Eleanor Audley Davies [Douglas]
A “Digger” Follower of Gerrard Winstanley
Although the daughter of a baron (George Touchet, later earl of Castlehaven) and wife of two statesmen (Sir John Davies and Sir Archibald Douglas), Lady Eleanor (1590–1652) experienced the literal restraints on woman's public speech endemic in her culture, enduring imprisonments, the public burning of her works, and alienation from her husbands. An idiosyncratic mid-century prophet, she was of her time in her tendency to prophesy and in her elaborate wordplay. A member of no sect, she identified herself with the prophet Daniel, composing an anagram on her name: “Reveale O Daniel” (see below). Her elliptic, occasionally incoherent writings ranged over religious and political matters, while her unpopular, outspoken sentiments earned her the counter-anagram “Never so mad a ladie.” She published more than fifty tracts, most printed abroad after 1640, some repeatedly. For the text of Strange and Wonderful Prophecies, an early, often reprinted work, we rely on the 1649 edition. As its extended title says, the text appeared with “notes to the said prophecies: how far they are fulfilled and what part remains yet unfulfilled concerning the late king and kingly government and the armies and people of England (and particularly Whitehall); and other wonderful predictions.” We print these glosses, with their original sign system, after each stanza. Esther Cope's edition of Davies's writings (Oxford, 1995) does not give this version.