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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

Elspeth Reoch (22/3/1616)

Case details

The accused Reoch, Elspeth
Start date22/3/1616
End date22/3/1616
Characterisation Demonic
White magic
Notes on characterisationShe confessed to dealings with the fairy from the age of 12. Lots of detail about her meetings with them. She also seems to have been pregnant at least two times by different men. It is unclear if she was married. She claimed to be dumb and travelled around making a living off of her claim to have second sight. A very interesting case. [D. Purkiss claims that this case is about incest, in 'Reading Witchcraft' ed. S. Clark]

Trials associated with this case

Reoch,Elspeth (trial date 22/3/1616) Local trial

Qualitative information

Non-natural beings

NotesShe claimsed she was made dumb by a non-natural being who the prosecutors called the devil. Two men visited her by a loch side and told her how to get second sight. Two years later she was delivering a baby and the black man appeared again, he told her he was a fairy and a kinsman. He pressured her to have sex with him. After this she lost the power of speech. Her brother beat her to try to get her to speak, they prayed for her at the kirk three sundays - nothing worked. She made a trade of her second sight.

Appearance of Non-natural beings

Type of beingNotes
Malein black
Malein green tartan
Male Fairywho was her kinsman

Demonic pact

Type of pactNotes

Witches' Meetings

Devil presentYes

Witches' Meeting Place

Place Location

Folk Culture

Specific ritual actsYes
Dreams and visionsYes
Folk NotesTwo men she met at a loch told her to take an egg and roast it and use the sweat of it to wash her hands, and then to rub her eyes with unwashed hands to get the sight of anything she should want to know. [Possible allusion to one of the miracles of Christ when he spits in the dirt and washes a blind man's eyes and he can see?]. The black man at the loch turned out to be a fairy man who was also a dead kinsmen of hers. He came to her when she was in childbirth. She also seemed to know things abour herbs (specifically Merefow (?) to cause a nose bleed).

Elf/fairy elements

Male fairy (elf)

White magic

Second Sight

Ritual objects


Calendar customs



Notes on diseaseShe tried to procure an abortion for someone.


Lawting Sheriff and Justice Court Acts and Statutes of the Lawting Sheriff and Justic Courts of Orkney and Shetland, p. 51-55