The history of demonic possession cases in Scotland in which young, often female, adolescents fell into visionary trances, assailed by witches and the devil, is well known, but could there also have been such a thing in Calvinist Scotland as a divine possession where the possessed was believed to be infused by, and in direct contact with, the divine? What would such a thing have looked like? A possible contender for such a phenomenon were the inspired speeches delivered by a young female prophet of the National Covenant, called Margaret Mitchelson, who opposed the King's Covenant in autumn 1638, helping to stiffen Covenanting resolve at a time when they were moving towards the abolition of episcopacy at the Glasgow Assembly in December 1638. Mitchelson had gained fame for her ecstatic revelations. She operated under the auspices of Henry Rollock, minister of Trinity College parish, Edinburgh, and the Covenanting activist Archibald Johnston of Wariston. Given the National Covenant's lack of institutional legitimacy through the usual channels of crown or parliament, continuing public demonstrations of its divine legitimacy at this crucial point were very convenient indeed.
Mitchelson's age is unknown, but if David Stevenson's identification of her as the daughter of James Mitchelson (1585–1625), minister of Yester (or Bothans), a son of the family of Mitchelson of Middleton, is correct then it is possible to say that she could be no younger than thirteen in 1638. Given her description as a ‘damoseil’, it is unlikely that she was older than her early twenties. If this is so, then she was an orphan who had lost both parents by 1627. She was not in a totally marginal position, however, as one of her brothers became a merchant burgess of Edinburgh and the tutor to the minor children of the family was her father's brother Samuel, probably the laird of Middleton.
Margaret Mitchelson was controversial, then and now. According to modern historian David Mullan, her speeches were ‘ravings’, though he wrote more kindly about her in his entry for The New Biographical Dictionary of Scottish Women, mentioning that Rollock ‘was spellbound by her’ and that ‘some noblemen found Christian conviction in listening to her’.