Quarter Sessions Examination Book

Southampton City Archives: SC9/3/11

f 391 (11 February) (Examination of John Primmer)

Thexaminacion of Iohn Primmer aged Twenty yeares or thereabout, sonne of Richard Primmer of Wootton in the Countie of Southampton husbandman taken before Peter Pryaulx Esquier Mayor; Edward Exton; and Nathaniell Mill Aldermen Iustices &c. the Eleaventh day of ffebruarie Anno Regni Regis Caroli Vndecimo Annoque Domini .1635./

Who saith that hee this Examinate being in the prison called the Bargate of this Towne on the third of this instant ffebruarie, committed thither by Mr Mayor: assoone as hee came into prison, Robert Keyes one of the prisoners there, began to question this Examinate, whither hee had not hear of certaine sights in the prison and that hee this Examinate annswered, that hee had heard of such thinges, wherevpon hee told this Examinate, (willing him to bee afraid) that hee should see straunge sights, and that hee the said Keyes could cause them to appeare, when hee pleased, and further told this Examinate, that yf hee had had that which hee sent for, hee would make them all rue the time that putt him into prison./ And this Examinate further saith that betweene the houres of xj. and xij. at midnight the said Keyes blew out his Candle, and spake Certaine words which this Examinate vnderstood not, and that therevpon presently appeared (as it seemed to this Examinate) five strange things in sundrye shapes, one like a bull, another in the forme of a white beare, and the other three like little puppie doggs without heads tumbling on the ground before him; whereat this Examinate being affrighted, began to rise vp where hee lay, and the said Keyes willed him not to bee afraid, for they should doe him noe harme; And that all the tyme theis Apparitions were in the prison (being about the space of a quarter of an houre) the Examinate Keyes spake certaine words to them which this Examinate vnderstood not, and that there was a greate light in the prison all that tyme; And that vpon the suddaine they all vanished away, but how this Examinate knoweth not; And further hee saith that when the thinges appeared, hee this Examinate was awaked, and in his perfect sense & remembrance; And that the said Keyes asked him the next morning whether hee were not afraid at the sights he sawe over night./.

(signed) Peter Pryaulx Mayor (signed) Nathaniell Mill (signed) Edward Exton

  • Footnotes
    • 1635: underlined in MS
    • the: for deletion
  • Endnote

    John Primmer's story of the strange sights he saw in the prison in Southampton's Bargate has been included because it may indicate that Robert Keyes was someone who performed conjuring. Primmer's story may of course be the product of his own overactive imagination, or a deliberate attempt to incriminate Keyes for some reason. Unfortunately the surviving records tell us nothing more of either man or the reasons they were imprisoned. The prison was located on the ground level of the Bargate, beneath the hall where the council met and visiting entertainers performed (Douch, Visitors' Descriptions, 6).

  • Document Description

    Record title: Quarter Sessions Examination Book
    Repository: Southampton City Archives
    Shelfmark: SC9/3/11
    Repository location: Southampton

    This manuscript contains examinations, informations, and depositions, usually given before the mayor and a small group of aldermen. The actual handling of the case was entered in the sessions books. It also records sureties to appear at the next sessions. Many entries have to do with thefts and/or violence, often involving the ships and sailors that were always in the town.

    1622–44; English, with a small amount of Latin; paper; 549 + i, catchwords occasionally used; 300mm x 193mm; modern pencil foliation; most of front cover missing; original parchment cover.

Back To Top