(95) In July 1741 the parish minister applied to the heritors for their consent to assess the parish for making a fund for maintenance of William Bran in Poweye of Kineff in close prison or confinement during life, or at least until he recover his judgement, because at present he is subject to fits of furiosity
during which he runs naked through the country and not only frights women and children, but makes attempts to take away the life of every person that comes in his way, breaks doors and destroys everything in his power, and it is too likely that he will kill some person or other if he is not confined in close prison.
Neil McVicar, minister of the West Kirk parish of Edinburgh, affirmed that she was far from having the least appearance either of fatuity or furiosity
, but on the contrary discovered such a measure of knowledge of the doctrine of Christianity as gave him sufficient encouragement to allow her a token for the table of the Lord amongst those who had tolerable mediocrity of knowledge without being found among such as had extraordinary knowledge or were grossly ignorant and from the best accounts he hears of persons dwelling in her neighbourhood they judge well of her in respect both to her understanding and manners.
Access to contemporary opinions comes from a trove of hitherto unused legal records that form the evidential cote of the book, namely two hundred and thirty "brieves" (writs or briefs) of "furiosity
" (mental illness) or "idiotry" (mental handicap) issued by the Scottish civil courts between 1580 and 1818 (the majority after 1750).