The Survey of Scottish Witchcraft


By Julian Goodare, Lauren Martin, Joyce Miller and Louise Yeoman, January 2003

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Case Details

C/EGD/2212 Elspeth Reoch

name of accused
Elspeth Reoch
designated title
no information
Accused Reference
Case date start
Given case date
no information
Case commission
no information
case complaint
no information
case correspondence
no information
case chronicle
no information
other details
no information


  • demonic (secondary characteristic)
  • white magic (secondary characteristic)
Characterisation Notes
She confessed to dealings with the fairy from the age of 12. Lots of detail about her meetings with them. She also seems to have been pregnant at least two times by different men. It is unclear if she was married. She claimed to be dumb and travelled around making a living off of her claim to have second sight. A very interesting case. [D. Purkiss claims that this case is about incest, in 'Reading Witchcraft' ed. S. Clark]
additional persons
name involvement notes
no additional persons recorded

Qualitative information

Non-natural beings

She claimsed she was made dumb by a non-natural being who the prosecutors called the devil. Two men visited her by a loch side and told her how to get second sight. Two years later she was delivering a baby and the black man appeared again, he told her he was a fairy and a kinsman. He pressured her to have sex with him. After this she lost the power of speech. Her brother beat her to try to get her to speak, they prayed for her at the kirk three sundays - nothing worked. She made a trade of her second sight.
  • Male in black
  • Male in green tartan
  • Male Fairy who was her kinsman

Demonic pacts

  • Sex

witches meetings

  • Devil present

Meeting places

  • None Loch

musical instruments

  • no information

Folk culture

  • Elphane or Fairyland
  • Specific ritual acts
Two men she met at a loch told her to take an egg and roast it and use the sweat of it to wash her hands, and then to rub her eyes with unwashed hands to get the sight of anything she should want to know. [Possible allusion to one of the miracles of Christ when he spits in the dirt and washes a blind man's eyes and he can see?]. The black man at the loch turned out to be a fairy man who was also a dead kinsmen of hers. He came to her when she was in childbirth. She also seemed to know things abour herbs (specifically Merefow (?) to cause a nose bleed).

Counter strategies

  • no information

white magic

  • Divination
  • Second Sight

Elf/fairy elements

  • Male fairy (elf)
  • Green


  • no information

Ritual objects

  • Egg
  • Herb

Religious motif

  • no information

Calendar customs

  • Yule

Diseases or illness

She tried to procure an abortion for someone.

Cause of witch's malice

  • no information

Other maleficia

Damage to property

  • no information

weather modification

  • no information


Other charges

  • no information



Claimed bewitched
Claimed possessed
Admitted lesser charges
No defence
Claimed natural causes
Case Notes
name notes
Lawting Sheriff and Justice Court Acts and Statutes of the Lawting Sheriff and Justic Courts of Orkney and Shetland, p. 51-55 See also extracts from Maitland Club Miscellany, vol II, part I (1840). The whole volume seems to have pages 181-191 (? Check this).