The Witches of Pendle Forest

The wild and desolate parts of the parish of Whalley furnished a fitting scene for witch assemblies, and it was alleged that such meetings were held at Malkin Tower, in Pendle Forest, within that parish.

The Justices of the peace in this part of the country, Roger Nowell and Nicholas Bannister, having learned that Malkin Tower, the residence of Old Demdike and her daughter, was the resort of the witches, ventured to arrest their head and another of her followers, and to commit them to Lancaster Castle.

When the old witch had been sent to Lancaster, a grand convocation of seventeen witches and three wizards was held at Malkin Tower on Good Friday, at which it was determined to kill Mr. M'Covell, the governor of the castle, and blow up the building, to enable the witches to make their escape.

The other two objects of this convocation were to christen the familiar of Alison Device, one of the witches in the castle, and also to bewitch and murder Mr. Lister, a gentleman of Westby-in-Craven, Yorkshire.

The business being ended, the witches, in quitting the meeting, walked out of the barn, named Malkin Tower, in their proper shapes, but on reaching the door, each mounted his or her spirit, which was in the form of a young horse, and quickly vanished.

Before the assizes, Old Demdike, worn out by age and trouble, died in prison. The others were brought to trial.

From Lancashire Folklore, 1882
John Harland and T.T. Wilkinson.

The Meeting at Malkin Tower

The names of the Witches at the Great Assembly and Feast at Malkin Tower, on Good Friday in 1612:

  • Elizabeth Device
  • Alice Nutter
  • Katherine Hewitt alias Mould-heels
  • John Bulcock
  • Jane Bulcock
  • Alice Gray of Padiham
  • Jennet Hargraves
  • Elizabeth Hargraves
  • Christopher Howgate
  • Christopher Hargraves son of Demdike
  • Grace Hay of Padiham
  • Anne Crunckshey of Marsden
  • Elizabeth Howgate
  • Jennet Preston Executed at York for the murder of Mr. Lister.

With many more, which being bound over to appear at the last assizes, are since that time fled to save themselves.

From Discovery of Witches, 1613
Thomas Potts (clerk of the court).

The Witches Malkin Tower

The Witchcraft of Chattox

The first person arraigned before Sir Edward Bromley, who presided in the criminal court, was Ann Whittle, alias 'Chattox'.

Her abode was in the Forest of Pendle, amongst the company of other witches, where the woollen trade was carried on, she having been in her younger days a wool-carder.

She was indicted for having exercised various wicked and devilish arts called witchcrafts, enchantments, charms and sorceries, upon one Robert Nutter, of Greenhead, in the Forest of Pendle, and with having, by force thereof, feloniously killed him.

To establish this charge her own examination was read, from which it appeared that fourteen or fifteen years ago, a thing like 'a Christian man' had importuned her to sell her soul to the devil, and that she had done so, giving to her Familiar the name of 'Fancy'.

On account of an insult offered to her daughter, Anne Redferne, by Robert Nutter, they two conspired to place a bad wish upon Nutter, of which he died.

It was further deposed against her that John Device had agreed to give Old Chattox a dole of meal yearly if she would not hurt him, and that when he ceased to make this annual tribute, he took to his bed and died.

She was further charged with having bewitched the drink of John Moore, and also with having, without using the churn, produced a quantity of butter from a dish of skimmed milk!

In the face of this evidence, and no longer anxious about her own life, she acknowledged her guilt, but humbly prayed the judges to be merciful to her daughter, Anne Redferne; but her prayer was in vain.

From Lancashire Folklore, 1882
John Harland and T.T. Wilkinson.

The Witch Chattox

The Witchcraft of Demdike

The substance of the examinations of the so called witches and others, may be given as follows: Old Demdike persuaded her daughter, Elizabeth Device, to sell herself to the devil, which she did, and in turn initiated her daughter, Alison Device, in these infernal arts.

Amongst the rest of the voluntary confessions made by the witches, that of Dame Demdike is preserved.

She confessed that, about twenty years ago, as she was coming home from begging, she was met near Gouldshey, in the Forest of Pendle, by a spirit of devil in the shape of a boy, the one half of his coat black and the other brown, who told her to stop and said that if she would give him her soul, she would have anything she wished for.

She asked his name, and was told 'Tib'. She consented, from the hope of gain, to give him her soul.

For several years she had no occasion to make any application to her evil spirit; but one Sunday morning, having a little child upon her knee, and she being in a slumber, the spirit appeared to he in the likeness of a brown dog., and forced himself upon her knee, and begun to suck blood under her left arm, on which she exclaimed, 'Jesus! Save me!' and the brown dog vanished, leaving her almost stark mad for eight weeks.

On another occasion she was led, being blind, to the house of Richard Baldwin, to obtain payment for the services her daughter had performed at his mill, when Baldwin fell into a passion, and bid them to get off his ground, calling them 'whores and witches' and saying he would burn the one and hang the other.

On this, Tib appeared, and they concerted matters to revenge themselves on Baldwin; how, is not stated.

From Lancashire Folklore, 1882
John Harland and T.T. Wilkinson.