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The Pendle Witches - A Story of Witchcraft and Revenge

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Introduction

The Pendle Witches A true story of murder witchcraft and revenge The Pendle Witches or Lancashire Witches were the most famous witches in English legal history. They were accused of selling their souls to familiar spirits or devils that appeared to them in human and animal form. In return for their souls, it was believed that the witches received the power to kill or lame who they pleased. The legend of the Pendle Witches is one of the many dark tales of imprisonment and execution at Lancaster Castle. The usual method of murder, described in Demdike's confession, was to make an ethigy (the representation of a person in some sort of sculpture in 3D form) known as a 'picture of clay'. The image was then crumbled and burned over a period of time, causing the victim to fall ill and die. Just over three centuries saw witch trials held in England but fewer than 500 people were executed for this crime. This one series of crimes in 1612 therefore counts for only 2% of all witches executed. The arrest and trial of the Pendle witches is probably the most well known of the witch trials that took place in the UK in the 16th and 17th centuries. ...read more.

Middle

The two families were also at each other's throats over an old debt, and considered each other rivals. In March 1612, Alizon Device, the grand-daughter of Elizabeth Southerns (better known locally as Old Demdike), cursed a pedlar who refused to give her some pins. The pedlar collapsed by the side of the road and Alizon was convinced that she was the cause, immediately confessing to him and asking for forgiveness, which he gave. His son later heard about this and brought the event to the attention of the local authorities, claiming that when the pedlar refused Alizon's begging, a large dog appeared, and then the pedlar fell to the ground and became paralyzed. She was brought before the local magistrate, Roger Nowell, who does seem to have genuinely believed in magic and witchcraft. Surprisingly, she immediately confessed to the crime, although Nowell used no means of torture, "tests" or persuasion. As well as fully confessing to the crime, Alizon implicated her grandmother and Anne Whittle (known as Chattox) by recounting tales of how they had caused harm to neighbours and livestock in the area. In early April, Old Demdike, Chattox and Chattox's daughter Anne Redfearn were also interrogated about their alleged witchcraft. ...read more.

Conclusion

In an ironic twist, after condemning her entire family as witches at the 1612 trial, Jennet Device was herself to be arrested several years later on charges of witchcraft, and despite the charges being dismissed due to new laws which stated that witchcraft was just superstition, she is believed by most historians to have died in gaol. Pendle's growing pagan community and the tale of the witches dominates local tourism industry with jam, preserves, beer and all manner of goods bearing their name. Many of the places referred to in the tale still exist such as Lancaster gaol, Newchurch, Barley and Roughlee Though the location of Malkin Tower has been lost in history. There are rumours that Alice Nutter was the mistress of Roughlee Hall, and that one of the witches is buried in the graveyard at Newchurch under a stone bearing a skull and crossbones. The church tower itself supports what is known as the 'Eye of God' which provided additional protection from the evil that once afflicted these parts. Many of the villages in pendel have retained many of their original buildings and walking or driving around the hill still brings history to life .On Halloween many people make a midnight pilgrimage to Pendle Hill. Today the Pendle area is popular with visitors whose imaginations have been captured by the 398 year old drama. ...read more.

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