Potts, Thomas (fl.1612-1618) (DNB00)

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POTTS, THOMAS (fl. 1612–1618), author of the ‘Discoverie of Witches,’ was brought up under the care of Sir Thomas Knyvet, lord Knyvet of Escrick [q. v.] He adopted the legal profession, and resided in Chancery Lane. In 1612 he went as clerk on circuit with Sir James Altham and Sir Edward Bromley, barons of the exchequer, and officiated at the trial of the famous Lancashire witches at Lancaster on 12 Aug. At the judges' request he compiled an account of the proceedings, which Bromley corrected before publication. It appeared in the following year under the title ‘The Wonderfull Discoverie of Witches in the Countie of Lancaster,’ &c., London, 1613, 4to. In the dedication to Sir Thomas Knyvet, Potts speaks of it as the first fruit of his learning. It was reprinted by Sir Walter Scott in ‘Somers Tracts,’ 1810 (iii. 95–160), and again by the Chetham Society in 1845, with an introduction by James Crossley. Scott refers to it in his ‘Letters on Demonology and Witchcraft,’ and it furnished the groundwork of Harrison Ainsworth's ‘Lancashire Witches,’ in which Potts is a prominent character. He was subsequently granted (17 April 1618) the office of collector of forfeitures on the laws concerning sewers.

[Introd. to Chetham Soc. Publ. vol. vi.; Cal. State Papers, Dom. Ser. 1611–18, p. 535; various editions of ‘The Discoverie’ in Brit. Mus. Libr.; Hazlitt's Handbook, p. 325.]

A. F. P.