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The Daemon Of Spraiton In Devon {111} Anno 1682

Categories: Appearance of Dead
Scary Books: The Book Of Dreams And Ghosts
: Andrew Lang

"About the month of November in the year 1682, in the parish of

Spraiton, in the county of Devon, one Francis Fey (servant to Mr.

Philip Furze) being in a field near the dwelling-house of his said

master, there appeared unto him the _resemblance_ of an _aged

gentleman_ like his master's father, with a pole or staff in his hand,

resembling that he was wont to carry when living to kill the moles

withal. The _spectrum_ a
proached near the young man, whom you may

imagin not a little surprized at the _appearance_ of one that he knew

to be dead, but the _spectrum bid him not be afraid of him, but tell

his master_ (who was his son) that several _legacies which by his

testament he had bequeathed were unpaid, naming ten shillings to one

and ten shillings to another, both which persons he named_ to the

young man, who replyed that the party he last named was dead, and so

it could not be paid to him. The ghost answered _he knew that, but it

must be paid to the next relation_, whom he also named. The spectrum

likewise ordered him to carry twenty shillings to a gentlewoman,

sister to the deceased, living near Totness in the said county, and

promised, if these things were performed, to trouble him no further;

but at the same time the _spectrum_, speaking of his _second wife_

(who was also dead) _called her wicked woman_, though the gentleman

who writ the letter knew her and esteemed her a very good woman. And

(having thus related him his mind) the spectrum left the young man,

who according to the _direction_ of the _spirit_ took care to see the

small legacies satisfied, and carried the twenty shillings that was

appointed to be paid the gentlewoman near Totness, but she utterly

refused to receive it, being sent her (as she said) from the devil.

The same night the young man lodging at her house, the aforesaid

spectrum appeared to him again; whereupon the young man challenged his

_promise not to trouble him any more_, saying he had performed all

according to his appointment, but that the gentlewoman, his sister,

would not receive the money.

"_To which the spectrum replied that was true indeed_; but withal

_directed_ the young man to ride to Totness and buy for her _a ring of

that value, which the spirit said she would accept of_, which being

provided accordingly, she received. Since the performance of which

the ghost or apparition of the old gentleman hath seemed to be at

rest, having never given the young man any further trouble.

"But the next day after having delivered the ring, the young man was

riding home to his master's house, accompanyed by a servant of the

gentlewoman's near Totness, and near about the time of their entrance

(or a little before they came) into the parish of Spraiton aforesaid,

there appeared to be upon the horse behind the young man, the

resemblance of the _second wife_ of the old gentleman spoken of


"This daemon often threw the young man off his horse, and cast him

with such violence to the ground as was great astonishment, not only

to the gentlewoman's servant (with him), but to divers others who were

spectators of the frightful action, the ground resounding with great

noise by reason of the incredible force with which he was cast upon

it. At his coming into his master's yard, the horse which he rid,

though very poor and out of case, leaped at one spring twenty-five

foot, to the amazement of all that saw it. Soon after the she-spectre

shewed herself to divers in the house, viz., the aforesaid young man,

_Mistress Thomasin Gidly, Ann Langdon_, born in that parish, and a

little child, which, by reason of the troublesomeness of the spirit,

they were fain to remove from that house. She appeared sometimes in

her own shape, sometimes in forms very horrid; now and then like a

monstrous dog belching out fire; at another time it flew out at the

window, in the shape of a horse, carrying with it only one pane of

glass and a small piece of iron.

"One time the young man's head was thrust into a very strait place

betwixt a bed's head and a wall, and forced by the strength of divers

men to be removed thence, and that not without being much hurt and

bruised, so that much blood appeared about it: upon this it was

advised he should be bleeded, to prevent any ill accident that might

come of the bruise; after bleeding, the ligature or binder of his arm

was removed from thence and conveyed about his middle, where it was

strained with such violence that the girding had almost stopp'd his

breath and kill'd him, and being cut asunder it made _a strange and

dismal noise_, so that the standers by were affrighted at it. At

divers other times he hath been in danger to be strangled with cravats

and handkerchiefs that he hath worn about his neck, which have been

drawn so close that with the sudden violence he hath near been

choaked, and hardly escaped death.

"The spectre hath shewed great offence at the perriwigs which the

young man used to wear, for they are often torn from his head after a

very strange manner; one that he esteemed above the rest he put in a

small box, and that box he placed in another, which he set against the

wall of his chamber, placing a joint-stool with other weight a top of

it, but in short time the boxes were broken in sunder and the perriwig

rended into many small parts and tatters. Another time, lying in his

master's chamber with his perriwig on his head, to secure it from

danger, within a little time it was torn from him and reduced into

very small fragments. At another time one of his shoe-strings was

observed (without the assistance of any hand) to come of its own

accord out of its shoe and fling itself to the other side of the room;

the other was crawling after it, but a maid espying that, with her

hand drew it out, and it strangely _clasp'd_ and _curl'd_ about her

hand like a living _eel_ or _serpent_; this is testified by a lady of

considerable quality, too great for exception, who was an eye-witness.

The same lady shewed Mr. C. one of the young man's gloves, which was

torn in his pocket while she was by, which is so dexterously tatter'd

and so artificially torn that it is conceived a cutler could not have

contrived an instrument to have laid it abroad so accurately, and all

this was done in the pocket in the compass of one minute. It is

further observable that if the aforesaid young man, or another person

who is a servant maid in the house, do wear their own clothes, they

are certainly torn in pieces on their backs, but if the clothes belong

to any other, they are not injured after that manner.

"Many other strange and fantastical freaks have been done by the said

daemon or spirit in the view of divers persons; a barrel of salt of

considerable quantity hath been observed to march from room to room

without any human assistance.

"An hand-iron hath seemed to lay itself cross over-thwart a pan of

milk that hath been scalding over the fire, and two flitches of bacon

have of their own accord descended from the chimney where they were

hung, and placed themselves upon the hand-iron.

"When the spectre appears in resemblance of her own person, she seems

to be habited in the same cloaths and dress which the gentlewoman of

the house (her daughter-in-law) hath on at the same time. Divers

times the feet and legs of the young man aforesaid have been so

entangled about his neck that he hath been loosed with great

difficulty; sometimes they have been so twisted about the frames of

chairs and stools that they have hardly been set at liberty. But one

of the most considerable instances of the malice of the spirit against

the young man happened on Easter Eve, when Mrs. C. the relator, was

passing by the door of the house, and it was thus:--

"When the young man was returning from his labour, he was taken up by

the _skirt_ of his _doublet_ by this _female daemon_, and carried a

height into the air. He was soon missed by his Master and some other

servants that had been at labour with him, and after diligent enquiry

no news could be heard of him, until at length (near half an hour

after) he was heard singing and whistling in a bog or quagmire, where

they found him in a kind of trance or _extatick fit_, to which he hath

sometimes been accustomed (but whether before the affliction he met

with from this spirit I am not certain). He was affected much after

such sort, as at the time of those _fits_, so that the people did not

give that _attention_ and _regard_ to what he said as at other times;

but when he returned again to himself (which was about an hour after)

he solemnly protested to them that the daemon had carried him so high

that his master's house seemed to him to be but _as a hay-cock_, and

_that during all that time he was in perfect sense, and prayed to

Almighty God not to suffer the devil to destroy him_; and that he was

suddenly set down in that quagmire.

The workmen found one shoe on one side of his master's house, and the

other on the other side, and in the morning espied his perriwig

hanging on the top of a tree; by which it appears he had been carried

a considerable height, and that what he told them was not a fiction.

"After this it was observed that that part of the young man's body

which had been on the mud in the quagmire was somewhat benummbed and

seemingly deader than the other, whereupon the following _Saturday_,

which was the day before _Low Sunday_, he was carried to _Crediton,

alias Kirton_, to be bleeded, which being done accordingly, and the

company having left him for some little space, at their return they

found him in one of his fits, with his _forehead_ much _bruised_, and

_swoln_ to a _great bigness_, none being able to guess how it

happened, until his recovery from that _fit_, when upon enquiry he

gave them this account of it: _that a bird had with great swiftness

and force flown in at the window with a stone in its beak, which it

had dashed against his forehead, which had occasioned the swelling

which they saw_.

"The people much wondering at the strangeness of the accident,

diligently sought the stone, and under the place where he sat they

found not such a stone as they expected but a weight of brass or

copper, which it seems the daemon had made use of on that occasion to

give the poor young man that hurt in his forehead.

"The persons present were at the trouble to break it to pieces, every

one taking a part and preserving it in memory of so strange an

accident. After this the spirit continued to molest the young man in

a very severe and rugged manner, often handling him with great

extremity, and whether it hath yet left its violences to him, or

whether the young man be yet alive, I can have no certain account."

I leave the reader to consider of the extraordinary strangeness of the


The reader, considering the exceeding strangeness of the relation,

will observe that we have now reached "great swingeing falsehoods,"

even if that opinion had not hitherto occurred to his mind. But if he

thinks that such stories are no longer told, and even sworn to on

Bible oath, he greatly deceives himself. In the chapter on "Haunted

Houses" he will find statements just as hard narrated of the years

1870 and 1882. In these, however, the ghosts had no purpose but

mischief. {118}

We take another "ghost with a purpose".