The Story of the Pendle Witches

The Story of the Pendle Witches

There’re so many reasons to relocate to the Pendle Hill area. We’ve got an enviable mix of natural beauty and fascinating history. Read on to find out about the story of the Pendle witches.

March 1612, a young woman walks along a pathway from Pendle Hill through Colne to Trawden Forest. She is poor and accustomed to a hard and uncertain life of odd jobs, agricultural labour, and begging. 

As she walked along the pathway, she passed a man called John Law. He was a pedlar and the woman asked him for some pins. It’s not known if she was begging or prepared to pay, but either way Mr Law refused.

She became angry and responded with a curse. History doesn’t record her exact words. Perhaps it was coincidence, or stress caused by the encounter, but the man took a few steps further and fell down, seemingly bewitched. 

History has left us a good description of John Law’s symptoms from the testimony of his son, Abraham. 

From The Wonderful Discovery of Witches in the County of Lancaster, by Thomas Potts 1612: 

“… his head is drawn awry, his eyes and face deformed, his speech not well to be understood; his thighs and legs struck lame: his arms lame especially the left side, his hands lame and turned out of their course…and thus he remains at this present time” [Spellings modernised for ease of reading]

These are symptoms that quite closely resemble those of stroke victims: the speech impediment and the partial paralysis of one side of the body.

The young woman was Alizon Device. The Device family were well known in the area for traditional herbal remedies, good luck charms and superstitions. Alizon was convinced that her words had directly resulted in the injury to John. 

With the help of one or two locals nearby, John was taken to an inn to recover as best he could. Alizon followed. She confessed to all present that her curse had caused the injury and begged the pedlar’s forgiveness.

This event would go on to capture the imagination of the nation and its influence would go around the English-speaking world. It was the beginning of the famous Pendle witch trials. 

It was controversial even in its day. The first book written on the topic of the Lancashire witches was by Thomas Pott’s the court scribe at the trial in 1612. Interest in the topic didn’t dissipate and by 1632 a play was being performed in London called “The Late Lancashire Witches”. 

Since then many more works of fiction and non-fiction have been written and the story has remained in the popular conscious of East Lancashire and the Pendle region. 

It’s part of our regional identity and it’s one of the things that makes our area a top attraction for history lovers.

A bit of local knowledge goes a long way in the property sector. Investors want letting agents with that kind of knowledge to manage their houses.

Pendle Hill Properties is a family run company and we treat each house as it it’s our own. That means that we’ll take proper care of the property and the tenants.

If you’d like to get into the property sector in Pendle Hill and the surrounding areas then we’re the people to talk to. We’ve got the local knowledge to advise you on the best course of action so get in touch by calling our Read branch on 01282 772048 or 01200 411822 or by using the contact us form on our website.

Posted on 9 April, 2021

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