Wednesday, 31 October 2012

The Witches of Pendle

Hello and welcome to The Five Cats Chronicles blog for Halloween.

Do you like spooky stories? I am a big scaredy cat but I love a good spooky story, particularly if it is a real life spooky. As it is a Halloween I thought it would be a good idea to let my brother Sooty tell you a story. After all he is a black cat.

Thank you Patchy for giving me the opportunity to tell this story, it is not very often I get a word in on this blog. Patchy as you have probably gathered by now, is a bit of a chatter box. 

"You can go now Patchy; yes just move your backside off the computer chair go on and do something else, sharpen your claws or something."

The Witches of Pendle

Tales of witches and witchcraft go as far back as the 14th century, and there were associations of black cats with witches; that is were superstitions about black cats arose.

The tale of The Pendle Witches dates back to 400 years, in fact 17th August 2012  marked the 400th anniversary of the Pendle Witch Trials in 1612.

Pendle Hill Shrouded in Mist

The area of Pendle can be found in Lancashire, in the North West of England; Pendle is a borough of the county of Lancashire in England.

Pendle Hill rises from an ancient hunting ground, the summit of the hill was a Bronze Age burial ground.  In 1652 a man named George Fox climbed up Pendle Hill. It was there he was inspired to found the Quaker movement.

The villages of Sabden, Newchurch and Roughlee all have connections to the Pendle witches.

In the late 16th century the area of Pendle was considered by the authorities as being wild and lawless. The Pendle witches lived in the early 17th century. At this time religious persecution and superstitions were rife.
Their monarch King James I was a Protestant and it was a criminal offence for anyone not to attend the Church of England services and receive communion. Yearly the Justice of the Peace compiled a list of non conformists, the JP for the area of Pendle was called Roger Nowell.

James I had survived an assassination attempt Catholics called The Gunpowder Plot; this plot involved blowing up, the predominantly Protestant members of the Houses of Parliament when the King was in attendance. He was also convinced in 1590 (before he became king) that an assassination attempt was plotted by Scottish witches. In 1604 he imposed a law that carried the death penalty for anyone causing death or harm through the use of magic.

The trial of the Pendle Witches is one of the most famous witchcraft trials in British history, it all began on Sunday 18th March 1612:

There were two rival peasant families who were each lead by a matriarch, they were commonly known as Chaddox (Ann Whittle) and Demdike (Elizabeth Southerns) The families lived in poverty and they often begged and found work where they could. Both families were often the subject of local gossip, as the matriarchs often boasted about the cures and "spells" they offered to the local villagers.  

On the 18th March Alison Device, the granddaughter of Demdike begged some pins from a peddler named John Law of Halifax. He refused to give her any pins and Alison cursed him. Shortly after John Law fell to the ground paralysed.

Adam the son of John Law made a complaint to the Justice of the Peace, Roger Nowell, Alison was interrogated and made a confession of witchcraft and also incriminated her mother Elizabeth and brother James. When Alison was summoned to appear before Roger Nowell on March 30th 1612 she took the opportunity to accused Chaddox and her family of being involved in witchcraft.

On April 3rd  Alison Device, Demdike, Chaddox and her daughter Anne Redferne were interrogated. Demdike claimed she had given her soul to the devil 20 years previously and Chaddox also claims to have given her soul to a "Christian like man." They were all committed for a witchcraft trial at Lancaster Castle.

Elizabeth Device organised a meeting at the Demdikes home, Malkin Tower on Good Friday; 6th April 1612. Relatives and supporters of the families attended.  James Device stole a neighbours sheep for them to feast upon. The news of the meeting and the stolen sheep reached Roger Nowell he send a local constable to Malkin Tower. There accusation flew that at the meeting a plot was hatched to free the imprisoned women by blowing up Lancaster Castle.

The constable found human bones and teeth,apparently stolen from a graveyard at St.Mary's church in Newchurch. He also found a clay image.  James Device confesses to using the image to cause the death of a woman called Anne Townley.  All others attending the "Witches Sabbath" meeting were arrested and imprisoned Elizabeth Device, James Device, Alice Nutter, Katherine Hewitt, John Bulcock, Jane Bulcock and Alice Gray in Lancaster Castle and Jennet Preston who was from Yorkshire she was imprisoned in York, she was tried and found guilty of murder by witchcraft and was sentenced to death by hanging. She was executed on the 29th July 1612.

The Trial of the Pendle witches started at Lancaster Assizes on August 17th 1612. They were all accused of murder and witchcraft. The key witness was Jennet the nine year old daughter of Elizabeth Device. It was unusual, even in the 17th century for a nine year old child to give witness at a trial. Normal rules were suspended for evidence given in witchcraft trials, as stated in King James I's Daemonologie.

In order to please King James the trial lasted for only three days; of the accused only one suspect, Alice Grey was found Not Guilty. Elizabeth Southerns (Demdike) died while awaiting trial, the other nine were found guilty and sentenced to death by hanging. They were executed at Gallows Hill in Lancaster on August 20th 1612.

Modern times brought "Dark Tourism" to the Pendle area, thousands of visitor come yearly to visit the area, they can follow the witches walks or travel on The Witch Way buses. There is even a beer produced in Burnley called Witches Brew. You can also find shops selling witch related gifts.

Witches Galore

There is a shop (see above) in Newchurch-in-Pendle called Witches Galore, were you can buy souvenirs and all things witchy.

You can read more about the Pendle witches here:

Witch Facts

  • The word witch come from the Anglo-Saxon word Wicca or Wise one.
  • The Pagans used Wicca (magic) in their pagan rites, usually to bring a good harvest.
  • Witchcraft had become sinister by the 14th century.
  • The witches hat is an exaggeration of a Puritan hat, the point is said to have been a representation of the devils horns
  • Unmarried women or widows would earn money by practising healing, this lead to accusations of witchcraft.
  • The Puritans believed that black cats were in league with the devil, the 17th pilgrims that went to America passed a law forbidding anyone to own a black cat. The punishment for owning a black cat was death.
  • In the 15th century witches were portrayed flying astride wolves & goats, eventually a broomstick became a more common image.
  • It was thought that the sound of church bells could bring down a flying witch.
  • James I recommended that suspected witches should be searched for the devil's mark, usually a birthmark. This "devil's mark" was seen as a sign that the suspect had made a covenant with the devil.
  • Matthew Hopkins was the England's "Witchfinder General" from 1645, he was responsible for the hanging of 68 witches.
  • In a book by James I one of the techniques of proving someone was a witch was to use " ducking" or "swimming." The suspect's right thumb was tied to their left toe, a roped was tied around their waist. They were then thrown into a deep river or pond. If the suspected witch sank to the bottom they were deemed innocent if they floated they were in league with the devil for rejecting the baptismal water.

I hope you enjoyed reading the fascinating and true story, all that is left for me to say is:

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Cats and Blogs 2

As promised I have some more Cats and Blogs for you. The Catisverse has many bloggers so here are just a few to whet your appetite.

I will start with a Twitter friend from down under:

Dugal Down Under

If you haven’t already guessed Dugal is from Australia. He lives in Adelaide in South Australia.  He has a great, or as we say pawsome, blog site called Three Aussie Cats . It is all about Dugal and his other cat siblings. Plenty of great pages; pictures and information, also there are Three Aussie Cats YouTube videos for you to enjoy.

We next have a newcomer to the world of blogging, he is the suave:

Harry Clooney

Harry lives in the UK; you will of course recognise that he takes his name from the world famous actor and sex symbol George Clooney. Harry is also very much like James Bond, in fact his first blog post is titled Pussy Galore. Harry shares with you his gentleman's guide for ensuring that you are surrounded by pretty kitties.

 His next post promises to give you some family advice, take my advice and take a look at his blog for yourselves at:

Now please put your paws (or hands) together for my next blogger, the muti award winner:


Nerrisa lives in Canada and takes the name of a character from Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice.

The blog is called Nerissa's Life, it is all about Nerissa and cat siblings Nerissa, Mason, Beatrice, Seville and Rushton (if I have left any siblings out please let me know Nerissa)

There's plenty to read and you can see and all the awards the blog has received; an unintentional rhyme slipped in there.
Nerissa has kindly informed me about the members of his cat family they are as follows:

Primrose, Snowdrop, Blossom, Jacob, Beatrice, Constance, Tobias, Tess, Mason, Seville and Rushton. Primrose, Snowdrop & Blossom are my aunties by adoption; Jacob is my dad; Beatrice & Constance are my sisters and littermates  Tobias, Tess & Mason are my sisters by adoption and Seville & Rushton are my brothers by adoption. 

You can find Nerrisa's blog here:

I would love an award, and I am ashamed to say I am a little bit envious of all Nerissa's awards, don't tell anyone will you. So if there is anyone out there in blogger land who wishes to take a look at my poor old bloggy and wishes to bestow any kind of award, you know I will be grateful. 

Enough of the begging now, so what is happening in my neck of the woods, well I got a new Twitter hair do  you want a peek? Please no laughing.

On a serious note, this wig was for Domestic Violence Awareness. If you or anyone you know is suffering from domestic violence please find some help. There is help out there, you do not have to "put up" with it, make it stop.

Gingy's eye is much the same, we do know that she has lost most of the vision in that eye, poor Gingy. But you know, it has not  affected her as much as I thought, she is the same Gingy, still feisty and strong willed.

Sooty has developed an enormous appetite he has been eating his food and everyone else's if they look away from it for just a moment. My humans thinks he has *whispers* w-o-r-m-s I can't say the word, yuck.
He has already been treated recently but it looks like he needed a larger dose. Anyway the least said on this subject the better.

Blackie has been up to her usual lizard catching rat catching tricks, we found the remains of a rat in the garden the other day. Blackie should be called Artemis; Greek goddess of hunting.

Must go now it is nearly food time again, yes, Sooty be helping me with the next blog post for Halloween. 

Oh, yes I must mention that The Little Book of Cats is now available as an ebook, if you are interested take a look at the Little Book of Cats page on this blog.

See you then.

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

International Feral Cat Day

International Feral Cat Day

Do you know what day it is today? If you are a feral cat you probably will; it is international feral cat day.  As I am the unofficial spokescat for feral cats I would like to tell all about it.

International Feral Cat Day was started 10 years ago by Alley Cat Allies, to educate more countries about the humane ways in which feral, and stray cat populations can be controlled by the TNR schemes (trap, neuter and release). You can discover more about the truth of feral cats from Alley Cat Allies click here
You can also watch a YouTube video about it.

There are those that think the best solution for feral cats is to remove them by poisoning and shooting; this is extremely cruel land unnecessary.Taking them to an animal shelter is also unwise, if a feral cat is handled at a young age it is possible to rehome them. Adults are more difficult and if left in a shelter they may not be suitable to be rehomed.

Surely feral cats have a right to life outdoors like other wildlife; the problems that arise is that of over population. This is remedied by the TNR schemes. Female cats can start breeding at six months old, so it is important to have them neutered as soon as possible.

As you will know I and my feline brother and sisters were feral cats. My mother was 100% feral and would never be able to live anywhere but outside.  Scratchy and I were lucky to have “adpoted “ the family that fed and cared for us. Blackie’s history is a little more dubious, we are not sure if she was a feral, or domestic cat that ended up living the life of a feral cat.

Before you do take a feral cat into your home please make sure you have it treated for fleas, ticks and worms.  If don’t want any flea infestations on your cat or in your house make sure you check your cat regularly. Fleas can cause worms in cats so it can be a vicious circle if you don't treat a cat for both of these parasites.

Even if you do not want to adopt or feed or make a donation, you can help a feral cat by just leave them some clean drinking water. More feral and stray animals die from dehydration than from starvation, and dehydration can be a big problem if you live in a country with very hot summers.

I count myself very lucky I found a loving and caring home; I don’t always appreciate it; so my humans tell me, but I am grateful.

This picture features my brother and sister, who are no longer with me, Scratchy and Dory.

Bye for now,next time I will have some more cats and blogs for you.

Friday, 5 October 2012

Letters From Patchy

My Pink Hair Do

Hello Readers, what do you think of the pink wig? It was kindly made for me by my Twitter friend NancyFaceCakes, she likes to make wigs for us cats to wear for special occasions and for Wigitup Wednesday on Twitter. She is a very clever pussycat.  The wig is also in recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness Month by Breast Cancer Care; if you would like to read more click here:Breast Cancer Care

Have you ever written a letter and you find that you have completely wasted your time, I have done this and wondered why I have bothered. I would like to share with you some letters that I have written recently. (please note these are fictional)

Miss Patchy Meow
1 Cat Villa

Mr Barack Obama

The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue 
NW Washington
DC 20500

25th August 2012

Dear Mr President

I am writing to ask you if you have every considered having a pet cat at the White House?  I understand there is a longstanding tradition of keeping a pet dog, and I admire your choice of a dog from a shelter. Perhaps you would like to break with tradition by having a cat.

I would also like to suggest that if you do decide to introduce a feline into the White House, it would be essential that you install a cat flap in the front / back door.  I have also, as I am sure you will, considered the security implications of installing said cat flap, and recommend some form of cat flap security.  Paw print recognition may be useful, after all you wouldn't want any old moggy and Mitt Romney, letting themselves in and roaming around the White House.

Perhaps you could also pass on that sentiment to Mr Romney.

Yours Sincerely

Patchy Meow

Here is my reply



20th September 2012

Dear Friend:

Thank you for your suggestions, but at this moment in time I am not considering owning a cat or a cat flap. I am particularly concerned about the eruption of cat fights at the White House. As you may be aware I am in the middle of a presidential election campaign and I am sure to encounter some cat fights along the way, I however do not wish them or my opposition candidate in White House.

I will personally pass your sentiments on to Mr Romney.

Yours Sincerely

Barack Obama

Presidential Seal :By Philip Martiny (photo by the White House) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

 Miss Patchy Meow
1 Cat Villa

Her Majesty The Queen
Buckingham Palace

3rd September 2012


May I wish you many congratulations on your Jubilee year, and commiserate you on how often the younger members of the royal family have been displayed in the media, with articles of clothing missing.

As you are an owner of many corgis, I was wondering how you manage with so many dogs needing doggy toilet. How you are keeping your palace lawns clean? We cats manage very well with our litter trays, but as yet I have never come across any dogs using one.

Do you have a particular member of staff who is designated the task of cleaning up after the corgis? If I may I would like to suggest to your Majesty a design concept I have created called; The Super Duper Pooper Scooper. Please find enclosed pictures.

The pooper scooper is large enough to cope with large quantities, and the attached sling serves as a duel purpose pooper scooper.  The Sling would be particularly useful for defending Windsor Castle and Buckingham Palace against invaders, and can be used to deter pesky paparazzi.

If your Majesty approves I will start the production of the Super Duper Pooper Scooper forthwith and send you the first from the production line.

Your Majesty's humble and obedient servant.

Patchy Meow

Here is my reply


1st October, 2012

Dear Miss Meow

      The Queen has asked me to thank you for your letter of 3rd September.

 With  regards to your pooper scooper design the Queen wishes you well with your venture, but unfortunately she can not personally give it her approval.

 She would also like to me to advise you she has security staff that would ensure the safety of the palace and members of the Royal family; no poop slinging would be required.

Yours Sincerely

Mrs Emma Royds
Senior Correspondence Officer

Royal coat of arms image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons:

As you can see my letters were a waste of time, what do you think ? I also have more, which I will share with you at a later date.

Bye for now.