The Story – James Lindsay’s confession

Feb 18th 1697

The confession of James Lindsay, Junior is given to give readers a view of other events occurring in Renfrewshire at the same time as Christians accusations, and show that Christians cases was not an individual one.  Many of the people bewitched by the ‘crew’ actually gave evidence during the Bargarran Trial.

James’s Confession

James Lindsay being examined confesses as follows (Aged 14 years or thereabout), That one day he met with the deceased Jean Fulton, his grandmother at her house in Inchinnan, where she took from him a little round cap, but being loath to part with it, he asked for it back, and when she refused, he called her an old witch and ran away; upon which she followed him and cried that she would meet him another time with an ill turn:  about 8 days later, as he was begging thorough the country near to the town of Inchinnan, he met his grandmother at the back yard of the house at the head of the Causey, where there appeared to him a black grim man, with black clothes, a  black hat and blue band; his grandmother  desiring him to take the gentleman by the hand (as she termed him) who accordingly did as he was desired, whose hand seemed to the said James, to be exceedingly cold, and griped him very strongly; whereupon the same gentleman enquired if he would serve him, and he would give him a bonny black coat, and a black hat, and several other things? To which he replied ‘yes I’ll do it’; and continuing there a little time they parted, when the said gentleman (which he knew there after to be the Devil) and his grandmother went away from him together, but he knows not how.   This the said James Lindsay declares was the first time he saw the Devil, or  engaged with him; and thereafter confesses that he was frequently at meetings with others, and particularly the meetings specified below along with many others.

About five weeks before Jennet Ker was apprehended he went with her to a Moor in Kilmacolm Parish upon a hill to a meeting where about four o’clock in the afternoon, where present, whom he knew or remembers (and several others who he does not know or remember), the said Jennet Ker, Jennet Woodrow, Margaret Alexander, Margaret Cochrane, _______ Tarbett, Alexander Anderson and his wife, John Lindsay the Bishop, Agnes Naismith, John Lindsay in Barloch, Jennet Waugh, Margaret Shearer, William Miller in Formakin, Margaret Lang in Carterpan, Matha Semple and her Daughter; Kat. Ferrier at Craigtownburne, John Reid, John Stuart and his wife, Patrick Lindsay in Formakin, a Highland Body – called by the crew their Drudge; and a white haired man which he say’s was James Lindsay the Curate who played the fiddle to them and they all danced with the first gentleman who they all called their Lord, who came to the said John Lindsay and took him by the hand and forbade him to tell, at which time they were contriving about the drowning of Brighouse, when he should come over the ferry of Erskine, (the foresaid Jennet Ker being the main instigator) where he heard their Lord say, that if they could not get him out of the boat by the hairs of his head, they would sink the boat, and all there in it, and Jennet Woodrow replied, that if they could get Brighouse drowned alone they would be content, John glen the Farrier saved, but ______ Mckillops mother-in-law to the said Farrier (who was also present) said in return, that he had put her out of the house a short while before the meeting, she should have him drowned also.  And likewise confesses, that at the committing of the said act, all the forenamed persons, except the said Jennet Woodrow and Jennet Ker, who were at that time in Prison; and that the Devil was at the head of the boat, and Alexander Anderson, William Miller, the Farriers mother-in-law, and John Steward and his wife were in the middle of the boat, and the rest of the crew above named with himself and several others were on the Erskine side of the water.

Also confesses, he was present at the putting down of a child of Mathew Parks in Parkland, with the persons above named, and several others, as Thomas Lindsay his brother, Elizabeth Anderson daughter to Alexander Anderson, were present with them a black haired man, bare-headed, in a black coat and along blue cravat, which was done late at night about 12, when the whole family were asleep except the servant lass, who waited on the child, who at the this time went to the door  a little, and in the interim before she returned they put a cord about the child’s neck and strangled it;  the main actors in the act being Margaret Fulton and Agnes Naismith, and when the lass came in again to the place where the child was, they heard her cry these words ‘Mathew, O Mathew! Mathew!  The Bairn is Dead’; whereupon they all went away.

Note, that the foresaid Elizabeth Anderson another confessant, agrees in her confession to this article, that the bairn was in the cradle when the act was committed, and that when they had done, they took the cord with them.

He also confesses he was present at the strangling of a child of William Montgomery in Bargarran land, with Martha Lang in Cartanpan, Martha Semple her daughter, Thomas Lindsay his brother, Margaret Rodger, Alexanderson, his wife and two daughters Jane and the said Elizabeth Anderson, John Lindsay the Bishop, James Lindsay the Curate and Patrick Lindsay his son, Agnes Naismith, Jennet Lindsay in Barloch, Jennet Waugh, Margaret Shearer, crooked William Miller, Kath. Ferrier in Carigtown-burn, John Stewart and his wife, Kath. Campbell, and the Highland Body their Drudge, and several others, whose names he does not know or remember;  Where was present the foresaid black-haired man, nothing on him but a black shirt and a black hood, called by the crew their Lord, where they strangled the child with a  sea napkin, and heard Agnes Naismith cry ‘draw the lowp’ and at their entering into the house Agnes Naismith opened the door and went in, and the rest followed her to the fireside, and light a candle, tending to be a bluish colour, where they stayed for a considerable time – up to one hour- and during that time none of the house awakened, for he heard one of them, Agnes Naismith, say that she would keep them from waking;  The main Actors were the foresaid Agnes Naismith with Alexander Anderson and another woman whom he did not know, and who is condescended on by the other two confessants, Thomas Lindsay his brother and the said Elizabeth Anderson, to be Margaret Fulton in Kilpatrick.

Further confesses, that upon a Wednesday about five weeks ago, he was taken on a sudden flight, when he was begging near to the place of Inchinnan to the Bargarran Orchard, to a meeting with the crew, where Agnes Naismith, the foresaid Margaret Fulton, his brother Thomas, John Lindsay the Bishop, James Lindsay the Curate, the Highland Body, Jennet Waugh, Margaret Shearer, Margaret Lang and her Daughter, Martha Semple, Thomas Woodrow’s wife in Carslop, John Reid the Smith, John Stewart and his wife, Thomas Birkmire in Stainie-butts and his wife, Alexander Anderson and his wife and two daughters, and a gentlewife called by their Lord, his wife Antiocha, and several others who he does not know or remember; where the Devil their Lord, as they call him, played upon the Pipe and they all danced; at which meeting they were advising and consulting on the destroying of Christian Shaw, daughter to Bargarran, where some of them were for destroying and pulling down of the house upon her, some for choking and stopping in pins in her throat, others for hanging her with a cord, some for seeing if they could get her out of the house and destroy her.  And confesses, they all agreed to the forming of her picture for the next meeting if they should ever have one; but fearing they should be apprehended before that time, their master gave them all a piece of an un-christened barins liver, except himself and two others –his brother James Lindsay and Elizabeth Anderson, telling them that though they were apprehended they would never confess.

Also confesses. Being in bed in the house of William Milloch in Davistown late at night he was taken out of his bed in flight, where he never knew until he was in Dunbarton, in the yard of Mr John Hardie, the minister there, where were present at the meeting of the crew, Agnes Naismith, Margaret Fulton, Robert Wallace, Margaret Lang, Martha Semple, Alexander Anderson and his wife and daughter Elizabeth, Thomas Lindsay his brother who agrees to his confession, _______ McKillops mother-in-law to john Glenn the Farrier, Katherine Campbell, the Highland Body, John Lindsay the Bishop and James his brother, Thomas Woodrows wife, William Miller in Formakin, and a gentlewife, called by their Lord his wife Antiocha, with several others who he does not know or remember; where the foresaid John Lindsay the Bishop, played on the pipe and they all danced, at which meeting they formed a picture of the said Mr John Hardie, and dabbed it full of pins, both small and large, and thereafter put it into a water and ale mix and then rolled it towards the fire.  The main Actors were, Agnes Naismith, and Margaret Fulton, who formed the same; and when they had ended their meeting, declares he was taken back to his bed again in flight, and declares Agnes Naismith got the picture in custody when they parted.

He further confesses that he has on several times appeared to the child  (Christian Shaw) both in Glasgow and Bargarran, though invisible to spectators, with others such as Agnes Naismith and Alexander Anderson, the Highland Body, (in John Davison) and Margaret Lang tormenting the child, where he declares he and the foresaid persons and some others in the presence of Christian, pulling out the coals, cinders, bones, hay, fire, sticks and other items which they put in her mouth, intending to choke  her.  And further declares, he was present when the said Christian Shaw pulled pins out of her mouth, which he and the aforesaid persons and others had put in it, and also at the time John Davison who was also then present; and also when the minister began to pray in Bargarran House, the Devil, he and the rest immediately went away.  And also declares, there was no person who promised him any reward for making the foresaid confession, and declares that he cannot write.    And also declares that the Devil and the rest of the Crew called John Lindsay the Bishop.