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Tribute to Britain’s last ‘witch’

by STEPHANIE BUNGAY
SHE was the last person in Britain to be tried as a witch – in a 1944 case Winston Churchill called “obsolete tomfoolery”. Her ability to inform relatives about loved ones who had died abroad during the Second World War led to her family being demonised. Even 54 years later, then-Home Secretary Jack Straw refused to grant her a posthumous pardon. But now Helen Duncan is to receive a special mention in a ceremony to remember 81 people from Prestonpans who were killed during the witchcraft trials of the 16th and 17th century.

Ms Duncan, who lived in Niddrie at the time but travelled the country putting on seances for relatives, was convicted in 1944 under the 1735 Witchcraft Act for “pretending to raise the spirits of the dead”. She was sentenced to nine months in Holloway prison. Her granddaughter, Mary Martin, 72, from Craigmillar, who will lead tomorrow’s ceremony at the Prestoungrange Gothenburg pub in Prestonpans High Street, said: “I still remember it. My brother and I were at school at the time and it was awful, we got called names like demon child.

Read the original article at: Edinburgh News

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