Scotland was second only to Germany in the barbarity and number of its
witch trials. Far more witches were tried and condemned per head of
population in Scotland than in England, with one estimate giving as many
as 4,400 witches being executed overall. Unlike the practice in England,
Scotland followed the continental, inquisitorial model, but here a
confession was not necessary before conviction and execution. General
reputation as a witch was considered sufficient proof for an indictment
and conviction. Once an indictment was drawn, the accused could not
dispute its accuracy!
Execution also followed the continental form with witches commonly
being burnt and the costs of the trial and execution being borne by the
Belief in witchcraft continued in Scotland into the 18th century. In
1727 Janet Horne was the last person to be tried and burned at Dornoch in
Ross Shire for having used her daughter as a flying horse, the devil
shoeing her so that she was permanently lamed. The Act against witchcraft
was repealed in 1736, though the Presbyterian Church was to still state a
belief in the practice through one of its resolutions as late as 1773.
Click on the images to enlarge in a new
browser window. Links (in red)
also open new browser windows.
||History of the witches of Renfrewshire who were
burned on the Gallowgreen of Paisley|
Paisley: Printed by
J.Newton for John Millar, 1809.
||Newes from Scotland, or, a true discourse of the damnable
life of Doctor Fian, and sundry other witches taken in
A Collection of rare and
curious tracts on witchcraft and the second sight: with an original
essay on witchcraft.
Edinburgh: Printed for D. Webster,
|HICKES, George |
Ravillac Redivivus: Being a Narrative Of
the Late Tryal of Mr. James Mitchel [with] An Account of the Tryal
of that most wicked Pharisee Major Thomas Weir, who was Executed for
Adultery, Incest and Bestiality [etc.] Second Edition.
London: Printed for Walter Kettilby . . . in St. Paul's
||Mackenzie, Sir George|
Lawes and customs of Scotland in
matters criminal ...
Edinburgh : Printed by James Glen,
MITCHELL, J. & DICKIE, Jn.
The Philosophy of
Paisley: Murray & Stewart, 1839
A work of
Scottish folklore with fascinating contemporary accounts of the most
notable Scottish witchcraft trials of the seventeenth and eighteenth
centuries. It also includes accounts of May rituals, Halloween,
witch charms, fairies and witches.
||SCOTT, Sir Walter|
Letters on demonology and witchcraft
addressed to John Lockhart
London: John Murray, 1830
STEWART, William Grant
The Popular superstitions and
festive amusements of the Highlanders of Scotland
Edinburgh: Printed for Archibald Constable and Company ...,
A group of essays written in the early 19th century relating to
the superstitions of the Highlands, Gaelic language and legends, and
the manners of the Highlanders. The author devotes, devotes the
second part of his discussion to fairies, especially their relations
with humans and their role as familiars and succubi. In particular
this role is discussed in the chapter entitled "Of the Passions and
Propensities of the Fairies".