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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

Searching for Accused Witches

Pointers for Use

This form uses biographical information about accused witches to search the database. The biographical detail you enter will bring you a search result that will tell you about cultural and trial information. See below for a description of each field and how it can best be used to bring you a good search result. Our advice for a good search is 'keep it simple'. Try using one field to start with and then check your results. If you want to narrow your search further, add one parameter at a time. Sometimes too much information entered into a search form can overly limit your search and turn up nothing. Our fields are not case sensitive. You can do partial name searches if you don't know the exact name.

Sample Search

To find accused witches with the surname of 'Thomson'. By typing 'Thomson' into the surname field, you will get a list of all accused witches with that surname. This will include all variations in spelling that are in the database (Thompson, Thompsoun, Tompson, etc.). You can then view specific information about all the Thomsons. If that list is too large, you can narrow your search parameters by deciding to find all the Thomsons named Janet or all the Thomsons from Dalkeith.

Notes on the form fields

Last Name: Searches for a surname as it appeared in the documents and a standardised version of the surname from a list we devised. If you can not find the person you are looking for in the database, check our complete list of surnames used in the database (Modern/standardised Last Names). Find the name from that list that is the closest match and use that to search the accused form. Or you can type in part of the name. We were unable to modernise a few of the last names, so they are in the list as they were spelled in the document.

First Name: Searches for the first name as it appeared in the documents and a standardised version of the first name from a list we devised. If you can not find the person you are looking for in the database, check our complete list of first names used in the database (Modern/Standardised First Names). Find the name from that list that is the closest match and use that to search the accused form. Or you can type in part of the name. We were unable to modernise a few of the first names, so they are in the list as they were spelled in the document.

Sex: Limits the parameters of a search by known sex of the accused witch. This is known in all but a few cases.

Marital Status: Limits the parameters of a search by the known marital status of the accused witch. Please bear in mind that we do not know the marital status of most people accused of witchcraft. Using this field will limit the number of accused witches in your search result.

Socio-economic Status: Limits the parameters of a search by the known socio-economic status of the accused witch. You can only choose from a set number of categories for this search. See the Socio-economic Status Categories for definitions. Please bear in mind that we do not know the socio-economic status of most people accused of witchcraft. Using this field will limit the number of accused witches in your search result. Only those with a known socio-economic status will be counted.

Residence: Limits the parameters of a search by settlement, parish, burgh, presbytery, or county of residence of the accused witch. You can use this field to limit your search to people from a specific place. We have not standardised the 'settlement'. The settlement name is spelled here as it was in the documents. Parishes, presbyteries, royal burghs and counties have been standardised so the modern spelling can be used. Please use the links to see a list of all the Parishes, Royal burghs in 1707, Presbyteries, and Counties in the database. The interactive maps use parishes and counties, while the graphs use the county only. If you want to search using the burgh, please note that our list only incorporates Royal burghs in 1707. If the burgh you wished to use for a search is not on that list, try the parish or the settlement.

Case Date: Searches on the last known date for proceedings taken against the accused witch. For some accused witches this will be their execution date. But for most it will be a date from somewhere in the trial process, including denunciation, imprisonment, commissions, or trial.