The History of Leith

May 20, 2012

Dark and gross superstition

As the sixteenth century was drawing to its close,
the criminal records give many instances of the
dark and gross superstition that had spread over
the land even after the days of Knox. Thus, in
1597, Janet Stewart, in the Canongate, and Christian
Livingstone, in Leith, were accused of witchcraft
and casting spells upon Thomas Guthry and
Andrew Sadler, through the agency, in the former
case, of a little bag of black plaiding, wherein she
put some grains of wheat, worsted threads of divers
colours, hair, and nails of ” mennis fingeris ;” and
in the latter case by a shirt dipped in a certain
well; for which alleged crimes they were sentenced
to die on the Castle Hill, ” thair bodies to be
brunt in assis, and all thair moveable guidis to be
escheat.”

source-Old and New Edinburgh

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