Search the Women in Scottish History Database

1530 - 1530
breaking plague regulations in Edinburgh

When plague hit a town, the local authorities attempted to isolate victims to prevent the spead of infection. This mother broke the regulations when her daughter became ill, and strict punishment followed. The authorities also attempted to prevent the family spreading disease outside the town. The Scots version follows the translation.


4 June 1530

The which day, forasmuch as Issobell Cattall the spouse of WIlliam Tod has broken the statutes of the town, keeping her sick daughter within her house for the last 3 days, and would not reveal the same to the officers of the town, until now she is dead in this contagious sickness; wherefore it is ordained by the provost and bailies that herself be burnt [prob branded on the cheek] and she and all her bairns be banished this town for all the days of their lives under the pain of death, and that they remain still on the muir [probablyt the Burghmuir (now the Meadows) to the south] until they be cleansed, and not to scatter to the country under the pain of death.


The quhilk day, forasmekle as Issobell Cattall the spous of William Tod, has brokin the statutis of the toune, haldand his dochtir seik within hir hous thir iij dayes bygane, and wald nocht reweile the samyn to the officiaris of the toune quhill now scho is deid in this contagius seknes, quharfor It is ordanit be the prouest and baillies that hir self be brynt, and scho and all hir barnis bannist this toune for all the dayes of thar lyffis vnder the pane of deid, and at thai remane still on the muire quhill that be clengit, and notcht to scatter in the cuntre vnder the pane of deid


Extracts from the Records of the Burgh of Edinburgh A.D. 1528-1557 ed. J.D. Marwick (Edinburgh: Scottish Burgh Records Society, 1871) p.30 Translation E. Ewan