It was created in 1974 as a result of local government reorganisation from the former Municipal Boroughs of Nelson and Colne, the former urban districts of Barnoldswick, Barrowford, Brierfield, Earby and Trawden, and from parts of Burnley Rural District and Skipton Rural District. It was named after the historical district of Pendle Forest. The Barnoldswick, Earby and Skipton parts are historically in the West Riding of Yorkshire. The name Pendle comes from the Cumbric word 'Pen' meaning hill, a reference to Pendle Hill, a major landmark in Pendle.
Places in Pendle include:
Pendle College at Lancaster University takes its name from this area, and many of the places in Pendle lend their name to the college's residential blocks.