The Pendle witch trials of 1612 are among the most famous witch trials in English history, and some of the best recorded of the 17th century. The twelve accused lived in the area around Pendle Hill in Lancashire, and were charged with the murders of ten people by the use of witchcraft. All but two were tried at LancasterAssizes 17–19 August 1612 along with the Samlesbury witches and others, in what became known as the Lancashire witch trials. One was tried at York Assizes on 27 July 1612, and another died in prison. Of the eleven Pendle witches who went to trial – nine women and two men – ten were found guilty and executed by hanging and one was found not guilty. The Lancashire witch trials were unusual for England at that time in two respects: the official publication of the trial proceedings by the clerk to the court, Thomas Potts, in his The Wonderfull Discoverie of Witches in the Countie of Lancaster, and in the number of witches hanged together: ten at Lancaster and one at York. In more recent times, the witches have become the inspiration for Pendle's tourism and heritage industries.
Life in the Middle Ages centred on the families who owned the manor in what was then an isolated rural community. Agriculture, hand loom weaving, quarrying and mining occupied the few inhabitants until the middle of the 19th century. A grammar school was founded by charter of Queen Elizabeth I in 1556.