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Fian, John (?-1591) A young schoolmaster in Saltpans, Scotland, in the late 16th century, Dr. John Fian was the central figure in Scotland's most famous witch trials, which involved James VI (JAMEs I) himself. Fian, also known as John Cunningham, was accused of leading a COVEN of witches in North Berwick who, among other charges attempted to assassinate the king. Fian was brutally tortured until he confessed and was burned at the stake in 1591.

The downfall of Fian was brought about by a young servant girl named Gillis Duncan, whose gift for natural HEALING was suspected by her master as the Devil's MAGIC. Under TORTuRE, she accused several persons of witchcraft, including Fian (see NORTH Berwick WitchEs). Fian, who had a reputation as a conjurer, was arrested on December 20, 1590, and charged with 20 counts of witchcraft and high treason.

The most important charge was that of the attempted murder of King James as he sailed to Denmark to fetch his bride-to-be. The witches allegedly raised a terrible storm at sea by tossing a CHARM of a dead CAT with human limbs tied to its paws into the ocean and crying "Hola!" On the return voyage, Satan then cast a "thing like a football" into the sea, raising a mist. The king's vessel was battered about but returned safely with no casualties (see sTORM raising). Other charges against Fian included acting as

John Fian Scotland Witch
John Fian and his coven fly widdershins around the church (FROM F ARMYTAGE IN SIR WALTER SCOTT'S letters on demonol-ogy and witchcraft; COURTESY MARY EVANS PICTURE LIBRARY)

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