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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

Case Details

Click the name of the accused to return to the Personal Details report.

Pointers for understanding your search results

The results report provides details about the content of the case brought against the accused witch. Scroll down for a description of all the sections and categories provided in this report. The report is divided into four main sections:

  1. A summary of the case details
  2. Links to people involved in the case
  3. Links to the trial processes and trials associated with the accused witch
  4. A description of the qualitative information contained in the case

The fourth item is the main body of information provided here. Qualitative details tell you what is known about the specific accusations made against the accused and any other cultural information provided in the witchcraft documents. Categories of information in the qualitative section include the role of the Devil and other non-natural beings, demonic pacts and witches' meetings, folk cultural elements in witchcraft trial, and accusations about magical harm and healing. If you are unclear about the meaning of any words or concepts in this report, please refer to the Glossary or the Concise Scots Dictionary. See below for a list and description of information categories provided in the search result report for case detail.

For more information

Click on one of the many links on the search result form to find more information about the accused witch, what we know about her or his trial process and results, or the people responsible for investigating, processing and trying the accused witch and assembling the case. Click on the references link if you are interested in looking at the primary sources we used to create this report. Most sources used by Survey of Scottish Witchcraft are manuscripts, but some are published and easy to find in an academic library.

People Involved in the Case: Click links to individuals for more information on the people involved in the case. Please bear in mind that we did not standardise the names of or notes about people involved in the case.

Trial Processes Associated with this Case: Click links for more information about the trial processes and trials associated with this case.

Qualitative Information Description

Characterisation - The characterisation is a list of important or common cultural motifs we found in witchcraft cases. The report lists all characterisations associated with this case. If you want to find all the other known cases with the same characterisation conduct a search from the 'Case' search form and select the desired characterisation. See the Glossary for definitions and descriptions of the specific characterisations that appear in your report.

Notes - This provides notes and further information about the characterisation and the whole case made against the accused witch. The information is in note form and not written to normal publishing standards.

Non-Natural Being - Witchcraft documents describe encounters with all sorts of supernatural and preternatural beings, including fairies, elves, spirits, ghosts, and the Devil described in many forms. The category pertaining to the appearance of non-natural beings lists the beings that were described in this case. The description refers to the Devil, unless otherwise specified. For example, a non-natural being described as a 'baby' means that the Devil appeared in the shape of a baby. Definitions and explanations for all the non-natural beings described in witchcraft document can be found in the Glossary.

Demonic Pact - Demonic pacts were common themes in the confessions of accused witches and in accusations made against those who were referred to secular authority. The demonic pact was believed to be a relationship that was deliberately created by a witch between her or himself and the Devil. Witchcraft suspects and accusers described many attributes to the demonic pact and provided a variety of motifs in the pact structure. This category provides a report on the kinds of pacts and pact motifs described in this case. Definitions and explanations for specific demonic pact attributes and motifs can be found in the Glossary.

Witches' Meetings - Witches' meetings (in modern times sometimes referred to as sabbats or covens) were often described in witchcraft trial records. They were more commonly mentioned in cases that proceeded to a secular trial than cases that were dismissed at earlier stages in the trial process. While there was no set number of people described as attending meetings (numbers range from 2 to 100), some common themes were often alleged. This category lists the attributes and activities described in connection with witches' meetings in this case. See the Glossary for a full description of motifs and activities listed in your report.

Witches' Meeting (place and location) - Many witchcraft suspects described having held meetings with the Devil and other witches. These meetings sometimes involved parties, Devil worship, dancing, eating or drinking. Often the documents describe where these meetings were supposedly held. They sometimes provide great detail such as a place (i.e. a named person's land, a named landmark or a specific church) and a location (i.e. a hill, riverbank, etc.). We have not found any solid corroborating evidence from non-witchcraft related sources that these meetings actually happened in the way they were described in the documents. This category provides a list of places where witches' meetings were supposedly held. Please consult the Glossary, if you are unsure of a term or place type.

Folk Culture - Witchcraft documents contain much information about folk culture including folk beliefs, popular religion, and other practices and beliefs not sanctioned by the church. This category in the report provides a list of folk cultural elements in this case and detailed notes about what the sources said concerning folk beliefs and practices. See the Glossary for definitions of terms.

Elf or Fairy Elements - Many witchcraft cases document information about fairy motifs. This category lists the fairy motifs that were mentioned in this case. There is some overlap between this category and the non-natural beings. For example, 'Green' is a common fairy motif. If a non-natural being was described wearing green, then we also indicated 'green' in the elf/fairy elements. We took the terms fairy and elf to be interchangeable. For a full description of the specific elf/fairy elements described in your report see the Glossary.

Calendar Customs - This category records calendar customs that were found in the witchcraft documents. A calendar custom is a special day that marked a time for rituals, religious ceremony or important social events. Sometimes the calendar customs were mentioned as a way to express the time or date of an incident rather than as a celebration of the festival or special day itself. It was usually a way to mark the passage of time. Definitions and explanations for specific calendar customs can be found in the Glossary.

Unorthodox Religious Practice - This category refers to a motif associated with unorthodox religious practices. This means either remnants of Catholic worship, unofficial Protestant influenced practices or beliefs, pre-Christian beliefs and/or ceremonies, and any other prohibited religious or spiritual expression. Definitions and explanations for specific unorthodox religious motifs can be found in the Glossary.

Disease/Illness - The most common accusation made against an accused witch was the infliction of magical harm. Often this magical harm was alleged to have occurred after a quarrel with the suspect. It usually took the form of a disease or illness placed on a person or animal. Some witches were also accused of removing diseases and curing animals or people. Sometimes accusers believed that a disease was inflicted and then removed by the suspected witch. This category provides information about all aspects of suspected witches' alleged involvement in causing illnesses and/or curing. It also includes information about quarrelling, cursing and other accusations that could be linked to magical harm. See the Glossary for definitions of the concepts and terms listed in your report.

Causes of Witches' Malice - Witchcraft was believed to stem from the malice a witch felt. Sometimes the sources indicate why an accused witch was thought to have become full of malice. This category lists the reasons provided either by witnesses or in confessions. None of these 'causes of the witches' malice' are listed in the Glossary because they are all self-explanatory.

Other Maleficia - Suspected witches were accused of causing harm (maleficia) to businesses, crops, or other types of property. This category records magical harm supposedly enacted against things rather than people or animals. The entries in this category of the report are not listed in the Glossary because they are self-explanatory.

Property Damage - This lists the things that were supposedly damaged by an accused witch through magical harm. The entries in this category of the report are not listed in the Glossary because they are self-explanatory.

Other Charges - Many suspected witches were accused of other crimes in addition to witchcraft. This category lists those charges. See the Glossary for definitions.

References - If you want further information about this case, please consult the primary documents listed in the reference section. You can view a reference report by clicking on the references listed in the case detail. See the help page attached to the references report for more detailed information about the references.