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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

Janet Boyman (29/12/1572)

Case details

The accused Boyman, Janet
Start date29/12/1570
End date29/12/1572
Characterisation Fairies
Folk healing
Unorthodox religious practice
Notes on characterisationShe predicted the death of the regent.

Trials associated with this case

Boyman,Janet (trial date 29/12/1572) Central trial

Qualitative information

Non-natural beings

NotesShe called a spirit to help her heal, he came to her like a great blast of whirlwind. The spirit was the ghost of a woman who had taught her how to heal. It is possible that she too was a fairy?

Appearance of Non-natural beings

Type of beingNotes
GhostMaggie Dewand
Male Fairy
Spiritappeared in a whirlwind

Witches' Meetings

NotesShe was seen in a great company of women by a sick man.

Folk Culture

Specific verbal formulaeYes
Specific ritual actsYes
Unorthodox religious practiceYes
Sympathetic magicYes
Folk NotesUsed shirt for diagnosis. Brought the shirt to an elvish well. She charged the spirit in the name of the father, the son, king Arthur and queen Elspeth to remove the illness or take the sick man to them. She couldn't do a cure because it was past Halloween. Predicted the death of an infant because she got a blast of evil wind. She learned her curing from a woman in the Potterrow who had once cured her. She started her prayer with 'Blist Benedicite'. After she washed her hands at a holy well, St. Leonards, there came to her a man of our good neighbours. Predicted that the Regent would die. She bore five bairns while subject to the fairy for seven years and felt no pain.

Elf/fairy elements

Good Neighbours

Ritual objects


Calendar customs


Religious motif

Holy well


Recognised healerYes
Healing humansYes
Notes on diseaseCould heal children that were taken away with the fairy (?changelings) and many other diseases.

Other charges



High Court Record Index No. 1 29/12/1570
Process Notes JC26/1/67
Witchcraft Papers JC40/1