SIR GEORGE MAXWELL,
of Pollok (CIrca 1688-97),
having been seized with a severe and mysterious illness, for which the
doctors could do nothing, his malady was ascribed to witchcraft.
Suspicion led to certainty. A young servant woman
having heard of the dread surmise, undertook to discover the offenders.
This she at once set about, and to the astonishment of all, she accused
several of the most respectable tenants on the Pollok estate. These
parties she had private reasons for hating; and by cunningly secreting
images of clay stuck full of pins about their houses, and afterwards
pretending to find them, she lent an air of probability to her foul
accusations, which in those days were sufficient to consign her victims
to the tar-barrel.
A special commission was ordered by Government to
investigate the matter, consisting of several Justiciary lords and the
leading gentlemen of Renfrewshire. The result was that the charges were
found clearly proven, and no fewer than seven persons were actually
sentenced to be strangled and burned—a sentence which, however monstrous
it may now appear, was rigidly carred into effect. Full details of the
melancholy event may be found in a work enti tied The Renfrewshire
A clever modern ballad on the subject, by Mr. Peter
M’Arthur, runs as follows
"The story is told, by legends old,
And by withered dame and sire;
When they sit secure from the winter’s cold,
All around the evening fire:
How the faggots blazed on the Gallow green,
Where they hung the witches high;
And their smouldering forms were grimly seen,
Till darken’d the lowering sky."