We've all at some point opened our mailbox hoping we'd find our invite to Hogwarts inside. Unfortunately, that day has never come, but that doesn't mean that you didn't descend from a line witches — or at least women accused of witchcraft. These so-called witches didn't attend a fancy wizardry school, and they couldn't Expecto Patronum their way out of trouble, earningthis title is actually much darker than Harry Potter would have you believe. We're talking about the thousands of people killed in Scotland after being accused of witchcraft, similar to the United States' Salem Witch Trials. Still, if you want to know if your ancestors were accused of being witches, a new database can help you find out.
Smithsonian reports London’s Wellcome Library has digitized a manuscript called Names of Witches in Scotland, 1658, a document containing all the names of men and women accused of witchcraft in Scotland between 1658 and 1662. Ancestry.com is now hosting the database, where you can find out whether or not you were related to any of the accused witches of Scotland.
The names, towns and "confessions" of suspected witches are included in the list that was compiled during a witch scare in the 16th and 17th century, according to the Smithsonian. During that time, between 3,000 and 5,000 people were accused of witchcraft, and many were put to death.
The Smithsonian points out torture was often used as a method to coerce "confessions" out of potential witches. If they were found guilty of being a witch,many met a violent end in which they were strangled at the stake then burned.
In a press release from Ancestry.com, Dr. Christopher Hilton, Senior Archivist at Wellcome Library, says this database is a peek inside a world we never really got to know.
“This manuscript offers us a glimpse into a world that often went undocumented,” he said. “How ordinary people, outside the mainstream of science and medicine, tried to bring order and control to the world around them. This might mean charms and spells, or the use of healing herbs and other types of folk medicine, or both. We’ll probably never know the combinations of events that saw each of these individuals accused of witchcraft."
If you want to know whether your ancestors met this unfortunate fate, head over to Ancestry.com, where you can search the database.