The scene began to thicken, for a commission was granted for the trial of the two remaining persons accused, namely, Stewart the juggler, and Margaret Barclay. The day of trial being arrived, the following singular events took place, which we give as stated in the record :—
" My Lord and Earl of Eglintoune (who dwells within the space of one mile to the said burgh) having come to the said burgh at the earnest request of the said Justices, for giving to them of his lordship's countenance, concurrence, and assistance in trying of the foresaid devilish practices, conform to the tenor of the foresaid commission, the said John Stewart, for his better preserving to the day of the assize, was put in a sure lockfast booth, where no manner of person might have access to him till the downsitting of the Justice Court; and, for avoiding of putting violent hands on himself, he was very strictly guarded, and fettered by the arms, as use is. And upon that same day of the assize, about half an hour before the down-sitting of the Justice Court, Mr. David Dickson, minister at Irvine, and Mr. George Dunbar, minister of Ayr, having gone to him to exhort him to call on his God for mercy for his bygone wicked and evil life, and that God would of his infinite mercy loose him out of the bonds of the devil, whom he had served these many years bygone, he acquiesced in their prayer and godly exhortation, and uttered these words ; ' I am so straitly guarded that it lies not in my power to get my hand to take off my bonnet, nor to get bread to my mouth. And immediately after the departing of the two ministers from him, the juggler being sent for at the desire of my Lord of Eglintoune to be confronted with a woman of the Burgh of Ayr, called Janet Bous, who was apprehended by the magistrates of the burgh of Ayr for witchcraft, and sent to the burgh of Irvine purposely for that affair, he was found by the burgh officers who went about him strangled and hanged by the cruik of the door, with a tait of hemp, or a string made of hemp, supposed to have been his garter, or string of his bonnet, not above the length of two span long, his knees not being from the ground half a span, and was brought out of the house, his life not being totally expelled. But, notwithstanding of whatsover means used in the contrary for remeid of his life, he revived not, but so ended his life miserably by the help of the devil, his master.
" And because there was then only in life the said Margaret Barclay, and that the persons summoned to pass upon her assize, and upon the assize of the juggler, who, by the help of the devil, his master, had put violent hands on himself, were all present within the said burgh; therefore, and for eschewing of the like in the person of the said Margaret, our sovereign lord's justices in that part, particularly above named, constituted by commission, after solemn deliberation and advice of the said noble lord, whose concurrence and advice was chiefly required and taken in this matter, concluded with all possible diligence before the downsitting of the Justice Court, to put the said Margaret in torture ; in respect the devil, by God's permission, had made her associates, who were the lights of the cause, to be their own burrioes, [slayers.] They used the torture underwritten as being most safe and gentle, (as the said noble lord assured the said justices,) by putting of her two bare legs in a pair of stocks, and thereafter by onlaying of certain iron gauds [bars] severally one by one, and then eiking and augmenting the weight by laying on more gauds, and in easing of her by offtaking of the iron gauds one or more, as occasion offered, which iron gauds were but little short gauds, and broke not the skin of her legs, etc.
" After using of the which kind of gentle torture, the said Margaret began, according to the increase of the pain, to cry and crave, for God's cause, to take off her shins the foresaid irons, and she should declare truly the whole matter. Which being removed, she began at her former denial. And being of new assayed in torture as of befoir, she then uttered these words : ' Take off, take off, and before God I shall show you the whole form !'
" And the said irons being of new, upon her faithful promise, removed, she then desired my Lord of Eglin-toune, the said four justices, and the said Mr. David Dickson, minister of the burgh, Mr. George Dunbar, minister of Ayr, and Mr. Mitchell Wallace, minister of Kilmarnock, and Mr. John Cunninghame, minister of Dairy, and Hugh Kennedy, provost of Ayr, to come by themselves, and to remove all others, and she should declare truly, as she should answer to God, the whole matter. Whose desire in that being fulfilled, she made her confession in this manner, but [i. e. without] any kind of demand, freely, without interrogation •, God's name, by earnest prayer, being called upon for opening of her lips and easing of her heart, that she, by rendering of the truth, might glorify and magnify his holy name, and disappoint the enemy of her salvation." —Trial of Margaret Barclay, Sec. 1618.
Margaret Barclay, who was a young and lively person, had hitherto conducted herself like a passionate and high-tempered woman innocently accused, and the only appearance of conviction obtained against her was, that she carried about her rowan-tree and coloured thread, to make, as she said, her cow give milk, when it began to fail. But the gentle torture—a strange junction of words—recommended as an anodyne by the good Lord Eglinton—the placing, namely, her legs in the stocks, and loading her bare shins with bars of iron, overcame her resolution ; when, at her screams and declarations that she was willing to tell all, the weights were removed. She then told a story of destroying the ship of John Dein, affirming, that it was with the purpose of killing only her brother-in-law, and Provost Tran, and saving the rest of the crew. She at the same time involved in the guilt Isobel Crawford. This poor woman was also apprehended, and, in great terror, confessed the imputed crime, retorting the principal blame on Margaret Barclay herself. The trial was then appointed to proceed, when Alexander Dein, the husband of Margaret Barclay, appeared in court with a lawyer to act on his wife's behalf. Apparently, the sight of her husband awakened some hope and desire of life, for when the prisoner was asked by the lawyer whether she wished to be defended ? she answered, " As you please. But all I have confessed was in agony of torture ; and, before God, all I have spoken is false and untrue." To which she pathetically added—Ye have been too long in coming."