|"Morning Chronicle," October 13, 1804|
This week's clipping deals with one of the more peculiar subcategories of poltergeist activity: cut or ripped clothing. The story appeared in the "London Courier," October 9, 1804:
Cambridge, Oct. 7--A few days since Mrs. Adams, the wife of Mr. Adams, a respectable farmer at Sawston, seven miles south of this town, perceived the bottom part of her gown was torn, as if by a nail, this she mended, and thought no more of it till the next day, when she discovered that not only her own gown, but her servant's also was literally in tatters; she could not account for their being in that state, but put on another, this, though whole at the time of doing so, was reduced to the condition of the first, and though in the whole, she dressed herself in six different garments, all of them shared the same fate. She informed several of the neighbours, both male and female, of the circumstance, who, on going into the house, were equally unfortunate, for though the utmost precaution was taken that they might experience no injury, they found such holes in the gowns of the women and the coats of the men as convinced them all were regarded in the same light. A friend of mine, who lives in the place, and who is a gentleman of great respectability, informed me that he went to the house, where there were a dozen others, that he knew their gowns were entire on their entry, but he saw pieces drop off, and rents made without any visible cause. Mr. Adams called on Dr. Milner to acquaint him with the business, and I understand the Vice-Chancellor, who as well as the Dr. has great knowledge in Chemistry, intends accompanying him tomorrow, that they may, if possible, discover the cause of this extraordinary case. The garments have no appearance of having had any Chemical preparation thrown on them, for neither the look or smell would lead you to suppose that the rends were occasioned by vitriolic acid, &c. Many of your readers will laugh at a tale so improbable and inexplicable: there might have been some grounds for ridicule if only one or two persons had been affected by it, but nine-tenths of those who visit the house have a knowledge of the effects from their own experience.
The last report I've been able to find about the mystery is dated about one month later. It was a brief item stating only that the weird destruction of clothing was still continuing, which must have made Sawston's tailors and seamstresses very happy.