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Prestonpans and Vicinity

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Witchcraft—Geilles Duncan—David Seton—Dr Feane at Saltpans— Great Trial for Witchcraft—Condemnation—Military Riot at Tranent; Prestonpans Men Involved—Their Acquittal—Riotous Proceedings at Prestonpans—Imprisonment—Acquittal—A French Professor on Prestonpans—As a Health Resort, &c. —The French Professor and Glasgow Lasses—Taxing in 1827—Agricultural Shows at Prestongrange.
THAT Saltpans was given up to witchcraft too, during the sixteenth century, need scarcely have been doubted; but that it had to do with the greatest witch trial on record would scarcely have been expected. And yet it was so.
The implicator in this trial was Geilles Duncan, a Tranent girl—indeed servant girl to no less a personage than David Seton, the notorious witch-finder, chamberlain to the Earl of Winton of that period, and who had his habitation in that old house in Winton Place known as the Royal George.
The person implicated was Dr Fian or Feane. Sometimes he is termed schoolmaster at Tranent, at other times master of the school at Saltpans. It may be that he had both schools under his charge; but we need scarcely attempt, at this time of day, to explain that by any trick of witchery he could be in both schools, and teach the scholars, at one and the same time, for few would readily believe it. Geilles had implicated a good many for witchery before she fell foul of Dr Feane.
Fourteen jurymen sat on this case, and a curious thing connected with this trial is the fact that no less than half a dozen of them hailed from Tranent. Such a state of matters would hardly be tolerated now in a court of law. King James himself sat and heard this trial from beginning to end. Now for the case.
Amongst others implicated by Geilles Duncan as being servants of the devil was Dr Feane, who was tried at great

length before the Assize at Edinburgh; and whose trial, in order to show the frivolous nature of the charges brought against people, in many cases of unblemished character, and for which they were cruelly put to death, we give in its entirety. In the " History of King James VI., " the culprit in this case is designated " schoolmaster at Tranent, master of the school at Saltpans. " He is termed also " register and secretar to the devil; " and is set down in the indictment, December 26, 1599, as Johnne Feane, alias Cunningham, last dwelling in Preston; Condu, convict of divers poyntes of Witchcraft, condemit in the dittay; comperit the samin Maister David M'Gill of Cranstoune Rydell, Advocate to our Sovereign Lord, as pursuer, and producit ane dittay against the said Johnne Feanne. The jurymen were: —

John Wilson, Edinburgh
Robert Thriskie
John Halket, Edinburgh
James Watson, do.
Thomas Wright
Richard Newtoune, Tranent
William Strathearn, Tranent
Richard Halzeot, Tranent
Robert Seyton, Tranent
John Donaldson, Edinburgh
Thomas Craig, Edinburgh
John Colville
James Milton, Tranent
Robert Smith, do.

" Videlicit—Quhilkis persons of Assize being chosen, sworn, and admitit upon the said Johnne Feane. He being accused be dittay of the said crimes, they chuse James Watson, Chanceller; after which, by the mouth of the said Chanceller, ffand, pronouncit, and delyuerit the said Johnne Feane to be fylit and convict. Fyrst, that when the devil appeared and come to him, when he was lying in his bed at Tranent, in Thomas Trumbellis chalmer, mwsand 1 and panpand 1 how he mycht be revenged of the said Thomas, who had offended him in nocht spargeing2 of his room as he had promised, his face being towards the wall; the devil appeared to him in white raiment, when he, the devil, spak to him in thir terms, or ever he, Feane, spak to the devil, " Will ze be ma serwand, 3 and adore me and ma serwands, and ze sail never want, and also ze suld be revengit of zour enimies; " like as, the same devil persuaded him to burn Thomas Trumbellis hoose, in respect he had not kept his promise.
2d Item—Fylit for suffering of himself to be markit by the devil with ane rod the second nicht that he appeared to him in white arayment as said is, in his bed, and for feigning of himself to be seik in the said Thomas Trumbillis chalmer, where

1 Thinking and cogitating. 2 Washing or cleaning. 3 Servant.
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