A witch’s confession

Confession of Agnes Samson. (Catalogue ref: SP 52/47 f. 14i)

In the course of a witchcraft trial the accused could give a confession (sometimes given freely, sometimes forced) which would be used as evidence against them. Agnes Samsone was burned for witchcraft, and this source contains parts of her confession. 29 January, 1590.


Page One, From Top into line 8 of main text:

  1. Certain notes of Agnes Samsone her
  2. confession 27 January 1590 whereupon she was
  3. convicted by an Assize [legal court] &
  4. burned in Edinburgh, 28 day
  5. for a witch
  6. Imprimis [Firstly] the said Agnes confesses that after the death of her hus-
  7. band the devil appeared unto her in the night till she was
  8. [?] and pensive [thinking] for the sustentation [keeping]of her and her bairns [babies]
  9. bidding her be of good cheer and leave of that care for her
  10. children, promising that if she would serve him she nor
  11. they should lack nothing. And being motivated with her poverty
  12. and his fair promises of riches and revenge of her enemies,
  13. took him for her master and renounced Christ.


Page Two, Third Paragraph:

  1. Item, she confesses that upon a complaint of a woman of the
  2. frowardness [person who is difficult to deal with] of her father-in-law and her earnest desire
  3. to be quit of him, she made a picture of wax and raised
  4. a spirit at a waterside beside a brier bush [prickly shrub], desiring her
  5. to enchant it to serve for his destruction, and send it to the said
  6. woman to be put under his bed sheet or bed head.

Page 4, Second Paragraph:

  1. Item, she confesses that she raised the devil by her
  2. evocations [act of summoning the spirits] to ask if a gentlewoman should live or die.
  3. He appeared to her in likeness of a black dog before supper,
  4. she being alone. But after supper, having the gentle-
  5. woman’s three daughters with her, of whom one
  6. would have drowned herself in the well out of the which
  7. the dog came and whether he went, and was hardly
  8. stayed through the violent pulling and holding of
  9. her sisters and the said Agnes Samsone the said
  10. gentlewoman was made a quarter of an hour thereafter.
Return to Early Modern witch trials