“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.”
Is there a statute of limitations on witch executions? Massachusetts State Sen. Diana DiZoglio filed a bill earlier this year to clear the name of Elizabeth Johnson Jr., the last of the Salem witches, who was convicted of “covenanting with the devil” in January 1693. That’s 328 years, but Lancashire, England, has Salem beat – the Blackpool Dungeon is collecting signatures on a petition to convince the queen to pardon the Pendle witches over 400 years after their executions under a loophole known as the Royal Prerogative of Mercy.
“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.”
The Blackpool Tower Dungeon presents a one-hour show on “1,000 years of Lancashire’s gruesome and funny history” and features a segment on the “eerie woods of Pendle” hosted by an actress portraying Alizon Device – one of the 10 Pendle Hill people (two were men) who were found guilty of being witches and hanged in 1612. Six of them, including Alizon Device, came from two families and may have been traditional healers who were turned in by competing families of healers. Of course, that's not proof of witchcraft or any other crime … in 1612 or 2021 either. Yet more than 400 years later, humans still castigate and sometimes murder those ‘others’ who are different.
“This case is important in 2021 as it teaches us that if we identify members of a community, however marginal, as some kind of ‘other’, that it’s going to lead to other miscarriages of justice.”
Can a petition overturn this “miscarriage of justice” and exonerate the Pendle witches? That depends on the number of signatures obtained and mood of the reigning monarch. According to the petition website, 10,000 signatures are needed to get the government to respond to the petition, while 100,000 signatures will put it up debate in Parliament. However, it appears the signatures are not needed to get Queen Elizabeth II to grant the Monarch’s Pardons – they just show her how many people think it’s about time. These pardon’s have been granted before -- in 1717, King George I pardoned pirates who surrendered to the authorities as a means of suppressing acts of piracy, and in 2013 Queen Elizabeth granted a posthumous pardon to Alan Turing, the mathematician, early computer scientist and wartime codebreaker who was convicted in 1952 of gross indecency for a consensual homosexual relationship with an adult.
“Today we take a stance against prejudice and give the power back to these inspiring women to tell their stories.”
Kenny Mew, general manager at The Blackpool Tower Dungeons, told Higgypop it’s time to grant full pardons to the Pendle Witches -- Anne Whittle, Ann Redfearn, Elizabeth Device, Alice Nutter, Alizon Device, Device, Katherine Hewitt, Jane Bulcock, John Bulcock and Isobel Robey.
Come on, Queen Elizabeth! You can do this! And while you’re at it, isn’t it time to take a stance against prejudice and give the power back to ALL inspiring women to tell their stories? Maybe you’ll influence the leaders of the U.S. to do the same.