The case of the distracted maid: healing and cursing in early Quaker history

Rosalind Johnson

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This article examines a little-known incident connected with the arrest and imprisonment of Quaker preacher Humphry Smith and two companions in Hampshire in 1658. Smith’s visit to a sick woman resulted in an accusation of cursing against him, despite the fact that she recovered. The first part of the article examines the circumstances surrounding the case, the significance of the cursing accusation to the imprisonment of the three men, and whether the woman’s recovery can be classified as a healing. The second part of the article considers how this case relates to the wider context of healing and cursing in the mid seventeenth century.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)33-47
JournalQuaker Studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2016


  • Cursing
  • Quakers
  • Mental illness
  • Hampshire
  • Healing

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