LETTER: There should be no pardon for the Pendle Witches
I, along with others who live in Bideford, North Devon, do not believe this should happen.
Whether you believe them innocent or guilty, if witchcraft is even possible or if you’re not fussed either way, I urge you to keep reading and consider signing my petition. By being remembered as witches, whether you think they were or not, their names have gone down in history and will be recalled for generations to come and they have brought accolade and fame to the towns that were their homes while their mortal bodies still resided on Earth.
Why do they feel the need to quash this? As none of us were there at the time we do not have the authority to declare them innocent and apply for a pardon.
If anybody should apply, it should be the direct descendants of those who suffered. To give your readers a very brief rehash of the laws that sparked the witch hunts throughout Britian, the first Witchcraft Act was introduced by Queen Elizabeth I in 1562 and updated by James I in 1604.
It was under this act that over 250 English men, women and even a few children, were executed. In 1735 George II declared there was no such thing as witchcraft and introduced the Witchcraft Act 1735.
It stated that any persons practising magic, communing with spirits or any other witchy-related activity were committing fraud and should be punished as such. This makes them no less the witch they were before 1735 nor did it change the method or nature of their beliefs, it just satisfied a king who changed the law to suit his own faith.
The Witchcraft Act wasn’t repealed until 1951 when Winston Churchill replaced it with the Fraudulent Mediums Act, following the conviction of Helen Duncan and Jane Rebecca Yorke in 1944.
In Bideford we make the incorrect claim to be the home of the last women to be executed for witchcraft in England. I have a petition on-line calling to let the convictions stand. So if you regard the history of witchcraft and/or that of Pendle important enough to be conserved for future generations then please sign it.
The petition is at http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/38796. I am also setting up a facebook campaign that will also be a link to other witches.