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1544 - 1544
Public penance ritual in pre-Reformation Aberdeen

One way in which local communities tried to keep peace between their inhabitants was by public penance rituals such as this one. Maggie Durtty is convicted of ‘strubling’ [troubling by word or assault or both] and abusing Jonet Leslie, having already being convicted of the same crime twice. She is threatened with further punishment if she does it again.. Note how the fines go to the upkeep of the parish church; the wax candle was used to light the church.

The goif is a pillory. A merk was worth 13s 4d.

The Scots version follows the translation.


2 May 1544

The said day, the bailies and council who were present at the time commanded and ordained Maggie Durtty who had been convicted twice before for the strubling and abusing of Jonet Lesley to come next Sunday with a candle of wax of 2 lbs burning in her hand, and sit down on her knees and ask the said Jonet forgiveness, and to request the good men of the town to cause the said Jonet to forgive her. And if ever she commits such a fault again, her neck is to be put in the goif, and she is to pay both the sums of money specified in the earlier acts made against her, that is 15 merks, to be given to the upkeep of the church of St Nicholas.

The sayd day, the baillies and consall, present for the tyme, commandit and ordanyt Mage Durtty, quhilk ves convict twise obefor, for the strublens and misperonyng of Jonet Lesly, to cum on Sonday nixt to cum, with ane candill of vax of ij lib. in hir hand birnand, and syt down on hir knees and ask the said Jonat forgifnis, and request the gudmen of the toune to cause the said Jonat forgife hir; and gyf euer scho commyttis sic faltis agane, thai ordain hir crag to be put in the goif, and to pay baith the sowmis of money contenit in the actis maid abefoir, viz., xv merkis, to be applyit to Sanct Nicolass vark.


Extracts from the Council Register of the Burgh of Aberdeen 1398-1570 ed. John Stuart (Spalding Club, 1844), p. 198. Translation by E. Ewan