Lancaster Witches

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  • The Lancaster Witches 1604-13
    • Thomas Potts' Account
      • Usefulness
        • - Cleark of the court= authoritative person.
        • -Completed 3 months after the trials + ordered to publish by the judges= not from memory + witnessed it.
        • Dedicated to Thomas Knyvet (found Guy Fawkes= anti-catholic.
      • Limitations
        • Bromley checked + corrected before publication..
        • Judges may have written sections themselves.
        • Aim was to protect the reputations of Potts, the judges + advance their careers.
        • Selective in his details= written statements presented as spoken in court.
    • Legal Issues
      • Impact of the 1604 Statue.
        • Introduced to English law the idea of the Devil's Pact.
        • Statue made the conjuring of spirits a capital offence.
        • Fusion of old idea Maleficium + Devil's Pact.
      • Roger Nowell
        • It is unclear if he was eager to hunt witches but was either familiar with Daemonologie + William Perkins 'Discourse of the Damned Act of Witches' (1608) or convinced to act by the succession of witches put before him. JP + landowner= 62 years= wanted to establish a reputation?
        • Confessions/ witness statements relate to events from years ago due to past rivalries.
          • Margaret Crook (Robert Nutter's sister)= believed Anne Redferne bewitched him.
          • John Nutter 18 years earlier father's death by witchcraft.
          • James Robinson (servant of the Nutters)= Anne + Chattox known witches. 6 years ago Chattox soured some casks of drink + claimed to have a charm to fix it.
        • Importance of Alizon's confession= confirmed herself, Old Demdike + Old Chattox to be witches. Explained Demdike's role at length + accused Chattox of murder.
        • Probably wanted to arrest Nutter family to impress James 1 (catholics).
        • Family estates enlarged by Whalley Abbey.
        • Sheriff of Lancaster 1609-10.
        • Potts= 'very religious gentleman' + 'great service... shall live with him'.
    • Family Rivalries.
      • Old Demdike= Elizabeth Southerns: 1601 fell out with Old C= Alizon clothes + grain (20 shillings stolen) Anne Redferne had them. Nutter family accused Old D killing a cow.
        • Evidence= Jennet claimed witch for 34 years + James tour of Malkin Tower. Charged with 3 murders.
          • Malkin Tower: 1. release 4 witches at Lancaster Tower blow it up. 2. ritual to name Alizon's spirit but she in jail. 3. Protection for Jennet Preston. Found clay image + teeth. Jennet= 20 present only named 6.
      • Old Chattox= Anne Whittle: more powerful . Settlement with John Device (Alizon's father)= yearly tribute of grain. 1595 Christopher, Robert + Thomas Nutter
        • Evidence= Old D's statement clay images to bewitch. Charged with murder of Robert Nutter (18 years ago).1595 Christopher Nutter travelling from Burnely with Robert + John. Old C tenant. Robert bewitched + died on return from  Chester. 3 months later Christopher died. Confessed.
    • Economic
      • Vulnerable to Crisis: -revenue unreliable. -£10 cattle. -over reliance cloth= slump. -rents increased. -arable farming limited= upland, pastoral area.
      • Inflation + pop growth= likely witch hunts: - suspects accused of damaging livestock. - forest entry fines. -enclosure increase= eviction. -subtenants rents 25x than copyholders. - short contracts= insecurity
      • Copyholders support witch trials:- benefit increased profits. - 1607 Duchy Of Lancaster wants 12 years rent in 1 year. - food more efficient after Black Death= 2 new corn mills 1546-98. - forced to sell/mortgage parts of land. - 1607 charity for vulnerable women.
    • Religon
      • Protestant Reformation: - witchcraft + white magic confused. - catholicism  + superstition confused. - county with most catholics (7%). - Puritans tried to regulate behaviour (beer strength). - some corrupted versions of old Catholic prayers= spells.
      • Closure of Whalley Abbey impact Pendle Forest: - had provided resources to the poor (charity +edcuation). - 2 puritans control land= anti-catholic. -180 sq m + 100 000 pop. - Hentry VIII's dissolution of the monasteries (1536-41).
    • Other People
      • James Device= illness. Charged- killed Anne Towneley, John Duckworth + John Hargreaves. Evidence= Anne's husband, Jennet + familiar.
      • Alice Nutter= high status, Catholic. Charged- Henry Mirton wit Old D. Evidence= Jennet.
      • Katherine Hewitt. Present at malign + murdered child in Corne. James + Jennet.
      • John + Jane Bulcock: bewitched Jennet Deane= went mad. Jennet.
      • Alison Device: John Law in court + Alizon repeated initial confession.
      • Margaret Pearson: 3rd time on trial. Killing Mr Dodgson's horse. Old C witness.
      • Samlesbury Witches: Jennet + Ellen Bierley+ Jane Southwarth. Accused of witchcraft by 14 year old. Grace Sowerbuts exposed by Bromley as unreliable (influence of Catholic Priest).


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