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John Lindsay - alias Bishop

The Story of John Lindsay

John Lindsay - alias Bishop

John Lindsay alias Bishop had a long-standing reputation as a warlock in the local area. Along with his younger brother James, they were the subject of fierce local gossip, and would arguably have been figures to be feared by some people in the community. Andrew Turner, minister at Erskine, described him as "ane of ill fame as (a witch) within the parish of Erskine" and remembered that he had been "delated several years before as a warlock by a confessing witch in the parish of Kilmacolm."

John Lindsay was accused by Christian Shaw as one of her chief tormentors, but it is clear that he had a long and distinctive past when it came to the practice of witchcraft in the local area. He had narrowly escaped prosecution in 1687, but memories, and no doubt grudges, still lingered in Renfrewshire. Local legend has it that Lindsay would often be seen entering the local woods at dusk, where he would light bonfires and take part in dances with other willing participants. This would no doubt have been viewed as subversive behaviour at the time. 

His title of Bishop reflects his superior status in relation to his brother when it came to alleged maleficent practices. It also reflects his position as the leader of the local crew of witches. As a warlock, he would organise the meetings, and be seen as the devil's right-hand man during official proceedings. It is also interesting to note that, for many Calvinists in the area, the title of Bishop itself would be a subversive one, given its Episcopalian and Roman Catholic undertones. Much of the evidence from the trial itself sees Lindsay heavily associated with a number of crimes, and it is obvious that local reputation was a significant factor in him being apprehended, charged, and ultimately found guilty of charges including witchcraft and necromancy. He went to the gallows unrepentant.