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James Lindsay - alias Curat

The Story of James Lindsay

James Lindsay - alias Curat

James was the brother of John Lindsay, and both of their stories are closely entwined. Like John, James had a reputation as a witch in the local area, a reputation that stretched back at least ten years following the confession of a witch at that time. He was a tenant farmer just outside modern-day Erskine. James, as Curat to the Bishop, was the junior partner, sometimes standing in for his older brother during alleged meetings with the other witches from the area. It is clear that, like his brother, many people were wary of him in the local area, and some had memories that they wanted to share during the trial itself.

William Semple testified that he had seen James Lindsay many years prior, "in a clear moon lit night", approach him slowly while his feet appeared to be off the ground itself. Elizabeth Anderson testified that James Lindsay was one of those present in the yard of John Hardie, minister at Dumbarton, when they made an effigy and burned it. Witnesses at the trial provided gruesome details about the connected death of this minister, who with his dying breath appeared to accuse invisible tormentors that surrounded him. James Lindsay appears in many of the statements against the accused at the trial, and was viewed as an important individual in the overall case that was established.

James, like all of those who were found guilty, was subjected to testing by pricking. Witch pricking was an old method of testing whether an individual had received the devil's mark. The devil's mark was given once you had renounced your baptism and called the devil your Lord. A specialist pricker would arrive, with an array of needles, in order to stick them in to various moles and blemishes on the skin. If the individual showed no reaction to the needle, it was seen as proof of being in league with Satan. Witnesses, including James Brisbane, minister at Kilmalcolm, testified to seeing James Lindsay fail this test.

James Lindsay was found guilty by a unanimous verdict, but refused to confess as he was led to the gallows, despite the recent pleas of local clergy who urged him, and the others, to repent, and throw themselves upon God's mercy.