Violet Mar (died 1577) was a Scottish woman accused of plotting the death of Regent Morton by witchcraft.
Violet lived at Kildeis or Keldeis in Muthill or Methven in Perthshire. She was accused of using "sorcery, witchcraft, incantations, and the invocation of spirits" apparently to bring down the ruler of Scotland, Regent Morton. There is hardly anything known of her life and motivations.
A local laird Robert Murray of Abercairny was involved in her arrest and trial. He asked his sister-in-law, Annabell Murray, Countess of Mar for advice. She was at time the head of the household of the king, James VI, at Stirling Castle.
In September 1577 Annabell Murray, Countess of Mar wrote to Robert Murray, telling not to come to Stirling Castle, because Regent Morton was coming. The Laird of Abercairny wanted to bring Violet Mar to Stirling, and Annabell Murray advised him to get written statements from her accusers.This was the second letter on the subject from the Countess of Mar, and she was clearly active in planning the trial of Violet Mar. It has been suggested that the Countess helped form the attitudes of James VI of Scotland towards women accused of witchcraft.
On 10 October 1577 a royal messenger, Robert Binning, was sent from Edinburgh to summon Margaret Murray, Lady Clackmannan (another sister of Catherine Murray, Lady Abercairney and the Countess of Mar), the Laird of Abercairny and his wife Catherine Murray, and others, to come before the Privy Council on 18 October. Binning also brought the summons for the assize of Violet Mar, to be held on 24 October.
Violet Mar was brought to trial and convicted on 24 October 1577.
In March 2022 Nicola Sturgeon, the first minister of Scotland, apologized for the persecution of alleged witches during the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries. The Scottish government had not apologized previously.
Isobel Gowdie was a Scottish woman who confessed to witchcraft at Auldearn near Nairn during 1662. Scant information is available about her age or life and, although she was probably executed in line with the usual practice, it is uncertain whether this was the case or if she was allowed to return to the obscurity of her former life as a cottar’s wife. Her detailed testimony, apparently achieved without the use of violent torture, provides one of the most comprehensive insights into European witchcraft folklore at the end of the era of witch-hunts.
John Stewart, 4th Earl of Atholl was a Scottish noble. He was favoured by Mary, Queen of Scots, but later turned against her.
Archibald Douglas, 8th Earl of Angus and 5th Earl of Morton was the son of David, 7th Earl of Angus. He succeeded to the title and estates in 1558, being brought up by his uncle, James Douglas, 4th Earl of Morton, a Presbyterian. In 1573 he was made a Privy Councillor and Sheriff of Berwickshire; in 1574 Lieutenant-General in Scotland; in 1577 Warden of the West Marches and Steward of Fife; and in 1578 Lieutenant-General of the realm. As a supporter of Morton and "ultra-Protestant" policy he was twice forced in exile in England.
John Erskine, Earl of Mar was a Scottish politician, the only son of another John Erskine and Annabella Murray. He is regarded as both the 19th earl and the 2nd earl.
The North Berwick witch trials were the trials in 1590 of a number of people from East Lothian, Scotland, accused of witchcraft in the St Andrew's Auld Kirk in North Berwick on Halloween night. They ran for two years, and implicated over seventy people. These included Francis Stewart, 5th Earl of Bothwell, on charges of high treason.
The 1594 trial of alleged witch Allison Balfour or Margaret Balfour is one of the most frequently cited Scottish witchcraft cases. Balfour lived in the Orkney Islands of Scotland in the area of Stenness. At that time in Scotland, the Scottish Witchcraft Act 1563 had made a conviction for witchcraft punishable by death.
Witchcraft in Orkney possibly has its roots in the settlement of Norsemen on the archipelago from the eighth century onwards. Until the early modern period magical powers were accepted as part of the general lifestyle, but witch-hunts began on the mainland of Scotland in about 1550, and the Scottish Witchcraft Act of 1563 made witchcraft or consultation with witches a crime punishable by death. One of the first Orcadians tried and executed for witchcraft was Allison Balfour, in 1594. Balfour, her elderly husband and two young children, were subjected to severe torture for two days to elicit a confession from her.
Margaret Aitken, known as the great witch of Balwearie, was an important figure in the great Scottish witchcraft panic of 1597 as her actions effectively led to an end of that series of witch trials. After being accused of witchcraft Aitken confessed but then identified hundreds of women as other witches to save her own life. She was exposed as a fraud a few months later and was burnt at the stake.
Beatrix Leslie was a Scottish midwife executed for witchcraft. In 1661 she was accused of causing the collapse of a coal pit through witchcraft. Little is known about her life before that, although there are reported disputes with neighbours that allude to a quarrelsome attitude.
Annabell Murray, Countess of Mar (1536–1603), was a Scottish landowner, courtier and royal servant, the keeper of the infant James VI and his son Prince Henry at Stirling Castle
Alison Pearson was executed for witchcraft. On being tried in 1588, she confessed to visions of a fairy court.
William Murray of Tullibardine was a Scottish courtier and leader of the Clan Murray.
Julian Goodare is a Professor of History at University of Edinburgh.
Margaret Fleming, Countess of Atholl (1536-1586) was a Scottish courtier and landowner rumoured to be involved in the occult. She served as lady-in-waiting to Mary, Queen of Scots.
Jean Lyon, Countess of Angus was a Scottish courtier, landowner, who became involved in a withcraft trial.
Magdalen Livingstone was a Scottish courtier. She was a favoured lady-in-waiting to Mary, Queen of Scots, and later belonged to the household of Prince Henry.
Robert Colville of Cleish (1532-1584) was a Scottish courtier.
Adam Erskine, Commendator of Cambuskenneth, was a Scottish landowner and courtier.
Catherine Murray was a Scottish aristocrat.
William Murray was a Scottish courtier, a household servant of James VI of Scotland as a "valet of the king's chamber".