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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 Witchcraft Trials

Pointers for Use

This form searches on the trial process of an accused witch. It uses trial information and dates to limit your search of the database and bring you a list of names. This list is linked to biographical information about the accused witch, cultural details, and trial information. Only accused witches for whom we have trial information will appear in a search result using this form. This form searches on known trials, therefore by using this form you will access only those cases and accused witches for which we have concrete trial information. If you want to view information about trial procedures more widely, use the accused or case form and click to the trial links in your search report. If you want to widen your search you should use the accused or case form. After that we recommend that you start by using one field at a time.

Sample Search

To generate a list of accused witches who were executed during the whole of the time period that witchcraft was a capital crime. Begin by typing 1563 to 1736 in the date range. Then highlight 'Execution' in the sentence field. This will generate a list of people who were sentenced to death for witchcraft. If this list is too long, you can narrow your search by choosing a trial place such as 'Edinburgh' as a county. Re-type the same information, but add 'Edinburgh' to the place field and tick county.

Notes on the form fields

Trial Date: Searches for trials within a specific date range. Please bear in mind that for most accused witches we do not know the date of trial or another information about the trial. Typically we have documentation for the issue of a commission of justiciary to authorise the holding of a trial, pre-trial ecclesiastical investigations, and pre-trial secular investigations. We do not usually know about the trial itself (see the Glossary under 'Trial type'.

Place: Limits the search based on the location of a trial. Please bear in mind that for most accused witches we do not know whether or where a trial took place.

Verdict: Limits the search based on the verdict of a trial. In some instances we know the verdict but not the date or other information about the trial.

Sentence: Limits the search based on the sentence of an accused witch. In some instances we know the sentence but not the date or other information about the trial.

Execution method: Limits the search based on the way an accused witch was executed. We did not find very much information about execution methods.