Beyond Pendle
The ‘lost’ Lancashire witches
in The Lancashire witches
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In “The Wonderfull Discoverie,” Thomas Potts explains that the accused were involved in a dark conspiracy, and had all at some time made pacts with the Devil. These were relatively new, imported ideas, imposed upon the evidence by the prosecution. This chapter confirms his skeptical approach to the charge of organized Satanism, casting the net beyond Pendle and 1612 and coming up with evidence of nearly a hundred other cases of witchcraft and magic from the records of the lower courts, the Lancashire Quarter Sessions. Here, magic is accepted as a familiar part of life, with witchcraft merging into the activities of village healers and cunning folk, and with the counter-magic used by ordinary people. The fact that they used spells and charms based on garbled versions of old Catholic prayers shows that the witches and their clients remained untouched by Puritan campaigns of reformation, carrying down the generations elements of the old popular religious culture of Catholic Lancashire.

The Lancashire witches

Histories and stories

Editor: Robert Poole

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