Typical causes of witch trials in England included:
- Socio-economic factors: A huge amount of changes took place in England, and North Europe more generally, in the 16th and 17th centuries, when witch hunting peaked. England's population doubled between 1540 and 1660, with towns growing considerably and a decline in the traditional village community, and real wages declined, while prices rose. This exacerbated the already large gap between the rich and poor, which had two key impacts: firstly, this meant that the poorer elements of society were more reliant on charity from the rich, which may have increased conflict within communities; and secondly, this caused those who had suffered to look for scapegoats, such as witches.
- Personal gain: Some of those who began or continued witch hunts stood to gain significantly from them. In East Anglia, Matthew Hopkins and his witch hunters charged for their work - for example, he charged the town of Stowmarket £23 for his services; around £3,800 today!
- The Little Ice Age: This was a period from around 1400-1700, during which average temperatures are thought to have been around half a degree lower than in the previous centuries. Some historians have argued this exacerbated the pre-existing socio-economic problems, by causing mass crop failure, which then led to accusations of witchcraft as scapegoats for the problems - for example, in the Bamberg witch hunts in the Holy Roman Empire, the peak of witch trials came in 1629, coinciding with the complete failure of the wine crop there. However, some historians have argued that the timing for the ice age was wrong, or even that there was little significant change in temperatures.
- Religious divisions: The divide in England between Catholics, Protestants, and more extreme Protestants such as Puritans, was hugely important in prompting witch hunts. For example, in the East Anglian witch hunts, Matthew Hopkins, a Puritan, took advantage of the religious tensions across England in the wake of the English Civil War to convince towns that their problems were caused by the Devil and his witches.
- Strength of government: In countries and times when the central state was relatively strong, there was little witch hunting, as the state tended to be less likely to be engulfed by the hysteria that might overcome local territories. However, at times when there was a significant breakdown in authority - for example, during the English civil war, local magistrates were effectively left to their own devices, contributing to Hopkins' witch hunting.
- Misogyny: The vast majority of accused witches were women, and it is likely that sexism contributed significantly to witch hunts.
Examples of witch trials in England between 1603-1717:
- Pendle Trials: Taking place in 1612 and 1613, this trial saw a dozen suspected witches executed, after Alizon Device cursed a local trader, John Law, who soon fell ill (probably a stroke). The hunt was widened to include most of Device's family, much of a rival family in the area, and several others. Notable for the prominent inclusion of the testimony a child, Jennet Device, which was previously highly unusual.
- Pendle Swindle: Taking place 20 years after the previous trials, the witches were accused of cursing Edmund Robinson. It was later revealed that this was untrue, but not before 3 of the accused had died in prison.
- East Anglian witch hunts: over 300 witches were executed during the reign of terror of Matthew Hopkins, the self styled 'Witch-Finder General'. Hopkins travelled across East Anglia, from 1645 onwards, during the civil war, being paid for removing suspected witches from the community. He used dubious methods, such as sleep deprivation, to obtain confessions, and his hunts were only brought to an end when he died in 1647, probably from tuberculosis.
- Demon Drummer of Tedworth (definitely needs to be the title of a film): A landowner in Tedworth, John Mompesson, accused an unlicensed drummer, William Drury, of bewitching his house to make constant noise. The case was written about by philosopher Joseph Glanvill, who argued to the Royal Society that witchcraft was real.
- Jane Wenham: The last witch trial in England to result in a death sentence, Wenham was accused of bewitching on of the servants of a farmer with whom she had quarrelled. She was convicted and sentenced to deatg, but was pardoned and removed from her village.
Hopefully some of this helps! However, it isn't entirely clear what you were looking for in particular - if you could tell us the question you are answering in the coursework, that would be helpful!