Archive for August, 2013


The stories of the Radnorshire “hauntings” have given rise to the greatest interest among those who revel in ghost lore. The readers of the “Western Mail” have expressed so strong a desire to learn more of these remarkable cases that it was thought desirable to make fuller inquiries into the matter, and I undertook to report thereon. I commenced my journey absorbed in meditation of a decidedly “ghostly” nature, endeavouring to predict what the next few hours would bring forth. I was shortly to interview one of the principal witnesses, to hear from his lips what his eyes had seen and his ears had heard. On alighting from the train at the little village of I gazed around upon the beautiful country. Below me the River Wye was winding gracefully along the valley reflecting the luxuriant trees which grew in rich profusion upon its verdant banks, on the clear and even surface of its sparkling waters. In the distance the hills rose majestically on either side, studded with fields and shrubs of varying hues and forms. On the rough land, numbers of rabbits sported and frisked among the ferns, whilst the air was made musical with the melody of feathered songsters, and the sound of cheery voices in the distance. Surely, thought I, “this cannot be the land of ghosts, hobgoblins, and dragons of the pit? But my business was not to speculate but investigate, therefore, after taking a final survey of this charming spot, I pressed forward with an elastic step to the anticipated interview. I found Mr. —— a very unassuming, genial, and intelligent man, totally unlike the kind of folk usually associated with ghost stories, and our conversation proved him to be keen and critical. It is evident that we cannot in justice declare that this witness is either “over credulous,” “subject to hysteria,” or to be predisposed to accept the “spirit” hypothesis without (at least to him) adequate proof. I found this gentleman very candid, and it is evident that his veracity cannot be doubted. When I introduced the subject his face immediately assumed a serious expression. “It is a fact,” he said, “there can be no doubt about that.” “Have you always believed in supernatural occurrences?” I asked. “No,” he replied, “up to the time of the hauntings I never believed in ghosts of any description, and treated the story of this case with contempt, until I was forced to believe in the facts as I had seen and heard them.” “What were the phenomena as witnessed by you?” Well, many things happened. Rapping’s, noises of various kinds, movement of articles of furniture, &c., and many things of a private nature.” “What did the raps resemble?” “They varied considerably, commencing with a sort of scratching sound, apparently proceeding from the window, then they became louder and more distinct, and at last assumed a definite thump, thump, thump.” “Were the sounds always located in the same place?” No, they changed considerably; sometimes they came from the floor, then from the wails, again from the ceiling, and various parts of the room.” “Did you ask questions and receive answers from the ‘ghost?” “Yes. I said, ‘If you are a spirit, rap once, and, accordingly, we heard one distinct thump. Again I said, ‘Rap twice, three times etc, and raps resulted, and were always of the number I requested. This experiment I have repeated many times, and in every case I received the number of raps asked for.” “Did the ‘ghost.’ exhibit any intelligence?” “Yes, for the result of the rapping experiment clearly proved that it heard and understood my questions. I asked, however, other questions of a personal character, but never received a reply.” “Are you a spiritualist “No, nor any of those who witnessed the phenomena.” “Did you put your questions in the orthodox spiritualistic fashion?” “I don’t know what that is. I said ‘if rap once,’ and so forth.” “Do you think it probable that these knockings were produced by trickery in connection with an inmate of the house for instance?” I at first thought that trickery was practised; and my suspicion fixed on an individual in whose presence the phenomena usually occurred, but after testing this person in many ways, I am convinced that my suspicions were utterly unfounded, for the individual is evidently perfectly honest.” Why were you suspicious of this person?” Because the raps occurred under circumstances in which imposture could be practised. For instance, sounds were heard in the room in which the individual was while we were in the room underneath. Being removed from one room to another, the raps followed the person, always proceeding from the room he occupied, but while in the company of others no sounds were heard.” “Under the circumstances, why do you consider him above suspicion?” “Because the raps were heard while he was asleep, and they at last became so loud, as to be completely out of the power of any child to produce. Again, many things occurred, such as the movement of furniture in locked rooms, which could not have been produced by any living person.” In rooms when the doors were locked?” “yes, under the circumstances heavy sacks were thrown down, trunks emptied, and their contents deposited upon the floor; furniture was moved, and things generally disturbed, and dairy utensils were flung about. These disturbances have occurred when the whole family were out of the house, which was left locked up in perfect order, but upon their return, disclosed a state of general confusion.” “How long did these remarkable occurrences continue?” “Sir months; during which time scarcely a, night passed without something supernatural occurring.” “Were apparitions seen?” “Nothing was ever seen that I know of.” The gentleman endorsed the statements contained in the article which appeared in the “Western Mail”, declaring the report to be fundamentally accurate. In the course of the interview many things were revealed of a private nature, which Mr. —— obtained my promise of secrecy. Practically, the investigation has only begun, but from the commencement, we may predict interesting details in the near future. Several witnesses have to be interviewed, and arrangements for further research are now being made, and it is hoped that in the space of a fortnight we shall be in possession of many new and interesting facts. In the meantime, it will be premature to attempt to formulate a theory or hypotheses; we must content ourselves with the simple record of facts.
Evening Express 30 July 1897

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On Monday morning five of the seven pirates recently convicted at the Central Criminal Court of the murder of the captain of the ship Flowery Land, On the high seas, within the jurisdiction of the Admiralty of England, on the 11th of September last, were hanged in front of the prison of Newgate, in the presence of an immense concourse of people. The five were John Leone, or Lyons, 22 years, Francisco Blanco, 23 years; Ambrosio or Mauricio Durranno, 25 years; Marcus Varios, 23 years; and Miguel Lopez, 25 years, who had been convicted with them, were reprieved, on Friday evening. The whole of the convicts were natives of Manilla. From the circumstance that so many as five men at one time had not before been executed at the Old Bailey for 36 years (March, 1828) it was apprehended that an enormous crowd would assemble, and I the Sheriff, with Col. Eraser, the City Commissioner of Police, made such arrangements as appeared commensurate with the occasion for the maintenance of order and the protection of life. Happily in the result these were most effective, and well suited to the emergency. About 7 o’clock the Sheriffs and Under-Sheriffs arrived at Newgate, and were admitted by a private entrance. From an early hour in the morning the priests who had been in attendance on the doomed men since their conviction were again with them, and remained until the last. They were all confined separately, and each was brought out of his cell alone to be pinioned. Varios did not betray the slightest emotion, but held up his arm in the most convenient form for the executioner to pinion him, and he smiled while that ceremony was being performed. He then wished to speak to Thomas, one of the warders, who had been in charge of him, and he expressed a desire to kiss him, but on being informed that this was contrary to English custom he shook him cordially by the hand. This prisoner was then taken back to his cell. The next prisoner that was brought out to be pinioned was Lopez. He was asked if he had anything to say, and he replied “no” When the handkerchief was taken from his neck, he laid hold of it, and on being asked what he wished done with it, he requested that it might be put into his pocket, and this was done. The third prisoner was Durranno he submitted to the ceremony of pinioning without making any observation. He had a small crucifix attached to his neck by a chain, and he took it in his hand, and wished it might be allowed to remain. Francisco Blanco did not make any remark while he was being pinioned. The fifth and last prisoner was John Lyons. He had been suffering from rheumatism, but he had very much improved in health since he had been in prison. After he had been pinioned, the same question was put to him that had been put to the others, whether he wished to say anything and he replied that It was true he had been guilty of what he was charged with, but he did not think he had done enough to lose his own life. These were the only words uttered by any of the prisoners; and after the pinioning had been completed, they remained in their cells until close to the fatal hour. At ten minutes to eight o’clock the death bell tolled, and at eight o’clock punctually the funeral procession was marshalled in the prison yard. Prior to this some brandy had been given to each of the convicts. One of them had asked the priest to get him some, but the priest being doubtful probably of the propriety of such a thing hesitated, when Sheriff Nissen inquired what the request was. On being told he instantly ordered a small quantity to be brought, and while the man who had asked for it was drinking, Lyons said, Oh, I should like some of that.” Lopez joined in the request, and the sheriff complied with the last favour they asked from man on earth. Varios went first to the scaffold. Blanco fainted on the way, and even on the scaffold was lifted in a chair while Calcraft put the rope round his neck. Duranno, went third with a firm, unfaltering step. Lyons and Lopez, from prudential reasons were held back to the last, but neither of them offered the slightest resistance. There was deep silence now within and outside the gaol, for the old hangman had left the men standing in a row and was busy beneath the scaffold. In another instant there was a heavy sound, and all turned away, while the gibbet creaked audibly, for the five murderers hung dying side by side. There was a dreadful pause inside for a minute or two, during which all spoke in whispers as if in a sick chamber. Then the creaking ceased, and the hangman, after a few anxious looks behind, came slouching in, and his return was taken as a sign that all was quiet now, and that the last and most solemn effort which man can make for self-preservation had been exercised against five as determined murderers as ever hung in front of Newgate. At 9 o’clock the Sheriffs were again summoned to witness the cutting down of the bodies and to be present at the certification of the surgeon that the condemned could never slay or sin again. The cutting down of the corpses was almost more repulsive than the hanging. The noises from the crowd which accompanied the severance of each rope, the heavy lump with which the corpse fell into its shell, the speed with which it was borne in, un-pinioned, cast loose from its halter, and pronounced dead, made this a painful though, fortunately, a very quick business. The countenance only of Blanco was slightly changed; the rest lay tumbled in their shells as the hangman had left them, precisely as though they slept. At 2 o’clock their clothes were cut off them to the last fragment, and burnt. The shells were then tilled up with quicklime, and at 3 o’clock they were placed beneath the stone at the end of the gloomy burying-place in the prison, without form or ceremony of any kind.


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The sleek sailing ship emerged suddenly like an apparition from the shroud of dense fog hanging over the grey waters of St. George’s Bay, on the west coast of Newfoundland. If the effect was eerie, so too was the appearance of the single-masted sloop. Painted jet black from stem to stern, its name obliterated, it sliced through the fog like a sword.
The ship unfurled its flag — a black pennant bearing a skull above a cutlass — and suddenly, the single broad deck of the sloop bristled with activity as the crew of a hundred men prepared for another day’s dishonest work. They rolled out twelve large guns under the watchful eye of their leader, an imposing figure dressed in a stolen British Royal Navy officer’s uniform and armed with two pistols and a short-bladed cutlass.
The captain exuded an air of menace — clearly; Maria Lindsey Cobham, Canada’s only “pirate queen,” was not someone to tangle with.

Fact or fiction?

During the “golden age” of piracy that extended from about 1650 to 1720, there were few women at sea. They were considered an omen of bad luck, or at least a potential source of discord among the sex-starved all-male crews.
The pirate community was mostly a men’s club. Most had sailed on warships for the English, French, and Spanish navies, only to find themselves out of work when a rare peace broke out. Laws against piracy were lax and difficult to enforce. Indeed, the line between legitimate privateer and lawless pirate was often blurred.
“In wartime, governments licensed privateers to attack their foreign fishing rivals, and in peacetime they turned a blind eye to those who continued, as pirates, to weaken their rivals,” writes maritime historian Dan Conlin in Pirates of the Atlantic: Robbery, Murder and Mayhem off the Canadian East Coast (2009).
By the time the husband-and-wife team of Eric and Maria Lindsey Cobham came along, the golden age was over. Anti-piracy laws were more vigorously enforced. The Cobhams settled on a hideout on the isolated west coast of Newfoundland in 1740. From there, they conducted raids into the Gulf of St. Lawrence, preying mostly on French ships.
The couple ruled the sea lanes of the region for the best part of twenty years. And they were utterly ruthless. Whereas pirates of the golden age usually killed and tortured a select few sailors of captured ships, letting the rest go, the Cobhams killed everyone to ensure there were no witnesses. Before disembarking with their booty, they sent the ships straight to the bottom of the ocean. Since there was no one left alive to explain what happened, the ships were simply listed as “presumed lost at sea with no survivors.”
If one can believe all the tales of Maria Lindsey’s behaviour that are enshrined in maritime folklore, she demonstrated all the sensitivity of a homicidal maniac. Maria reportedly poisoned the entire crew of one captured ship so she could watch them writhe in agony as the ship went down. On another occasion she was said to have had defenceless seamen sewn into gunny sacks, then tossed into the sea, where they thrashed desperately before they drowned. Another tale has her using captured sailors for target practice.
While some doubt the stories and are even skeptical that the Cobhams actually existed, Conlin, the historian and curator of marine history at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic in Halifax, believes the stories are probably true, but exaggerated.
“If they really attacked as many ships as claimed, the French authorities would have noticed and spent time hunting for them, and there is no evidence that was the case,” Conlin says.
“They were most likely ‘wreckers,’ a vaguely defined but vile subspecies of pirates who prey on vessels in distress, murdering shipwreck survivors and looting the wreckage. There was a fair bit of this, to varying degrees, in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. The Cobhams do tilt the pattern of piracy after the golden age of piracy ended in the 1720s -which tended to be small-scale but more ruthless than the big-time pirates of the 1720s.”
The legends of Maria’s cold-blooded exploits are difficult to verify. The Cobhams were evidently never tried in a court of law, thus official records have never been found.
“There are a number of very unreliable secondary popular accounts in different Newfoundland works,” explains Conlin. “The sole source for all this seems to be a boastful, confessional autobiography that Eric Cobham wrote in France on his deathbed in 1780. It is unclear where this document exists.”
Philip Gosse wrote about the pair in his 1924 book The Pirate’s Who’s Who. By his account, the two met in the seaport of Plymouth, on the southwestern coast of England. Both were in their early twenties and it was a magnetic attraction at first sight — he was drawn to her sexuality, she to his newly minted status as a dashing pirate.
Maria Lindsey was a local girl, but Eric Cobham was born further east along the south coast in Poole, Dorset. He was one of thousands of boys sent out with the fishing fleets to Newfoundland. Not surprisingly, Newfoundland became known as a “nursery school” for pirates-in-training.
Pirates captured their prizes, as a rule, by intimidation and sheer weight of numbers — a merchant crew facing a boarding party that outnumbered them by ten to one had little choice but to surrender without a fight. In this lawless, cutthroat society, it didn’t take Eric Cobham long to forsake the harsh life of the fishing boats for a life of crime. Not yet twenty, he joined a gang of smugglers and then embarked on a new career in piracy. Now all he needed was a partner-in-crime, and he found her in a tavern in Plymouth, serving both drinks and favours to the seafarers.
“Cobham, calling in at Plymouth, met a damsel called Maria, whom he took on board with him, which at first caused some murmuring amongst his crew, who were jealous because they themselves were not able to take lady companions with them on their voyages,” wrote Gosse.
Piracy offered everything to Maria that was denied to her on land in Plymouth, not least an escape from the bleak careers of prostitute and scullery maid.
As a pirate, she had freedom and independence, kept her own hours, and spent much of her time gambling at cards, drinking rum or porter (dark ale), and eating choice food. Killing and plundering provided additional excitement.
While she may have followed her lover into this life of crime, by all accounts she did not play second fiddle to him — Maria was the one really wearing the pantaloons in this pirate family.
They never walked down a church aisle, but Maria Lindsey and Eric Cobham formed a partnership that lasted the rest of their lives, rooted in a bloodthirsty pursuit of excitement and untold riches.
Their first venture took them towards Bristol, the west coast port that eclipsed even London in the volume of its commerce. While there, the Cobhams were said to have hijacked a merchant ship and made off with 40,000 pounds sterling in notes and coin.
Crossing the Atlantic to Nantucket, Massachusetts, they captured a fast sloop and sailed their new ship northward until they found their way past the tip of Cape Breton Island.
Here they hit the jackpot, a rich and vulnerable supply route that came through the Gulf of St. Lawrence -part of a trading triangle that saw ships coming to Newfoundland loaded with salt and provisions, taking salt fish back to the Mediterranean countries, then heading home to England with wine, olive oil, and dried fruits. The later addition of furs to the ships” cargoes made this an even richer hunting ground that was virtually untouched by other pirates based in the Caribbean.
“The English Channel becoming too dangerous for Cobham, he sailed across the Atlantic and lay in wait for vessels between Cape Breton and Prince Edward Isle, and took several prizes,” Gosse wrote.
All the Cobhams needed now was a safe haven — a harbour to hide their ship and a good place for careenage. (Because no dry dock was available to them, pirates careened or beached their sailing vessel on a sandy beach at high tide to expose one side of the ship’s hull for maintenance below the waterline once the tide had gone out. Tarring the hull reduced the ever-present leakage problem; removing barnacles increased the ship’s speed.)
The pirate queen and her consort chose their craft well. Although smaller than a man-of-war, their sixty-five-foot-long sloop drew a shallow draft of only eight feet, meaning it could go into waters where larger navy ships could not follow. The sloop was extremely seaworthy and could outrun almost any ship afloat.
The harbour the Cobhams chose for their careenage was far enough north of the shipping lanes to be safe from discovery, but within two days’ sailing of both the Cabot Straits and the Strait of Belle Isle. No navy warship could follow them into Sandy Point, at that time a two-kilometre-long sandspit on the west coast of southern Newfoundland that reached into Bay St. George. (Today it is a deserted island, marooned by erosion from the sea.) Big ships could not get past the shoals that guarded Sandy Point.
The goods they stole were “laundered” in Perce, on the Gaspé Peninsula, where legitimate trading ships picked up the contraband cargo and transported it past the gauntlet of Royal Navy warships to France. The booty was sold in French “free ports,” where local aristocrats ran a massive black market.

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The black sloop ambushed one ship after another. Murder and mayhem continued apace.
“Maria … took her part in these affairs, and once stabbed to the heart, with her own little dirk, the captain of a Liverpool brig, the Lion, and on another occasion, to indulge her whim, a captain and his two mates were tied up to the windlass while Maria shot them with her pistol …. In fact, she entered thoroughly into the spirit of the enterprise,” wrote Gosse in The Pirate’s Who’s Who.
Maria was known for always wearing a British naval officer’s coat, according to David E. Jones’ 1997 book Warrior Women. Jones writes that she took it from a young officer who was captured during a raid on a Royal Navy ship.
“She had him stripped on deck. After running the hapless young man through with her sword, she donned his uniform, a costume that became her trademark. When the original became tattered she ordered new ones made from its pattern.”
Maria’s crew was made up mostly of defectors from the fishing fleets or the Royal Navy. The navy crews were not difficult to recruit. Many had been press-ganged into service and were not allowed to leave their ship for up to two years, in case they deserted. The naval ships were often damp, dark and filthy, and the food crawled with maggots. Little wonder that Dr. Samuel Johnson described this life at sea as little better than “being in a jail, but with the chance of being drowned.”
Forsaking the king to serve with the pirate queen simply meant unlimited booze rations, fewer floggings, and better food.
Maria and Eric defied the odds, evading capture for two decades. In the end it was Maria’s husband who called a halt to their life of crime. Tired of living life on the run and now fabulously wealthly, the Cobhams packed away their pirate gear and set sail for France. There, they sold off their fleet of ships and cargo and bought a fine estate near Le Havre from the Duc de Chartres.
They now had a private harbour, servants, and a secure place among the landed gentry of French society. Somewhere along the way, they also raised three children. Eric Cobham reinvented himself as a wealthy landowner and a pillar of respectability, completing a marvellous transformation by actually becoming a magistrate and then a judge in the French county courts. He held this lofty position, passing sentence on some former contemporaries, for twelve years.
In middle age, the ex-pirate couple gradually drifted apart. Eric took to almost public wenching, while Maria took to alcohol, often laced with laudanum, an opium-based painkiller. As Eric developed a reputation as a Casanova, Maria became reclusive, and quite possibly insane.
One day, Maria simply disappeared. A large-scale search was launched, and after two days of combing the coastline, her body was found in the sea directly below a sheer clifftop near the Cobham’s chateau.
An autopsy revealed traces of poisoning. “Maria, it was thought, possibly owing to remorse, poisoned herself with laudanum and died,” Gosse recounts.
It wasn’t long before Eric Cobham took to his own deathbed and called for a priest so that he could make a lengthy confession about the Cobhams’ life of piracy. The old man’s rambling discourse was duly recorded, and after his death the priest kept his promise by getting the slim volume published.
It was a literary event not welcomed by the Cobham’s three children. They were horrified by the disclosures and stunned by the discovery that their apparently respectable parents had been a pair of ruthless buccaneers. In an attempt to suppress the book, the children are said to have bought up every copy and had them burned.
But one fragmentary first draft copy is said to have found its way into the Archives Nationales in Paris, where it has remained hidden from view for the past century.
Was Maria Lindsey Cobham’s devilish life fact or fiction? Since she evaded capture — and with it, the scrutiny of a court trial and transcript — she remains an enigma.
Historians do concede that if her tale is true,. then Maria Cobham would likely have been the only female pirate to have terrorized Atlantic Canada.

By: Dalby Paul Canada’s History


Seeing things at night, it appears, is an experience whose thrills not only interest the human nervous system but also agitate the animal.
A great many esteemed psychic researchers have performed experiments in haunted houses with cats and dogs, as well as with other animals, and have often found the animal to have been frightened.
One researcher remembers an occasion at a haunted house in St. James’ Road, Brixton:
“Again and again dogs have refused to accompany me to a room where ghostly phenomena have been alleged to take place. I remember on one occasion at a reputed haunted house in the St. James’s Road, I had a huge bulldog with me, the last creature in the world one would suspect of having nerves.”
“I arrived at the house about 10 o’clock at night, and was giving it a thorough examination before settling down to my vigil, when Pat (my dog) sprang back from a half-open door on the top of the landing, snarled, whined, and finally flew downstairs, and, as nothing would induce him to return, I had to go on with my investigations alone.”
“Next day I made inquiries of the owner of the house and was informed that it was in the room that frightened Pat a man had once hanged himself, and that it was the latter’s ghost that was supposed to haunt the premises a fact quite unknown to me at the time of my visit.”
It is widely believed that some animals are very sensitive to the advent of death. Owls and other night-birds will screech dismally outside a house where somebody dies shortly afterwards, and cats have been known to leave a house suddenly on the eve of a death and not come back to it until several days after the burial.

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There is no doubt that the reason for this strange behaviour is that the animals detect the presence of a peculiar type of phantom that has actually been seen by people gifted with second-sight hovering by the bedside of those doomed to die shortly. I could quote many instances in proof of this.
Now what does all this really point to? Why, I think without any doubt, that animals do posses souls. Is it likely that; if such were not the case they would have been brought in closer contact with the unknown than Man, and endowed with a more highly developed psychic faculty!
Italian Psychical Researcher Prof. Ernest Bozzano prefers the term ‘a supernatural psychic perception’ to ghost, and has found sixty-nine cases of sort or another, which he says may easily be doubled. Wherein the beasts of the field, he says, are party to either telepathic hallucinations, to phantasms or spectres, or to “phantasmogenic localities,” commonly called haunted houses or regions. In twenty-three of these instances the animals became aware of the uncanny presence before their human companions and therefore could not have received their impressions through any contagion of feeling or thought transference.
The first proofs of these weird animal experiences came from H. Rider Haggard, the novelist, who dreamed that his dog was dying, only to find a day or so later that the nocturnal vision had been enacted in reality an hour or two previous. Bob, his good old retriever, having received a mortal wound from a night train, was thrown into the water among the brushwood where his master had seen in his dream, and instantly perished. The story was noised abroad widely, rigorously investigated, and documented by Mr. Haggard himself and by the Anglo-American Society for Psychical Research, drew the attention of psychical researchers to the study of possible telepathic transmission between man and animals, and finally, through the investigations of Prof. Bozzano, has brought to light the trials and terrors of canines, felines, equines, and others of the four footed folk in their encounters with spooks and spectres.
One of these encounters is reported by Mme. d’Esperance, a distinguished woman, universally known in the field of psychical studies, who in 1896 took up residence in her present home. ” I knew the place well,” she says, having paid several long visits to it previously, and also knew that it had the reputation of being haunted, but beyond this, few of the stories had reached my ears, first because I know scarcely any one in neighbourhood, and, secondly, because those I did know did not understand my language nor I theirs. Communication was therefore, for some time at least, extremely limited, to that what I saw or fancied I saw was not the result of previous information.”
In her daily walks Mme. d’Esperance generally went through a little wood. A public road runs along one side of the wood and she frequently had noticed that horses shied and were frightened when passing it. This behaviour always puzzled her for there was never anything to account for it. Once or twice when accompanied by a couple of canine friends she found them absolutely refusing to enter the wood but laid themselves down with their muzzles between their paws, deaf alike to threats or persuasion. They would joyfully follow her in any other direction, but if she persisted in going through the wood, would break loose from her and scamper off home with every symptom of fear. When this had happened two or three times she mentioned it to a friend, the lady of the manor, who said that such things had happened ever since she could remember, not at all times but at intervals, and not with all horses and dogs.
One day Mme. d’Esperance was strolling along the western part of the wood with this friend when before her stood a red brown calf. She uttered a surprised exclamation and the creature ran into the wood. As it darted into the brushwood a curious brightness flashed in its large eyes, giving the impression that they emitted fire. Since then once or twice at long intervals rumour had it that the calf with the fiery eyes has been seen by some one and the wood for a time has been carefully avoided by the peasantry.
Nearly every day, accompanied by two or three canine friends, Mme. d’Esperance has walked or driven through the wood, never, however, meeting the mysterious calf until a few weeks ago when she entered the grove with two collies and a terrier which, before entering, laid themselves down and exercised all their persuasions and art to induce her to take another direction. Finding her persistent, they attended her with visible reluctance. They seemed to forget after a while and gamboled on ahead.

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Suddenly they rushed back and crouched at her feet while the little terrier sprang into her arms. Almost at the same moment a sound of beating hoofs approached rapidly from behind and before she could move out of the way a herd of roe deer came in full stampede, galloping past, unheeding both her and the dogs, nearly throwing her down as they passed. She looked around alarmed and saw a red brown calf turn and lose itself in the brushwood. The dogs, which under ordinary circumstances would have given chase to the flying deer, yelped with excitement, crouched, trembling and whining at her feet and the little terrier refused to leave her arms. For several days afterwards he refused to go through the wood and the collies went only under protest, plainly showing suspicion and fear.
“The result of all our enquiries,” says Mine. d’Esperance, “only confirmed our first impression that the calf with the fiery eyes was no ordinary, living, earthly creature. I do not doubt that the strongly intuitive or clairvoyant faculties of the animals made them aware of some unusual or unearthly presence in the wood and that the shrinking from the supernatural which in human beings we call superstition was the cause of their strange behaviour. Had I been the only person that had seen the mysterious creature it is more than possible I never would have mentioned it, but it has been seen at different times by many persons living on the estate.”
To this Prof. Bozzano agrees, noting that horses, dogs, and deer usually are not frightened at the sight of a harmless calf and that a living calf would not account for the panic of fear often shown by the horses and dogs when to all appearances there was nothing abnormal to the senses of men.
In the terrible case of haunting given by one Mrs. S. C. Hall, who was herself familiar with the main facts, the haunted man had not been able to keep a dog for years. One which he brought home when Mrs. Hall became acquainted with him could not be induced to stay in his room day or night after the hauntings began, and soon afterwards he ran away and was lost.
To this historical case is added a recent and wonderful instance of hauntings in Pennsylvania when the apparition of the white woman appeared to the informant’s brother. The third night he saw the dog crouch and stare and then act as if driven around the room. The man saw nothing but heard a sort of rustle and the poor dog howled and tried to hide and never again would that dog go to that room.
A ghost a cat was seen in a room illuminated by the light of the fire. Puss, otherwise known as ” Lady Catherine,” lay with her head upon her young mistress’ arm in a pensive attitude of drowsiness and purring. Of a sudden her purring ceased and she exhibited rapidly increasing signs of uneasiness. Struggling to her feet despite her mistress’s endeavours to soothe her and spitting vehemently, with back arched and tail swollen, she assumed a mingled attitude of terror and defiance. Looking up, the young woman who held Lady Catherine now perceived with inexpressible horror, a little hideous wrinkled old hag occupying a chair at the opposite corner of the fireplace, stooping forward and steadfastly gazing with eyes piercingly fixed and shining.

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The cat, after some most desperate efforts, escaped from her mistress, leaped over tables and chairs and all that came in her way, and repeatedly threw herself with frightful violence first against one and the other of the two closed doors of the room, and becoming every instant more frantic. The mistress had regained her breath and screamed. Her mother ran in immediately, and the cat, on the door opening, literally sprang over her head and for upwards of half an hour ran up and down the stairs as if pursued.
Each of Prof Bozzano’s spectres is more marvellous than the last and they bring him finally to the conclusion that “Even if we wish to show ourselves particular and strict in the analysis of single cases, even if we wish to exclude a certain number from the total count, and even if we assign due weight to the inevitable error and amplifications arising from lapse of memory, in spite of all this we shall still have to admit that there are a good number of which the substantially and incontestably genuine character cannot be doubted.
“From all this it results that now and henceforth it is not permissible to deny à priori the possibility of the occurrence of psychic perception in animals. And if on the one hand it is incontestably true that from the point of view of scientific research there is yet a long distance to be traversed before the category of phenomena in question can be considered as definitely gained for science, on the other hand, however, and on the basis of the facts above set forth, it is permissible henceforth to recognize without fear of error that the verdict of future science cannot be other than fully affirmative.”
Animals, besides sharing with man the intermittent exercise of faculties of supernormal psychic perception, show themselves more normally endowed with special psychic faculties unknown to man, such as the so-called instincts of direction and of migration, end the faculty of precognition as regards unforeseen atmospheric disturbances, or the imminence of earthquakes or volcanic eruptions.
I have always believed animals have souls; we have as humans; so why not other life forms. My time as a pub general manager led me to witnessing many strange instances with not only deceased animals but living pets. In the Rose and Crown, Bulford, I saw a black dog running around in the flat above the pub, this happened on many occasions. Our pet Staffie would often be seen watching something moving in the corridor, he would sometimes dart in that direction, after a period of time he stopped doing this and just watched. I witnessed this phenomena in several other pubs over the years.


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Two hundred years ago a trial as sensational as any before or since rocked Yorkshire. The trial and execution of the Yorkshire Witch Mary Bateman took place at York Castle in 1809 but, even today, her story still grips the hearts and minds of Yorkshire people.
This summer children and adults have been flocking to Thackray Medical Museum in Leeds to listen to stories about the infamous witch and view her skeleton in the galleries of a Victorian street.
Mary Bateman’s story is an epic one of murder and witchcraft. She was responsible for numerous frauds, petty thefts, poisonings and deaths in the late 1700s and early 1800s. She was hanged at York Castle on March 20, 1809. When her body went on display more than 2,500 came to see it.
One of the most wicked women in criminal history, she brought terror to innocent people through her witchcraft, and ruined the lives of gullible victims.
She was born at Aisenby, near Thirsk, the daughter of a farmer and his wife and in her formative years mixed with gypsies. Aged 20, she turned up in Leeds and worked as a dressmaker but made most of her money in a profitable sideline – telling fortunes. She became bolder and more outrageous as the years passed, living for the next 20 years a life of continuing crime and deception.
After a courtship of only three weeks, in 1793 she married John Bateman, a simple wheelwright, but he soon regretted this hasty arrangement when he found she was deceiving and stealing from fellow lodgers. He was hoodwinked into believing his father, the Thirsk town crier, was seriously ill and while he was away seeing him, his wife sold his clothes and furniture to repay victims who were threatening her.
She practised fraud and deception on a grand scale, seemingly sending her victims into trances. She roamed the streets of Leeds after a major fire begging for money and goods for victims, but they all ended up in her home.
She claimed, notoriously, that she had supernatural skills: a woman believed her husband was in jail and would be sentenced to death. Bateman told her she would save her from this disaster for four pieces of gold. Another woman was tricked into believing her husband was having an affair and gave everything to Bateman, who promised to stop it.
She was known throughout Leeds as a fortune teller who could ward off evil spirits. Within months after her marriage, she carried out many frauds and only escaped prosecution by moving from place to place. Her husband, driven wild by the tricks of his wife, joined the army and she was left to her own devices to deal in fortune telling and selling charms.
She had acquired a manner and speech which completely fit her chosen career and, daily, credulous victims called on her only to be duped by heartless and cunning schemes. One of her deceptions involved a hen that laid eggs bearing the words “Christ is coming”. She charged a penny to see them. Her husband eventually returned from the forces and apparently shared the proceeds of his wife’s villainy.
Meanwhile, Bateman got too ambitious and turned to murder. Two Quaker sisters who kept a draper’s shop died mysteriously along with their mother, after taking medicines prescribed by Bateman, who stripped the house, telling neighbours they had died of the plague. A good deal of luck and matching cunning enabled Bateman to escape the law. Her name had become celebrated in the Bramley district for her successes in the arts of divining and witchcraft and she was frequently asked to work cures on “evil wishes” and imaginary illnesses to which the humble believed they were liable.
The case that led to her downfall and to the gallows involved Rebecca Perigo, who believed she was possessed with an evil spirit and asked Bateman to get rid of it. Bateman said she would sew four guinea notes in her bed and she was to get four golden guineas to replace them. Money and gifts changed hands and when suspicions were roused Bateman began feeding Rebecca and her husband, William, with pudding laced with poison. William survived but Rebecca died in agony.
Two years later William decided to recover the guineas sewn into his bed but discovered they were cabbage leaves. He realised he had been duped and arranged a meeting with Mary Bateman, at which she was arrested. Although she proclaimed her innocence, a search of her home turned up poison as well as belongings of her victims, including the Perigo couple.
Her sensational trial of the murder of Rebecca Perigo took place at York Castle on Friday, March17, 1809. It didn’t take the jury long to find her guilty but to the end she used her guile to try to escape being hanged. She claimed she was pregnant. Then, it was illegal for a woman at an advanced state of pregnancy to be hanged. However, an examination by matrons found that, once again, she was being untruthful. Her deception didn’t stop in jail. She persuaded a fellow prisoner to part with cash in return for a charm.
At her trial, she admitted fraud but denied murder. Three days after her conviction she was hanged at York Castle before a crowd of thousands who subsequently paid to see her corpse which was handed over to Leeds Infirmary for dissection. They paid to get cured cuts of her skin as charms.

A bride buried alive

Posted: August 28, 2013 in Historic Interest
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In cemeteries that have been disturbed, and the remains of the dead exhumed, there have been found in coffins, nailed solidly and screwed tightly together, bodies of skeletons that were turned over on their sides or faces, occasionally with the knees drawn up, the joints distended, the hands clenched firm, the arms thrust up against the coffin’s narrow sides, the fingers wrapped and twisted in the hairs of the head, the eyes glaring, the teeth ground together, the head doubled under, and many indubitable proofs that the final death struggle did not take place before burial, but that after the coffin lid had been laid away in the shades of the tomb, or dropped into the deep, solid earth, then and there a fierce, agonising, desperately lonely, and hopeless battle for life was waged into exhaustion!

A witness to such a tale was Harold Gulliver, chief gravedigger at an old Victorian cemetery in Bath, England in the early twentieth century.The work was at times very dangerous. You never know when you are going to be buried yourself, he said. There is often a collapse, and everything comes down on you, timber and all. Sometimes, continued the grave digger, there are re-openings, and on these occasions gas would come at you like a fog, so that you may often lose your breath. On the day in question he had three graves to dig.

It had been unusually wet of late and I noticed that in one corner of the cemetery much of the earth had been undermined by the water. The stones in this corner had recently been disturbed to enable the ground to be diverted to streets and building lots, something we weren’t too happy about. I scraped away at the earth with my boots and noticed that I had exposed the corner of a coffin lid. The coffin needed to be reinterred, of course, so I got several of the men to help me. The men gathered and pressed closer to the open grave.

I gave some loud directions to them. In a very few minutes the coffin was fully up but as we pulled it out of the earth the lid came away. Then I heard a low cry from one of the men.

Mr Gulliver went on to say that when the lid of the coffin was removed the face and figure of a young bride was revealed, dressed in wedding garments of fine white satin, with a bridal veil, and ring of a costly style and distinction, and all the evidence of affluence, refinement and station of life. The remains were supposedly to have been buried about twenty-five years previously. The coffin plate was no longer present, and, in the really indecent haste of the heartless contractors and brutish labourers, who had worked previously in the area and ruthlessly tore and tossed the relics up, there was not the faintest clue to the identity.

But upon examination it was discovered that the body of the skeleton was twisted and displaced (as no shock of the exhumation could have effected and the garments grasped tightly as in a vice in the clenched finger bones, showing undoubtedly that a terrific struggle had taken place in the last narrow house and home of the once-beautiful, early-loved and lost bride. Even the long raven tresses, which were as fine and perfect as ever, were bit fast in the fleshless teeth as though with the last despairing, smothered cry and grasp of death.

“It was a terrible shock,” said Mr Gulliver. “To think of the poor girl suffering like that; and undoubtedly on her wedding day, too.”

It was soon after the reburial of the coffin, in another corner of the cemetery, when passers-by began reporting seeing a figure hovering by the graveside.

One night while I was having my tea, said Mr Gulliver, I heard a clatter of horses’ hoofs on the hard road. A few minutes later a man came knocking on my door in a terrible fright. He said that he had seen the ghost and it frightened his horse. He galloped away but it was following in his direction. I wanted him to come back and show it to me, but he would not venture so I did not bother going. I thought he had seen a cow in the cemetery as they often broke in to eat the long grass.”

Next day there was much talk going on among a few of the men of ghosts and suchlike. Others laughed at them and told them that it was only imagination. They bet some money that no one was game enough to go to the cemetery after dark and visit the grave.

One chap took the bet. Mr Gulliver was not witness to the exploits that evening but, the next day, he was given the following details:

Take me with you, take me with you, this cry in a high-pitched unearthly voice startled the chap who went visiting the grave in the evening.

Who is there?” he asked nervously.

There was no reply, nor was anybody to be seen.

Then the voice came again. Take me with you.  Again there was nobody to be seen.

Then, from out the corner of his eye, he saw something sitting up. He turned to see a woman upright in her grave the one freshly dug her face decayed, her fingers twisting the hairs of her head, and she beckoned to him and spoke in a weak voice, I did not deserve to die. Take me with you.

The man began to hurry away, pursued by the voice, and finally broke into a terror-stricken run, arriving almost exhausted at the cemetery gates. He had been so overcome that since the incident he had not returned to work, and was reported as being “attacked by fits”.


Mary Jemison was born on the ship that brought her Irish parents, brothers and sisters to America in 1743. A few years later her family moved from Philadelphia to a homestead on the Pennsylvania frontier. The family toiled on the edge of civilization transforming the wilderness to cultivated soil. Each new day brought with it the fear of attack by wild beast or hostile Indian.

These fears became reality on the morning of a spring day in 1758. The British colonies were engulfed in a war against the French. The Iroquois Confederacy (consisting of the Cayuga, Oneida, Seneca, Mohawk, Onondaga, and Tuscorora Indians) allied with the French against the British. On that spring morning in 1758 a small raiding party made up of French and Indians swooped down on the frontier settlement capturing a number of British colonialists including Mary and most of her family (two of her brothers escaped.) At age thirteen, Mary’s life changed forever. From that day until her death 78 years later she never left the Indian culture. Mary’s story of her capture and life among the Seneca was first published in 1824.

Abduction at Dawn

On a morning in March 1758, Mary, her mother and a friend were preparing breakfast when they were startled by the sound of gunfire. They rushed to the door to find a man and his horse lying dead a short distance away. The man was a neighbor chased and shot by a raiding party that now stormed into the cabin taking all inside prisoner. Mary begins her story as she and her family are herded through the wilderness towards Fort Duquesne located on the present-day site of Pittsburgh:

“The party that took us consisted of six Indians and four Frenchmen, who immediately commenced plundering, as I just observed, and took what they considered most valuable; consisting principally of bread, meal, and meat. Having taken as much provision as they could carry, they set out with their prisoners in great haste, for fear of detection, and soon entered the woods.

On our march that day, an Indian went behind us with a whip, with which he frequently lashed the children, to make them keep up. In this manner we traveled till dark, without a mouthful of food or a drop of water, although we had not eaten since the night before. Whenever the little children cried for water, the Indians would make them drink urine, or go thirsty. At night they encamped in the woods, without fire and without shelter, where we were watched with the greatest vigilance. Extremely fatigued, and very hungry, we were compelled to lie upon the ground, without supper or a drop of water to satisfy the cravings of our appetites. As in the daytime, so the little ones were made to drink urine in the night, if they cried for water. Fatigue alone brought us a little sleep for the refreshment of our weary limbs; and at the dawn of day we were again started on our march, in the same order that we had proceeded the day before.

About sunrise we were halted, and the Indians gave us a full breakfast of provision that they had brought from my father’s house. Each of us, being very hungry, partook of this bounty of the Indians, except father, who was so much overcome with his situation, so much exhausted by anxiety and grief, that silent despair seemed fastened upon his countenance, and he could not be prevailed upon to refresh his sinking nature by the use of a morsel of food. Our repast being finished, we again resumed our march; and before noon passed a small fort, that I heard my father say was called Fort Canagojigge.

That was the only time that I heard him speak from the time we were taken till we were finally separated the following night.

Toward evening, we arrived at the border of a dark and dismal swamp, which was covered with small hemlocks or some other evergreen, and various kinds of bushes, into which we were conducted; and having gone a short distance, we stopped to encamp for the night.

Here we had some bread and meat for supper; but the dreariness of our situation, together with the uncertainty under which we all labored, as to our future destiny, almost deprived us of the sense of hunger, and destroyed our relish for food.

As soon as I had finished my supper, an Indian took off my shoes and stockings, and put a pair of moccasins on my feet, which my mother observed; and believing that they would spare my life, even if they should destroy the other captives, addressed me, as near as I can remember, in the following words:

‘My dear little Mary, I fear that the time has arrived when we must be parted for ever. Your life, my child, I think will be spared; but we shall probably be tomahawked here in this lonesome place by the Indians. Oh! how can I part with you, my darling? What will become of my sweet little Mary? Oh! how can I think of your being continued in captivity, without a hope of your being rescued? Oh! that death had snatched you from my embraces in your infancy: the pain of parting then would have been pleasing to what It now is; and I should have seen the end of your troubles! Alas, my dear! my heart bleeds at the thought of what awaits you; but, if you leave us, remember, my child, your own name, and the names of your father and mother. Be careful and not forget your English tongue. If you shall have an opportunity to get away from the Indians don’t try to escape; for if you do they will find and destroy you. Don’t forget, my little daughter, the prayers that I have learned you – say them often: be a good child, and God will bless you! May God bless you, my child, and make you comfortable and happy.’

During this time, the Indians stripped the shoes and stockings from the little boy that belonged to the woman who was taken with us, and put moccasins on his feet, as they had done before on mine. I was crying. An Indian took the little boy and myself by the hand, to lead us off from the company, when my mother exclaimed, ‘Don’t cry, Mary! – don’t cry, my child! God will bless you! Farewell – farewell!’
Mary Jemison tells her story,
1824The Indian led us some distance into the bushes or woods, and there lay down with us to spend the night. The recollection of parting with my tender mother kept me awake, while the tears constantly flowed from my eyes. A number of times in the night, the little boy begged of me earnestly to run away with him, and get clear of the Indians; but remembering the advice I had so lately received, and knowing the dangers to which we should be exposed, in traveling without a path and without a guide, through a wilderness unknown to us, I told him that I would not go, and persuaded him to lie still till morning.

My suspicion as to the fate of my parents proved too true; for soon after I left them they were killed and scalped, together with Robert, Matthew, Betsey, and the woman and her two children, and mangled in the most shocking manner

After a hard day’s march we encamped in a thicket, where the Indians made a shelter of boughs, and then built a good fire to warm and dry our benumbed limbs and clothing; for it had rained some through the day. Here we were again fed as before. When the Indians had finished their supper, they took from their baggage a number of scalps, and went about preparing them for the market, or to keep without spoiling, by straining them over small hoops which they prepared for that purpose, and then drying and scraping them by the fire.

Having put the scalps, yet wet and bloody, upon the hoops, and stretched them to their full extent, they held them to the fire till they were partly dried, and then, with their knives, commenced scraping off the flesh; and in that way they continued to work, alternately drying and scraping them, till they were dry and clean. That being done, they combed the hair in the neatest manner, and then painted it and the edges of the scalps, yet on the hoops, red. Those scalps I knew at the time must have been taken from our family, by the color of the hair. My mother’s hair was red; and I could easily distinguish my father’s and the children’s from each other. That sight was most appalling; yet I was obliged to endure it without complaining. In the course of the night, they made me to understand that they should not have killed the family, if the whites had not pursued them.”