The Ranters Monster.
From a pamphlet written in 1652 called 'The Ranters' Monster' we hear about poor Mary Adams of Tillingham in Essex. She came from a good religious home but unfortunately became rebellious and first joined the Anabaptists and then the Ranters. The Ranters (not to be confused with the later Primitive Methodists) emerged in the 1640s as a free-thinking sect that believed that God created the entire world, good and bad, and so there was no Devil or Hell. They did not believe in the literal truth of the bible, or the life after death, or the promise of heaven. and therefore felt that one should enjoy ones life in this world. They smoked pot (the Spanish Tobacco), danced, whistled, and sang light-hearted songs. The full ferocity of public opinion descended on them to the extent that we know little about the Ranters other than the severe 'negative spin' (downright lies) printed about them by their opponents.
It is said that Mary became besotted by the activities of the Ranters, who according to their detractors believed "that woman was made to be a helper for man and that it was no sin to lay with any man whether batchelor, widower or married " and so engaged in some Seventeenth century 'free-love', becoming pregnant in consequence.
According to the pamplet, she declared that 'she was the Virgin Mary and that she was conceived with child by the Holy Ghost and how all the gospel that had been taught heretofore was false and that which was within her was the true messiah'. Her minister, Mr Hadley, had the poor girl locked up, and after eight days of a most difficult labour she gave birth to a monster. "It had neither hands nor feet but claws like a toad in the place where the hands should have been and every part was odious to behold."
God then had an unpleasant revenge on poor Mary for her blasphemy as "She rotted and was consumed as she lay, being from head to foot as full of blotches, blains, boils and stinking scabs as ever one could stand by another"