On The Trail Of The Pendle Witches-The Tale of Fear And Superstition

Because we do not understand something does not mean it is bad or good. Understand first, then decide as you will.

England was a country divided and the county of Lancashire, which had long been a Catholic stronghold, was under the eye of suspicion. The Earl of Derby had described the county in 1583 as ‘this so unbridled and bad a handful of England’. The confession by two of the gunpowder plotters that they were going to start a rising in Lancashire against the King added to Lancashire’s reputation as a dangerous, lawless place. In 1612 the King ordered Justices of the Peace in Lancashire to report anyone who did not take Protestant communion in church and prosecute them. The dividing line between magic and religion was not clear-cut in the 17th century. Protestants often spoke of Catholic practices as a form of conjuring, and considered their prayers as charms. King James was obsessed with witchcraft and his book ‘Daemonology’ showed local magistrates what to look for when tracking down witches after making the practice of witchcraft a capital offense. Local magistrates became zealous in their pursuit of witchcraft, knowing that convictions would find them favor with the King. When the Pendle Witches were put on trail a London court clerk, Thomas Potts was asked to make a record of the trail to send around the country as a warning a guide on finding evidence of witchcraft. The document was dedicated to Sir Thomas Knyvet – the man who arrested Guy Fawkes in the cellars beneath the House of Parliament in the year 1605.

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