Site icon Thou Shalt Not Suffer: The Witch Trial Podcast

Scottish Witch Trials with Mary W. Craig

Scottish Witch Trials with Mary W Craig Thou Shalt Not Suffer: The Witch Trial Podcast

Take a look with us into Scottish witch trial history, as well as a close look at one particular Scottish witch trial. We discuss important historic details with historian and informative author Mary W. Craig. We are so pleased to get to learn about her new book release “Agnes Finnie the Witch of Potterrow Port” available for pre-order now.  Mary fills the conversation with meaningful dialog around our advocacy questions: Why do we witch hunt? How do we witch hunt? How do we stop hunting witches?, while also sharing valuable insight into the current witch trial pardon efforts in Scotland.Links:Mary W. Craig WebsitePre-Order New Book: "Agnes Finnie" by Mary W. CraigBuy "Borders Witch Hunt" by Mary W. CraigApology of First Minister Nicola SturgeonApology of Church of ScotlandPeebles Witch Trials Witches of Scotland CampaignRAWS Remembering the Accused Witches of Scotland OrganizationPlease sign the petition to exonerate those accused of witchcraft in ConnecticutConnecticut Witch Trial Exoneration ProjectLeo Igwe, AfAWAdvocacy Against Witch Hunts, South AfricaEnd Witch Hunts MovementSupport the showJoin us on Discord to share your ideas and feedback.WebsiteTwitterFacebookInstagramLinkedInYouTubeTikTokDiscordBuzzsproutMailchimpSupport the show

Show Notes

Take a look with us into Scottish witch trial history, as well as a close look at one particular Scottish witch trial. We discuss important historic details with historian and informative author Mary W. Craig. We are so pleased to get to learn about her new book release “Agnes Finnie the Witch of Potterrow Port” available for pre-order now.  Mary fills the conversation with meaningful dialog around our advocacy questions: Why do we witch hunt? How do we witch hunt? How do we stop hunting witches?, while also sharing valuable insight into the current witch trial pardon efforts in Scotland.


Mary W. Craig Website

Pre-Order New Book: “Agnes Finnie” by Mary W. Craig

Buy “Borders Witch Hunt” by Mary W. Craig

Apology of First Minister Nicola Sturgeon

Apology of Church of Scotland

Peebles Witch Trials 

Witches of Scotland Campaign

RAWS Remembering the Accused Witches of Scotland Organization

Please sign the petition to exonerate those accused of witchcraft in Connecticut

Connecticut Witch Trial Exoneration Project

Leo Igwe, AfAW

Advocacy Against Witch Hunts, South Africa

End Witch Hunts Movement

Support the show

Join us on Discord to share your ideas and feedback.


Josh Hutchinson: Welcome to Thou Shalt Not Suffer: The Witch Trial Podcast. I'm Josh Hutchinson. 
Sarah Jack: I'm Sarah Jack. 
Josh Hutchinson: In this episode, we talk to Mary W. Craig about Borders Witch Hunt, Scottish Witch Hunts, and her upcoming book, Agnes Finnie: the Witch of Potterow Port.
Sarah Jack: I do think people should read the Borders book before they read the Finnie book. That's what I think.
Josh Hutchinson: I think that's a good idea to get you some good background on Scottish Witch Hunts to read Borders Witch Hunt and learn about the 17th century [00:01:00] witch-hunt in Scotland, why it happened, what happened, why it was so different from English witch-hunts, what they did differently, which was so much. They were brutal. It was not fun and games in Scotland. It was serious, deadly business involving a lot of violence. It was legal to torture in Scotland. 
Sarah Jack: You realized it's really incredible that the accused made it to the execution, and I know we saw accused in Salem perish in the prison, but nobody endured the amount of brutal examination that the victims of Scotland endured.[00:02:00] 
Josh Hutchinson: In Scotland, they could torture you, in some cases, even if you were eight years old. 
Sarah Jack: And the people that were fulfilling the different steps of the trial were getting paid well to do it. 
Josh Hutchinson: Yes. We'll learn about brodders today, a. k. a. witch prickers, and what their role was in examining the suspects. We don't get into too much detail about what they did, but you can read all about it in the book, Borders Witch Hunt. She makes the medicine go down, and her approach to the book overall, it's very readable. It's informative. You learn a lot, but you enjoy the reading process of it. 
Sarah Jack: We've been realizing the different nuances [00:03:00] of witch hunt management, mechanics, and behavior across the globe. And this was another one of those realizations, cuz we just aren't used to seeing the victims experience what they did here.
Josh Hutchinson: We like to remind people that in England and New England, they almost always hanged people. In Scotland, they did burn the bodies of the victims.
Sarah Jack: Her research was extensive, and her writing on it just perfectly descriptive and informative. And very visual. I felt like I could see it. 
Josh Hutchinson: It is very visceral. She really takes you to Scotland, to these small borders communities in Borders Witch Hunt. And then in Agnes Finnie, she's gonna take us to the city of Edinburgh. We're going to learn about a not so great neighborhood called [00:04:00] Potterrow Port, where everyone is unfortunate and has a low income, and we'll learn how little the king cares about these people. 
Sarah Jack: So after reading Borders Witch Hunt, we're getting to pull back another layer of the onion into the Scottish experience of witch hunting.
Josh Hutchinson: Her writing about Agnes Finnie, it's an intimate portrait of an individual. You get to see witch hunts through the eyes of one person. You get details on individual lives and individual case. It's not a global survey of witch hunts. It's not one page for each case. It's a whole book for one person's witchcraft trial.
Watch our [00:05:00] social media. We will be posting about this book, because our discussion coming up with Mary Craig is so enlightening, so eye-opening. It's such a pleasure to talk to her. She's one of those people, you feel like you could just talk to her all day about this topic.
Sarah Jack: We definitely could. The time flew by, but the information in the history that we gleaned from the conversation was incredible. 
Josh Hutchinson: You'll want to listen to this episode more than once, I guarantee. 
Sarah Jack: Borders Witch Hunt. I learned a ton about that. Like the Scotland, the England thing. I really did. I think that will be helpful to listeners. I am so happy to introduce our guest, author Mary W. Craig. We'll be talking about her book Borders Witch Hunt: 17th Century Witchcraft Trials in the Scottish Borders and her [00:06:00] upcoming project, Agnes Finnie: the Witch of Potterrow Port.
Mary W Craig: We've just recently unveiled a memorial to those who were executed in one particular trial in Peebles. We had 24 people executed in one day and then 3 individuals who were found not proven, cuz we have a not proven verdict in Scotland. They were then executed a week later. They were all part of the one trial, so we've just unveiled that memorial, which was really nice. We managed to get a minister to come along and give a little bit of a blessing, as well. So there's been lots of work. We've had an apology from the Church of Scotland over here, and we're working in the Scottish Parliament to have a pardon for all of those convicted under the witchcraft act. Things are going well over here. 
Josh Hutchinson: We were gonna start by talking to you about the Peebles Witch Memorial. We saw that on your Twitter that you were there. Did you speak at that event? 
Mary W Craig: I did, yes. We had a piper and then Elisa and Simon, who live in Peebles, unveiled memorial. Then I spoke for maybe [00:07:00] about five minutes, and then we had the minister, Tony, came along. He gave a blessing, and then as he read out 27 names, we had some fiddlers playing. And then we went back up to the youth center who very kindly gave us our premises for nothing. And I gave a sort of impromptu lecture about what happened during the trial. And that was really good because we had quite a few youngsters come along. We had two or three under the age of 12, but we had quite a sort of sprinkling of teenagers, which was really good to have the young people there interested. And it's, we're trying to get youngsters interested in history, can sometimes be a bit an, so it was good that they were there. . 
Sarah Jack: There's been a little bit of movement with exoneration and talking about that over here in the states, Massachusetts just did an exoneration on their last witch, and that had a lot of teenagers involved, and that was a very important part. And I saw on Twitter that you had tweeted about some younger generation that was taking care of the history and could, could go forward with the history. And I thought, yeah, that's very important. 
Mary W Craig: Especially as a lot of [00:08:00] those who were executed as witches were quite young themselves. The stereotype is of the old lady at the end of the village, and no, there were youngsters in the borders. We had people as young as eight and nine being accused of being witches. It mattered. It was young people of the day that were affected as well as everybody else.
Sarah Jack: When you were writing on the witch trials in Peebles, were you anticipating that you would be at a memorial so soon?
Mary W Craig: No. Now I'm gonna have to tell you how old I am. I first wrote about the Peebles Witch Trial back in 2008, and then I wrote again in 2020. So this has been a long haul. We didn't think we'd get an apology from the Church of Scotland. We were very surprised about that. And we were surprised as to how readily the community and people said, "yes, of course there should be a memorial." So it was great that everybody said, "oh, of course we need to talk about that, and we need to address what we've done in the past." So, surprising and very pleasing.
Josh Hutchinson: And why do you think it's [00:09:00] important to have the memorials? 
Mary W Craig: I think because Scotland had a very high number of executions. We prosecuted and executed 10 times the number of people that they did in England per head of population. To give you a sort of idea, the numbers, Scotland at that time had a population of just under 1 million, and we executed 4,000 people that we know of. The figure is probably closer to 8,000, but 4,000 are the ones that we can definitively see in the records. Although some of the records say things like some witches, a few witches, we don't know how many that means. But for every individual that's executed, they were somebody's daughter, somebody's son, somebody's mother, somebody's sister.
So it would be the equivalent today of executing 24,000 people in Scotland today. It's a massive thing. It happened for a long time, and even when people weren't being arrested and executed, the Kirk session became almost like a morality police. [00:10:00] Everybody was terrified of witches or of being accused of being a witch or living next door to witch.
The Highlands and Islands were slightly doing better because of their, they had retained the links to Catholicism and the clan system was different up there. But for Lowland Scotland, it was a period of absolute terror, and it's something we have to recognize we got it very wrong, acknowledge what we got wrong, apologize to those who are affected, and learn from it for the future.
So that's why I think the memorials are important to see. We have memorials. Any village in Scotland has a memorial to the Great War. We should never forget the Great War. Unfortunately we did, and we're going into the Second World War. But the idea is to say, to literally put a marker in the ground to say, "we did this, we got it very wrong, we should never do this again. This level of prejudice, this level of othering people and finger pointing and blaming and shaming." And although we don't do that today, if you look at the way again, going back to young people, [00:11:00] the venom that can be on social media that's piling onto somebody and attacking somebody. That sort of mob rule, we have to stop that and we have to use the witch memorials as an example of how bad it can get. 
Sarah Jack: That was so true. I'm learning so much about the Scotland trials. I just went through your book this week. And as far as descendants like over here the descendants tend to find each other, talk about it, "is there a memorial, do we need a memorial?" Do the descendants, are they a part of this? Were there descendants at the Peebles memorial? Do you hear from them? 
Mary W Craig: No. What tended to happen was, because the terror was so absolute well into the 18th century, anyone who had been the son or the daughter of a witch is never going to admit it. What tended to happen was the second somebody got arrested, the family would absolutely deny any association. You'll get notes in the records of people saying, "oh no, she wasn't really my sister, she was only my half [00:12:00] sister" or, "no, she wasn't my mother, she was my stepmother." So people were so ashamed of what the person had done, because witchcraft was so evil, but obviously terrified that they themselves would get arrested.
Mary W Craig: And so within two or three generations, granny or great granny that was executed as a witch is airbrushed out of the family history. And because, of course, they weren't given Christian burial, because the church did not note their names, there is really not a way for people to go back and decide that was a relative of theirs. It's very difficult for you to trace back. And as I say, we have so many records that just say things like, "a few witches were burned." Partly fear, partly shame, and partly incomplete records. We have very few who can trace a true descent.
Josh Hutchinson: And what was a witch to the Scots in 17th century? 
Mary W Craig: Okay, we could be here for some time. In the 16th century, everybody was Christian. There were a [00:13:00] few Jewish people around, but everybody was Christian. Witches were magical practitioners. They were Christians, but they were also able to do magic. So they could talk to the little people. They could talk to the kelpies or the selkies, or they could talk to the man in the black hat, and he would help you find lost property, or you might say a charm when you were trying to help a child become well. So it would be somebody who was a healer who would help you in that way.
They could also lay a spell on you if you were bad to them, but mostly they were thought of as good, and most communities knew of them. When you move into the 17th century after the Reformation and the Church of Scotland is terrified, it's got itself into siege mentality, it's surrounded by Catholics. It's not quite sure what the king's doing down in London, and we've got famine and pestilence and war going on in Scotland, which seems as if the devil is out there, using his handmaiden witches.
Then the [00:14:00] Church of Scotland takes the word "witch" and sticks it very closely, it cleaves it to the devil, because it is unnatural for women to have power. And women who do have power or claim to have power, it can only come from the devil. "Witch" changes, the meaning of the word "witch" changes from meaning being a herbal healer, wise women into this satanic follower of the devil.
We notice in the early part of the century, a lot of people who, when they're first arrested, they'll say, "yes, I'm a witch." Because they don't understand that this has now become a bad thing. By the end of the century, nobody's admitting to being a witch, unless they are kept awake and tortured. So the meaning shifts and changes and moves within that century because the church is obsessed with the devil.
Because we had a form of Calvinism that was so strict, and we had the predestination that God already knew who was damned and who was saved. And if we were God's elect and we were [00:15:00] all saved, then the devil would attack us, and he would attack us using witches. So the meaning changed, just as the meaning has changed now. There are people in Scotland today who call themselves witches today, who have, just as there are half a dozen different definitions of what to be a Christian is, there are half a dozen definitions of what a witch is today, but certainly in the 17th century, it changed from being good and healing to having that diabolical link.
And strangely enough, the people in Scotland were being told this every Sunday you'd go to the kirk on a Sunday and the minister would tell you It's witches. It's witches. It's the devil. It's the devil. And yet communities still use their witches, because what else can you do? You can't afford a doctor. There's not a doctor in your little village. If your child falls ill, or if your hens stop laying, and you think it's old Aggie at the end of the road who's cast a spell, you'll find another witch to take the spell off, because that's the day-to-day life you're living. 
Sarah Jack: That's great. What did they believe the [00:16:00] diabolical witches were capable of? 
Mary W Craig: Because the Kirk of Scotland were obsessed with the devil, they thought that the devil was going to bring down the new Protestant church. The Reformation happens in Scotland very quickly. In England, it was gradual. They moved from Catholicism to Anglicanism. In Scotland, we were Catholic, and then John Knox arrives and says, "no, we're now all Protestant, and all Catholics are in league with the devil." so the idea was that the devil was going to attack us all and drag us all to hell. And we had to guide against him. We had to guard against him. We had to be constantly on our watch against the devil. 
And so witches were people. They were women, predominantly because women were weak and stupid and lascivious and liars and just awful creatures. And our faith was weak because of that. And so we would be easily seduced by the devil. And then we would do his bidding. We would lure men with our sexual wiles. [00:17:00] We would cast spells to make people die. We would make men impotent. It's an awful lot about sex in it with the Church of Scotland. I'm not quite sure what that says about the ministers, but there's a lot to do with sex. We would shrivel men's members, we would make men barren, we would make cattle and horses barren. We would spoil crop. We would just basically bring the whole world to its knees as servants and handmaidens of the devil. And that was why the Kirk was obsessed. 
But because of this nonsense about predestination, it meant that even if you were a kirk minister, even if you were a very senior kirk minister in the General Assembly, the Kirk of Scotland, you couldn't know for absolute certainty that you were saved. So you end up in a circular argument, because if I'm the most godly person, then the devil's going to attack me. So if the devil attacks me, that proves I'm the most godly. So if I'm the most godly local [00:18:00] minister and the witches attack me, that proves I'm the most godly. But that means I want there to be witches in my area.
And so it just becomes a circular argument. You end up bringing in the witch prickers and witch brodders that we had here, and they were paid by how many witches they found, so they found lots of witches. And the ministers stood in the pulpit and screamed that this was diabolical and this was the devil and this was awful. But in a way you're saying, " see, it proves I'm a really good minister, because why else would they attack me? Why else would there be witches in my parish?" And once you're in that mindset, it's really difficult to get out of that mindset. Once you're in that circular argument, there's really no way out.
Josh Hutchinson: We read in Borders Witch Hunt about Auld Nick. Who was he? 
Mary W Craig: Auld Nick was the devil. Scotland has lots of names for the Devil. He is Auld Nick. He's Auld Horny. He's Auld Jack. He's Black Clootie. [00:19:00] He's Horny Clootie. We have all these different names, and a lot of the names are from way back, from our Pagan ancestors.
There are also lots of places in Scotland named after the Devil. There's the Devil's Beeftub, which is just a very large river valley, but it's a round river valley, so it's the Devil's Beeftub. There's the Devil's Arse, there's the Devil's Bum, there's the Devil's Loo. There's the Devil's Toothpick. Not quite sure about that one. 
So there's lots of, so the Devil in a way, the Devil that the church had in mind, who was Satan, who ruled over hell and fire and damnation. He wasn't quite the devil that, in Pagan times, we had believed in, he was a man that you could have a sort of, you can make a deal with the devil. You played the fiddle, you can play dice with the devil, you can play cards with the devil. There was a familiarity there that sort of lingered in folk superstition, even after the Christian Church was established. So again, when the [00:20:00] Church is railing about the Devil, and locally you say, "ah, it's just Auld Nick," that mismatch could mean the difference between life and death.
Sarah Jack: I'm very curious and I found the overlapping of the old and new beliefs quite a big deal. 
Mary W Craig: Yeah, because like in all things, what people believe, ordinary people believe and what society deems as acceptable, there's always a lag of several years. I have a friend who's an elder in the Kirk of Scotland, and he still won't walk under a ladder, and he laughs at himself for that superstition. Even though he is a practicing Christian, he still has that superstitious belief, and he knows it's ridiculous, but that's what he grew up with. So these folk beliefs linger on, and I the original meaning the original Pagan meaning has been lost in time.
But you keep all, you'll say, "knock on wood," or you'll touch wood for good luck, or you won't cross a black cat's path or breaking a mirror. All of these superstitions, we've lost the original meaning, but [00:21:00] they're still there. We still all do it. 
We still go out at Halloween, we go out guising, you guys go out trick-or-treating, and that's going way back. That's pre-Christian, that's a pre-Christian festival that we all still now. I mean, it's fun, and the kids get sweeties and candy. These superstitious beliefs hang on in there, and while now we smile at them and they're fine, because the Reformation was so recent for the Kirk of Scotland and because they had developed this siege mentality, they couldn't make any allowances for these old beliefs.
So it didn't make sense. So that 50 years previously your grandmother might have said a Catholic prayer as she was soothing an ill child. That was acceptable. Now, Catholicism had been tarred with the brush of being diabolical. It's very difficult to tell somebody they can't do something they've been doing for 50 years with no apparent harm.
Sarah Jack: The people's beliefs were in a transition, but what was acceptable was like a switch. 
Mary W Craig: Yeah. If you think about the modern day [00:22:00] laws on things like homosexuality, society had moved on from homosexuality whilst lawmakers had not. Their thinking was about 30 years behind. And social change, same-sex marriages, things like that, the lawmakers are always behind what is the societal movement of what isn't acceptable within a society. 
And what we had kept onto our old pagan traditions in Scotland. We still do it today. You still throw coins in a fountain or down a wishing well. That again, it's an old pagan belief. You take metal, which is precious, you put it into water, and water is a gateway into the world of the gods. Pre-Christian, we all do it when we're on holiday. That's part of the fun. We still, you get some people who will still leave out, my grandmother would still leave out cheese and milk for the fairies that were in the wood at the back of her house, and this would be in about 1930. She was still doing that. Admittedly, most of her neighbors thought she was a bit odd, but that belief was was still with her. 
Josh Hutchinson: What were [00:23:00] some factors in the high rate of witch trials and executions in Scotland? 
Mary W Craig: One of the highest problems was the king. When Elizabeth I dies in 1601, and James VI of Scotland, goes down to England to become James I of Great Britain, he goes to London, cuz that's where the money's to be made, and he takes most of his court away with him. So the senior nobility all go down to London, and it leaves a power vacuum in Scotland. And that's where the Kirk of Scotland just steps into that power vacuum. 
The problem was that James VI wanted a uniform faith across the whole of Britain, and he wanted to have the Episcopal faith, or the Anglican Episcopacy faith, simply because England's 10 times bigger than Scotland. It was easier to go with the majority faith. He was in London. He was in an, gonna go with the majority faith. The problem is that had a hierarchy, which included bishops, and the Church of Scotland took one look at that and [00:24:00] said, "that's Catholicism being shoved back." And so instantly they were at loggerheads.
Now, initially, James VI wasn't too stupid, so he just thought, I'll just leave the Scotch alone. His son, Charles I, comes along, wants to do the same thing, but he didn't have the same political nous as his father. So instead of leaving well alone, he decides he wants to impose this Episcopal faith onto Scotland.
At the same time, Charles has fallen out with his English parliamentarians over taxation, and he's causing bother over in Ireland. So basically you end up with the English Civil War or the War of the Three Kingdoms. So you basically got civil war going on. So because you've got a war going on, the Kirk of Scotland turned around and says, "well see, it's the Devil, it must be, because we are all good Calvinist Scots. Why would God inflict a war on us? It must be the Devil. Why is God inflicting famine on us? He wouldn't. It must be the [00:25:00] Devil." So all the external factors are pushing it to being the devil, because that's, that's your only get outta jail free card.
There is no other explanation. It's like in the 1930s in Germany, everything was a fault of the Jews. It didn't matter what, it was the fault of the Jews, because that's what people were being constantly told. It was the same thing up here, because of course, if you start to admit for one second that it might not be the devil, then maybe you have to take responsibility for yourself.
There's also the fact that in Scotland, we do have rotten weather up here. Let's be honest, it is absolutely pelting rain with me. I can see is it today, and it's supposed to be nice today. So we do have rotten weather. So if you have harvest failure and bad weather and war and famine and death, and then the 30 years religious war kicks off in the continent, and there are Catholics across in Ireland, who are coming across into Scotland and going up and causing bother with the Irish clans. The whole world is in chaos. And halfway through the century we [00:26:00] chop the king's head off. Now that's pretty serious. Your king might be mad, and your king might be bad, and your king might be mad and bad, but you don't chop his head off.
And then Scotland, we ended up, Oliver Cromwell comes up and imposed a republic on Scotland. So there were English soldiers based in Scotland. So the Scottish Covenanters say, "our only king is Jesus Christ." So they end up doing a Holy War. So in all of this chaos and confusion that you cannot control as a church, the only thing you can say for certainty is all of this is caused by the devil. And you have to believe that because if you don't, then there's nothing the church can do about the king, there's nothing the church can do about all Oliver Cromwell, they can't control the weather, they can't control the pestilence, they can't control the war in Europe, they can't control the Irish Catholics coming over. Only thing they can do is stick to their certainty, so they develop that siege mentality, and it lasts for a long time. They keep to this belief in the [00:27:00] devil and witches and witchcraft for well over 150 years because to admit anything else, then their house starts to crumble. So that's why they have fixated on that.
Sarah Jack: That was wonderful. Thanks for that very detailed explanation for that.
Mary W Craig: The 17th century was a bad century across Europe because we had the reformation in the previous century, and what you end up with in the 17th century is the counter-reformation, and you end up with the 30 years religious wars. You've got the German states fighting with each other, you've got France and Spain fighting, so there's wars all over the place.
People are jockeying for position in Europe, which is utterly terrifying. So you've got religious uncertainty and war and soldiers and famine and plague and bad weather. And you as an individual have no control. And then you go to the one person who's going to tell you what's what, and it's the minister, and they're telling you what to do.
And as I say, we had Charles I we chop [00:28:00] his head off, we ended up the protectorate. Then Oliver Cromwell dies. His son comes along, we didn't like him, we got rid of him. Charles II comes back, but oh dear, he's married to a Catholic, so we're not quite sure about him. They don't have any children. And then James VII of Scotland, or James II of Britain. We had a lot of Jameses. He comes back. Oh dear, he's a Catholic, so we don't like him, so we bump him. So we end up with Mary and William of Orange coming over from the Netherlands. So for that entire century, there is very little stable government at the time giving us anything, because it's the government that's causing half the bother. Cuz the government, whichever government, is always arguing with the church. So the only stable thing you have in Scotland is the Kirk of Scotland. Everything else is in flux all the time. And as I say, it lasts for that full century. 
Josh Hutchinson: Why were women believed more likely to be witches?
Mary W Craig: Oh, there were two or three books. There was one known as the Malleus Maleficarum, [00:29:00] which was written by a chap who may have been under the name Kramer or may have been under the name Institoris. He may or may not have been a Dominican, and he was kicked about the German states in the 16th century. 
There was a Witch trial in Speyer in one of the German states, and he had an argument with the bishop Speyer as to how they should conduct this trial. The bishop said, "no, it's my town. We're doing it my way." And the women there were acquitted of witchcraft. And Kramer then said, "you're an idiot. You're wrong. If you'd have done it my way, would've had them executed."
And he wrote this book called Malleus Maleficarum, Hammer of the Witches, in which he basically outlined what a witch is and what you should do about it. So women are weak, lascivious, lying, deceitful, awful creatures, and therefore, we are ready tools of the devil. A man is steadfast in his faith in the Lord. A man is very seldom going to be tempted, but we are gonna be tempted, because, well, we're [00:30:00] useless and weak and awful.
He writes terrible things, like women's bodies are weak, and you can tell they're weak because they're porous. You think, oh, you're a horrible man. They produce milk, they leak, their bodies leak, therefore their faith will leak. He uses analogies like that, a terrible book. Problem is, it was a bestseller. Everybody thought this book was brilliant. Then you come in to the later 16th century, and you've got John Knox, and John Knox writes his book against the, it's The First Blast of the Trumpet Against the Monstrous Regiment of Women. And he was actually talking about people like Mary Tudor, who he thought was a disgraceful person and should never have been queen, cuz of course she's female, and she's a queen, and she's Catholic.
So he says that power is unnatural to women, and women who have power are in league with the devil. So you've got Institoris saying that we're weak, and our faith is weak, and we're terrible and awful. And then you've got John Knox saying, and any woman that's [00:31:00] got power is coming from the devil. And these books are read by all of the learned men right the way across Europe.
And then James I, James VI of Scotland, James I of England, just before he leaves Scotland, he comes back from Denmark with his wife-to-be in a boat, and a great storm is raised outside North Berwick. And somebody says, "oh, that storm was raised by witchcraft." So there's a huge witchcraft trial. James is involved, he's the king. And because Scotland was a little country, James wanted to be one of the big princes in Europe. Scotland's so little and so poor, he can't really do it with money, but he can do it by learning. So he writes a book called Demonology, all about Witches. 
So if the king's writing about it, and John Knox is writing about it, and Kramer's writing about it, these three books do the rounds. And they just become the accepted norm that women are, by their nature, weak and silly and stupid [00:32:00] and, therefore, susceptible to the wiles of the devil. We'll just give in, because we're so hopeless. And in Scotland, about 85% of those who were persecuted as witches were women, about 15% were men. 
Sarah Jack: And how were warlocks viewed differently? 
Mary W Craig: Warlocks were slightly different, because there were men who followed the devil and became warlocks, but because they were men, they had to be in charge of the women. So you would maybe get three or four women, and the warlock would be in charge of them. So although he was awful and had renounced Christ and made a pact with the devil, he was in charge of the women. So that made sense, because men are supposed to be in charge of women. The reason the church was very upset about warlocks is that also tended to be men who were learned, so men who were themselves ex-ministers. 
One of the famous ones is Major Weir in Edinburgh, who was this bowhead saint. And he would [00:33:00] give great sermons in the open air in Edinburgh at the Westport of Edinburgh. And then he actually turned out to have been a warlock all along. When he was executed, he threw his staff into the fire, and apparently it turned and made grimaces and uttered curses as the wood burned.
But yes, so they were very frightened of warlocks because that was just all worry. Even the devil was so powerful. He was now ensnaring men, where his women were just what can you expect? They're women. They're going to be easily ensnared. 
Josh Hutchinson: Were the warlocks treated differently in the witch trials than the witches?
Mary W Craig: Yes. Now women couldn't speak in court. You weren't allowed to speak in court if you were a woman. But then one of the proofs of being a witch was to be deleted or named by another witch. So if I'm accused of being a witch, and I say, "I am and so is my sister," and then they bring my sister into court, I have to be able to say in court, "yes, I am naming my sister as a witch." So they changed the law so that [00:34:00] women could speak, but only to delate, to talk about another woman as a witch. But men as warlocks were allowed to speak in court. 
And so women would be asked things like, "did you have sex with the devil?" Yet again, we're obsessed with sex. "What was he like?" And all these sorts of questions. And, "what did you do? And how did you serve him? And who was all there with you?" When men were accused of being a warlock, they would be asked, "why did you renounce your baptism? Why did you turn away from Christ? Why did you make a pact with the devil?" 
It's almost as if women are just emotional. We don't really care about what they've been up to. But with the men, it was almost as if they were reasoning with them and saying, "do you not understand what you've done here? Come back to Christ. Do you not understand that this is wicked and awful?"
And there would be, the trials of warlocks could sometimes last for two or three days. The trials for women often lasted barely two or three hours. So it was quite different, yes, and a lot of men who were accused were [00:35:00] allowed to escape, shall we say? Or they would be held under house arrest, and they would often kill themselves, because your family could inherit your money, if you kill yourself. If you're executed as a witch or a warlock, your money is forfeit to the Kirk. 
And a lot of men could actually challenge the accusation in the first place. If I accuse you of being a witch or a warlock, you would just turn around and say, "how dare you? I'm a man of good standing in this community. That, that Mary's outrageous. She's accused me of being a witch." And I could often be arrested for slander. So a man could often talk the accusation down at that very early stage. So that's why, there are a few, and there are a few men who went to trial and were acquitted, because they either talked themselves out of it, or they got a couple of good lawyers in there to say, "for goodness sake, this is a chap of good standing, and why we're listening to the gossip of women? Of course he's not a warlock." So the acquittal rate for men was a lot higher than women.
We also have in Scotland the not proven verdict, and we still have it in Scots law. Now, not proven doesn't mean you're innocent, [00:36:00] and it doesn't mean you're guilty. It just means that the crown has not proved its case against you. And so there are a few cases of not proven verdicts in witchcraft trials, and that tended to be for men. Men would get a not proven verdict, and if you're not proven, you're not sent to prison, you cannot be punished, because the case against you has not been proven. There are constant arguments under Scots law, whenever anybody's found not proven these days, as to whether or not we should abolish it.
Josh Hutchinson: What was the penalty for witchcraft in Scotland? 
Mary W Craig: To be worriet, strangled to death, and then your dead body burnt. If you were extremely lucky, you might, in the earliest part of the century, and in the 16th century, you might get away with being branded, fined, and exiled. Oh, there are very few guilty verdicts that did not end up in an execution. And for women it was always execution after the guilty verdict, every time. Yep. And as I say, in the case of the people's [00:37:00] trial, that was 24 people executed on one day. 
And of course, everybody had to come out to watch. The minister wanted everybody to see what happened to witches. The devil didn't come down and save them in the end. The devil was a lying master that if you follow the devil, this is what happens to you. 
And oftentimes, if it's in some of the smaller towns, there was no public executioner. So it might be somebody like the local blacksmith, because he was a big strong lad, and he might be the one that had to, often they would put a noose around the neck and slip a little bit of wood in, and they would turn the piece of wood to strangle someone. And that's, you're having to do that face to face with somebody. It takes a long time to strangle somebody. And if it's in a small town, the chances are that blacksmith's gonna know the people that he's executing. So it was traumatic, I would think, for them afterwards to think, especially if there had been any doubt, if perhaps somebody just got caught up in it, a name was uttered, or somebody had fallen out with someone, but that was it. [00:38:00] There was no get out. Once that guilty verdict was in, you were executed, usually within a day or two days. 
Sarah Jack: In your book, you noted that the people were not just expected to be there. If you weren't there observing, that was really bad for your reputation. 
Mary W Craig: Oh yes. The minister would notice. You had to have a very good reason to not be there and have your children there as well. Why aren't you there? Why aren't you seeing? Because executing a witch was God's work. So, "why are you not there to witness it? Why are you hiding in your house? What have you got to hide? Were you a friend of the Witch? Are you a Witch yourself?" Yes, it would be noted if you didn't, if you didn't turn up, you didn't get there. "Why are you not watching what's going on? Why are you not showing your children, your three and four year old children? Why are you not showing them this gruesome scene to say to them, 'this is what happens?'"
Yes, you had to be there, and ministers would take note of it. And these were the sorts of things that could build to a bad reputation. So that, [00:39:00] 10 years down the line, another accusation is made, and your name might be on the list, and the minister thinks, "oh yeah, they didn't turn up that execution the last time. Yeah. They've not been to the kirk a couple of Sundays in a row without a good reason. Yeah, I'm gonna keep an eye on them." So that bad reputation can follow you about. We have situations where there are people caught up in an accusation, don't make it to court, but then 10 years down the line, the fact that they were previously investigated is brought up as part of the evidence against them. 
Josh Hutchinson: And why did they burn the bodies? 
Mary W Craig: It was so that there was nothing left, absolutely nothing left, because you had denied your faith, and your faith is everything. You denied that. Then you are nothing. And so the body would be burnt, and it takes a long time to burn the body. It's not like today, if you have somebody who's cremated, it's done very clinically and very safely and very respectfully and, you know, in a[00:40:00] proper sort of manner. If you're talking about Scotland this time of the year, it has rained today all day. Body could take three or four days to burn, and it's burning in a public place. It's maybe burning in the marketplace where you go to buy your bread every morning, and there is a body still burning, still burning. And then, eventually, there's nothing left, or if there is anything left, if there are a pile of ashes left, they're usually thrown into water, and the water will take 'em away. Partly because it's cleansing like a baptism, and partly the fact that it physically takes them away.
Sarah Jack: And where did the methods originate of killing and burning the witch? 
Mary W Craig: Initially, if you'd done a terrible crime, if you committed a murder, you'd be executed. And usually people were hanged in Scotland. We didn't tend to burn people alive. They did in some of the Catholic countries, but that was because witchcraft to them was mixed in with heresy and burning alive was a particular punishment for heresy. We tended to hang people. Occasionally you got your head [00:41:00] chopped off, but that was slightly different. That tended to happen up in Highlands a little bit more. But anyway, Lowland Scotland tended to hang people. But because you were then gonna burn the body to get rid of the body as well, because you don't want anything of the Witch left, it was a practical thing.
If you have to build a gallows and then hang somebody, and then take a body down and then put it onto a pyre to burn it, that's a lot more work. And so if you just build a pyre and have a stake and tie someone to the stake, strangle them there and then burn them, it was purely a practical method. In some areas, people were burned inside tar barrels to make sure they couldn't escape at the last minute, although the Church of Scotland didn't quite like that, so that was too much like superstition. 
But it was a purely practical reason, especially if you're gonna execute 24 people in one day. That's a lot of gallows to have to construct and then take down, because often witches weren't executed in a local place of execution. So you might have a big town, and you would have a place of execution for those who were guilty of [00:42:00] murder or rape or something horrible like that. Witches weren't executed there, because they weren't even supposed to be executed alongside ordinary criminals. Cause ordinary criminals were bad, but they hadn't denied Christ. So they were separate, even in their execution and even in their death, they were separate. 
Sarah Jack: And these witches didn't say they denied Christ. They just had, because they were a witch.
Mary W Craig: Yeah. Oh, all of them were Christian. They were absolutely Christian. And you can hear it if you read through, the best thing I always find with the confessions is to actually read them out loud. And you can hear these women, especially the early part of the century, they're genuinely confused as to what it is they're supposed to have done, because they're not doing anything that their mother and their grandmother didn't do before them. 
They went out, and they got herbs to, to help heal a child, and they said a little charm. What had this got to do with the devil? They didn't understand, and [00:43:00] occasionally they might say things like, "I met the man in the black hat." They meant a supernatural creature with a black hat. They did not mean the Devil, and they couldn't, you can hear the fact that it's almost as if the ministers and the interrogators are saying one thing, and the woman is saying another. It's like ships that pass in the night, they're just not understanding.
There are some really poignant ones where people say things like, "can I be a witch and not know it?" They were genuinely confused by what was going on. It was only as the trials continued, and by the time you got to about 1649, then a lot of people are absolutely shutting up and they're saying nothing.
They're saying absolutely nothing because they know that it doesn't matter what they say, it's gonna be turned. Now, the interrogators tended to be the minister and tended to be led by the minister. They would ask what today we would say would be leading questions, but what they would say is they wouldn't say to you, "did you meet the devil?" Cuz you're gonna say no to that. What they'll say is, "when you met the devil, who else was there with you?" [00:44:00] You said, "but I didn't meet the devil." "When you met the man in the black hat, was your sister with you? Was your mother with you? Was your daughter with you?" And so they would ask questions in a way to get the women to incriminate themselves, although they didn't really understand, and as I said, but later in this century, people understood and people were saying nothing. And that's when they start to use things like walking and watching and waking. And keeping people awake for days and days on end to get them into that mindset where they're gonna confess to anything.
Josh Hutchinson: You've talked about several methods that they used to test the witches. Were there others? 
Mary W Craig: There were the four proofs. The first proof was having a really bad reputation or a reputation of doing bad things. One was to be called a witch by another confessing witch. One was to confess to being a witch, and that was usually done, they would keep you awake for days on end and be badgering you the whole time, "you're a disgrace to your family. You're a disgrace to your friends." And eventually you give in. 
They would hold lighted candles to your feet. They would string you up by your thumbs. They would break [00:45:00] your arms, things like that. They would beat you to make you confess.
The other one was the Devil's mark. Cuz it was thought that the devil laid his hands on you and it's a parody of Christ. And because he was unnatural, he would leave a mark on you that was unnatural. And then a witch pricker or a witch brodder would arrive with a pin maybe about five centimeters long, and he would put that into your shoulders or your neck or your head on say, a mole or a freckle. And if you didn't cry out or it didn't bleed, that proved you had the devil's mark. And of course, acupuncture today, there are points in the body you can put a pin in. Often they would just keep on pricking somebody until they found point that didn't bleed.
You could be called a Witch by another Witch. If you had marks on your body, and that goes back to biblical times where you're talking about people being leprous with sin, and so if you were a sinful person, if you'd gone to the devil, there would be marks on you. 
But it was mostly by keeping you awake and constantly talking at you the whole time. That was the main method [00:46:00] that was used against you. 
Sarah Jack: It just amazes me that they survived everything to even get to the execution. It just seems like it was so harsh. 
Mary W Craig: Yeah. I'm surprised at those who didn't confess, I'm genuinely surprised that those that didn't confess at all. And there were some who absolutely to the end said, "no, I'm not gonna confess." There were a lot of people who confessed and then at trial or just before the trial retracted their confession, and they said, "I confessed because of the torture I was put under."
You weren't allowed to be interrogated if you were under the age of 10, but we know that happened. You weren't allowed to be interrogated if you were what was known as addled in your wits, if you're mentally incompetent. But again, we know that happened. There were people who were put on trial who were quite obviously mentally incapable, and yet the local kirk minister said, "no, I want them sent to trial, and if they're mad, it's their own fault. That's what happens if you [00:47:00] hang about the devil, and anyway, they're probably faking it." And it didn't matter if your family said, " granny's been a bit wandered for years" or even if you had a doctor to say, "this person is mentally incompetent." The kirk minister should, by sheer force of personality, just say, "no, I want them brought to trial." And they were brought to trial.
But as I say, some of the confessions are so poignant. They're sort of little things like, "I left out milk for the fairies." That's it, you're witch. Or, "I was taking care of my neighbor's little boy, and I said a little rhyme over him to help him soothe him to, to sleep," which every mother and father has done that. You sing a little nursery rhyme to help your little one, if you've got a fever. That now becomes a diabolical act. It's so poignant when you read what they're actually accused of doing. But underpinning all of that, as far as the kirk was concerned, was this obsession that they had made a pact with the devil.
Josh Hutchinson: What drew you [00:48:00] to write a book about Agnes Finnie? 
Mary W Craig: Oh, I wrote the book about Agnes Finnie, because I've been interested in the Witches and witchcraft for ages and ages, and the reason I'm write, I'm writing the book on Agnes Finnie, is because she doesn't fit the stereotype. She's not a nice, cute little old lady living in a cottage. She's not gathering her to take care of her neighbors. She's a nasty so-and-so. She lives in a tenement slum. She's a shopkeeper selling dodgy goods. She's a money-lender.
And it's very easy to be sympathetic to a sweet, gray-haired old granny who's gathering herbs in the countryside and who is persecuted by the church. And we all think that's terrible and awful and shouldn't have happened. It's much more difficult to be sympathetic to somebody who's not a sympathetic character, but Agnes Finnie, for all she was a nasty piece of work and for all she was quite an unpleasant person, was still deserving of justice. The law should not have treated her the way it did.
[00:49:00] And that's why I wrote about her. And also the fact that she was in the city and the book, just what life was like if you were poor. In the city of Edinburgh at that time, Agnes Finnie, is living in a place called Potterrow Port, which is, it's no longer there, but it's one of the high tenements in Edinburgh. So there's no sanitation, there's no running water, it's dark at night, it's freezing cold. Everybody's drinking as if there's no tomorrow, because the lives are so miserable. 
At the same time as Agnes is alive, King Charles I has a camel, which he keeps at Corstorphine, which is the west end of Edinburgh. And this camel goes out for a walk every day, except for a Sunday, cuz it's a good Christian camel, it rests on a Sunday. And you can pay sixpence to go and see the camel. Camel has got a groom, and it's got heated stables, and it's got the best of food, and it's being fed, I dunno, sugar lumps and all sorts. And once a month, the keeper of the royal camel writes a report on how the camel's doing and [00:50:00] sends that to Charles I, and he reads this. He's not getting a report on how the poor people are living in the tenement where Agnes is. He doesn't care about them, who are starving and freezing and drinking alcohol that they've made themselves, because there's nothing else they can do to get through the day.
So that's why I wrote about Agnes, partly to say everybody's deserving of justice, nasty or otherwise, but also the fact that the king cares about his camel, but doesn't care about the poor. This is the century in which witches were living or alleged witches were living. 
Sarah Jack: And what was like the population, and how many people were living like Agnes?
Mary W Craig: That's difficult to say, because not everybody was registered. You might get a tenement that had eight alleged houses in it, but you might have people who were so poor that when their husband went to work in the morning, they would get a lodger coming in off the night shift to sleep in their husband's bed. You had people sleeping in the back stairs of [00:51:00] tenements, because that was all they had. That was the problem. Nobody quite knew how many people were there. 
The conditions were so bad that 50% of all children never made it to their fifth birthday. You go to Edinburgh today and you've got the amazing guides that'll take you down the old town in Edinburgh, and they talk about gardylooing. It's all done as a joke and a laugh, and everybody laughs about it. They were basically throwing excrement out of windows, and that's how people lived. There was no light. There was no heat. There was lice and fleas and cockroaches and rats. This was the life that King Charles I's subjects were living whilst his camel on the west end of the city is being fed sugar lumps.
Josh Hutchinson: So why did you choose to write a book about one particular individual after the borders witches was many trials and many people, so why focus on just one?
Mary W Craig: I wanted to focus in on one person's life to look at the ordinary life of the person in a bit more detail. And I went [00:52:00] through the records with the National Archives and the National Library in Scotland, and I was fortunate enough to find Agnes Finnie's entire trial records. So that allowed me to look at that in some detail, but also the fact that she lived just at the outbreak of the Scottish Civil War and the chaos and what is sort of throughout that because of the rising tension all the time. And we've got the wars going on in Ukraine and Russia at the moment. There's a war over there, but it's far away. We hear about it on the news, but it doesn't affect us on a daily basis. 
The war was right there in Edinburgh. Young men were getting called up. You might just be an ordinary person. All of a sudden your son has to go to fight either for the king or against the king. There were roving gangs around the city, armed men in the city. So there's all sorts of things bubbling up, and the fact that I could focus in on this one individual and see what her life was like and how she starts off just as a shopkeeper, maybe doing a little bit of money-lending, all the way up to the time when [00:53:00] she's arrested, where there are 20 accusations of witchcraft being laid against her by her neighbors.
So I was able to look at it in a lot more sort of microscopic detail of one individual and how that came to pass.
Sarah Jack: I was thinking how you probably just saw her coming, like who she was,, coming together before you because of all of your extensive research and your expertise on all of these things you're talking about. And then you find her and all these records. I'm sure she just jumped right out at you. 
Mary W Craig: Yeah. And the fact that she wasn't in a little cottage and she wasn't a sweet little old lady, because that would've been a very different book, because from page one, everybody would've gone, "oh, that's a shame. Poor, sweet, little old lady, what's the big bad church gonna do?" Whereas this is, "okay, Agnes, oh I see. You're like that. Are you?" And that's the challenge. The challenge of this is the reality. 
I'm not saying that Agnes was a horrible person, because she was horrible. I'm saying that she wasn't a nice person, [00:54:00] but she wasn't living in a nice time. She was trying to cope the best she could. And of course she had all of the, she's a woman on her own, she's a widow, and women are only supposed to do certain things and act in certain ways. So that drew me to her because, she's trying to struggle through and do the best she can, but because she was that slightly more unpleasant character, she was much more fascinating than a sweet, little old lady.
Sarah Jack: Why was she chosen to be an accused? 
Mary W Craig: She was accused, she was finally accused by her neighbors. Her neighbors went to the minister and complained about her. And then when the minister started to investigate, he ended up with these 20 accusations going back years and years.
So there were neighbors saying things like, "I had an argument with her and she made me go lame" or, "I had an argument with her and she blinded my husband." And all of these accusations then start to come out, and Agnes ends up arrested and sent to trial. So it's a sort of accumulation of different things that had happened, [00:55:00] because at one point, she's known in the neighborhood as a witch. 
They know she's a witch. There's a couple called the Buchanans, and they go to her when they're little boy is unwell. And you think, why else are they going to the witch? I mean, Agnes is known to be a bad tempered so-and-so. Why are they going to this woman to try and help the little boy?
Because there was nowhere else for them to go. They're poor. They can't afford a doctor. There's no doctor going down to the tenements. The minister from the Kirk doesn't even go down to the tenements. They're basically a little world on their own in a little squallid corner of Edinburgh. They're in the capital city, and yet they're living a miserable life, and they have nothing else to do but go to Agnes. You think why would anybody borrow money from her if she's so horrible? Where else can they go? They can't go to a bank. They haven't got anywhere else to go. 
The only person they can go to is Agnes, because they're all living life on the edge. One bad day, you fall over and break your leg. You can't work, you can't pay your rent, you're [00:56:00] put out your house. You try living on the streets in a Scottish winter, you're gonna die. Witch she might have been, bad tempered so-and-so she might have been, but there was nobody else for these people to go until finally they've had enough of her temper. And also finally, the fear of the witch tips the balance against the usefulness that she has, because of the rising tension of the war. And so all these things come together, and eventually they've had enough, and they go to the minister. 
Josh Hutchinson: And what was the evidence used against her? 
Mary W Craig: The evidence against her was what you and I would probably just think of as the accusation. So somebody would say, "I had an argument with her in the street. She yelled at me, "I'll send you halting hame." And I developed a limp. And as far as the court, as far as the minister was concerned, that was proof positive. And if the minister says so, then the court just agrees. So it was actually just the accusation.
I [00:57:00] think in Agnes's case, because there were so many of these accusations, it just piled up and piled and piled up. But interestingly, the jury took a long time to find her guilty. It took a long time. You'd expect with 20 odd accusations that they would've said guilty straight away. Now, they took a good few weeks to think about it and think about whether or not Agnes was guilty, but I think it was just accumulation. As I say, in the vast majority of witchcraft trials, there was no proof, because how can you prove something like a spell? It's very difficult to prove a spell. 
You can say, "we asked Agnes to take care of our little boy, and then our little boy died." But how do you prove that Agnes killed the child? You could say, "Agnes yelled at my father, and then he had a stroke." But how do you actually prove that? Yeah, the link between cause and effect was very tenuous then, but it was enough because you had power from the devil. Then that gave you the power to lame someone [00:58:00] or blind someone.
Sarah Jack: Was Agnes executed? 
Mary W Craig: She was, yes. If you're ever in Edinburgh, going up just before you hit the castle esplanade on the right hand side, you'll see the Witches' Well. And that's where the witches were executed in Edinburgh. So yes, she was executed. 
Sarah Jack: Was she executed alongside other witches that day?
Mary W Craig: No. She was executed on her own, and interestingly, her daughter was not. And yet within the accusations, the 20 accusations, her daughter was named as a witch as well. And yet she was not executed, which is a curious point. 
When I looked at the sort of aftermath of her trial, what was interesting was that the minister, who had never gone near the Potterrow in his time as a minister, nothing was ever said against him. Nobody said to him, "why did you not know about this witch?" Nothing was said. And he thereafter never went down to Potterrow. The local bailey, who was like the police officer for the beat, they said to him, "why did you [00:59:00] never see any of this happening?" Nobody said anything to him, and he just continued to be the police officer on the beat. They didn't do anything. No doctor went down to Potterrow. It was a case of, "we've found your witch, we've executed your witch. Now go back to your slum, because we don't care about you." And that's what happened. They were just left to continue living in the slum. That was a Potterrow.
Josh Hutchinson: What do you want people to take away from your book?
Mary W Craig: To understand that everybody deserves justice no matter what personality they have. Sometimes we should look at the way people live. We think of Edinburgh as the capital city of Scotland and oh, it's wonderful and oh, it's fantastic. It's got its poor areas well, and everywhere does. And to look at the trial and think about the difference, look at what is cause and effect, what is just an accusation, and look at the way the law is used and can be [01:00:00] abused by some people.
Sarah Jack: Will the story of Agnes help the cause of pardoning and memorializing the witch trial victims in Scotland? Is that something you support? 
Mary W Craig: I think it might help towards the pardon. The pardon is being run by Claire Madison Mitchell and Zoe Venditozzi. And Claire is a KC, she's a King's Counsel. In the appellate court, she deals with appeals and miscarriages of justice. And that's why she's interested in this. And I think looking at the way the law is used and abused and looking at the fact that you have to have proof, proper proof to convict somebody of any crime, and that's what was lacking in the witchcraft trials.
I understand the religious belief in the Devil. I understand the theological knot that the Kirk of Scotland got itself tied into with this Calvinist predestination, but to then take that theological [01:01:00] argument and get the secular authorities and get the law to use it, that was what was wrong. And that's why we need the pardon today.
We don't do exonerations in Scotland, but we need to pardon these women and men for what happened to them under the law and to use it as an example of us always keeping an eye on the law and making sure that the law and the justice system is kept out of the hands of people like the Kirk of Scotland and kept out of the hands of politicians. It should stand alone that if you are accused of something, you go to trial, you have a fair trial. That's, what's it? It's nobody else's business. It's not politicians, not the religious people, nobody else. Let the law be the law, and let faith be faith. So I think that's something that's really important.
And as I say, we have had an apology from the Kirk of Scotland. I think the pardon would be a good idea, because it would again strengthen that. And then what we're looking for is a national [01:02:00] memorial, as well as lots of people are putting up small local memorials. But I think a national memorial. And I personally would also like this part of Scottish history to be taught in our schools. We quite rightly teach the children in Scotland about her our involvement in slave trade. This, to me, stands alongside that. It's a very dark part of our past. It's not something we should be proud of, but it's something we should teach and learn from. 
Josh Hutchinson: I agree a hundred percent with what you've said. We're working on exonerating the accused in Connecticut and hopefully memorializing and getting some more education about that. Even though there were much fewer in number than Scotland, we still feel that they're important. 
Mary W Craig: Oh yes. One is one too many. Absolutely, yes. Especially when you look at the ages of some of them. Some of these, it was right across the age range, and as I say, every one of them had a family, [01:03:00] had friends, had communities ripped apart by this constant fear, so yeah, absolutely. 
Sarah Jack: We really see the parallels in the history in what's happening in Scotland with the pardoning, what needs to happen in the state of Connecticut. It's all part of a very big message, educational message. And thanks for talking about this stuff with us. I want all of these, Agnes and others, to be known so that what you're saying of the changes that need to happen can happen based on the injustices that we know and that we see now.
Mary W Craig: One of the other reasons why I think we need to talk about apologies and pardons and memorials is the fact that there are still people today who are killed as witches. It's still happening to this day, and that is something. You can believe anything you want, but you can't [01:04:00] use that belief to persecute another individual. And that's a really strong message that I think we still need to get across because there are still women and men today being executed as witches around the world.
Josh Hutchinson: We've recently spoke with an activist from South Africa, and he explained the situation there, and it's really eye-opening. There's so many people that are still tortured and killed. 
Mary W Craig: Was that Leo Igwe? 
Josh Hutchinson: This was Damon Leff that we spoke with. We're hoping to speak with Leo pretty soon.
Mary W Craig: Leo's excellent. That's the saddest part is the fact that we, we're 400 years on and it's still happening, so human beings can be so nice and so fantastic and so wonderful to each other. And we can produce amazing things like, Beethoven's Ninth Symphony and the Mona Lisa. And yet we can equally be absolutely awful to one another, and we need to recognize that part of our personality and guard [01:05:00] against it whenever we can.
Josh Hutchinson: Is there anything that we could do to stop hunting witches in the present day?
Mary W Craig: That's a difficult one, because the witch hunts that are happening today have different roots. So a lot of the ones in Africa are rooted in evangelical church, so it's coming from Christian belief. But there are witchcraft trials in places like Nepal and Saudi Arabia, countries like that, where it's not coming from a Christian perspective. So I'm not sure what their concept of witchcraft is. 
I think it's a case of talking about it, keeping it in a public domain, getting it recognized as what it is, which is terror. And speaking to people like Leo Igwe, speaking to campaigners who are working in these actual countries and finding out what's going on there. I'm currently researching a book about colonial India and the witchcraft [01:06:00] trials that took place there under British rule and the parallels that are still happening in some of the Indian states today.
So it's difficult to pick apart exactly what's meant by witchcraft and Witches in some of these areas, but it's speaking to local campaigners and making sure it's on the internet, it's on social media, it's in the news. I think that's what those of us here can do about it.
Josh Hutchinson: One of the things that we're starting to do, we're trying to speak with Leo and Damon and those kinds of people who are on the ground in those nations and know what's going on and get their voices on our podcast. And we find every day stories of these atrocities happening in so many countries, and we share those on social media and try to get the word out the best that we can, and so far that's the thing that we're able to [01:07:00] do.
Sarah Jack: It feels like there should be more to say about that, because it's such a huge, the scope is so wide, but I don't know. It's also silencing when you think about it. 
Mary W Craig: I think the problem is the fact that most people, certainly in Scotland, think, "oh, we did it then, and it's all over." And then you'll say, "and there are witchcraft trials happening today" or, "there are witch executions happening today." And people say, they don't know, quite know what to say, because we think of it in the past, I almost liken it to modern day slavery, because up until, I would say 10 years ago, I would reckon most people in Britain thought that slavery was over and done with, was over and done with over 150 years ago.
And it's taken a long time for people in Britain to understand about modern slavery and what that means. For a long time people thought, "oh no, but we abolished the slave trade. There isn't any slavery anymore." And then you discover that the young lady in the nail salon that you go to [01:08:00] might be a modern day slave or the lad that's washing your car.
And that took a long time for people to get that understanding. And I think it's the same with modern witch persecutions. I think is gonna take a bit of time for people to accept it. And then once they say, "oh yes, that is still happening. And so we need to put a stop to that, we need to stop that."
In a way it's quite tied together. It's persecution of people who can't stand up for themselves, because of poverty and or ignorance or political unrest in their home countries. And they are then very quickly victimized, and they could be victimized as a witch, or you could end up being a slave doing my nails in the local salon or something. All of these things are quite interlinked now. So raising the profile and making people understand that it is still happening. Yeah, it's a big, it's a big thing to do, but it's something I think we all should be doing. 
Sarah Jack: I'm really hopeful that these messages that we're starting to pull together are [01:09:00] going to just keep reaching more ears and those people are gonna talk about it, too. But there's a parallel, too, with the family of the victims. When I asked about descendants in Scotland, and they didn't want to be connected to those who had been executed. I think in some of the nations today that are having witch attacks, they have to also find a way to carry on in the aftermath and not also be attacked because their grandmother was or their cousin was.
Josh Hutchinson: It was a real eye-opening discussion and very important discussion, and you spoke eloquently to the problems that are still going on today and why it's important to memorialize and pardon. And I want to thank you for that. And thank you for being our guest. 
Sarah Jack: I'm really looking forward to getting to know Agnes Finnie. 
Mary W Craig: It will be available as a [01:10:00] paperback, hardback, and also in a Kindle version on Amazon, or you can get it direct from the publishing house, Luath Press. 
Josh Hutchinson: Now here's Sarah with another update on Witch. Hunts happening in modern times. 
Sarah Jack: Here is End Witch Hunts World Advocacy News.
As you just heard from Mary Craig, Scotland is actively attending to the damage the witch trials brought to their ancestors. Activists are seeking justice for the innocent people accused and convicted under the Witchcraft Act of 1563. As you learned, there is much to make amends for, as much as can be done. 
Many individuals and groups have collaborated over recent years to build an effective campaign across the country of Scotland. This effort can heal the massive trauma from their alleged witch executions and trials. Today I want to briefly catch you up on their official progress and point you to the sources of information. 
The Scottish Parliament established a precedent of pardoning convictions of innocent past [01:11:00] individuals when it passed the Historical Sexual Offences (Pardons and Disregards) Act of 2018. Recognizing this precedent, King's Counsel Claire Mitchell submitted a petition to the Scottish Parliament for the pardoning of Scotland Witches. She states, "history still records these people as convicted witches -- justice demands that this is put right. History should properly reflect what these people were -- innocent, vulnerable people, caught up in a time where allegations of witchcraft were widespread and deadly." 
This petition has a strong message, and it's being heard. Two official apologies have been declared to Scotland from within its leadership this year. First, on International Women's Day, March 8th, 2022, the Scottish First Minister on behalf of the Scottish Government issued a formal apology stating, "I am choosing to acknowledge that egregious historic injustice and extend a formal posthumous apology to all of those accused, convicted, vilified, or executed under [01:12:00] the Witchcraft Act of 1563." The second apology occurred at the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, when a unanimous motion was accepted based on a report by its theological forum to apologize for its role in the murders of thousands of people, mostly women, who were accused of witchcraft between the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries. 
Following these landmark apology statements by the Scottish government and the Church of Scotland, Member of Scottish Parliament Natalie Don submitted a member's proposal for a bill requesting a formal pardon, stating, "to build the fairer, more equal, and forward thinking Scotland that we all want to see, we must address the historic abuses of our past. Under the Witchcraft Act of 1563, an estimated 3,837 people were accused of witchcraft in Scotland, with approximately 2,500, executed between 1563 and 1736." 
As Claire Mitchell so clearly pointed out in her petition, Scotland's victims were caught up in a [01:13:00] time where allegations of witchcraft were widespread and deadly. The world today must admit that thousands of living alleged witches are caught up now in a time where allegations of witchcraft are widespread and deadly. The deadly time is still here. It's called today. Actions must be taken to intervene for alleged witches in Africa and the Asian Pacific that are being attacked, tortured, and killed in this deadly time.
Can you accept that witch hunt thinking has not ended? It has not disappeared, it has not stopped. These strongly-held fears must be addressed and stopped immediately. While we watch and wait, let's support the victims across the world. Use your social power to help them support them by acknowledging and sharing their.
Please use all your communication channels to be an intervener and stand with them. The world must stop hunting witches. Please follow our End Witch Hunts movement on Twitter @_endwitchhunts and visit our website at
End Witch Hunts movement and Thou Shalt Not Suffer podcast support the [01:14:00] worldwide movement to recognize and address historical wrongs. 
Josh Hutchinson: Thank you for that informative news segment, Sarah. 
Sarah Jack: You're welcome. 
Josh Hutchinson: And thank you for listening to Thou Shalt Not Suffer: The Witch Trial Podcast. 
Sarah Jack: Join us next week.
Josh Hutchinson: Like, subscribe, or follow wherever you get your podcast. 
Sarah Jack: Visit us at 
Josh Hutchinson: Remember to tell all the people in your life about our show.
Sarah Jack: Support our efforts to end modern witch hunts. Visit endwitchhunts.Org to learn more. 
Josh Hutchinson: Have a great today and a beautiful tomorrow.
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