Weir, Thomas

Weir, Thomas (1600-1670)

(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

In 1670 Major Thomas Weir voluntarily confessed to a long list of crimes including sodomy, bestiality with mares and cows, incest with his sister Jane (from the time she was sixteen years old until she was fifty) and with his stepdaughter Margaret Bourdon, fornication with his maid servant Bessie Weems, and witchcraft. At the age of seventy, Weir, an outstanding parliamentary officer, a Puritan, and evangelical leader of the Presbyterian strict sect, came to be regarded as one of Scotland's most notorious wizards. Despite efforts to stifle the affair and avoid scandal and disgrace, a minister in whom Weir had confided revealed the story to the Lord Provost of the city, and an inquiry was instituted.

Weir and his sister were arrested, and according to George Sinclar's Satan's Invisible World Discovered, 1871, "the terrors of God which were upon his soul urged him to confess and accuse himself." To various ministers who visited him in prison, Weir stated, "I know my sentence of damnation is already sealed in Heaven. . . for I find nothing within me but blackness, darkness, brimstone, and burning to the bottom of Hell." Jane Weir, in an attempt to save herself, accused her brother of witchcraft.

Major Weir always walked with a thornwood staff, on which he would lean even when praying. This came to be regarded as a wizard's staff, bringing him inspiration from the devil. The trial revealed that a woman had seen the Major having sex with a mare in 1651 or 1652 but that after reporting it she was whipped for slandering such a well-respected man. Weir's sister-in-law Margaret reported that when she was twentyseven she had seen him and his sister Jane making violent love in a barn. Jane Weir told tales of spirits doing magic work for her and of her and her brother traveling in a magic coach of fire that took them to Musselburgh and back to Edinburgh.

Found guilty, Major Weir was strangled and burned at a stake between Edinburgh and Leith on April 11, 1670, and his body was then burned to ashes. His sixty-year-old sister Jane was burned as a witch and for incest on April 12, in the Grassmarket at Edinburgh, on her own confessions and the evidence of her brother's statements.