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Paisley's Enchanted Threads

Margaret Fulton

The Story of Margaret Fulton

Margaret Fulton

Margaret Fulton was an elderly woman from the Dumbarton area, but her reputation spread far and wide in the region. In many ways, she appears to be similar to Agnes Naismith. She was described as a 'beggar wyfe' by many and would have been reliant upon local charity. During the 1690s, farming was difficult in Renfrewshire, and this hardship would have trickled down to people like Margaret Fulton who would have found it more difficult to eke out an existence. Like Naismith, she would have been a regular visitor to local steadings as she searched out sustenance, and consequently her name and economic status would have been familiar to many.

Local biographical scraps of Margaret Fulton portray her as an individual who had mental health issues, largely based upon her alleged belief in fairies and other supernatural characters. It must be remembered, however, that such beliefs were common among many people at this time, and instead of indicating mental instability, would have been seen as perfectly normal. Arguably, her reputation as an individual who believed in fairies would be one of the things that dragged her into the witch hunt itself. It would certainly have brought her to the attention of some local religious authority figures.

One thing that is clear is the fact that Fulton had a long-standing reputation in the local area as a witch. For example, at the trial, Janet Simpson swore that "Margaret Fulton was commonly reput in the country for a witch." Marion Burnside from Kilpatrick swore that "it was reput through the whole country ever since she remembers that Margaret Fulton was a witch." Such claims were at times set against the context of a number of unexplained deaths in the local area. Janet Roger declared that she witnessed Margaret Fulton at several meetings with the crew of local witches, where they plotted their deeds, and called the devil "their Lord". It would seem that the weight of evidence against Fulton was overwhelming, and that she stood little chance at her trial.

Local stories, both oral and written, tell us that Margaret Fulton went to the scaffold completely out of her wits. Given the preceding months of accusation, interrogation, and torture, this is perhaps unsurprising. Her fairy belief remained with her until the end, and was perhaps a source of consolation to her in her final moments.