The History of Leith

November 8, 2011

Witches at South Leith

14 March 1644.—OrdSlns everie elder and deacon in yr several quarters to geive up ane certane number of honest men who should watch with them ye witches who for ye pnt are in prison.
(Note.—The Session appointed a special watch to frighten away the Evil One, in case he might appear and rescue the witches. It was not always easy to get men who would face a personal encounter with the Evil One himself, and they had to be well paid for the risks they ran. Oddly enough it was easier to have the watch kept by night than by day.) Ordains to mak a sackcloth for Margt
Thomsone ye witch.

Ordains to send for ye man in Musilbrough who tryes ye witches marks and Jhon Brand was ordained to ryde for him.
(Note.—Witches were believed to bear the Devil’s marks on their bodies, and this man in Musselburgh had a reputation for discovering and identifying these. The usual trial was to search for blue or red marks or birthmarks, and to burn the spots with a hot iron or insert a pin or needle. If the victim did not feel the wound and shriek, or if blood did not flow, then there was no longer any doubt she was a witch. Suspected persons were also bled between the eyes, which was believed to make them powerless and to undo the evil they had done.)

Source-South Leith Records

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