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West Wemyss

Luck and Omens

Warning. Wemyss.
One other small circumstance I recall, also of Castle Wemyss. My sister was going to have a baby. She had been suffering a good deal from many causes, and one was that her husband, Hay Wemyss, was in a very bad state of health. His sister, Fanny Balfour (since dead),, told me the story. Poor Millicent had gone to bed, and Hay and his sister were talking about going to London, which they were about to do in a day or two. They were looking out of one of the windows which had a lovely view, and some terraces had lately been built going down towards the sea. The moon was shining brightly, and Hay said fo his sister that he felt very ill. As they spoke together there was a crash, and part of one of the terraces smashed and fell. He turned to Fanny and said, “I am a dead man! for as a warning to the owner of Wemyss Castle of his early approaching death a piece of masonry always falls!” Fanny tried to laugh him out of the idea, but he would say and hear no more. In a few days they went to London, and Hay Wemyss of Wemyss Castle died a fortnight before his youngest son was born. Munster, p. 164-5.

Death Omen
Cohn third Earl of Balcarres, was engaged to be married to Mauritia de Nassau, daughter of the Count of Beverwaert and Anverquerque, in Holland. The marriage day arrived, “the noble party were assembled in the church, and the bride was at the altar; but, to the dismay of the company, no bridegroom appeared!The volatile Cohn had forgotten the day of his marriage, and was discovered in his night-gown and slippers quietly eating his breakfast! Cohn hurried to the church, but in his haste left the ring in his writing case. A friend in the company gave him one; the ceremony went on, and without looking at it, he placed it on the finger of his fair young bride, it was a mourning ring, with the mort head and cross bones. On perceiving this at the close of the ceremony she fainted away, and the evil omen had made such an impression on her mind, that on recovering she declared she should die within the year; and her presentiment was too truly fulfilled.’



If two or three small bits of tea stems were found floating in a cup of tea, it was an omen that one or more strangers or visitors were to call soon; the same thing was to happen if a string of soot were found hanging to the bars of the grate.
Stewart, 43.

It was thought unlucky if two knives happened to be crossed on the table, or if thirteen persons sat down together to a meal.
Stewart, p. 42.

Unlucky Acts and Events

It was deemed unlucky to break a looking-glass.
Stewart , p. 43.

In Dunfermline it was accounted unlucky for one to turn back for anything after commencing a journey.
Stewart, p. 43.

Some would not put on the left shoe first of a morning.
Stewart, p. 42.

To present a knife or sharp implement to any one, without first getting a penny or other small coin in exchange, was, deemed an unlucky gift, as it was sure to cut, or sever love !
Stewart, p. 42.

It was considered an ill omen for a person to give another a pin for any purpose when they were about to part to go away any distance, from one another, for it was said that “preens pairt love! “

The writer remembers a case of a friend who was a ship captain. On his way to his ship accompanied by his wife, by some accident or other, in going through a gate or stile, he happened to get some part of his dress torn. He asked her for a pin, to pin the garment in a temporary way; this she gave, but she laughingly remarked, “Do ye no ken that preens pairt love?” And it was a very strange coincidence that in this case husband and wife never again met; he being unfortunately drowned on that voyage.
Stewart, p. 44.

Rowan Tree

There were those in this neighbourhood, long after the beginning of the present century, who believed that a slip of rowan tree carried on their person dispelled glamour, and rendered tame all the powers of sorcery and witchcraft. This superstition continued to exert its power on men otherwise intelligent. Impelled by ancient custom, they bore on their persons on the eve of Mayday, a slip of rowan tied with red thread as a charm against ill luck, and with an undefined hope that it would avert evil from their flocks and herds.

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