Janet Horne

Executed 1727

Janet Horne was the last person in Britain to be tried and executed for witchcraft. In 1727 she and her daughter were arrested and jailed in Dornoch. Her crimes, according to her neighbours, were devilish; she was accused of turning her daughter into a pony, and of getting Satan himself to shoe the horse/girl.

At the time of her execution Janet Horne was showing signs of what we would recognise today as senile dementia. Her daughter appears to have had a deformity in her hands and feet, a condition which it is believed she subsequently passed on to her son.

The trial was rushed. Captain David Ross, sheriff-depute of Sutherland, found both women guilty and ordered that they should be burned to death the following day. The younger woman escaped but Janet was clearly confused by events. She was stripped, covered in tar and paraded through Dornoch in a barrel. When she arrived at her execution place, Janet is said to have smiled and warmed herself at the very fire which was about to consume her.