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The Lancashire Witches

Updated on September 17, 2012

The True Story of the twelve accused Lancashire witches of Pendle Forest in 1612

This year marks the 400th Anniversary of the famous Pendle Witch Trial. As I live almost in the shadow of Pendle Hill in Lancashire and often have visited the area where some of the 'witches' lived, it is part of the my local folklore. Although there were twenty Lancashire people who went to trial at Lancaster that Autumn, only twelve came from the Forest of Pendle.

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.

As the proceedings of the trial were kept by the Clerk of the Court and later published, there can be no doubt about what went on and the fantastic stories that brought about the accused demise.

Here I am hoping that the reader will find sufficient information to investigate the fascinating and tragic events of 1612.

Who were the Witches of Pendle?

Elizabeth Southerns, alias Demdike

Elizabeth Device daughter of Demdike

James Device son of Elizabeth Device

Alison Device daughter of Elizabeth Device

Anne Whittle alias Chattox

Anne Redferne daughter of Chattox

Alice Nutter

Jane Bulcock

John Bulcock son of Jane Bulcock

Katherine Hewitt alias Mould-heels

Isabel Robey

Margaret Pearson

Thomas Potts - Clerk of the Court

The Lancashire witch trials were one of the most important in Britain. Thanks to the trial clerk Thomas Potts, they are also the best known

'The Forest of Pendle is a portion of the greater one of Blackburnshire, and is so called from the celebrated mountain of that

name, over the declivity of which it extends and stretches in a long but interrupted descent of five miles, to the water of Pendle, a

barren and dreary tract.'

'In the early part of the seventeenth century, the inhabitants of this

district must have been, with few exceptions, a wretchedly poor and

uncultivated race, having little communication with the occupants of

the more fertile regions around them, and in whose minds superstition,

even yet unextinguished, must have had absolute and uncontrollable


This ebook can be read online or downloaded for free from the Project Gutenberg. There is no mention of the Pendle Witches until page 22. However if you are interested in historical documents this is a wonderful piece of writing in old English.

The Project Gutenberg eBook, Discovery of Witches, by Thomas Potts, Edited by James Crossley


Thomas Pott's account

If you want to read Thomas Potts account in more readable English then this excellent new book, by well-respected historian Robert Poole presents an up-to-date version of Thomas Potts's original account of the famous witch hunt of 1612.

Nine-year-old Jennet Device deadly evidence

Unbelievably a nine year old's evidence in the Witch trials led to the execution of many of the accused - including her own family. Because of her evidence being accepted this also led to Jennet's influence going far beyond Lancashire, even to the Salem Witch Trials in 1692, where children's evidence was accepted.

Read Jennets story here:

The witch trial that made legal history

A Study of the Witch Trial

This is the most comprehensive study of any English witch trial in 1612. Eleven experts from a variety of fields offer new surveys of these events and their meanings for contemporaries, for later generations, and for the present day. Essays look at the politics and ideology of witch-hunting, the conduct of the trial, the social and economic contexts, the religious background, and the local and family details of the episode.

A Pendle Witch Documentary

Pendle Hill looking from Colne - Taken by yours truly

Lancaster Castle Prison

Lancaster Prison
Lancaster Prison

THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES Nan Redferne and Mother Chattox

The Pendle Witches

Mist over Pendle

The British writer, Robert Neill, dramatised the events of 1612 in his novel Mist over Pendle, first published in 1951.

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