site logo

The Dog O' Mause

Categories: More Ghosts With A Purpose
Scary Books: The Book Of Dreams And Ghosts
: Andrew Lang

Account of an apparition that appeared to William Soutar, {145a} in

the Mause, 1730.

[This is a copy from that in the handwriting of Bishop Rattray,

preserved at Craighall, and which was found at Meikleour a few years

ago, to the proprietor of which, Mr. Mercer, it was probably sent by

the Bishop.--W. W. H., 3rd August, 1846.]

"I have sent you an account of an apparition as remarkable, perha

as anything you ever heard of, and which, considered in all its

circumstances, leaves, I think, no ground of doubt to any man of

common-sense. The person to whom it appeared is one William Soutar, a

tenant of Balgowan's, who lives in Middle Mause, within about half a

mile from this place on the other side of the river, and in view from

our windows of Craighall House. He is about thirty-seven years of

age, as he says, and has a wife and bairns.

"The following is an account from his own mouth; and because there are

some circumstances fit to be taken in as you go along, I have given

them with reference at the end, {145b} that I may not interrupt the

sense of the account, or add anything to it. Therefore, it begins:--

"'In the month of December in the year 1728, about sky-setting, I and

my servant, with several others living in the town (farm-steading)

heard a scratching (screeching, crying), and I followed the noise,

with my servant, a little way from the town (farm-steading

throughout). We both thought we saw what had the appearance to be a

fox, and hounded the dogs at it, but they would not pursue it. {146a}

"'About a month after, as I was coming from Blair {146b} alone, about

the same time of the night, a big dog appeared to me, of a dark

greyish colour, between the Hilltown and Knockhead {146c} of Mause, on

a lea rig a little below the road, and in passing by it touched me

sonsily (firmly) on the thigh at my haunch-bane (hip-bone), upon which

I pulled my staff from under my arm and let a stroke at it; and I had

a notion at the time that I hit it, and my haunch was painful all that

night. However, I had no great thought of its being anything

particular or extraordinary, but that it might be a mad dog wandering.

About a year after that, to the best of my memory, in December month,

about the same time of the night and in the same place, when I was

alone, it appeared to me again as before, and passed by me at some

distance; and then I began to think it might be something more than


"'In the month of December, 1730, as I was coming from Perth, from the

Claith (cloth) Market a little before sky-setting, it appeared to me

again, being alone, at the same place, and passed by me just as

before. I had some suspicion of it then likewise, but I began to

think that a neighbour of mine in the Hilltown having an ox lately

dead, it might be a dog that had been at the carrion, by which I

endeavoured to put the suspicion out of my head.

"'On the second Monday of December, 1730, as I was coming from

Woodhead, a town (farm) in the ground of Drumlochy, it appeared to me

again in the same place just about sky-setting; and after it had

passed me as it was going out of my sight, it spoke with a low voice

so that I distinctly heard it, these words, "Within eight or ten days

do or die," and it thereupon disappeared. No more passed at that

time. On the morrow I went to my brother, who dwells in the Nether

Aird of Drumlochy, and told him of the last and of all the former

appearances, which was the first time I ever spoke of it to anybody.

He and I went to see a sister of ours at Glenballow, who was dying,

but she was dead before we came. As we were returning home, I desired

my brother, whose name is James Soutar, to go forward with me till we

should be passed the place where it used to appear to me; and just as

we had come to it, about ten o'clock at night, it appeared to me again

just as formerly; and as it was passing over some ice I pointed to it

with my finger and asked my brother if he saw it, but he said he did

not, nor did his servant, who was with us. It spoke nothing at that

time, but just disappeared as it passed the ice.

"'On the Saturday after, as I was at my own sheep-cots putting in my

sheep, it appeared to me again just after daylight, betwixt day and

skylight, and upon saying these words, "Come to the spot of ground

within half an hour," it just disappeared; whereupon I came home to my

own house, and took up a staff and also a sword off the head of the

bed, and went straight to the place where it used formerly to appear

to me; and after I had been there some minutes and had drawn a circle

about me with my staff, it appeared to me. And I spoke to it saying,

"In the name of God and Jesus Christ, what are you that troubles me?"

and it answered me, "I am David Soutar, George Soutar's brother.

{148a} I killed a man more than five-and-thirty years ago, when you

was new born, at a bush be-east the road, as you go into the Isle."

{148b} And as I was going away, I stood again and said, "David Soutar

was a man, and you appear like a dog," whereupon it spoke to me again,

saying, "I killed him with a dog, and therefore I am made to speak out

of the mouth of a dog, and tell you you must go and bury these bones".

Upon this I went straight to my brother to his house, and told him

what had happened to me. My brother having told the minister of

Blair, he and I came to the minister on Monday thereafter, as he was

examining in a neighbour's house in the same town where I live. And

the minister, with my brother and me and two or three more, went to

the place where the apparition said the bones were buried, when

Rychalzie met us accidentally; and the minister told Rychalzie the

story in the presence of all that were there assembled, and desired

the liberty from him to break up the ground to search for the bones.

Rychalzie made some scruples to allow us to break up the ground, but

said he would go along with us to Glasclune {149a}; and if he advised,

he would allow search to be made. Accordingly he went straight along

with my brother and me and James Chalmers, a neighbour who lives in

the Hilltown of Mause, to Glasclune, and told Glasclune the story as

above narrated; and he advised Rychalzie to allow the search to be

made, whereupon he gave his consent to it.

"'The day after, being Friday, we convened about thirty or forty men

and went to the Isle, and broke up the ground in many places,

searching for the bones, but we found nothing.

"'On Wednesday the 23rd December, about twelve o'clock, when I was in

my bed, I heard a voice but saw nothing; the voice said, "Come away".

{149b} Upon this I rose out of my bed, cast on my coat and went to the

door, but did not see it. And I said, "In the name of God, what do

you demand of me now?" It answered, "Go, take up these bones". I

said, "How shall I get these bones?" It answered again, "At the side

of a withered bush, {150} and there are but seven or eight of them

remaining". I asked, "Was there any more guilty of that action but

you?" It answered, "No". I asked again, "What is the reason you

trouble me?" It answered, "Because you are the youngest". Then said

I to it, "Depart from me, and give me a sign that I may know the

particular spot, and give me time". [Here there is written on the

margin in a different hand, "You will find the bones at the side of a

withered bush. There are but eight of them, and for a sign you will

find the print of a cross impressed on the ground."] On the morrow,

being Thursday, I went alone to the Isle to see if I could find any

sign, and immediately I saw both the bush, which was a small bush, the

greatest stick in it being about the thickness of a staff, and it was

withered about half-way down; and also the sign, which was about a

foot from the bush. The sign was an exact cross, thus X; each of the

two lines was about a foot and a half in length and near three inches

broad, and more than an inch deeper than the rest of the ground, as if

it had been pressed down, for the ground was not cut. On the morrow,

being Friday, I went and told my brother of the voice that had spoken

to me, and that I had gone and seen the bush which it directed me to

and the above-mentioned sign at it. The next day, being Saturday, my

brother and I went, together with seven or eight men with us, to the

Isle. About sun-rising we all saw the bush and the sign at it; and

upon breaking up the ground just at the bush, we found the bones,

viz., the chaft-teeth (jaw-teeth-molars) in it, one of the thigh

bones, one of the shoulder blades, and a small bone which we supposed

to be a collar bone, which was more consumed than any of the rest, and

two other small bones, which we thought to be bones of the sword-arm.

By the time we had digged up those bones, there convened about forty

men who also saw them. The minister and Rychalzie came to the place

and saw them.

"'We immediately sent to the other side of the water, to Claywhat,

{151} to a wright that was cutting timber there, whom Claywhat brought

over with him, who immediately made a coffin for the bones, and my

wife brought linen to wrap them in, and I wrapped the bones in the

linen myself and put them in the coffin before all these people, and

sent for the mort-cloth and buried them in the churchyard of Blair

that evening. There were near an hundred persons at the burial, and

it was a little after sunset when they were buried.'"

"This above account I have written down as dictated to me by William

Soutar in the presence of Robert Graham, brother to the Laird of

Balgowan, and of my two sons, James and John Rattray, at Craighall,

30th December, 1730.

"We at Craighall heard nothing of this history till after the search

was over, but it was told us on the morrow by some of the servants who

had been with the rest at the search; and on Saturday Glasclune's son

came over to Craighall and told us that William Soutar had given a

very distinct account of it to his father.

"On St. Andrew's Day, the 1st of December, this David Soutar (the

ghost) listed himself a soldier, being very soon after the time the

apparition said the murder was committed, and William Soutar declares

he had no remembrance of him till that apparition named him as brother

to George Soutar; then, he said, he began to recollect that when he

was about ten years of age he had seen him once at his father's in a

soldier's habit, after which he went abroad and was never more heard

of; neither did William ever before hear of his having listed as a

soldier, neither did William ever before hear of his having killed a

man, nor, indeed, was there ever anything heard of it in the country,

and it is not yet known who the person was that was killed, and whose

bones are now found.

"My son John and I went within a few days after to visit Glasclune,

and had the account from him as William had told him over. From

thence we went to Middle Mause to hear it from himself; but he being

from home, his father, who also lives in that town, gave us the same

account of it which Glasclune had done, and the poor man could not

refrain from shedding tears as he told it, as Glasclune told us his

son was under very great concern when he spoke of it to him. We all

thought this a very odd story, and were under suspense about it

because the bones had not been found upon the search.

"(Another account that also seems to have been written by the bishop

mentions that the murderer on committing the deed went home, and on

looking in at the window he saw William Soutar lying in a cradle--

hence it was the ghaist always came to him, and not to any of the

other relations.)"

Mr. Hay Newton, of Newton Hall, a man of great antiquarian tastes in

the last generation, wrote the following notes on the matter:--

"Widow M'Laren, aged seventy-nine, a native of Braemar, but who has

resided on the Craighall estate for sixty years, says that the

tradition is that the man was murdered for his money; that he was a

Highland drover on his return journey from the south; that he arrived

late at night at the Mains of Mause and wished to get to Rychalzie;

that he stayed at the Mains of Mause all night, but left it early next

morning, when David Soutar with his dog accompanied him to show him

the road; but that with the assistance of the dog he murdered the

drover and took his money at the place mentioned; that there was a

tailor at work in his father's house that morning when he returned

after committing the murder (according to the custom at that date by

which tailors went out to make up customers' own cloth at their own

houses), and that his mother being surprised at his strange

appearance, asked him what he had been about, to which inquiry he made

no reply; that he did not remain long in the country afterwards, but

went to England and never returned. The last time he was seen he went

down by the Brae of Cockridge. A man of the name of Irons, a

fisherman in Blairgowrie, says that his father, who died a very old

man some years ago, was present at the getting of the bones. Mr.

Small, Finzyhan, when bringing his daughter home from school in

Edinburgh, saw a coffin at the door of a public house near Rychalzie

where he generally stopped, but he did not go in as usual, thinking

that there was a death in the family. The innkeeper came out and

asked him why he was passing the door, and told him the coffin

contained the bones of the murdered man which had been collected, upon

which he went into the house.

"The Soutars disliked much to be questioned on the subject of the Dog

of Mause. Thomas Soutar, who was tenant in Easter Mause, formerly

named Knowhead of Mause, and died last year upwards of eighty years of

age, said that the Soutars came originally from Annandale, and that

their name was Johnston; that there were three brothers who fled from

that part of the country on account of their having killed a man; that

they came by Soutar's Hill, and having asked the name of the hill,

were told 'Soutar,' upon which they said, 'Soutar be it then,' and

took that name. One of the brothers went south and the others came

north." {155a}

The appearance of human ghosts in the form of beasts is common enough;

in Shropshire they usually "come" as bulls. (See Miss Burne's

Shropshire Folklore.) They do not usually speak, like the Dog o'

Mause. M. d'Assier, a French Darwinian, explains that ghosts revert

"atavistically" to lower forms of animal life! {155b}

We now, in accordance with a promise already made, give an example of

the ghosts of beasts! Here an explanation by the theory that the

consciousness of the beast survives death and affects with a

hallucination the minds of living men and animals, will hardly pass

current. But if such cases were as common and told on evidence as

respectable as that which vouches for appearances of the dead,

believers in these would either have to shift their ground, or to

grant that

Admitted to that equal sky,

Our faithful dog may bear us company.

We omit such things as the dripping death wraith of a drowned cat who

appeared to a lady, or the illused monkey who died in a Chinese house,

after which he haunted it by rapping, secreting objects, and, in

short, in the usual way. {155c} We adduce