Witchcraft Trial

From the Courtbooks of Orkney and Shetland

7 June 1615

< Act contra Lening1 for alledgit witchcraft >

Compeirit Alexander Stewart of Clet and becam actit as cautioner for Marioun Lening, spous to James Howiesone in Papa Westray, that the said Marioun sall compeir befoir the schiref principall of Orknay or his deputtis and underly the law for the alledgit cryme of witchcraft and consultatioun, at quhat tyme or how sone shoe sall be laufullie chairgit to that effect, under the pane of i c. lib., and the said James Howiesone became actit for releif of the said Alexander, cautioner foirsaid.

< Witches Drever [and] Bigland >

Jonet Drever and Katherene Bigland alias G[ie]dock being pannald, indyttit and accusit for airt pairt useing, committing and practizcing of the abo[hmi]nable and divelishe cryme of witchcraft contened in the particular and severall pointis of dittayes geven in againes thame, compeirit Robert Coltart, procuratour fiscall, and desyrit the foirsidis persones to be put to the knawledge of ane assyse of the persones following, viz –

Alexander Stewart of Clet Thomas Randell elder in Rakwick
Robert Menteith of Egilsay Oliver Howiesone thair
Mitchell Balfour of Garth Thomas Randell younger thair
Jon Beinstoun of Noup Oliver Donoldsone in Wa
James Cragie in Bruch William Randell thair
Jon Setter in Wa  
Thomas Howiesone elder thair  
William Howiesone thair  
Boneface Leask thair  
Robert Low thair  



The sidis persones being receavit, suorne and admittn, past altogidder furt of court and rypelie advysit inenterit agane, [45r] fand and delyverit all in ane voice for the most pairt the said Jonet Drever (be the mouth of Robert Menteith, chancelar) to be convict and giltie of the fostering of ane bairne in the hill of Westray to the fary folk, callit of hir our guid nichtbouris, and in haveing carnall deall with hir and haveing conversatioun with the fary xxvi yeiris bygane, in respect of hir awin confessioun; and sicklyke fand and delyverit for the maist pairt, be the mouth of the said chancelar, the sid Katherene Bigland to be convict and giltie of witchcraft for standing in the style of the kirk yaird of the Cros Kirk of Westray with drawin knyffis in hir hand quhill Marioun Tailyeour, hir mother, and utheris that wes in hir companie, cam furt of the said kirk the most pairt of ane nicht; item convictis and fyllis the sid Katherene for laying of ane duyning and quotidian seiknes upone William Bigland in Swartmiln, hir maister; item fyllit the said Katherene for practizeing fo the said divelishe cryme of witchcraft in going furt under clud of nicht about Candelmes last and bringing in to the said William his hous of watter as ap[per]*it, and weshing of the said William his back thairwith, and laying him doun saying he wald get guid rest, and lying doun betuix him and the dor, haveing refuissed to ly in any uther place, and the said William haveing walknit with fear and crying and feilling a thing lyke a ruche sheip abone him, in saying to him Be not affrayit for it is the evill spreit that trublit yow that is going away; and in taking of the said William upone the morne at nicht efter sun setting under the bankis and weshing of him with salt watter at that tyme and fyve or sex uther nichtis thairefter quhill he receavit healthe be hir unlaufull and divelishe airt of witchcraft; item fyllit the said Katherene in laying of the seiknes the said William had upone Robert Broun, his servand, quha continowit thairin almost mad tua days quhill shoe cam and graippit his pulses and brow and strikit his hair backward and saying he waid be weill, and casting of the same seiknes immediatlie upone the sid William Bigland; and the said Katherene being challengit within the said ile thairafter for taking of the said seiknes of the said Robert and casting the same agane upone the said William, in saying if William Bigland lived shoe wald die, and thairfoir God forbid he leive. Efter quhais delyverance the judges decernis and ordanes the said Jonet Drever to be tane upone the morne betuix 3 and 4 houris efter nune and scrudgit fra the end of the said toun to the uther, and thairefter to be banished the cuntrey and never to returne, under the pane of death; and sicklyke cecernis and ordanes the said Katherene Bigland to be tane to the heid of the lone the morne at tua efter nune, and thair to be bund to a staik and hangit to the death and brunt to asches; dome geven thairupone.


1 This name contains five minims. Lening is the most likely form.

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