UK News Witches, child killers and brothel keepers - and the injustices of being a woman

19:05  18 february  2020
19:05  18 february  2020 Source:   scotsman.com

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From a written confession used at a 16th century witch trial to a 20th century wanted poster of two fugitive brothel keepers and a mugshot of a mother who killed Catherine Anderson, who killed her child in Aberdeen (left), fugitive Lily Hart, a brothel keeper wanted for faking coins (centre), and Jane

This is a bizarre story about the most disquieting witch trial on record and the crucial role played in it by one little girl. She's presented with a confession that she denies, then a girl is brought to testify against her. The girl bursts into tears as the woman screams at her desperately, and the woman is

From a written confession used at a 16th century witch trial to a 20th century wanted poster of two fugitive brothel keepers and a mugshot of a mother who killed her daughter, the rare archive material paints a powerful picture of female criminals through time.

a vintage photo of a group of people posing for the camera © Provided by The Scotsman

Now, an exhibition Outcasts: Women Crime and Society draws together the photos, documents and police prints in a new exhibition that will go on show as part of the Granite Noir International Crime Writing Festival in Aberdeen this week.

The exhibition explores how society has comfortably cast disproportionate blame on women for certain types of crimes and misdemeanours, from the ‘fornicators’ held up by the men of the Kirk Session to the witchcraft trials in Aberdeen and surrounding areas during the 1590s.

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READ MORE: Scotland's pioneering women who broke new ground in the mountainsKaty Kavanagh, senior archivist at Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire Archives, said “This year we are focusing on women’s experiences of crime and punishment, and what this can tell us about women’s status in society at the time.

“Some of the cases are truly harrowing, and it really makes you appreciate the progress that has been made towards equality.”

READ MORE: Map of Scots women accused of witchcraft published for first timeAs part of the event, Ms Kavanagh will also examine the cases put to the Aberdeen House of Correction, which was operated by the burgh and church authorities in the early 17th Century to put vagabonds, beggars and ‘obstinate sinners’ into a regime of ‘soul cleansing work’.

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Both men and women were put in the cucking stool, but it was a particularly popular punishment for women accused of being 9. Prostitutes or brothel - keepers would be branded with a hot iron and banished from the town. This was part of the classic witch hunters' repertoire, especially in Scotland.

Sold at a brothel deep in the woods to work as a caretaker, a hapless deaf girl must summon the A young woman 's quest for revenge against the people who kidnapped and tormented her as a child leads While her sister survived, Sylvia died from all the trauma and the case was brought to trial

The ‘unprecedented’ scale of witchcraft paranoia felt in Aberdeen between 1596 and 1597 is also highlighted by the event. Then, around 40 cases were recorded locally, with many of the individuals – the vast majority female – executed following significant periods of incarceration and torture.

One case highlighted in Outcasts relates to Isobel Strathanchyn - also known as “Skuddie” - who was accused of four counts of witchcraft. Offences ranged from enchanting a piece of cloth to enable Elspet Mutray to marry the man ‘whom she loved the best’ to the more serious charge of gathering ‘dead folks bones’ and boiling them before washing a man with the water. The accused was convicted and then executed.

The costs of the imprisonment and execution of Isobel are also recorded, from the 26 loads of peat, four barrels of tar and six loads of firewood used in her burning to the fee payable to the executioner.

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'Thousands of children are being accused of being witches and we've both seen torture of children , dead children and frightened children ,' Ms Loven wrote. When Hope reached the hospital he was given medication to remove the worms from his belly and daily blood transfusions to incorporate more

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Meanwhile, the case of Catherine Anderson, an outworker from Pitfodels, now a suburb of Aberdeen, is also featured. She was accused of concealing her pregnancy and smothering her newborn child.

Her counsel pleaded for clemency, stating that the girl was in a state of starvation, deserted by the father of the child and “indeed in the most wretched circumstances – without food, without clothing, and without the means of procuring them, and altogether alone and in her misery, her child was born, and this child unfortunately met its death”.

Anna Durward and Margaret Campbell were also accused of murdering their own children in 1742. After being held in the city’s Tolbooth prison for several years, they volunteered to depart from Scotland and transport themselves to ‘some of His Majesty’s Plantations in America’, never to return home again.

The Kirk Session frequently tried women accused of concealment of pregnancy or extra-marital sex. One such case was Margaret Dunbar. While the court acknowledged that she had been raped twice and named her attacker on record, she was brought before the session and accused of having a child out of wedlock.

Outcasts: Women, Crime and Society runs from Thursday 20 February to Sunday 23 February at The Music Hall and Lemon Tree in Aberdeen.

Trial set for man accused of murdering six-year-old Rikki Neave .
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