Took a cycle ride to Morecambe yesterday morning with younger daughter, along the towpath of the Lancaster canal for most of the way. There were some exceptional properties complete with jetties along the way. I don’t know if this was a dez res or just someone enjoying a bit of leisure.
Later in the day at Lancaster I saw this on the frontage of the Golden Lion pub:
I was interested enough to check the story out. What struck me was that this took place less than 400 years ago. If you think of people living to 100, that’s only four lifetimes ago or even working at a lifetime of 70 years, less than six lifetimes ago.
The trials of the Pendle witches in 1612 are among the most famous witch trials in English history, and some of the best recorded of the 17th century. The twelve accused lived in the area around Pendle Hill in Lancashire, and were charged with the murders of ten people by the use of witchcraft. All but two were tried at Lancaster Assizes on 18–19 August 1612, along with the Samlesbury witches and others, in a series of trials that have become known as the Lancashire witch trials. One was tried at York Assizes on 27 July 1612, and another died in prison. Of the eleven individuals who went to trial—nine women and two men—ten were found guilty and executed by hanging and one was found not guilty.
The trials were unusual for England at that time in two respects: the official publication of the proceedings by the clerk to the court, Thomas Potts, in his The Wonderfull Discoverie of Witches in the Countie of Lancaster, and in the number of witches hanged together: ten at Lancaster and one at York. It has been estimated that all of the English witch trials between the early 15th and early 18th centuries resulted in fewer than 500 executions, so this series of trials during the summer of 1612 accounts for more than 2% of that total.
Six of the Pendle witches came from one of two families, each headed by a female in her eighties at the time of the trials: Elizabeth Southerns (aka Demdike), her daughter Elizabeth Device, and her grandchildren James and Alizon Device; Anne Whittle (aka Chattox), and her daughter Anne Redferne. The others accused were Jane Bulcock and her son John Bulcock, Alice Nutter, Katherine Hewitt, Alice Gray, and Jennet Preston. The outbreaks of witchcraft in and around Pendle may demonstrate the extent to which people could make a living by posing as witches. Many of the allegations resulted from accusations that members of the Demdike and Chattox families made against each other, perhaps because they were in competition, both trying to make a living from healing, begging, and extortion.
Just a bit along the road was this window display:
Window Display of the Year?
I’m going to leave it there for today as my connection is a bit erratic. Off to the fitba’ tonight if things go according.
Filed under: Diary, History | Tagged: lancashire asizes, lancaster, morecambe, witches of pendle | Leave a comment »