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Samlesbury Witches

Who were Lancashire’s Samlesbury Witches?

Tried alongside the defendants from Pendle were three women from Samlesbury.

Like the Pendle witches the chief witness against them was a thirteen year old local girl, Grace Sowerbutts, and on the face of it, the evidence given against the defendants was similar to that levelled against the Pendle accused.

There was talk of causing death by cursing and of using human body parts in spells, of night flying and consorting with demons.

However the three women begged the judge to hear them and he allowed them to speak. They claimed to have been the victims of a plot against them, instigated by a Catholic priest.

This was accepted very readily by the court, Grace confessed that it was true that she had been coached by him in her evidence, and the women were deemed to be innocent of all charges and were freed.

So what was going on here?

It has been suggested that this was a show-trial, meant as a dire warning to the people of Lancashire of the dangers of Catholicism.

Find out more about the Samlesbury Witches at Samlesbury Hall, near Preston.

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