Pendle Hill Witch Trials

Pendle Hill Witch Trials

On our last outing in the Social Pariah time machine we visited Littledean Jail and Court House and its dark past. This time we're taking a look at another Prison and one of it's most infamous cases The Pendle Hill Witch Trials. So to Lancaster Castle and its murky past where over 200 executions were carried out. Ranging from crimes such as murder to burglary and cattle stealing and of course Witch Craft. On March 18th 1612 a young woman by the name of Alison Device was out begging by the road. She stopped a peddler by the name of John Law, and asked him for a pin. (often used for magical purposes, such as in healing – particularly for treating warts – divination, and for love magic) He refused her request and walked away. According to her own t estimony from the time, Alison's spirit in the form of a dog appeared to her and asked if she would like to harm John Law.She agreed and asked the dog to lame the peddler. As he walked away John Law fell to the ground,paralysed down one side and unable to speak.He was taken to a local inn and later visited by Alison who asked for his forgiveness , which he gave. Law's son however was not satisfied and and the matter was taken to the local magistrate, Roger Nowell. The matter soon snowballed and Nineteen people were put into Lancaster Castle to await trial for Witchcraft relating to various deaths and other occurances. 10 of these were found guilty and sentenced to death. Other members of Alison's family were part of the 10 convicted including her Grandmother ,the most famous of the Pendle witches who actually died before coming to trial. As well as her mother Elizabeth Device and brother James. Also found Guilty were mother and son Jane & John Bulcock as well as mother and daughter Anne Whittle & Anne Redferne They were executed at Lancaster on the 20th of August, 16I2, for having bewitched to death 'by devilish practices and hellish means' no fewer than sixteen inhabitants of the Forest of Pendle. A petition was presented to UK Home Secretary Jack Straw in 1998 asking for the witches to be pardoned, but it was decided that their convictions should stand,nowadays the story has become an inspiration for the local tourist trade with shops selling witch gifts, a local beer called Pendle Witches Brew and of course you can visit Lancaster Castle itself. There is so much more to this story that out little piece can not do justice to, so its well worth checking out the full story.And thankfully the crime of Witchcraft no longer exists. Plaque in memory of the Pendle Witches