While researching for Hallelujah & the Rowan Stone, I came across a bit of interesting history concerning witchcraft in the 17th century. Before you ask: No, witchcraft does not play a part in this book and yes, H&tRS is set in the mid-1800's. But a while back I imagined that if Adris were to get caught by the local authorities for... I don't know... appearing out of thin air (time traveling), then the po-po (known as bobbies in 19th century England) might very well arrest & charge him with practicing witchcraft.
So, I figured I'd do a little research on the history of witchcraft in England, and ended up on a great true story from 1612 called The Pendle Witch Trials. I'd like to share with you the best account I found, authored by Cassandra James for associated content on Yahoo!
As a child growing up in England, one of the best and scariest things my family would do was to go to Pendle Hill for Halloween. Pendle Hill, in the English county of Lancashire, is famous for being associated with the most famous witch trial in British history - the Witches of Pendle. On Halloween, my parents would take me to a local stables, on the slopes of Pendle Hill, and here the local kids would bob for apples, eat treacle toffee and watch fireworks. Here also, we would be told scary witch stories about the Witches of Pendle by a woman wearing a black cloak and a big witch's hat, and with a huge wart on her face.The story of the Witches of Pendle takes place in 1612. Nineteen men and women were imprisoned in the Lancashire in small cells below Lancaster Castle. They were tried at the Lancashire assizes, a traveling court, ten of them were found guilty and sentenced to death. The ten found guilty are famous in Lancashire history. Any child growing up in Lancashire knows the names of the ten, and fears them at night when the lights go out.The ten were Ann Redfearn, Elizabeth Device, Alice Nutter, Alison Device, James Device, Katherine Hewitt, Jane Bulcock, John Bulcock, Isobel Robey and Anne Whittle (also known as Old Chattox). Elizabeth Southernes (famously known as Old Mother Demdike), would have also probably been found guilty, but she died in prison before this could happen. I remember as a child, if I was naughty, being threatened that Old Mother Demdike would come and take me away if I wasn't good.Four hundred years after the fact, children all over northern England are threatened with the Pendle Witches if they misbehave. The sad truth is though, the Pendle Witches were nothing more than old and poor men and women who were pulled before the magistrate because of a quarrel between two families.Old Mother Demdike (Elizabeth Southernes) lived with her daughter, Elizabeth Device, and grandchildren Alison and James Device. Anne Whittle (Old Chattox), another elderly woman, lived with her daughters Ann Redfearn and Bessie Whittle. Bessie Whittle one day broke into Old Mother Demdike's house and stole some clothes and some food. So Old Mother Demdike reported her to the magistrate. Bessie Whittle then turned around and accused Old Mother Demdike and her family of witchraft. Alison Device, Old Mother Demdike's daughter, returned the favor saying Anne Whittle's whole family also practiced witchcraft and both families were arrested.After a long imprisonment and then a trial, ten of the members of the two families were hanged as witches - being found guilty of the murders of 17 people. They weren't dropped though, which would have broken their necks and given them a quick death. Instead they were hung so they strangled slowly in front of a huge crowd who watched their deaths. Nine year old Jennet Device was the only one who was really giving evidence against them though, saying she had seen them flying around on broomsticks and turning people into frogs.As kids in Lancashire, we were also told stories about the witch's 'familiars'. Alizon Device had a black dog familiar, and Old Mother Demdike a devil's spirit called Tibb, who came and drank her blood. I remember being very careful around black dogs for a long time afterwards.To this day, the Pendle Witches are famous all over England. Their names are used to attract tourists to the area, and are a big draw during Halloween, when every neighborhood child is warned about Old Mother Demdike and Alice Nutter.
Great story, right? In the current scene between Hallie & Henry (Chapter 9), Henry relays that the idea of time machines has been milling about America for some time. In fact, he says, most Americans actually welcome the notion. This prompts Hallie to contemplate their own people, the Britons, and how they might respond to an invention so advanced and complex. Recalling what she knows on the Pendle Witch Trials, Hallie decides the government (or, in their case, the local authorities) would likely arrest and try that individual for witchcraft.
Hope you found this article as interesting as I did! While researching for something--a book, school, whatever--did you ever stumble upon a piece or several pieces of information you totally did not expect? Does one particular instance stick out in your mind? If so, share!
Peace, Love, and Junior Mints,