receive complaints against them.  Among the complainants were the clergy of St Mary and All Saints’ Church in Kidderminster, Worcestershire.  The then vicar George Dance agreed that he would give £60 a year, out of his own income of £200, to a preacher chosen by the church trustees.  Baxter was invited to deliver a sermon before the people, and was unanimously elected as the new church minister. 

During his ministry at Kidderminster (1641–60) he accomplished many reforms turning the town and local neighbourhoods into a model parish.  The Church he preached at was enlarged to accommodate the crowds that he drew, and he formed the ministers in neighbouring churches into an association, uniting them irrespective of differences such as Presbyterians, Episcopalians or Independents.  Pastoral counselling was as important to him as preaching, and his parish program came to serve as a pattern followed by many other Church of England ministers.  His book “The Reformed Pastor - 1657” was published to promote his general ministerial efforts.

The Reformed Pastor

The outbreak of the First English Civil War (1642-51), began a series of three civil war armed conflicts and political machinations that took place between the Parliamentarians (aka the Roundheads) and the Royalists (aka the Cavaliers) from 1642 until 1651, (the Roundheads were supporters of the Parliament of England, also known as Parliamentarians, they fought against King Charles I of England and his supporters, known as the Royalists or Cavaliers.  The Royalists claimed rule by absolute monarchy and the principle of the “Divine right of Kings”.  The goal of the Roundhead party was to give Parliament supreme control over the executive administration of the country/kingdom.

Baxter blamed both parties and recommended protesting by becoming a nonconformist; but Worcestershire at the time was in a Royalist stronghold, and his views exposed him to danger in Kidderminster.  He temporarily retired to Gloucester, and then moved to Coventry (a Parliamentary stronghold).  There each Sunday he officiated as chaplain to the garrison, preaching a sermon each to of the soldiers, the townspeople and to strangers.  After the Battle of Naseby during which he met with and preached to Oliver Cromwell, he took the position of chaplain to Colonel Edward Whalley’s parliamentary regiment, and continued to hold it till February 1647.  During those stormy years he wrote his “Aphorisms of Justification”, which on its appearance in 1649 excited great controversy.  Of numerous critics the one with whom Baxter engaged most closely was Christopher Cartwright.

A believer in limited monarchy, Baxter attempted to play down his nonconformist views during the English Civil Wars particularly while serving as a chaplain in the parliamentary army.  Later he was summoned to London to assist in settling “the fundamentals of religion”.  In 1647, Baxter was staying at the home of Lady Rouse, wife of Sir Thomas Rouse, 1st Baronet of Rous Lench in Worcestershire.  There while debilitated by illness, he wrote most of his major work “The Saints' Everlasting Rest” (1650).  He was also an energetic campaigner for the establishment of a new University in Shrewsbury, but lack of funding prevented its success.

On his recovery Baxter returned to Kidderminster where he became a prominent political leader, but his sensitive conscience led him into conflict with most all the contending parties of Church and State.  An all-day debate on 01st January 1650 with John Tombes, a prominent Presbyterian with Baptist views at Bewdley, the small town and civil parish where Baxter preached in Worcestershire, was attended by about 1500 people on each side and ended in confused disorder.

After the Restoration of the King in 1660, Baxter, who had helped to bring about the event settled in London.  He preached there until the Act of Uniformity 1662 took effect.  He looked for such terms of comprehension as would have permitted the moderate dissenters, with whom he had acted, to remain in the Church of England, but in that respect he was sadly disappointed.  The goal of comprehension was obstructed by forces on both sides, that of conforming churchmen and dissenters alike.  The Savoy Conference resulted in Baxter’s writing the “Reformed Liturgy”, though it was cast aside without consideration.  Baxter continued to advocate for a comprehensive “National Church” until his death.

Baxter soon gained the same reputation in London that he had obtained in the country.  The power of his preaching was universally felt, and his capacity for business placed him at the head of his party.  He had been made a King’s chaplain, and was offered the Bishopric of Hereford, but he could not accept the offer without assenting to things as they were.  After his refusal, he was not allowed, even before the passing of the Act of Uniformity, to be a curate in Kidderminster, and Bishop George Morley prohibited him from preaching in the Diocese of Worcester.

On 10 September 1662, Baxter married Margaret Charlton, a woman like-minded with himself.  She died in 1681 and Baxter wrote the words for the hymn “Ye Holy Angels Bright” in that year to honour her.

From 1662 until the indulgence of 1687, Baxter’s life was a constant battle against persecution of one kind or another.  He had retired to Acton in Middlesex, for the purpose of quiet study, but was placed in prison for keeping a conventicle. (A conventicle is a small, unofficial and unofficiated religious meeting of laypeople.) Baxter procured a habeas corpus in the court of common pleas, but was later taken up for preaching in London after the King recalled his licence granted in 1672.  The meetinghouse he had built for himself in Oxendon Street was also closed to him, he having only preached there once.

In 1680, he was taken from his house; and though he was released so that he might die at home, all his books and goods were seized.  In 1684, he was taken three times to the session house, where being scarcely able to stand, and without any apparent cause, he was made to enter into a bond for £400 in security for his good behaviour.

His worst encounter however was with the Chief Justice, Sir George Jeffreys, in May 1685.  He had been committed to the King’s Bench Prison on the charge of libelling the Church in his work “Paraphrase on the New Testament”, and was tried before Jeffreys for the accusation.  No authoritative report of the trial exists; but if the partisan account on which tradition is based is accepted, Jeffreys was infuriated.  Baxter was sentenced to pay 500 marks, to lie in prison until the money was paid, and to be bound to his good behaviour for seven years.  Jeffreys is even said to have proposed he should be whipped behind a cart.  Baxter was now approaching 70 years old, and remained in prison for 18 months, until the government, hoping to win his influence, remitted the fine and released him.

By this time Baxter’s health had grown even worse, yet this was the period of his greatest activity as a writer.  He was a prolific author of some 200 or so separate works, including major treatises such as the:  “Christian Directory”, the “Methodus Theologiae Christianae”, and the “Catholic Theology”.  He also wrote about Witchcraft with his “Certainty of the Worlds of Spirits:  Apparitions and Witchcraft”.  His autobiographical Reliquiae Baxterianae, or Mr. Richard Baxter’s Narrative of the Most Memorable Passages of His Life and Times (1696) is still of interest for it gives an account of his inner spiritual struggles.  A slim devotional work published in 1658 under the title “Call to the Unconverted to Turn and Live” formed one of the core extra-biblical texts of evangelicalism until at least the middle of the 19th century.

Certainty of the Worlds of Spirits

The remainder of Baxter’s life from 1687 seems to have passed peacefully.  He died in London on the 08th December 1691 and churchmen as well as dissenters alike attended his funeral.


A Monument to Richard Baxter at St Mary and All Saints' Church in Kidderminster.




Written and compiled on the 17th May 2020  ©  George Knowles



Best wishes and Blessed Be



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Traditional Writings:


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Correspondence Tables:


IncenseCandlesColours Magickal Days Stones and Gems Elements and Elementals




Traditions Part 1  -  Alexandrian Wicca /  Aquarian Tabernacle Church (ATC) /  Ár Ndraíocht Féin (ADF) /  Blue Star Wicca /  British Traditional (Druidic Witchcraft) /  Celtic Wicca /  Ceremonial Magic /  Chaos Magic /  Church and School of Wicca /  Circle Sanctuary /  Covenant of the Goddess (COG) /  Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans (CUUPS) /  Cyber Wicca /  Dianic Wicca /  Eclectic Wicca /  Feri Wicca /


Traditions Part 2 Gardnerian Wicca /  Georgian Tradition /  Henge of Keltria /  Hereditary Witchcraft /  Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn (H.O.G.D.) /  Kitchen Witch (Hedge Witch) /  Minoan Brotherhood and Minoan Sisterhood Tradition /  Nordic Paganism /  Pagan Federation /  Pectic-Wita /  Seax-Wica /  Shamanism /  Solitary /  Strega /  Sylvan Tradition /  Vodoun or Voodoo /  Witches League of Public Awareness (WLPA) /


Other things of interest:


Gods and Goddesses (Greek Mythology) /  Esbats & Full Moons Links to Personal Friends & Resources Wicca/Witchcraft Resources What's a spell? Circle Casting and Sacred Space  Pentagram - Pentacle Marks of a Witch The Witches Power The Witches Hat An esoteric guide to visiting London SatanismPow-wowThe Unitarian Universalist Association /  Numerology:  Part 1  Part 2  /  Part 3A history of the Malleus Maleficarum:  includes:  Pope Innocent VIII  /  The papal Bull  /   The Malleus Maleficarum  /  An extract from the Malleus Maleficarum  /  The letter of approbation  /  Johann Nider’s Formicarius  /  Jacob Sprenger  /  Heinrich Kramer  /  Stefano Infessura  /  Montague Summers  /  The Waldenses  /  The Albigenses  /  The Hussites /  The Native American Sun DanceShielding (Occult and Psychic Protection)  The History of ThanksgivingAuras  - Part 1 and Part 2 Doreen Valiente Witch” (A Book Review) /  Max Ehrmann and the "Desiderata" /    


Sabbats and Festivals:


The Sabbats in History and Mythology /  Samhain (October 31st)  /  Yule (December 21st)  /  Imbolc (February 2nd)  /  Ostara (March 21st)  /  Beltane (April 30th)  /  Litha (June 21st)  /  Lammas/Lughnasadh (August 1st)  /  Mabon (September 21st)


Rituals contributed by Crone:


Samhain / Yule Imbolc Ostara /  Beltane Litha Lammas Mabon




Tools of a Witch  /  The Besom (Broom) /  Poppets and DollsPendulums / Cauldron Magick Mirror Gazing




Animals in Witchcraft (The Witches Familiar and Totem Animals) /  AntelopeBatsCrow Fox Frog and Toads Goat / HoneybeeKangarooLion OwlPhoenix Rabbits and HaresRaven Robin RedbreastSheep Spider SquirrelSwansUnicornWild Boar Wolf /  Serpent /  Pig /  Stag /  Horse /  Mouse /  Cat /  Rats /  Unicorn




In Worship of Trees - Myths, Lore and the Celtic Tree Calendar.  For descriptions and correspondences of the thirteen sacred trees of Wicca/Witchcraft see the following:  Birch /  Rowan / Ash /  Alder /  Willow Hawthorn /  Oak /  Holly /  Hazel /  Vine /  Ivy /  Reed /  Elder


Sacred Sites:


Mystical Sacred Sites  -  Stonehenge /  Glastonbury Tor /  Malta - The Hypogeum of Hal Saflieni /  Avebury /  Cerne Abbas - The Chalk Giant /  Ireland - Newgrange /


Rocks and Stones:


Stones - History, Myths and Lore


Articles contributed by Patricia Jean Martin:


Apophyllite  / Amber Amethyst Aquamarine Aragonite Aventurine Black Tourmaline Bloodstone Calcite Carnelian Celestite Citrine Chrysanthemum StoneDiamond  /  Emerald / Fluorite Garnet /  Hematite Herkimer Diamond Labradorite Lapis Lazuli Malachite Moonstone Obsidian Opal Pyrite Quartz (Rock Crystal) Rose Quartz Ruby Selenite Seraphinite  /  Silver and GoldSmoky QuartzSodalite Sunstone ThundereggTree AgateZebra Marble


Wisdom and Inspiration:


Knowledge vs Wisdom by Ardriana Cahill I Talk to the TreesAwakening The Witch in YouA Tale of the Woods I have a Dream by Martin Luther King /


Articles and Stories about Witchcraft:


Murdered by Witchcraft The Fairy Witch of Clonmel A Battleship, U-boat, and a Witch The Troll-Tear (A story for Children) /  Goody Hawkins - The Wise Goodwife /  The Story of Jack-O-Lantern The Murder of the Hammersmith Ghost Josephine Gray (The Infamous Black Widow) /  The Two Brothers - Light and Dark


Old Masters of Academia:

(Our Ancestors)


Pliny the ElderHesiodPythagorasParacelsus /  Abramelin the Mage Archimedes AgrippaSocrates  /  AristotleAlbertus Magnus - “Albert the Great” /  



A "Who's Who" of Witches, Pagans and other associated People

(Ancient, Past and Present)


Remembered at Samhain

(Departed Pagan Pioneers, Founders, Elders and Others)


Pagan Pioneers:  Founders, Elders, Leaders and Others


Aidan A KellyAleister Crowley - “The Great Beast” /  Alex Sanders - “King of the Witches” /  Alison Harlow /   Allan Bennett - the Ven. Ananda MetteyyaAllan Kardec (Spiritism) /  Alphonsus de SpinaAmber KAnn Moura /  Anna FranklinAnodea JudithAnton Praetorius /  Anton Szandor LaVey /  Arnold CrowtherArthur Edward Waite /  Austin Osman SpareBalthasar Bekker /  Biddy EarlyBarbara Vickers /  Bridget Cleary - The Fairy Witch of Clonmel /  Carl " Llewellyn" Weschcke Cecil Hugh WilliamsonCharles Godfrey Leland /   Charles WaltonChristopher PenczakChristina Oakley Harrington Cornelius Loos /  Damh the Bard - "Dave Smith" /  Dion Fortune /  Dolores Aschroft-NowickiDonald Michael Kraig Doreen ValienteDorothy MorrisonDr. John Dee & Edward Kelly /  Dr. Leo Louis Martello /  Edain McCoy /  Edward FitchEleanor Ray Bone - “Matriarch of British Witchcraft” Eliphas Levi /  Ernest Thompson Seton /  Ernest Westlake /  Fiona Horne /   Frederick McLaren Adams - Feraferia Friedrich von Spee /  Francis Barrett /  Gavin and Yvonne Frost and the School and Church of Wicca /  Gerald B. Gardner - The father of contemporary Witchcraft /  Gwydion Pendderwen Hans HolzerHelen DuncanHermann Löher /  Herman Slater - Horrible Herman /  Heinrich Kramer and the Malleus MaleficarumIdries ShahIsaac Bonewits Israel RegardieIvo Domínguez Jr. /  Jack Whiteside Parsons - Rocket Science and Magick /  James "Cunning" Murrell - The Master of Witches /  James Sprenger and the Malleus Maleficarum” /  Janet Farrar and Gavin BoneJean Bodin Jessie Wicker Bell - “Lady Sheba” / Johann Weyer  / Johannes Junius - "The Burgomaster of Bamberg" /   Johann Georg Fuchs von Dornheim  -  the “Hexenbrenner” (witch burner) /  John Belham-Payne John George Hohman - "Pow-wow" /  John Gerard /  John Gordon Hargrave and the Kibbo Kith Kindred /  John Michael Greer /  John Score /  Joseph “Bearwalker” Wilson /  Joseph John Campbell /  Karl von Eckartshausen Lady Gwen Thompson - and "The Rede of the Wiccae" /  Lambert Daneau /  Laurie Cabot  - "the Official Witch of Salem" /  Lewis SpenceLodovico Maria Sinistrari Ludwig LavaterMadeline Montalban and the Order of the Morning Star /  Margaret Alice MurrayMargot AdlerMichael Howard and the UK "Cauldron Magazine" /  Margaret St. Clair - the “Sign of the Labrys” /  Marie Laveau - " the Voodoo Queen of New Orleans" /  Marion WeinsteinMartin Antoine Del Rio Matthew Hopkins - “The Witch-Finder General” /  Michael A. Aquino - and The Temple of Set /  Monique WilsonMontague Summers /  Nicholas CulpeperNicholas RemyM. R. SellarsMrs. Maud Grieve - "A Modern Herbal" /  Oberon Zell-Ravenheart and Morning GloryOld Dorothy Clutterbuck /  Old George PickingillOlivia Durdin-Robertson - co-founder of the Fellowship of Isis /  Paddy SladePamela Colman-SmithPatricia CrowtherPatricia Monaghan /  Patricia “Trish” TelescoPaul Foster Case and the “Builders of the Adytum” mystery school /  Peter Binsfeld /  Philip HeseltonRaven GrimassiRaymond Buckland /  Reginald Scot /  Richard BaxterRobert CochraneRobert ‘von Ranke’ Graves and the "The White Goddess" /  Rosaleen Norton - “The Witch of Kings Cross” /  Rossell Hope Robbins /   Ross Nichols and the " Order of Bards, Ovates & Druids" (OBOD) /  Rudolf SteinerSabrina Underwood - "The Ink Witch" /  Scott CunninghamSelena Fox - founder of "Circle Sanctuary" /  Silver RavenwolfSir Francis Dashwood /  Sir James George Frazer and the " The Golden Bough"S.L. MacGregor Mathers and the “Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn” /  Starhawk /  Stewart Farrar /  Sybil LeekTed Andrews The Mather Family - (includes:  Richard Mather, Increase Mather and Cotton Mather ) /   Thomas AdyT. Thorn CoyleVera ChapmanVictor & Cora Anderson and the " Feri Tradition" /  Vivianne CrowleyWalter Brown GibsonWalter Ernest ButlerWilliam Butler YeatsZsuzsanna Budapest /  



Many of the above biographies are briefs and far from complete.  If you know about any of these individuals and can help with additional information, please contact me privately at my email address below.  Many thanks for reading  :-)



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