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