One of the most notorious witch trials in England was that of the so-called Pendle witches in 1612. It was the reign of James 1 and religious fervour and victimization was widespread and insidious. James was terrified of a Catholic uprising after the Gunpowder Plot. He considered himself something of an expert on witchcraft and wrote a book on Daemonologie.
When Alizon Device, from a small village in Pendle, had a chance meeting with a pedlar while out begging, she was refused a pin. Alizon cursed the pedlar through her familiar spirit, a dog. The pedlar immediately collapsed, unable to move or speak. Alizon along with the members of two local, feuding families, were accused of witchcraft. The accusers’ evidence was based on little more than grudges, superstition and revenge for perceived wrongs.
Six of the twelve people taken and imprisoned in Lancaster Castle were from the rival families. Nine year old Jennet Device’s evidence helped to convict ten people, who were later executed, including members of her own family.
16th century St Mary’s Church where Mother Chattox is said to have desecrated graves to collect items for her spells and potions.