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Survey of Scottish Witchcraft Database

Survey of Scottish Witchcraft
Scottish History, School of History and Classics, The University of Edinburgh, Scotland

Woodcut of a witch trial

Elizabeth Maxwell (21/1/1650)

Case details

The accused Maxwell, Elizabeth
Start date21/1/1650
End date21/1/1650
Characterisation Demonic
Folk healing
Neighbourhood dispute
Unorthodox religious practice
Notes on characterisationMostly illnesses from neighbourhood disputes.
Notes on casePart of a group of 7 investigated by the Presbytery of Dumfries on this date.

People involved in case

Name Involvement in case Notes
John Burgess Commissioner
John Crichton Commissioner
James Douglas Commissioner
Thomas Ferguson Commissioner
Thomas MacBrair Investigator He was called in by her community
Thomas MacBurnie Commissioner
Thomas Ramsay Investigator He was called in by her community
Robert Richardson Commissioner

Trials associated with this case

Maxwell,Elizabeth Local trial

Qualitative information

Non-natural beings

NotesThe mark was blue.

Demonic pact

Type of pactNotes
Devil's Markon the viens and sinews of her leg.

Witches' Meetings

Folk Culture

Specific verbal formulaeYes
Specific ritual actsYes
Unorthodox religious practiceYes
Sympathetic magicYes
Folk NotesTook a rowan over her head to cure a sickness. Asked God for her daughter's health. A man saw her riding a cat and leading two in her hands. He became ill after he witnessed this.

Counter strategies


Ritual objects

Rowan tree

Religious motif



Human illnessYes
Healing humansYes
Notes on diseaseQuarrelling followed by sickness. Quarrel about an exchange, parted in wrath, sickness. Refused to pay the monthly maintenance (pay due to troops) and the collector became ill.

Cause of witch's malice

Social slight

Other maleficia

Property damageYes
NotesA woman was collecting a £10 debt from Elizabeth, Elizabeth refused to pay and threatened her ale, and the woman became poor.

Property damage



Process Notes JC26/13 Bundle A