Lamb, John (d. 1628)
Lamb was a noted astrologer and reputed sorcerer in the
time of Charles I. In Certainty of the World of Spirits (1691), Richard
Baxter recorded an apocryphal account in which Lamb met
two acquaintances who wished to witness some examples of his
skill. He invited them home with him, conducted them into an
inner room, then, to their great surprise, they saw a tree spring
up in the middle of Lamb’s apartment. A moment later three
diminutive men appeared with axes in their hands to cut down
this tree. After the tree was felled, the doctor dismissed his
That night a tremendous hurricane arose, causing the house
of one of the guests to rock from side to side, with every appearance
that the building would come down and bury him and his
wife in the ruins. The wife in great terror asked, ‘‘Were you not
at Dr. Lamb’s to-day’’ The husband confessed the truth. ‘‘And
did you not bring something away from his house’’ The husband
admitted that, when the little men felled the tree, he had
picked up some of the chips and put them in his pocket. As
soon as he obtained the chips, and got rid of them, the whirlwind
immediately ceased, and the remainder of the night
passed quietly.
Originally a physician, Lamb became known for practicing
‘‘other mysteries, as telling fortunes, helping of divers to lost
goods, showing to young people the faces of their husbands or
wives that should be in a crystal glass.’’ It is possible that popular
resentment against Lamb was due less to the success of his
magical practices than his position as a favorite of the duke of
Buckingham. It was generally believed that Lamb used magic
charms to corrupt women to serve the pleasure of the duke.
Lamb eventually was so hated for his infernal practices that
a mob tore him to pieces in the street. Then, 13 years later, a
woman who had worked as a maid in Lamb’s house was charged
with witchcraft, tried, and executed at Tyburn.
A broadside ballad by Martin Parker titled ‘‘The Tragedy of
Doctor Lambe, the great supposed conjurer, who was wounded
to death by saylers and other lads, on Friday the 14 of June,
1628. And dyed in the Poultry Counter, neere cheap-side, on
the Saturday morning following’’ was sold and sung in the
streets. The ballad contains two mistakes, as Lamb was mobbed
on June 13 and died the following day

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