Thursday, 11 February 2016

Lady Glamis Burned as a Witch - A Summary

In the early 16th century, Janet Douglas, wife of the 6th Lord Glamis, was unfortunate enough to be the sister of Arcibald Douglas, 6th Earl of Angus, a perceived enemy and arguably the 'wicked step-father' of King James V.  When he attained power in his own right King James began to crack down on the powerful Douglas kindred and all their close associates and among those included in the general Douglas prescription was Janet Douglas, following the death of her husband in 1528, accused of assisting her rebellious brothers.  Janet's estates were seized in July 1531 and given to Gavin Hamilton.  On New Year's Day, 1532. Lady Glamis was charged with poisoning her husband.  The charge was so patiently false that two juries failed to show up for her trial.  Five years late, in July 1537, Janet was convicted of siding with her brothers.  A second charge stated that she, her second husband, her son, a priest, and a relative planned to poison the king.  Poisoning at this stage in history was of course synonymous with witchcraft.  After a blatantly one-sided trial, Lady Glamis was 'had to the Castle-hill of Edinburgh, and there burnt to the dead as ane traitor.'
   During her years of imprisonment lady Glamis almost went blind.  Much of the fatal evidence against her was supplied by William Lyon, a relative of her first husband, whose advances she had rejected.  Her son John, 7th Lord Glamis, was sixteen when he and his brother George were arrested, in 1537.  Witnessing his tenants being tortured and threatened with the same, John signed a confession, stating that he had known of his mother's plot.  The two brothers were not freed until after the king died.
   Lady Glamis's second husband, Alexander Campbell of Skipnish, tried to escape from his cell in Edinburgh Castle the night after Janet's execution.  He climbed down a rope, but it was too short and he fell to his death on the rocks.

   The ghost of Janet Douglas returned to haunt Glamis Castle hours after she perished, still enshrouded in flames.  Her ghost was often sighted floating above the 15th century Clock Tower, emitting an eerie red glow.

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