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The Lancashire witch trials

The waning summer of 1612 saw the trial and execution of a host of supposed witches at Lancaster and York, who were primarily associated with two rival families based in the Forest of Pendle.

The same year also saw a number of people from in and around the parish of Samlesbury in Blackburnshire stand trial at the Lancaster Assizes for their own supposed participation in the dark arts. They were fortunate to have for their accusers members of the hated Roman Catholic church, a persuasion which persisted in Lancashire far more stubbornly than elsewhere in England. This fact, more than the supposed strength of the evidence, led to their acquittal.

A generation later, Pendle was again ablaze with allegations, centring upon one Edmund Robinson, a young lad who, mainly thanks to the agency of his father and others, gained some local infamy as a supposed witchfinder. No charges could be made to stick, as times had changed and the widespread panic about witches and warlocks held less appeal among the great and the good of the kingdom.

This page presents a rough timeline of these and other trials involving Lancashire "witches."

Sir Graham