Grisall Jaffray spelling open to a certain amount of debate was …….and if you’ve just eaten you may want to look away now and ignore the score…. strangled and burned as a witch near the Mercat Cross Dundee in 1669. The above blue plaque bearing her name is one of the stages on the Dundee Women’s Trail and can be seen in Peter Street a narrow wynd between Murraygate and Seagate which was effectively Dundee’s first street. Not a lot is known about Ms Jaffray’s case though one of the main things is that her accusers’ names were Scrymsour Guthrie and Rait which sounds to me like your classic dodgy solicitors’ firm! And there is a legend attached that a ship’s captain was about to dock at the harbour that November day saw that the citizens were busy witch burning and asked who it was. When told the name Grisall Jaffray he did the nautical equivalent of a three point turn departed Dundee and never came back. She was his mother. Whatever the truth you don’t get a blue plaque with a Tesco club card or whatever. And I think there’s something symbolic about this case in terms of people being condemned on flimsy evidence.
And now a local Councillor Lesley Brennan has put the name Mary Lily Walker forward to Historic Scotland. Mary Lily Walker was a Social Reformer who worked tirelessly to transform the lives of Victorian women and children in Dundee and like Grisall Jaffray is on the Dundee Women’s Trail. Historic Scotland have received 20 applications for blue plaques so far this year and make up to 12 awards a year. There’s a brilliant pic of Councillor Brennan outside Mary Lily Walker’s former home in Perth Road Dundee, published in today’s Dundee Courier. The front door is bright red – crying out for a blue plaque if you ask me! Go for it Historic Scotland!