tinker and hunchback
near Kirkmichael in North Perthshire, is the home of the Spalding
family who originally took up residence in the late 16th century
when Andrew Spalding married into the Wemyss family who owned
the land round about. Andrew was not at all popular with his neighbours,
for in 1587 a gang of them, thirty in all, descended on Ashintully
and kept him prisoner. Whatever he had done to bring their fury
on his head must have been serious in their eyes for Andrew was
subjected to humiliation and torture. On his release he appealed
to the king who declared the aggressors rebels, and pardon was
withheld until 1598. Gratitude for the king's support was sadly
lacking however, for Andrew's successor David was deeply involved
in the Gowrie Conspiracy, supporting the Ruthvens.
castle can boast of three ghosts. Green Jean" was really
tempting fate one evening when she decided to don a green dress,
for green is unlucky for humans, they say, being the fairy colour.
But as owner of the castle Jean was used to having her own way,
much to the resentment of her uncle who didn't believe in women
inheriting property. That night he decided to get rid of her.
He entered the bedroom where her maid was dressing her hair. Of
course he had to dispose of the witness too! The maid's body was
stuffed up the bedroom chimney and Jean, her throat cut, was dragged
away to be buried. But she refused to remain at rest, and, still
dressed in her green gown, is often seen wandering around the
family burial ground, or in the castle corridors.
other two ghosts are men seeking vengeance. "Crooked Davie"
was a hunchback employed as a messenger by the family, not out
of charity, but because he was noted in the district for being
fleet of foot. On one particular day a great banquet was planned,
and as the servants usually ate well from the left-overs and enjoyed
festivities of their own "down-stairs", Davy was determined
to be there, for he was courting one of the maids. Even when his
master despatched him to Edinburgh with a message Davy was not
all that much dismayed for he knew he could be there and back
on time if he made an extra special effort. He had never run faster,
but when he arrived back at Ashintully he was exhausted. As he
waited before the fire in the hall for his master, he fell asleep.
Spalding, coming past and seeing him, immediately jumped to the
conclusion he had been disobeyed.
giving Davy a chance to explain he slew him . . . and only after
his death did Spalding find the papers sticking out of Davie's
pocket were the ANSWER to his message. Davie's companion in
haunting the grounds of Ashintully is the ghost of a tinker
hanged for trespassing. Before he was hanged the tinker (said
to be a Robertson) put a curse on the family, and he still wanders
the grounds with Davy, shrieking out his curse.
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