The Pendle Witch history

Six of the Pendle witches came from two families: the Southerns and the Whittles. Elizabeth Southern was otherwise known as "Old Demdike" and was in her eighties at the time of her arrest. Anne Whittle was also Known as "Old Chattox" because of her habit of constantly muttering to herself.  Both women were locally regarded as witches for their abilities with medicinal herbs, but their powers led people to believe that they were capable of doing bad as well as good. Also the Southerns' daughter Elizabeth Device and her granchildren James and Alizon Device, as well as Whittle's daughter Anne Redfern were accused. Non- family members dragged into the accusation were Jane Bulcock and her son John, Alice Nutter, Katherine Hewitt, Alice Gray and Jannet Preston. Roger Nowell of Read Hall was the Justice of the Peace (JP) for Pendle and was actively pursuing the Royal decree that he should list all the recusants in his jurisdiction, those who refused to give up the old church and take the new religion. So when one John Law , a pedlar, complained to him that the young Alizon Device had put a curse on him, he was ready to listen. Alizon had asked the pedlar for some valuable pins, but he had refused and so she had cursed him- a few minutes later his horse had stumbled and fallen and so he believed it was her doing. On this occasion we don't have any records of how the witches' confessions were extracted but in all likelihood torture was used. Alizon confessed that she had sold her soul to the devil and her brother James said that she had confessed to bewitching a child. When Alizon 's mother was called, she said only that her own mother, Demdike, had a mark on her body that could be a witchmark, where the Devil sucked her blood. Alizon was also questioned about Old Chattox and her replutation as a witch and she readily named her as such because, it is believed, the two families were not friends. On April 2.1612 Demdike, Chattox, Anne Redfern and Alizon Device were committed for trial. On Good Friday (30th March) Elizabeth Device called a meeting at the family home. Malkin Tower and severl friends attended . It was said that they were making plans to blow up Lancaster Castle, amongst other things, and when Nowell heard about this he had the whole group arrested. seven more people were sent to Lancaster for trial on charges of witchcraft; one, Jennet Preston was sent to York as she lived over the border.  A few days after the trial began, more women were added to the list: the Samlesbury Witches Jane Southworth, Jennet and Ellen Brierley were accused of murder by witchcraft; Margaret Pearson from Pendham were accused of killing a horse through witchcraft and Isobel Robey from Windle was accused of causing sickness. The main persecution witness was Jennet Device, a nine-year-old girl. Nine of those accused were found guilty. Elizabeth Southerns had already passed away, waiting to come to trial. Alizon, James and Elizabeth Device, Anne Whittle, Anne Redfern, Alice Nutter , Katherine Hewitt, John and Jane Bulcock were all found guilty and hanged. Lancashire has a plethora of charming Folktales about witches, but the case of Lanchashire witches reminds us just how lethal superstitious belief could be. Those facts are recounted in many books, but the one that I suggest in this occasion is "Lancashire Folk" written by Melanie Warren and published by Shiffer Publishing LTO. In this book mrs Warren visit 155 places "where strange history meets creepy modern times".

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