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Lamb, John (d. 1628)

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 guests.

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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Lamb, John

John Lamb, 1735–1800, American Revolutionary leader, b. New York City. Prior to the Revolution he was a leader of the Sons of Liberty in New York and helped form the New York committee of correspondence to coordinate anti-British activity. With Isaac Sears he led (1775) a mob that seized the New York customhouse and another that captured the British arms at Turtle Bay in Manhattan. Lamb served in the Quebec campaign and in later battles. In 1784, he became collector of customs in New York City. Later he was one of the leaders of the opposition to the U.S. Constitution in New York.

See I. Q. Leake, Memoir of the Life and Times of General John Lamb (1850, repr. 1971).

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