This is a video for a song from the upcoming Cunning Folk album. It is called
“Lancashire, God’s Country”. It is about the Lancashire witch trials of 1612. I gave a talk about the Pendle Witches last week at the South East London Folklore Society & this is the transcript.
Pendle Hill is in East Lancashire. It is North of Manchester, West of Blackpool & East of Leeds. It’s pretty near to Burnley. A lot of the countryside around it is referred to as Pendle Forest because in the middle ages it was a royal forest.
The name “Pendle Hill” combines the words for hill from three different languages & times. In the 13th century it was called Pennul or Penhul, apparently from the Old Celtic pen and Old English hyll, both meaning “hill”. The modern English “hill” was added later, after the original meaning of Pendle had become opaque. So you could say that Pendle Hill means “Hill, Hill, Hill”. There is a bronze age burial site at the top of it.
The surrounding area is closely associated with the Pendle Witch Trials.
The trials of the Pendle witches in 1612 are among the most famous witch trials in English history, & some of the best recorded of the 17th century. The twelve accused lived in the area around Pendle Hill in Lancashire, & 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.
Of the other two, one was tried at York Assizes on 27 July 1612, & another died in prison. Of the eleven who went to trial – nine women & two men – ten were found guilty & executed by hanging; one was found not guilty.
The number of witches hanged together – nine at Lancaster & one at York – make the trials unusual for England at that time.
It has been estimated that all the English witch trials between the early 15th and early 18th centuries resulted in fewer than 500 executions; this series of trials accounts for more than two per cent of that total.
Six of the Pendle witches came from one of two families, each at the time headed by a woman in her eighties: Elizabeth Southerns (also known as Demdike),
her daughter Elizabeth Device
& her grandchildren James and Alizon Device
Anne Whittle (also known as Chattox),
& her daughter Anne Redferne.
The others accused were Jane Bulcock & her son John Bulcock, Alice Nutter, Katherine Hewitt, Alice Grey, & Jennet Preston.
This outbreak of witchcraft in and around Pendle may demonstrate the extent to which people could make a living by cunning means. 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.
Here is a little bit of religious & political background information.
Lancashire at the end of the 16th century, was regarded by the authorities as a wild and lawless region: an area “fabled for its theft, violence and sexual laxity, where the church was honoured without much understanding of its doctrines by the common people”.
The nearby Cistercian abbey at Whalley had been dissolved by Henry VIII in 1537, a move strongly resisted by the locals. Despite the abbey’s closure, and the execution of its abbot, the people of Pendle remained largely faithful to their Roman Catholic beliefs and were quick to revert to Catholicism when Mary became queen in 1553.
When Mary’s Protestant half-sister Elizabeth came to the throne in 1558 Catholic priests once again had to go into hiding, but in remote areas such as Pendle they continued to celebrate Mass in secret.
In 1562, early in her reign, Elizabeth passed a law in the form of An Act Against Conjurations, Enchantments and Witchcrafts .
This demanded the death penalty, but only where harm had been caused; lesser offences were punishable by a term of imprisonment.
The Act provided that anyone who should “use, practise, or exercise any Witchcraft, Enchantment, Charm, or Sorcery, whereby any person shall happen to be killed or destroyed”, was guilty of a felony without benefit of clergy, and was to be put to death. This meant that even clergy (who were usually exempt from capital punishment) could be executed for the crime of witchcraft.
On Elizabeth’s death in 1603 she was succeeded by James I (of England, James VI of Scotland).
James was raised in Scotland, obviously. The Scottish Reformation was distinct from & different to the English Reformation. Scottish Presbyterianism arose from a more doctrinal place than Henry VIII’s creation of a Church of England.
James was intensely interested in Protestant theology, focusing much of his curiosity on the theology of witchcraft.
By the early 1590s he had become convinced that he was being plotted against by Scottish witches. He attended the trial in 1590 of the North Berwick witches, who were convicted of using witchcraft to send a storm against the ship that carried the newly wedded King James and Queen Anne when they were returning from their marriage in Denmark.
In 1597 he wrote a book, Daemonologie, instructing his followers that they must denounce and prosecute any supporters or practitioners of witchcraft.
One year after James acceded to the English throne, a law was enacted imposing the death penalty in cases where it was proven that harm had been caused through the use of magic, or corpses had been exhumed for magical purposes.
In the King James Bible published in 1611 it is famously written; “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live”
On the 5th of November, 1605 there was an failed assassination attempt against King James by a group of provincial English Catholics. Some were from Lancashire.
In early 1612, the year of the trials, every justice of the peace in Lancashire was ordered to compile a list of those who refused to take communion at an English Church.
Roger Nowell of Read Hall, on the edge of Pendle Forest, was the JP for Pendle. It was against this background of seeking out religious nonconformists that, in March 1612, Nowell investigated a complaint made to him by the family of John Law, a pedlar, who claimed to have been injured by witchcraft.
Many of those who subsequently became implicated as the investigation progressed did indeed consider themselves to be witches, in the sense of being village healers who practised magic, probably in return for payment, but such men and women were common in 16th-century rural England. Cunning folk were an accepted part of village life.
One of the accused, Demdike, had been regarded in the area as a witch for fifty years, and some of the deaths the witches were accused of had happened many years before Roger Nowell started to take an interest in 1612.
The name Demdike is derived from “Demon Woman” which may suggest that she was not entirely loved locally.
The event that seems to have triggered Nowell’s investigation, culminating in the Pendle witch trials, occurred on 21 March 1612.
Walking down a country track Demdike’s granddaughter, Alizon Device, encountered John Law, a pedlar from Halifax, and asked him for some pins. He refused to give her any pins.
Seventeenth-century metal pins were handmade and relatively expensive. They were also frequently needed for magical purposes, such as in healing (particularly for treating warts) for divination, & for love magic, which may have been why Alizon was so keen to get hold of them & why Law was so reluctant to let her have any.
Whether she meant to buy them, as she claimed, and Law refused to undo his pack for such a small transaction, or whether she had no money & was begging for them, as Law’s son Abraham claimed, is unclear.
A few minutes after their encounter Alizon saw Law stumble & fall. He managed to regain his feet & reach a nearby inn but he was not in a good way. He was described thus “His head is drawn away, his eyes & face deformed, his speech not well to be understood, his arms lame especially the left side”
Modern commentators have noted the similarities between the symptoms associated with a stroke (death of brain cells due to poor blood flow) & the description of the tinker’s plight.
Initially Law made no accusations against Alizon, but she appears to have been convinced of her own powers; when Abraham Law took her to visit his father a few days after the incident, she reportedly confessed that she had bewitched him & asked for his forgiveness.
Alizon Device, her mother Elizabeth, and her brother James were summoned to appear before Nowell on 30 March 1612. Alizon confessed that she had sold her soul to the Devil, and that she had told the Devil to lame John Law after he had called her a thief.
Her brother, James, stated that his sister had also confessed to bewitching a local child.
Elizabeth was more reticent, admitting only that her mother, Demdike, had a mark on her body, something that many, including Nowell, would have regarded as having been left by the Devil after he had sucked her blood.
When questioned about Anne Whittle (Chattox), the matriarch of the other family reputedly involved in witchcraft in and around Pendle, Alizon perhaps saw an opportunity to settle old scores.
There may have been bad blood between the two families, possibly dating from 1601, when a member of Chattox’s family broke into Malkin Tower, the home of the Devices, and stole goods worth about £1, equivalent to about £100 nowadays.
Alizon accused Chattox of making clay figures, of murdering four men by witchcraft, and of killing her father, John Device, who had died in 1601. She claimed that her father had been so frightened of Old Chattox that he had agreed to give her 8 pounds (3.6 kg) of oatmeal each year in return for her promise not to hurt his family. The meal was handed over annually until the year before John’s death; on his deathbed John claimed that his sickness had been caused by Chattox because they had not paid for protection.
On 2 April 1612, Demdike, Chattox, and Chattox’s daughter Anne Redferne, were summoned to appear before Nowell. Both Demdike and Chattox were by then blind and in their eighties, and both provided Nowell with damaging confessions.
Demdike claimed that she had given her soul to the Devil 20 years previously, and Chattox that she had given her soul to “a Thing like a Christian man”, on his promise that “she would not lack anything and would get any revenge she desired”.
Although Anne Redferne (Chattox’s daughter) made no confession, Demdike said that she had seen her making clay figures.
Margaret Crooke, another witness seen by Nowell that day, claimed that her brother had fallen sick and died after having had a disagreement with Redferne, and that he had frequently blamed her for his illness.
Based on the evidence and confessions he had obtained, Nowell committed Demdike, Chattox, Anne Redferne and Alizon Device to Lancaster Gaol, to be tried for maleficium – causing harm by witchcraft – at the next assizes.
The committal and subsequent trial of the four women might have been the end of the matter, had it not been for a meeting organised by Elizabeth Device at Malkin Tower, the home of the Demdikes, held on Good Friday 10 April 1612. To feed the party, James Device stole a neighbour’s sheep.
At the time Malkin was a dialect term for a lower class of woman, it was also a dialect term for a cat.
There would have been a mass at the English Church on Good Friday. A mass which none of those at Malkin Tower on that day would be present at.
Friends and others sympathetic to the family attended, and when word of it reached Roger Nowell, he decided to investigate. On 27 April 1612, an inquiry was held before Nowell and another magistrate to determine the purpose of the meeting at Malkin Tower, who had attended, and what had happened there.
As a result of the inquiry, eight more people were accused of witchcraft and committed for trial: Elizabeth Device, James Device, Alice Nutter, Katherine Hewitt, John Bulcock, Jane Bulcock, Alice Grey and Jennet Preston.
There was also the accusation levelled that there was a conspiracy to blow up Lancaster Castle & to murder the head jailer.
Preston lived across the border in Yorkshire, so she was sent for trial at York Assizes; the others were sent to Lancaster Gaol, to join the four already imprisoned there.
The Pendle witches were tried with some other Lancashire witch cases in a kind of job lot by 2 judges, Sir James Altham & Sir Edward Bromley.
So there was also the trial of the 3 Samlesbury witches, the charges against whom included child murder and cannibalism; the Padiham witch, who was facing her third trial for witchcraft, this time for killing a horse; and the Windle witch, accused of using witchcraft to cause sickness.
Some of the accused Pendle witches, such as Alizon Device, seem to have genuinely believed in their guilt, but others protested their innocence to the end. Jennet Preston was the first to be tried, almost a month before the others.
York Assizes, 27 July 1612
Jennet Preston lived in Gisburn, which was then in Yorkshire, so she was sent to York Assizes for trial. The judges were Sir James Altham & Sir Edward Bromley: the same as for the Lancashire Assizes.
Jennet was charged with the murder by witchcraft of a local landowner, Thomas Lister of Westby Hall, to which she pleaded not guilty. Thomas Lister died 5 years before in 1607. She was also accused of planning to murder Thomas Lister’s son by witchcraft.
In 1611 she had stood trial, accused of the murder of a child by witchcraft, but had been found not guilty.
A witness told the court; “ When Master Lister lay upon his death-bedd, he cried out in great extremitie; Jennet Preston lays heavy on me; help me: & so departed, crying out against her.
Look where she is & take holde of her; for God’s sake shut the doors & take her, she cannot escape away. Look about for her & lay hold of her, for she is in the house.”
The judge instructed the jury to observe that the man on his death-bed was “railing” against the witch. In 16th &17th century witch-trials, evidence of the crying out of the victim was common.
The most damning evidence given against her was that when she had been taken to see Lister’s body, the corpse “bled fresh bloud presently, in the presence of all that were there present” after she touched it.
In King James’ book on witchcraft, Demonologie, he wrote “in a secret murther, if the deade carcase be at any time handled by the murtherer, it will gush out bloud, as if the blud wer crying to the heaven for revenge of the murtherer, God having appoynted that secret super-naturall signe, for tryall of thet secret unnatural crime.”
According to a statement made to Nowell by James Device on 27 April, Jennet had attended the Malkin Tower meeting to seek help to murder her accuser, Lister’s son. She was found guilty and sentenced to death by hanging; She was executed on July 29th.
There has been speculation that Jennet Preston may have been having an affair with the man she was accused of killing by witchcraft.
Lancaster Assizes, 18–19 August 1612
All the other accused lived in Lancashire, so they were sent to Lancaster Assizes for trial, where the judges were once again Altham and Bromley. The prosecutor was local magistrate Roger Nowell, who had been responsible for collecting the various statements and confessions from the accused.
The Lancaster Assizes were held at Lancaster Castle (a working prison up to spring 2011) The 20 accused of witchcraft had been held in a cell 20ft by 12ft since their arrests in April.
Nine year old Jennet Device was not accused of witchcraft or imprisoned. In the period between April & the trial in August she may have been looked after by Roger Nowell at his home.
Nine-year-old Jennet Device was a key witness for the prosecution, something that would not have been permitted in many other 17th-century criminal trials.
However, King James had made a case for suspending the normal rules of evidence for witchcraft trials in his Daemonologie.
As well as identifying those who had attended the Malkin Tower meeting, Jennet also gave evidence against her mother, brother, and sister.
Nine of the accused – Alizon Device, Elizabeth Device, James Device, Anne Whittle, Anne Redferne, Alice Nutter, Katherine Hewitt, John Bulcock and Jane Bulcock – were found guilty during the two-day trial and hanged at Gallows Hill in Lancaster on 20 August 1612; Elizabeth Southerns (Demdike) died in prison while awaiting trial. Only one of the accused, Alice Grey, was found not guilty.
Anne Whittle (Chattox) was accused of the murder of one Robert Nutter 19 years previously. She pleaded not guilty, but the confession she had made to Roger Nowell was read out in court, and evidence against her was presented by James Robinson, who had lived with the Nutter family 20 years earlier. According to Robinson & surviving members of the Nutter family, Robert had believed himself to be bewitched by Chattox & had repeatedly said so before his death.
Robinson stated that Chattox & Anne Redferne “are commonly reputed & reported to be witches”. Robinson also told of how Chattox had spoiled a brew of beer in his house 6 years previously when he had employed her in his household to card wool for a few days.
Chattox had claimed to Nowell that Robert Nutter had made advances upon her daughter Anne, & when refused he said he would find a way of evicting her from the area. Chattox called her familiar, called Fancie, to her & she asked Fancie to “revenge her of the sayd Robert Nutter”
Chattox broke down and admitted her guilt, calling on God for forgiveness and the judges to be merciful to her daughter, Anne Redferne.
Elizabeth Device was charged with the murders of James Robinson, John Robinson and, together with Alice Nutter and Demdike, the murder of Henry Mitton.
Elizabeth Device vehemently maintained her innocence. Potts records that “this odious witch” suffered from a facial deformity resulting in her left eye being set lower than her right.
The main witness against Device was her own daughter, Jennet, who was, as we know, about nine years old.
When Jennet was brought into the courtroom and asked to stand up and give evidence against her mother, Elizabeth, confronted with her own child making accusations that would lead to her execution, began to curse and scream at her daughter. Her own daughter asked to have her removed from the courtroom before she would speak. It’s likely that Elizabeth more fully understood the consequences of Jennet’s testimony than Jennet did.
Jennet was placed on a table and denounced her mother as a witch. She stated that she believed her mother had been a witch for three or four years. She also said her mother had a familiar called Ball, who appeared in the shape of a brown dog.
Jennet claimed to have witnessed conversations between Ball and her mother, in which Ball had been asked to help with various murders.
“My mother is a witch & I that know to be true. I have seen her spirit in the likeness of a brown dog called Ball. The dog would ask her what she would do & she answered that she would have him help her to kill John Robinson of Farley, James Robinson, Henry Mitten.”
She described the meeting at Malkin Tower on Good Friday thus; “at 12 noon about 20 people came to our house. My Mother told me they were all witches.”
James Device also gave evidence against his mother, saying he had seen her making a clay figure of one of her victims, John Robinson.
James also said that 3 skulls had been robbed from graves at the new church in Pendle & 4 of the teeth were kept at Malkin Tower.
4 teeth were presented in court which had been found in Malkin Tower by the constable alongside a clay figure buried in the ground.
Elizabeth Device was found guilty.
James Device pleaded not guilty to the murders by witchcraft of Anne Townley and John Duckworth.
However he, like Chattox, had earlier made a confession to Nowell, which was read out in court.
He was also denounced by his sister Jennet who recited a charm she had heard her brother use. Jennet said that James had been a witch for 3 or 4 years & that she had seen him asking a black dog he had conjured up to help him kill Anne Townley.
This evidence was sufficient to persuade the jury to find him guilty.
The trials of the three Salmesbury witches were heard before Anne Redferne’s first appearance in court, late in the afternoon, charged with the murder of Robert Nutter. The evidence against her was considered unsatisfactory, and she was acquitted.
Anne Redferne was not so fortunate the following day, when she faced her second trial, for the murder of Robert Nutter’s father, Christopher, to which she pleaded not guilty.
Demdike’s statement to Nowell, which accused Anne of having made clay figures of the Nutter family, was read out in court. Witnesses were called to testify that Anne was a witch “more dangerous than her Mother”. But she refused to admit her guilt to the end, and had given no evidence against any others of the accused. Anne Redferne was found guilty.
Jane Bulcock and her son John Bulcock, both from Newchurch in Pendle, were accused and found guilty of the murder by witchcraft of Jennet Deane. Both denied that they had attended the meeting at Malkin Tower, but Jennet Device identified Jane as having been one of those present, and John as having turned the spit to roast the stolen sheep, the centrepiece of the Good Friday meeting at the Demdike’s home.
Alice Nutter was unusual among the accused in being comparatively wealthy, the widow of a farmer. She made no statement either before or during her trial, except to enter her plea of not guilty to the charge of murdering Henry Mitton by witchcraft.
The prosecution alleged that she, together with Demdike and Elizabeth Device, had caused Mitton’s death after he had refused to give Demdike a penny she had begged from him.
The only evidence against Alice seems to have been that James Device claimed Demdike had told him of the murder, and Jennet Device in her statement said that Alice had been present at the Malkin Tower meeting.
Alice may have called in on the meeting at Malkin Tower on her way to a secret (and illegal) Good Friday Catholic service, and refused to speak for fear of incriminating her fellow Catholics.
Many of the Nutter family were Catholics, and two had been executed as Jesuit priests.
Alice Nutter was found guilty.
Katherine Hewitt (also known as Mould-Heeles) was charged and found guilty of the murder of Anne Foulds. She was the wife of a clothier from Colne, and had attended the meeting at Malkin Tower with Alice Grey.
According to the evidence given by James Device, both Hewitt and Grey told the others at that meeting that they had killed a child from Colne, Anne Foulds. Jennet Device also picked Katherine out of a line-up, and confirmed her attendance at the Malkin Tower meeting.
Alice Grey was accused with Katherine Hewitt of the murder of Anne Foulds. Potts does not provide an account of Alice Grey’s trial, simply recording her as one of the Samlesbury witches – which she was not, as she was one of those identified as having been at the Malkin Tower meeting – and naming her in the list of those found not guilty.
Alizon Device, whose encounter with John Law had triggered the events leading up to the trials, was charged with causing harm by witchcraft. Uniquely among the accused, Alizon was confronted in court by her alleged victim, John Law. She seems to have genuinely believed in her own guilt; when Law was brought into court Alizon fell to her knees in tears and confessed. She was found guilty.
All those found guilty were hanged the following day, August 20th. Hanging would have been a death by strangulation not by snapped neck. Before being executed the condemned were given a chance to confess to save their souls. Elizabeth Device & Alice
Nutter never confessed. Jennet Device may have witnessed the execution of her mother & brother.
A lot more is known about the Lancashire Witch Trials than many others because of one Thomas Potts.
Potts was a Clerk to the Justices of Assize on the Northern Circuit & was clerk to the trials of the Pendle Witches at both Lancaster & York Assizes
At the end of 1612 Thomas Potts lodged in Chancery Lane in London.
He first produced a pamphlet on the trial of Jennet Preston in York from the court depositions & from the interrogation accounts of the 4 witnesses made by Roger Nowell the Lancashire JP.
Potts was instructed to write an account of the Lancaster Witch Trials by the trial judges, and had completed the work by 16 November 1612, when he submitted it for review. Bromley, one of the judges, revised and corrected the manuscript before its publication in 1613, declaring it to be “truly reported” and “fit and worthie to be published”.
It has been suggested that the trial judges worked closely with Potts in the writing of The Wonderfull Discoverie “to manipulate the extraordinary records into an account that would protect and advance their careers”. Potts’ book has been called the “clearest example of an account [of a witch trial] obviously published to display the shining efficiency and justice of the legal system”. Although written as an apparently verbatim account, Potts was not reporting what had actually been said during the trials; he was reflecting what had happened.
This “Wonderfull Discoverie of Witches In The Countie Of Lancaster” was 10 times as long as the pamphlet about Jennet Preston’s trial.
It may be significant that Potts dedicated The Wonderfull Discoverie to Thomas Knyvet and his wife Elizabeth; Knyvet was the man credited with apprehending Guy Fawkes & helping to foil the Gunpowder Plot.
In the course of the trial 3 charms were quoted by the prosecutor, Roger Nowell.
The first was a charm claimed by Chattox to remove a curse from a brew of beer which had been ‘forespoken or bewitched’. The charm strongly resembles charms used to lift curses on people.
Three biters hast thou bitten,
Ill Harte, ill Eye, ill Tonge;
Three better shall be thy Boote,
Father, Sonne & Holy Ghost.
a Gods name.
Five Pater-nosters, five Avies & a Creed,
In worship of five wound of our Lord
The bewitched person or object is addressed as if it had been bitten by 3 snakes.
‘Boote’ means help
‘a God’s name’ means the action is being done in God’s name
the Paternosters, Ave Marias & Creed would all be intoned
In worship of 5 wounds of our Lord expresses late medieval piety. Devotion to the 5 wounds of Christ was a popular cult in England until the Reformation.
Prayers of the Church served as spells.
The second was a charm claimed by young Jennet Device to be used by her mother, Elizabeth Device, ‘to get drinke’. Jennet had said that her brother James ‘hath confessed to her that he by this power hath gotten drinke: and that within an hour after the saying the said Prayer, drinke hath come into the house after a very strange manner.’
The charm is this:
Cruxifixus hoc signum vitum Eturnum. Amen
Christ crucified. In this sign is eternal life.
It is a common pre-Reformation liturgical formula used in public worship. It would be said while making the sign of the cross.
The third charm was recited to the court by the 9 year old Jennet Device & attributed to her brother James. It is a ‘prayer that would cure one bewitched’
Upon Good-Friday I will fast while I may
Until I hear them knell our Lords owne Bell,
Lord in his messe with his twelve Apostles good, (messe: mass)
What hath he in his hand
Ligh in leath wand: (Anglo-Saxon; Lith-won: not a lot)
What hath he in his other hand?
Heavens doore key,
Open, open Heaven doore keyes.
Steck, steck Hell doore. (Middle-Eng. Steken: Fasten)
Let Crizum child goe to it Mother mild
What is yonder that casts a light so farrandly,(dialect: pleasantly)
Mine own deare Sonne that’s nailed to the Tree
He is naild sore by the heart and hand,
And holy barne Panne, (barne: bairn or child. Panne: Head)
Well is that man
That Friday spell can his Childe to learne;
A Crosse of Blew and another of Red,
As good Lord was to the Roode.
Gabriel laid him down to sleepe
Upon the ground of holy weepe
Good Lord came walking by,
Sleep’st thou, wak’st thou Gabriel,
No Lord I am sted with sticke and stake, (sted: beset with)
That I can neither sleep nor wake;
Rise up Gabriel and goe with me,
The stick nor the stake shall never deere thee. (deere: harm)
Sweet Jesus our Lord, Amen
The charm appears to have the form of a religious drama with fragments referring to Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, The Last Supper, The Garden of Gethsemane & the Crucifixion & the Last Judgement though not in that order.
It’s interesting that all 3 charms appear to be derived from Catholic orthodoxy.
Pictures Of Clay
The most common method of laying on a curse is by effigy or “poppet”, which is an image or representation of the victim or the person who is to be harmed (sometimes known as “image magic”). In the Pendle Witch trials the effigies were made of clay. The theory behind the use of effigies is that of “sympathetic magic”: as the effigy is harmed, so the victim is harmed; when the effigy is destroyed, so the victim dies.
Jennet’s story is not quite done. 20 years after her devastating testimony at the Pendle Witch Trials it is possible that she herself was accused of witchcraft.
A woman with that name was listed in a group of 20 tried at Lancaster Assizes on 24 March 1634, although it cannot be certain that it was the same Jennet Device. The charge against her was the murder of one Isabel Nutter. In that series of trials the chief prosecution witness was a ten-year-old boy from Pendle, Edmund Robinson.
In 1633 he claimed that he had been bewitched while he was out picking berries. His father took him from village to village and got him to point out witches. Jennet Device was pointed out & imprisoned at Lancaster Castle
At the trial all but one of the accused were found guilty by the jury, but the judges were unhappy with the verdict & refused to pass death sentences, deciding instead to refer the case to the king, Charles I.
Under cross-examination in London, Robinson admitted that he had fabricated his evidence using stories of the Pendle Witch Trials as basis for his lies.
Even though four of the accused were eventually pardoned, they all remained incarcerated in Lancaster Gaol, where it is likely that they died. An official record dated 22 August 1636 lists Jennet Device as one of those still held in the prison.
Interesting that like Pendle Hill, the village of Torpenhow in Cumbria also translates as hill, hill, hill.
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