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Balfour, Gerald William, second earl of Balfour (1853–1945), politician and psychical researcher, was born on 9 April 1853, in Edinburgh, the seventh of eight children of James Maitland Balfour (1820–1856), MP, sportsman, and country gentleman, and his wife, Lady Blanche Mary Harriet Gascoyne-Cecil (1825–1872)...

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Gowdie, Isobel (fl. 1662), alleged witch, first appears as the wife of John Gilbert and an inhabitant of the farmstead at Loch Loy, near Auldearn, in highland Scotland. Although she was later supposed to have begun practising witchcraft in 1647, it was in spring 1662 that she was implicated in a plot to harm ...

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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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Weir, Thomas (d. 1670), criminal and reputed sorcerer, was the son of Thomas Weir of Kirkton, near Carluke in Lanarkshire. At the time of his trial in 1670 he was described as 'past the age of 70' and 'of great age...