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Fian

(John), a schoolmaster at Saltpans, near Edinburg, tortured to death and then burnt at the stake on the Castle Hill of Edinburgh, Saturday, January, 1591, because he refused to acknowledge that he had raised a storm at sea, to wreck James I. on his voyage to Denmark to visit his future queen. First, his head was crushed in upon his brain by means of a rope twisted tighter and tighter; then his two legs were jammed to a jelly in the wooden boots; then his nails were pulled out and pins inserted in the raw finger tips; as he still remained silent, he was strangled, and his dead body burnt to ashes.

Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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More on Fian from Infoplease:

  • Fian - Fian (John), a schoolmaster at Saltpans, near Edinburg, tortured to death and then burnt at the ...
  • Dictionary of Phrase and Fable: F - Definitions, origins, and illustrative excerpts for words, phases, and literary allusions starting with "F"

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