Welcome to Witch Season! Better late than never. So sorry for my lack of posts.
This is Geillis Duncan. Her name became quite popular with Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series. These books are AMAZING and completely inspired my trip to Scotland two years ago (and yes, I tried to go through the stones- they wouldn’t take me).
In the books, Geillis is a bit of a nightmare- traveling through time to change the course of history while killing off a few people along the way. However, this character was based on a real woman, or rather, a girl. According to Dr. Suzannah Lipscomb (her and Lucy Worsley are my favorite historians) Geillis was a young maidservant working for David Seaton in the late 1500’s. It was said that Geillis suddenly developed amazing healing capabilities and was seen sneaking out of the house at night.
Poor thing was probably slipping out after dark to meet a love interest or to just get away from Seaton. Seaton proceeded to torture Geillis in unspeakable ways until she confessed to being a witch. Dr. Lipscomb suspects Geillis was turning down Seaton’s sexual advances and (now this is my own interpretation) in order to save his deflated ego (and tiny limp… well, you know what I’m talking about) he needed a reason to unleash masochistic, misogynistic fury upon the young girl. He continued to torture her beyond the forced confession until she named other women from her coven.
This led to the North Berwick witch trials of 1590. Over 100 people were accused and tortured- forced to confess with meeting with the devil, devoting themselves to evil, and causing horrible things to happen to King James. More on his witch hunting in a future post.
Poor Geillis was eventually hanged as a witch in 1591 after giving Seaton and King James the ammo then needed to kill a bunch of people they didn’t like and prove witchcraft existed in Scotland.