The Lancashire witches of 1604-13

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  • The Lancashire Witches of 1604-13
    • Why were the outcomes significant?
      • Questionable Evidence
        • Came from a 9yr old and her brother
        • James' testimony included range of cliches
      • Death of Old Demdike
        • after her death Chattox changed her story so blame lied largely with Demdike
        • Chattox claimed she had heard her confess to several murders
      • The Judges
        • 16th August judges arrived
        • Sir James Altham had previously been Baron of the Exchequer and had a reputation as an orthodox Protestant
          • Both held similar views to the King/ had a close relationship with the king. concerned with gaining the king's favour and may have achieved this through convictions
        • Sir Edward Bromley was also Baron of the Exchequer and was gicen the role of mediator with the House of Lords by the King
          • Both held similar views to the King/ had a close relationship with the king. concerned with gaining the king's favour and may have achieved this through convictions
      • Conduct and outcomes of the trials
        • held on 18-19 August and each suspected witch was asked if they believed themselves to be guilty
          • all but one pleaded not guilty
        • Not allowed to prepare defence and may not have known charges against them
        • Old Chattox and James Device confessed, Elizabeth Device continued to plead not guilty but all were found guilty
        • Anne Redferne, Katherine Hewitt and Alice Nutter found guilty
        • Thomas Potts was clerk of the court so had an insight, judges ordered him to write the account but it was corrected and checked before publication. speeches of the judges edited to improve them
          • provided an account that justified the trials and allowed Bromley and Altham to advance their careers
    • what was the significance of the context?
      • religious context
        • protestant reformation but was a refuge for recusant catholics
        • local clergy came to blow with their superiors e.g Christopher Nuttall
        • older witches were charged with using spells based on corrupted versions of old catholic prayers indicating the reformation had limited impact
        • closure of Whalley abbey meant a loss of charity and education to the population
          • puritan clergy and associates in the gentry could wield more influence
      • Attitudes to witchcraft before 1604
        • relied on local community to make accusations
        • Maleficium was the overwhelming accusation made
    • Why and with what effect were the Lancashire families accused of witchcraft?
      • Initial Encounter and Abraham Law
        • Alizon Device meets John Law ands asks him for pins in 1612, when he refuses, she reacts angrily and he suffers great pain, becoming paralysed down one side
        • Alizon claims her familiar spirit, a black dog, appeared to her immediately and she commanded it to harm Law
        • Abraham Law, John's son, brough Alizon to his father and she begged for forgiveness but he still reported the matter to local magistrate Roger Nowell
        • Anne Whittle (Old Chattox) and Elizabeth Southerns (Old Demdike) fell out around 1601
          • began with disagreement over theft of clothing and grain
        • Christopher Nutter claimed he was bewitched in 1595, presumably by Old Chattox
      • Roger Nowell
        • Interrogated Alizon and she confessed
        • Nowell was familiar with Perkin's Discourse of the Damned Art of witches which promoted the notion of a pact with the devil
      • Alizon's confession
        • Described her initiation into witchcraft and claimed her grandmother, Old Demdike, and she was persuaded to take a familiar
          • Demdike, Chattox and Anne Redferne were all arrested three days later, where several neighbours were prepared to testify against them
            • Both Chattox and Demdike confessed
        • Recounted a time she left milk by Demdike's bed and returned to find it replaced with a quarter pound of butter, even though she had not left the bed
        • Claimed Chattox was guilty of the murder of Anne Nutter
          • Demdike, Chattox and Anne Redferne were all arrested three days later, where several neighbours were prepared to testify against them
            • Both Chattox and Demdike confessed
      • Malkin Tower meeting
        • described as a Witches' sabbat
        • JP Henry Hargreaves visited with the help of James Device and found clay image and teeth
        • 20 witches present
        • Aimed to release of the four imprisoned women, carry out a ritual that would give name to Alizon devices spirit and provide protection to Jennet Preston

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