John brought a seasonal touch to October’s meeting with a
different twist to the Lancashire Witches’ story.
He opened his talk by explaining the Europe wide persecution of
women who were regarded as witches during the 15th to 17th
centuries. The name, witch, meaning ‘a wise one’, someone who
understood plants, knew their signatures and used them to heal
people and livestock.
He explained about the political and social condition of Britain
during those times and, in particular, the Pendle Forest area in
the early 17th century.
It was a difficult, indeed a dangerous, period for anyone such
as a witch to stand out for the wrong reasons. Women were
persecuted for nothing more than bringing attention to
themselves for reasons that now seem unfathomable to modern
The Pendle Forest area had 2 sets of wise ones, the women of the
Demdikes and the Chattocks familes.
The downfall of the Pendle witches stemmed from an incident
between a member of the Demdike clan and a travelling pack man.
He, apparently, suffered a stroke and blamed the Demdikes for
Before the magistrates a situation arose where the grandmothers
of both clans condemn themselves by trying to outdo each other
with acts of witch craft. This led to trial at Lancaster where a
total of 10 people were tried, found guilty and executed.
Evidence from a 9 year old girl was considered that led to the
After lots of conjecture and ideas about locations and events
John’s conclusion was that the Pendle witches were well and
truly stitched up. And, for this he delivered a ‘not guilty
A thought provoking and, indeed, an entertaining talk.