285: Road Trip: The Trial of the Pendle Witches

Episode: 285: The 1612 Lancashire trials of the accused Pendle witches, one of the most notorious witchcraft trials in English history, took place during the reign of King James I. Twelve individuals from the area around Pendle Hill in Lancashire were accused of practicing witchcraft and brought to trial at Lancaster Assizes. Of these, ten were found guilty and hanged, one was found not guilty, and another died in prison. The trial is particularly remembered for the testimonies of the accused, especially that of the young girl, Jennet Device, whose evidence played a significant role in the convictions.

While the immediate aftermath of the Pendle trials saw heightened witch paranoia, the extremity of the trials and the nature of the evidence also sowed seeds of skepticism. Over time, as more and more trials took place, some segments of society began to question the validity of witchcraft accusations and the reliability of the testimony of children and confessions obtained under pressure.

It’s believed that from the early 15th to the early 18th centuries, the total number of executions from English witch trials was just under 500.

Sources:

The Lancashire Witches: A Romance of Pendle Forest by William Harrison Ainsworth

Discovery of Witches by active 1612-1618 Thomas Potts

Daemonologie. by King of England James I

The Pendle Witches, a famous witch trial in Lancashire

The History Press: The Pendle Witches

The Demonology of King James I by Donald Tyson – Ebook

Malleus Maleficarum Index

The mark of the Devil: Medical proof in Witchcraft Trials by Sarah Dunn

The Pendle Witches | Lancashire Witch Trials | English Witchcraft

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