In 1612 the kings views were imposed on the law and so the Justice of the Peaces in Lancashire were instructed to prepare a list of people who refused to attend church or communion as this was a ciminal offence. The people of Pendle Hill opposed the closure of nearby Cistercian Abbey so reverted straight back to Catholicism from when Queen Mary came to the throne in 1553. The region of Lancashire was classed as the place where the common people honoured the chuch without much understanding as to why. This is why it left unease that the two judges made their investigations and sentenced the Pendle witches.
The story began with an arguement between Alizon Device and a pedlar named John Law. Alizon was either travelling or begging on the road to Trawden Forest. After passing John Law she asked him for some pins and he refused so it is said that Alizon cursed him. John Law suffered a stroke a little time after this and so Alizon and her powers were blamed for this. When the matter was brought before Justice Nowell, Alizon confessed that she had told the Devil to lame John Law. After further questioning Alizon accused her grandmother, Old Demdike, and also members of the Chattox family, of witchcraft. These accusations especially on the Chattox family seem to be an act of revenge. The families had been feuding for years after an incident where a member of the Chattox family broke into Malkin Tower home of the Demdikes and stole goods. Further to this incident John Device who was the father of Alizon blamed the illness that led to his death on Old Chattox, who had threatened to harm his family if they did not pay a fee for protection on an annual basis.
Other accusations were made about the death of four other villagers and witchcraft was blamed and said to have been performed by Chattox. James Demdike confessed that Alizon had also cursed a local child some time before. Elizabeth confessed her mother had a mark on her body supposedly where the Devil had sucked her blood and left her mad. When questioned both Old Demdike and Chattox confessed to selling their souls and Anne who was Chattox's daughter was seen to create clay figures. After hearing all the evidence Alizon, Anne, Old Demdike and Old Chattox were detained by the judge to await trial.
The matter would have ended there had it not been for the meeting held at the Demdikes property by Alizon's brother James Device after he was caught stealing a sheep from a neighbour. People who had sympathy for the family came however this information reached the judge and he had no option to look into the matter and from this eight further people were put up for trial.
These trials were held at Lancaster in August 1612 but Old Demdike died before she reached trial in the dungeons. The key supplier of evidence at the trial came from a nine year old Jennet Device. She told who attended the meeting at Malkin Tower and against her mother, sister and brother. Some of the Pendle witches were genuinely convinced of their guilt whereas others fought to clear their names. Alizon Device believed in her own powers and was the only one on trial who was faced with one of her victims, John Law. When John entered the court Alizon fell to her knees and confessed.
The declarations made by two families claiming they had powers of witchcraft backfired and wild accusations escalated and thus fuelling general unrest and fear of witchcraft across the country therefore making this the biggest and most notorius witch trial.