Scotland's Witches Voices - a follow up in depth study of two cases of significant interest in early nursing history - Christian Saidler (1597) and Bartie Patersoune (1607)
  Background: the Witches Voices Study (Jan - Aug 2021) investigated healers/midwives accused of witchcraft in Scotland between 1563-1736. That study revealed some healers with unexpected healing practices- especially Christian Saidler (CS) and Bartie Patersoune (BP). Their practices seem informed by pre-Reformation religious healing knowledge including their use of mercury and Latin notes with SATOR squares. This is significant as hospital nursing originated in the religious houses but, the connection between accused witches and religious nursing has not been reported before in Scotland and needs further investigation of these two highly unusual cases identified in the earlier study. (The Witches Study made a new discovery which located CS not in Edinburgh as previously thought but near BP close to Newbattle/Haddington and former abbeys/friaries).

Aims: 1) to find out more about Blakhous were CS lived and nursed a man with leprosy & the former religious houses it was close to, 2) conduct in depth archival study of CS and BP because of their unusual healing practices and potential significance in the early history of nursing.

Method: conduct primary archival research on CS (execution date 1597) and BP (execution date 1607) healers who were found guilty of witchcraft. Local (East Lothian) and National archives will be systematically accessed as appropriate to:
- identify any other information about these two that may survive to add to current knowledge about them which is derived solely from the witchcraft trials and is selective, recording aspects relating to their trial accusations.
- find out more about the religious houses that existed close to where they lived pre-Reformation (1560) e.g. whether they had a religious hospital or leprosarium. as this would help understand who potentially taught CS and BP their healing practices.

Output: Produce a narrative report for each individual detailing sources accessed and any information found about them and the religious orders that existed close to where they lived.

This research will support a journal paper. This paper should be of international significance as CS/BP do not fit the traditional witch/healer stereotype e.g. old uneducated women who learnt from their mothers e.g. CS earned from her father and her use of mercury in different formats suggests he had alchemic knowledge. The 1st Witches Study had huge public engagement impact and this will be expected with this follow up so, output will include podcasts and public event presentations,

  • Start Date:

    1 January 2022

  • End Date:

    30 September 2022

  • Activity Type:

    Externally Funded Research

  • Funder:

    Royal College of Nursing Foundation

  • Value:


Project Team