Skip to main content

MacDonald, Stuart 1957–

MacDonald, Stuart 1957–


Born 1957. Education: Guelph University, B.A., 1981, M.A., 1982, Ph.D., 1999; Knox College, M.Div, 1985.


Office—Knox College, 59 St. Georges St., Toronto, Ontario M5S 2E6, Canada. E-mail—[email protected]


Ordained Presbyterian minister, 1985. Knox College, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, associate professor, 1996—.


Back to Lochaber: A Search for Historical Events, Travels, Tales, and Customs, photographs by Andrew McKenna, Pentland Press (Edinburgh, Scotland), 1994.

The Witches of Fife: Witch-Hunting in a Scottish Shire, 1560-1710, Tuckwell Press (East Linton, Scotland), 2002.


Stuart MacDonald is an ordained Presbyterian minister and a professor of church and society at Knox College at the University of Toronto. His book The Witches of Fife: Witch-Hunting in a Scottish Shire, 1560-1710 presents historical data in a new context. Narrowing his discussion of witch hunts to the Scottish county of Fife allows him to analyze trends that reveal how and why women were accused of witchcraft and prosecuted for their alleged crimes. The book includes graphical data and maps that chart the trials of witches over time and place. The county of Fife is divided into four Presbyterys—geographical areas similar to parishes, to which most witch-hunts were confined.

MacDonald's research shows that most alleged witches were accused of malefice, not of consorting with the devil. Furthermore, their arrests and trials were usually headed by the church courts, not the local nobles, and did not involve any torture other than sleep deprivation. Under duress, however, the women often gave confessions. Moreover, MacDonald shows how witch-hunting went into decline when coalitions of church officials and landowners, lords, and other esteemed citizens fell apart. He also distinguishes between witches and charmers—those who practiced magic (often in the form of healings) and who were treated leniently by church officials—although he acknowledges that the two categories sometimes overlapped. The rule of thumb, however, was that a witch intended to cause harm and a charmer intended to heal. Lauren Martin, writing in the International Review of Scottish Studies, called the book "useful and readable." Linda J. Dunbar's review in Albion stated that "for those seeking historical argument this book comes alive in its closing chapters which consider torture; government and popular understanding of witchcraft, and the stereotypes accused in Fife; and lastly, those who initiated and/or perpetuated the witch hunts in Fife."



Albion, spring, 2004, Linda J. Dunbar, review of The Witches of Fife: Witch-Hunting in a Scottish Shire, 1560-1710, p. 186.

English Historical Review, November, 2003, Brian P. Levack, review of The Witches of Fife, p. 1390.

International Review of Scottish Studies, Volume 28, 2003, Lauren Martin, review of The Witches of Fife, p. 122.

Times Literary Supplement, March 7, 2003, review of The Witches of Fife, p. 30.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"MacDonald, Stuart 1957–." Contemporary Authors. . 24 Apr. 2019 <>.

"MacDonald, Stuart 1957–." Contemporary Authors. . (April 24, 2019).

"MacDonald, Stuart 1957–." Contemporary Authors. . Retrieved April 24, 2019 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.