Saturday, 5 March 2016

Pendle Witches

The witches of Pendle Hill 

Hi everybody !

This time, we go back to the XVe century for one of the most exciting story which took place in Pendle Hill, Lancaster.

In 1612, twenty persons were accused of witchcraft, of whom sixteen were women of various ages. This trial is one of the most known in English history and one of the most documented of this century.

First, is it important to know the religious context in 1612 to figure out what happened in Pendle Hill. At the end of the century, this region of the Lancashire was well-known for theft, violence and over liberal sexuality. Families who lived in Pendle Hill survived thanks cure and swindle. 

St Mary's Church at Newchurch in Pendle where the tombstone known as the Witches' Grave and the "Eye of God" are to be found
The story began with an altercation between one of the accused, Alizon Device, and a pedlar, John Law.  Alizon, either travelling or begging on the road to Trawden Forest, passed John Law and asked him for some pins. He refused and Alizon cursed him.

 It was a short while after this that John Law suffered a stroke, for which he blamed Alizon and her powers. When this incident was brought before Justice, Alizon confessed that she had told the Devil to lame John Law. It was upon further questioning that Alizon accused her grandmother, Old Demdike, and also members of the Chattox family, of witchcraft.

The accusations on the Chattox family seem to have been an act of revenge. The families had been rivals for years. 

This family tree will help you:  

Chattox and Demdike family trees (wikipedia)
The deaths of four other villagers that had occurred years before the trial were raised and the blame laid on witchcraft performed by Chattox. James Device confessed that his sister Alizon had also cursed a child some time before and Elizabeth, although more reserved in making accusations, confessed her mother had a mark on her body, supposedly where the Devil had sucked her blood, which left her mad.

 On further questioning both Old Demdike and Chattox confessed to selling their souls.  Also Anne (Chattox’s daughter) was allegedly seen to create clay figures. After hearing this evidence, the judge detained Alizon, Anne, Old Demdike and Old Chattox and waited for trial.

Lancaster prison
The trials were held at Lancaster between 17th and 19th August 1612.  Old Demdike never reached trial; the dark, dank dungeon in which they were imprisoned was too much for her to survive.

How to get there: Pendle Hill is located in Lancashire (exactly HERE) and it's complicated to go there without a car. But if you want to follow in the steps of the witches, go to the Lancashire website HERE for further information ! 

Historic Uk, , wikipedia 

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