LETTER: Plaque to show innocence of Pendle Witches

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Good to read David Penney’s letter expressing his concern about the increased misuse of the events which led up to the show trial and public execution of nine women and men in 1612. They were found guilty under the then witchcraft laws of a variety of charges including desecration of graves, communicating with the devil, plotting to blow up Lancaster Castle (by magic?) and at least 16 “murders”.

As we approach the 400th anniversary of this miscarriage of justice, David’s plea for a pardon is timely but would almost certainly be met by a Home Office view that these unfortunate people were convicted according to the law at the time and the Home Secretary would generally consider intervening in a case such as this only if evidence came to light which showed conclusively the witches did not commit the crimes with which they were charged.

There may, however, be an alternative way of putting this matter to the test. Pendle Council could be asked to consider recommending some form of recognition being given to the unjust nature of the witchcraft trials and executions - possibly by way of a suitably-located commemorative plaque recording the unjust and inhuman treatment and trials of the so-called Pendle Witches.

This could be financed from the tourism and related financial benefits which the borough currently derives from the exploitation of the witchcraft trials of 1612.

It would be of interest in justice to know how many other people in Pendle and beyond would support such a commemorative plaque.


Manchester Road,