Redferne

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The accused witches lived in the area around Pendle Hill in Lancashire , a county which, at the end of the 16th century, was regarded by the authorities as a wild and lawless region: Despite the abbey's closure, and the execution of its abbot, the people of Pendle remained largely faithful to their Roman Catholic beliefs and were quick to revert to Catholicism on Queen Mary's accession to the throne in When Mary's Protestant half-sister Elizabeth came to the throne in Catholic priests once again had to go into hiding, but in remote areas such as Pendle they continued to celebrate Mass in secret.

This demanded the death penalty, but only where harm had been caused; lesser offences were punishable by a term of imprisonment. The Act provided that anyone who should "use, practise, or exercise any Witchcraft, Enchantment, Charm, or Sorcery, whereby any person shall happen to be killed or destroyed", was guilty of a felony without benefit of clergy , and was to be put to death.

On Elizabeth's death in she was succeeded by James I. Strongly influenced by Scotland's separation from the Catholic Church during the Scottish Reformation , James was intensely interested in Protestant theology, focusing much of his curiosity on the theology of witchcraft. By the early s he had become convinced that he was being plotted against by Scottish witches.

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Pendle witches - Wikipedia

In he wrote a book, Daemonologie , instructing his followers that they must denounce and prosecute any supporters or practitioners of witchcraft. One year after James acceded to the English throne, a law was enacted imposing the death penalty in cases where it was proven that harm had been caused through the use of magic, or corpses had been exhumed for magical purposes. In early , the year of the trials, every justice of the peace JP in Lancashire was ordered to compile a list of recusants in their area, i. It was against this background of seeking out religious nonconformists that, in March , Nowell investigated a complaint made to him by the family of John Law, a pedlar , who claimed to have been injured by witchcraft.

It was perhaps difficult for the judges charged with hearing the trials — Sir James Altham and Sir Edward Bromley — to understand King James's attitude towards witchcraft. The king was head of the judiciary, and Bromley was hoping for promotion to a circuit nearer London. Altham was nearing the end of his judicial career, but he had recently been accused of a miscarriage of justice at the York Assizes, which had resulted in a woman being sentenced to death by hanging for witchcraft.

The judges may have been uncertain whether the best way to gain the King's favour was by encouraging convictions, or by "sceptically testing the witnesses to destruction". One of the accused, Demdike, had been regarded in the area as a witch for fifty years, and some of the deaths the witches were accused of had happened many years before Roger Nowell started to take an interest in Alizon Device, her mother Elizabeth, and her brother James were summoned to appear before Nowell on 30 March Alizon confessed that she had sold her soul to the Devil, and that she had told him to lame John Law after he had called her a thief.

Her brother, James, stated that his sister had also confessed to bewitching a local child. Elizabeth was more reticent, admitting only that her mother, Demdike, had a mark on her body, something that many, including Nowell, would have regarded as having been left by the Devil after he had sucked her blood. She claimed that her father had been so frightened of Old Chattox that he had agreed to give her 8 pounds 3.

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The meal was handed over annually until the year before John's death; on his deathbed John claimed that his sickness had been caused by Chattox because they had not paid for protection. Both Demdike and Chattox were by then blind and in their eighties, and both provided Nowell with damaging confessions. Demdike claimed that she had given her soul to the Devil 20 years previously, and Chattox that she had given her soul to "a Thing like a Christian man", on his promise that "she would not lack anything and would get any revenge she desired".

Margaret Crooke, another witness seen by Nowell that day, claimed that her brother had fallen sick and died after having had a disagreement with Redferne, and that he had frequently blamed her for his illness [26] Based on the evidence and confessions he had obtained, Nowell committed Demdike, Chattox, Anne Redferne and Alizon Device to Lancaster Gaol, to be tried for maleficium — causing harm by witchcraft — at the next assizes.

The committal and subsequent trial of the four women might have been the end of the matter, had it not been for a meeting organised by Elizabeth Device at Malkin Tower, the home of the Demdikes, [28] held on Good Friday 10 April Friends and others sympathetic to the family attended, and when word of it reached Roger Nowell, he decided to investigate.

On 27 April , an inquiry was held before Nowell and another magistrate, Nicholas Bannister, to determine the purpose of the meeting at Malkin Tower, who had attended, and what had happened there. As a result of the inquiry, eight more people were accused of witchcraft and committed for trial: Preston lived across the border in Yorkshire, so she was sent for trial at York Assizes; the others were sent to Lancaster Gaol, to join the four already imprisoned there. Malkin Tower is believed to have been near the village of Newchurch in Pendle , [31] or possibly in Blacko on the site of present-day Malkin Tower Farm, [32] and to have been demolished soon after the trials.

The Pendle witches were tried in a group that also included the Samlesbury witches , Jane Southworth, Jennet Brierley, and Ellen Brierley, the charges against whom included child murder and cannibalism ; Margaret Pearson, the so-called Padiham witch , who was facing her third trial for witchcraft, this time for killing a horse; and Isobel Robey from Windle , accused of using witchcraft to cause sickness. Some of the accused Pendle witches, such as Alizon Device, seem to have genuinely believed in their guilt, but others protested their innocence to the end.

Jennet Preston was the first to be tried, at York Assizes. Jennet Preston lived in Gisburn , which was then in Yorkshire , so she was sent to York Assizes for trial.


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She had already appeared before Bromley in , accused of murdering a child by witchcraft, but had been found not guilty. The most damning evidence given against her was that when she had been taken to see Lister's body, the corpse "bled fresh bloud presently, in the presence of all that were there present" after she touched it. All the other accused lived in Lancashire, so they were sent to Lancaster Assizes for trial, where the judges were once again Altham and Bromley. The prosecutor was local magistrate Roger Nowell, who had been responsible for collecting the various statements and confessions from the accused.

Nine-year-old Jennet Device was a key witness for the prosecution, something that would not have been permitted in many other 17th-century criminal trials. However, King James had made a case for suspending the normal rules of evidence for witchcraft trials in his Daemonologie. Anne Whittle Chattox was accused of the murder of Robert Nutter.

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He claimed to remember that Nutter had accused Chattox of turning his beer sour, and that she was commonly believed to be a witch. Chattox broke down and admitted her guilt, calling on God for forgiveness and the judges to be merciful to her daughter, Anne Redferne. Elizabeth Device vehemently maintained her innocence. The main witness against Device was her daughter, Jennet, who was about nine years old. When Jennet was brought into the courtroom and asked to stand up and give evidence against her mother, Elizabeth, confronted with her own child making accusations that would lead to her execution, began to curse and scream at her daughter, forcing the judges to have her removed from the courtroom before the evidence could be heard.

She also said her mother had a familiar called Ball, who appeared in the shape of a brown dog.

Jennet claimed to have witnessed conversations between Ball and her mother, in which Ball had been asked to help with various murders. James Device also gave evidence against his mother, saying he had seen her making a clay figure of one of her victims, John Robinson.

Pendle witches

However he, like Chattox, had earlier made a confession to Nowell, which was read out in court. That, and the evidence presented against him by his sister Jennet, who said that she had seen her brother asking a black dog he had conjured up to help him kill Townley, was sufficient to persuade the jury to find him guilty.

The trials of the three Samlesbury witches were heard before Anne Redferne's first appearance in court, [50] late in the afternoon, charged with the murder of Robert Nutter. The evidence against her was considered unsatisfactory, and she was acquitted. Anne Redferne was not so fortunate the following day, when she faced her second trial, for the murder of Robert Nutter's father, Christopher, to which she pleaded not guilty.

Demdike's statement to Nowell, which accused Anne of having made clay figures of the Nutter family, was read out in court. Witnesses were called to testify that Anne was a witch "more dangerous than her Mother". Jane Bulcock and her son John Bulcock, both from Newchurch in Pendle , were accused and found guilty of the murder by witchcraft of Jennet Deane. Alice Nutter was unusual among the accused in being comparatively wealthy, the widow of a tenant yeoman farmer. She made no statement either before or during her trial, except to enter her plea of not guilty to the charge of murdering Henry Mitton by witchcraft.

The prosecution alleged that she, together with Demdike and Elizabeth Device, had caused Mitton's death after he had refused to give Demdike a penny she had begged from him.

Now Torin is back in her life, emotions from the past are resurfacing and Grace begins to realise elements of her life are going wrong. Josie has a husband and young family to contend with. Ada is facing the difficulties of old age. Eliza just wants to grow up. They all begin to turn to Grace for answers.

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Through Redferne birthday and holiday parties, family dinners and informal cigarette breaks and after work drinks, the Redferne characters come to earthy and colorful life. The novel is full of compassion and tough love, written in straight forward, yet fleshy language. I was hooked from page one!