Key Figures in the Lancashire witch trials


Alizon Device

  • Her encounter with John Law sparked the trials 
  • She was begging outside of Pendle forest on the road to Colne and asked Law for pins
  • When he refused, she reacted angrily and he immediately suffered great pain, becoming paraylsed down one side
  • She claims her familiar, a black dog, had appeared asking if she would like to harm Law and said yes
  • She confessed 
  • Apologised to Law and he forgave her
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Abraham Law

  • Son of John Law, with whom had an interaction with Alizon
  • He reported the matter to the local magistrate, Roger Nowell
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Roger Nowell

  • Familiar with William Perkin's 'Discourse of the Damned Art of Witches'
  • Interrogated Alizon
  • His investigation became more widespread as she expanded her confession 
  • Arrested Alizon, Old Demdike, Old Chattox and Anne Redferne
  • Foudn several neighbours prepared to testify against them 
  • After confessions, he kept them detained until he could send them to the Lancaster assizes
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Old Demdike

  • Known as Elizabeth Southerns
  • Claimed by Alizon that she had truned milk into butter
  • Interrogated and she confessed
  • Survived the journey to Lancaster castle but died shortly afterwards 
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Old Chattox

  • Known as Anne Whittle
  • Fell out with Old Demdike over supposed theft
  • Accused of bewitching Christopher Nutter's son Robert before the family rivalry
  • Alizon claimed she was guilty of the murder of Alice Nutter
  • Chattox confessed
  • After Old Demdike's death she switched her story to place more blame on her
  • She was found guilty
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Sir James Altham

  • From an established gentry family
  • Knighted by James I in 1605
  • Appointed Baron of the Exchequer in 1606
  • Held similar views to the King
  • Would have been concerned with gaining the king's favour
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Sir Edward Bromley

  • Established gentry family background
  • Became Baron of the Exchequer
  • Given the role of mediator in the House of Lords by King James
  • Had trust placed in him by the King 
  • Was concerned with gaining the king's favour
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Elizabeth Device

  • Old Demdike's daughter and mother of Alizon, Jennet and James Device
  • Charged with three murders
  • Cursed angrily at Jennet when she came in to give evidence
  • Found guilty
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Jennet Device

  • Nine years old 
  • Spoke and gave evidence against her family
  • Spoke out against her mother
  • Helped give the names of witches present at the Malkin Tower meeting 
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James Device

  • Helped JP Henry Hargreaves investigate Malkin Tower
  • Showed signs of illnesss at trial
  • He made a detailed confession
  • Found guilty
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Anne Redferne

  • Old Chattox's daughter
  • Tried over her role in Robert Nutter's death
  • She never confessed
  • Found guilty
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Thomas Potts

  • Acted as clerk of the court
  • His account is entirely first hand
  • His account was checked before publication by the judges
  • Speeches by judges edited
  • No legal proceedings mentioned 
  • Account was called the Wonderfull Discoverie of Witches 
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