Pardon the Pendle Witches Petition: The Spooky Isles is backing a petition by the Blackpool Dungeon, calling on the Government to seek a Royal Pardon for those convicted and executed in the Lancashire Witch Trials of 1612.
Long-time readers of The Spooky Isles would be well aware of the case of Lancashire’s Pendle Witches, those poor unfortunates who were put to death in 1612 on witchcraft-related charges.
We’ve published many articles about this case as it’s a fascinating look at the darker side of life in 17th century England.
But as much as we love delving into tales of witches and murder, we are also heartbroken for those victims of a time that embraced religious intolerance.
That’s why we support a recent petition set up by the Blackpool Dungeon, calling for a royal pardon for those collectively known as the Pendle Witches.
Who were the Pendle Witches?
For those who are unaware of the case, they can read our Pendle-related articles here.
But in a nutshell, the case involves the trial of 12 people living around Pendle Hill in Lancashire, who were accused of killing people by using witchcraft.
Of the 11 that went to trial – nine women and two men – 10 were found guilty and executed by hanging. Only one was found not guilty.
A key part of the testimony against the “Pendle Witches” was the testimony of a nine-year-old girl, Jennet Device. As Jon Kaneko-James says in his Spooky Isles’ article “Jennet Device, The Child Witch Who Killed The Pendle Witches“, 40,000 to 60,000 people were executed in those times, many – possiibly hundreds – were from the result of testimony from a child.
Paranormal researcher and blogger Hayley Stevens has been a long advocate for pardoning the Pendle Witches for various reasons.
“My support for this campaign comes from many different places,” Hayley, who writes the excellent www.hayleyisaghost.co.uk, says. “Firstly, as a humanist and feminist, I think it’s important to take a stand against the horrific treatment that those accused of witchcraft have faced both historically as here with the case of the Pendle Witches.
“But also contemporary accounts too. Following the work of activists like Leo Igwe really brings home how the stigma still exists today either deadly consequences for those singled out. I think the petition asking for a pardon of the Pendle Witches sends a clear message that this sort of persecution and oppression was never okay and it’s not okay now.
“Secondly, my mum was from Lancashire and literally grew up in a small house in the shadow of Pendle Hill and often told me stories about the witch trials and also the different locations of significance and so on. In 2019, Paul and Janet from LAPIS (Lancashire Anomalous Phenomena Investigation Society) drove me around the area ahead of me speaking day their conference and it was one of the most emotional experiences of my life. My mum died in 2017 so visiting the place she told so many stories of felt like coming home, so Pendle has and always will -have a special place in my heart.
“Thirdly, I have so many friends who practice witchcraft here in the UK and I think campaigns like this one help to end some of the stigma they still face here in the UK today so although I am not a practising witch myself (though I am sure there are little habits we all have which are rooted in the craft) I thought this campaign was a great way to show my support for those who are witches.”
Lancashire-based writer and author Barry McCann is also supporting the campaign. He said: “I have been saying for years there should be a posthumous pardon of the Pendle Witches, as they are known. In fact, it should extend to everybody persecuted, prosecuted and judicially murdered under the barbaric Witchcraft Laws.
“I am glad to see Semra Haksever is spearheading a campaign to make this so, and that it is being backed by the University of Central Lancashire’s Professor Robert Pole and even the Blackpool Tower Dungeon attraction. I suggest people take this to their MPs, after all it will not cost the government anything to issue the pardon but it would be worth an awful lot more.”
Professional Lancashire tour guide Simon Entwistle – who often runs tours around the Pendle Hill area – says he’s supporting the petition because of the unfair treatment of the convicted, who were unable to defend themselves. “I personally feel the real evil surrounding the Pendle Witch Trials of 1612 came from the prosecution by a local magistrate who wanted to curry favour with the King of England. It worked very well, as the accused were basically peasants, who could not read or write.”
There was really no evidence that the Pendle Witches did anything wrong, other than live in a world where it was convenient for some to throw dirt at them.
Support the Pardon the Pendle Witches Petition
We support the Blackpoool Dungeon’s petition to pardon the Pendle Witches that says:
“Request a Monarch’s pardon for those who were hanged for Witchcraft in 1612.
“We call on the Government to request a Monarch’s pardon for the 10 innocent people convicted and hanged for Witchcraft at the Lancashire Witch Trials of 1612. This was a political and religious persecution, a pardon is long overdue & should be granted.
“The trial itself changed legal precedent by using a child of only 9 to convict members of her own family; it concluded with no defence testimony or sound evidence & involved the use of coercion and torture. We seek justice.”
Please note that only residents of the UK can sign the petition. But, of course, those in other countries are encouraged to share the link and tell their friends in the UK about why it’s important to support this cause.