You are what you eat & drink

Posts tagged “Pendle Hill

Witches Brew

History gives us many strange names and, indeed, records and preserves history in doing so.

Such is the case with an ale named Pendle Witches Brew…

Moorhouse’s Pendle Witches Brew 16.9oz Bottle The Pendle Witches lived at an uneasy time in England’s history; an era of superstition and religious persecution.

It is difficult to know exactly where the truth can be found amongst the tales and rumours. James I was king and having survived the gunpowder plot in 1605 – where Catholic plotters had tried to blow up the Houses of Parliament and destroy his Protestant rule – his fear of rebellion and a suspicious nature led to an obsession with witchcraft.

Lancashire, having long been a Catholic stronghold, was a fertile breeding ground for a series of events which, for some, led to the gallows. King James’s book ‘Daemonology’ showed local magistrates what to look out for when tracking down witches (the practice of witchcraft was now a capital offence). Local magistrates became fervent in their pursuit of witchcraft, knowing that convictions would find them favour with the King. When the Pendle Witches were put on trial, a London court clerk, Thomas Potts, was asked to make a record of the trial to send around the country as a warning/guide on finding evidence of witchcraft. In ‘Daemanology’, one of the techniques the King recommended for discovering witches was to find a devil’s mark on the suspect’s body. It was thought that the devil sealed his arrangement with witches by giving them an identification mark on the body. Today, such a mark would simply be seen as a scar or birthmark. Not so in the 1600’s where such marks were considered the sure sign of a witch.

1612 – AND ALL IS NOT WELL…. Two families, led by two old women – Demdike and Chattox – provide the most important and memorable of the reputed witches. The men of their families were dead and living a life of terrible poverty, they made a living by begging and finding whatever work they could. Alizon Device, Demdike’s granddaughter, tried her luck begging on the road to Colne. After a minor disagreement with a pedlar, she cursed him. A black dog then appeared and she ordered it to lame the pedlar who, paralysed on the left hand side, collapsed. Alizon was brought before the Justice, Roger Nowell, and confessed to witchcraft. Forced to give an account of her family’s activities, she related how Demdike had been asked to heal a sick cow which then died. She also told of how Demdike had cursed Richard Baldwin after which his daughter fell sick and died some time later. In addition, she spoke of her feud with the rival Chattox family and reported how Chattox turned ale sour at an inn at Higham and bewitched the landlord’s son to death using a clay image. On April 2nd 1612, Nowell ordered Demdike, Chattox and her daughter, Ann Redfearn, to give evidence. Demdike confessed to evil doings, claiming that the devil came to her in the shape of a little boy named ‘Tibb’. Apparently he had sucked her blood leaving her ‘mad.’ The day after, Nowell sent Demdike, Alizon Device, Chattox and Ann Redfearn to Lancaster Castle to await trial for witchcraft.

On Good Friday 1612, 20 people gathered at Malkin Tower, home of Demdike and the Devices and plotted to blow up Lancaster Castle, kill the keeper of the Castle and free the imprisoned women. By late April of the same year, an investigator was despatched to Malkin Tower. Human bones were unearthed, stolen from graves in Newchurch and a clay image was also discovered. Nowell sent for Jennet and James Device and their mother, Elizabeth, for questioning. James confessed to causing the death of Ann Towneley by slowly crumbling a clay image of her after she had accused him of stealing from her. Nine-year-old Jennet named the people who were at the Good Friday gathering, including Alice Nutter, a gentlewoman of Roughlee. Nowell sent the alleged witches to join those already at Lancaster Castle.

Demdike, meanwhile, had died in prison before the trial. On August 17th 1512, the trial opened at Lancaster Castle. The accused were not provided with a defence lawyer. Nowell produced Jennet as a witness and she gave evidence against her own family and other villagers. Elizabeth Device, her mother, was dragged from the court screaming at her daughter and issuing curses against Roger Nowell. Jennet’s evidence was tested by holding an identity parade in court at which Jennet identified Alice as one of those present at the Good Friday assemblage. Alizon Device fainted when she was confronted with the pedlar she was accused of making lame. When she was revived, she confessed her guilt. Chattox heard the evidence against her and asked God for forgiveness. She begged for her daughter, Ann Redfearn, to be shown mercy.

The judge found them all guilty and on August 20th, 1612 Chattox, Ann Redfearn, Elizabeth, James and Alizon Device, Katherine Hewitt, Alice Nutter were hanged in Lancaster Prison. Jane Bulcock and her son John were acquitted.

Story from: Quality Liquor Store

For more reading: Tomus Arcanum on the discovery of the Pendle Witches Cottage