The Witches of Scotland

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This team will attempt to document the life stories of the Scottish women and men who, throughout the sixteenth through the eighteenth centuries, were accused of witchcraft. We will not be researching the witchcraft trials, but recording the lives of as many of these indivduals as possible. We believe that accusations of witchcraft were a way of controlling members of society who were perceived as dangerous or dissident to the established order. The stereotypical witch was most often a woman, " independent adult woman who did not conform to the male idea of proper female behavior."[1] Frequently they were among the more vulnerable members of society: widows, unmarried women, midwives and healers, and women with natural abilities such as second sight, precognition, etc.; but sometimes they were also influential and socially prominent women. Although those arrested for practicing witchcraft were overwhelmingly female, a number of men were also accused of this crime. What all these individuals shared was having a nontraditional role which marked them as socially deviant.[2] Because they did not conform to society's expectations, they were each seen as a threat.

Over time, witchcraft became associated with pre-Christian magical practices that were thought to be inherently evil and which were associated primarily with women. Men who also practiced forms of magical divination (such as astrology) were considered educated and their use of magic was 'scientific' and highly regarded at many royal courts. Women were not only accused of practicing witchcraft, however. More often, they were accused of being witches, and thereby of being controlled by evil forces.

These individuals were our ancestors, and we want to tell their stories. For all of the women and men whose executions were recorded but whose individual names were not entered into the record books, and for those who were entered into the records simply as "certain persons," "unnamed witches," "eleven old women" or "a great number of people," we hope that this project is a way to honor their memories as well.


Our intention is to create a list, using all of the data available to us, of every person in Scotland who was thought to be a witch (whether formally charged with witchcraft or not). Maintaining this list will be an ongoing effort, as new names will be added whenever more information is discovered. We are choosing to organize these names by the region of Scotland in which each person lived, in the hope that this will make it easier for future researchers to locate their own ancestors.


The ongoing focus of the team will be (first) to determine whether each person on our list already has an existing profile on WikiTree. If so, that profile will be linked to the list and, if necessary, sources will be added to it and the bio expanded. The [region]xxx witch category will be added to the profile so the team will be able to keep track of it, and a special recognition sticker will be placed on each profile. Second, if it is determined that no profile currently exists, one will be created after appropriate research has been done to determine whether there are existing profiles for family members that it can be linked to. This may be time-consuming, and will require meticulous and creative investigative skills.

Lists Currently in Progress

Witchcraft Trials of Scotland: Tracing the Roots

The Scotland Project Witchcraft Team is also studying the events leading to the late 1500s and early 1600s witchcraft trials. Our goal is to bolster the Scotland Project's mission as a hub for genealogical research, deepening member engagement and understanding of this pivotal part of Scotland's history. Our research into these precursor events may be seen here: Witchcraft Trials of Scotland: Tracing the Roots.

Categories and Sticker

All profiles which are linked to the list of Witches of Scotland must be assigned to one of the following categories:

  1. Scotland, Highlands and Islands Witches
  2. Scotland, Grampian Witches
  3. Scotland, Strathclyde Witches
  4. Scotland, Southern and Borders Witches
  5. Scotland, Central and East Witches
  6. Scotland, Lothians Witches
The team's sticker should also be placed on each profile:
The Witches of Scotland
... ... ... was accused of witchcraft in Scotland.


Team Co-Leaders: Amy and Jen
Team Members:
To join us:
  • This team is open to anyone who is a member in good standing of The Scotland Project. If you are interested in joining us, please leave a comment below or send a private message to Jen Hutton or Amy Gilpin.

Team Resources

  • Bennett, Anna Nelson. Because She Would Not Be Governed: Medieval Women, Power, and the Politicization of Witchcraft. Thesis (2015), University of Rhode Island (available here).
  • Brochard, Thomas. Scottish Witchcraft in a Regional and Northern European Context: The Northern Highlands, 1563-1660. Magic, Ritual, and Witchcraft, vol. 10, no. 1 (summer 2015), pp. 41-74 (available here).
  • Forsberg, Emma. Misogyny and Witchcraft: An Essay on Early Modern Witch Trials in Scotland. (available here).
  • Geller, Allegra. Daemonologie and Divine Right: The Politics of Witchcraft in Late Sixteenth Century Scotland. Honors Thesis (May 2013), University of Texas (available here).
  • Goodare, Julian. The Framework for Scottish Witch-Hunting in the 1590s. Scottish Historical Review, vol. 81, no. 212, part 2 (Oct 2002), pp. 240-250 jstor.
  • Hall, Alaric. Getting Shot of Elves: Healing, Witchcraft, and Fairies in the Scottish Witchcraft Trials. Folklore, vol. 116 (Apr 2005), pp. 19-36 jstor.
  • Matteoni, Francesca. The Visions of Isabel Gowdie: Magic, Witchcraft and Dark Shamanism in Seventeenth-century Scotland. Folklore, vol. 124, no. 1 (available here).
  • Miller, Joyce. Survey of Scottish Witchcraft 1563-1736. Scottish Historical Review, vol. 82, no. 213, part 1 (Apr 2003), p. 100 jstor.
  • Natrella, Kayla Theresa. Witchcraft and Women: A Historiography of Witchcraft as Gender History. Binghamton Journal of History, vol. 15 (2014), available here.
  • Robertson, Elizabeth. Panic and Persecution: Witch-Hunting in East Lothian 1628-1631. Scottish history thesis, University of Edinburgh (2009), available here.
  • Black, George F. A Calendar of Cases of Witchcraft in Scotland, 1510-1727. New York: the New York Public Library (1938).
  • Black, George F. Some Unpublished Scottish Witchcraft Trials. New York: the New York Public Library (1941).
  • Campbell, J.G. Witchcraft and Second Sight in the Highlands and Islands. Glasgow (1902), available here.
  • Ehrenreich, Barbara and Deirdre English. Witches, Midwives & Nurses: A History of Women Healers. New York: The Feminist Press (2010).
  • Ferguson, John. Bibliographical Notes on the Witchcraft Literature of Scotland. Edinburgh: Proceedings of the Edinburgh Bibliographical Society (1897), available here.
  • Lavack, Brian P. The Witchcraft Sourcebook. Second edition. Abingdon-on-Thames, Oxfordshire, England, UK; New York, New York: Routledge (2015). Kindle Edition.
  • Lavack, Brian P. The Witch-Hunt in Early Modern Europe. Abingdon-on-Fourth edition. Thames, Oxfordshire, England, UK; New York, New York: Routledge (2016). Kindle Edition.
  • Larner, Christina. Enemies of God: The Witch Hunt in Scotland. London: Chatto & Windus (1981).
  • Larner, Christina. A Source-book of Scottish Witchcraft. Glasgow: University of Glasgow (1977); reprinted by Grimsay Press (2005).
  • Sharpe, C. Kirkpatrick. Historical Account of the Belief in WItchcraft in Scotland. Glasgow: Thomas D. Morison (1884), available online.
  • Webster, David. Collection of Rare and Curious Tracts on Witchcraft and the Second Sight. Edinburgh: by the author (1820), available online.
  • Wood, J. Maxwell. Witchcraft and Superstitious Record in the South-Western District of Scotland. Dumfries: J. Maxwell & Son (1911) available online.
Maps, Photos, Websites:


  1. Larner, Christina. Was Witch-Hunting Woman-Hunting? Witchcraft Reader, London: Routladge (2002), p. 273.
  2. Garrett, Clarke. Women as Witches: Patterns of Analysis. Articles on Witchcraft, Magic, and Demonology: Witchcraft, Women, and Society. New York: Garland Publishing (1992), p. 18

  • Login to request to the join the Trusted List so that you can edit and add images.
  • Private Messages: Contact the Profile Managers privately: Jen Hutton and Scotland Project WikiTree. (Best when privacy is an issue.)
  • Public Comments: Login to post. (Best for messages specifically directed to those editing this profile. Limit 20 per day.)
  • Public Q&A: These will appear above and in the Genealogist-to-Genealogist (G2G) Forum. (Best for anything directed to the wider genealogy community.)
Comments: 7

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Jen, Amy - To conform with the witches categories for the rest of the world (see, I propose that the category "Scotland, Witches" be merged into the category "Accused Witches of Scotland". The lower level categories would not need to change.
posted by Chase Ashley
Also, have you guys covered the Paisley witch trials yet?
posted by Chase Ashley
Chase, this team has nothing to do with the witchcraft trials per se. It is entirely focused on the life stories of individuals who may (or may not) have been formally accused of witchcraft. Many of the profiles we will be covering were never formally accused or stood trial. So there is a distinct difference between our focus and the focus of the "Witch Trials" Project.
posted by Jen (Stevens) Hutton
Hmm. Not sure how the project can use a sticker that says they were "accused of witchcraft in Scotland" and yet take the position that those profiles shouldn't fall under the category "Accused Witches of Scotland." What do you see as the purpose of the "Accused Witches of Scotland" category?
posted by Chase Ashley
We are using the word "accused" in a very loose sense, as in anyone who was seen as being different, having different abilities or outside of mainstream society and who (whether by rumor, innuendo, or otherwise) often became social outcasts. I take your point, though, that we should probably redesign the wording on the sticker we adopted. From the very beginning, when this team was created, we made a conscious decision that we did not want to be one more "witchcraft trial" team, we want our focus to be very different. Not on the trials or those who participated in them in various ways, but on telling the life stories of people (mostly women) who were marginalized.
posted by Jen (Stevens) Hutton
Have you also come across the Survey of Scottish Witchcraft database, linked from ?
Hi Sheena,

Yes, it is the second link (above) under "Maps, Photos, and Websites."

posted by Jen (Stevens) Hutton

Categories: Witch Trials