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Shaw, Christianlocked

(b. c. 1685, d. in or after 1737)
  • Rosalind K. Marshall

Extract

Shaw, Christian (b.c. 1685, d. in or after 1737), witch accuser and thread manufacturer, was the daughter of the laird of Bargarran, Renfrewshire, whose first name is unrecorded. According to a contemporary account (A True Narrative), when she was eleven years old she began to experience alarming symptoms, not only suffering mysterious fits, during which her body became as stiff as a board, her belly swelled, and her eyes rolled back into her head, but also vomiting balls of hair, pins, and hot embers. She had hallucinations too. The devil himself reportedly appeared before her and to the amazement of all beholders she engaged in complicated theological arguments with him, citing biblical texts with surprising accuracy. She also had lengthy discussions with a series of invisible tormentors whom she described as witches. They nipped and bit her, she said, pointing to the marks they had left. Questioned as to their identity, she named various local men and women, and this was to have catastrophic consequences....

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