"...we should pass over all biographies of 'the good and the great,' while we search carefully the slight records of wretches who died in prison, in Bedlam, or upon the gallows."
~Edgar Allan Poe

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Newspaper Clipping of the Day

Via Newspapers.com

"Ghost pops up to inform everyone, 'I was murdered'" is a classic genre of spook tales.  The following excellent example appeared in the "Caledonian Mercury," January 19, 1861:

The Kendal Mercury relates the following strange story: 

At the high end of Stramongate, in Kitty Gibson's yard, stand some very old buildings, and in one of these, a part of which faces the street, and was, about a century ago, a public-house known by the sign of the Black Horse, the following strange occurrences took place a few days ago: 

There is a cottage at the upper end of this yard, which is occupied by a man named Joseph Allinson, bobbin-turner, and one of the inmates, a young woman of the name of Marian Allan, sister of Mrs. Allinson, who has been bedridden and nearly blind for some time past, and an object of sympathy, on account of her sufferings, is the "medium" through which the strange story now in circulation has been set afloat. 

It appears that on Monday evening last, whilst some five or six men and women were sitting by the fireside downstairs, all at once they were considerably alarmed by some heavy sounds, as if some one was knocking violently in a room upstairs. This noise continued for some time--knock--knock--knock--louder and louder so much so that the concussion shook the house as if it were about to be brought down altogether, one person stating that the chair in which he was sitting was fairly lifted up. 

What could be the cause of this fearful noise? It was suggested that perhaps the poor young woman ill in bed and helpless might have fallen on the floor, and was knocking for assistance. On proceeding to her apartment, she gave forth this curious revelation, which bids fair to emulate the far-famed ,"Cock Lane Ghost." An apparition had visited her (which she was permitted to behold for a time, and then her eyesight left her as before), the figure of a man dressed in black, of a grim and rough aspect. She describes something breathed in her face, that the lighted candle in the room burned dim, and finally either went out of its own accord, or was extinguished by some unseen hand, when the figure appeared as stated. On acquiring sufficient utterance, she inquired of the ghost, in the name of the Holy Trinity, why she was troubled with his presence. On the third time of asking, the spectre spoke in a thick, husky, hollow voice, telling her, whilst pointing in the direction below, to follow him to the cellar of the house, where, on removing the flagstone on the hearth, something would be found buried, which was the special purpose of his visit to reveal. On stating this, the form of the unearthly visitant vanished like a dim shadow.

Slowly and silently the parties in the house went to the locality in the cellar pointed out by the man in black, dug up the earth flag, and found a quantity of bones (which yet remain for the inspection of the curious) buried a little below the surface. A quantity of hops, in good preservation, were found scattered here and there over the soil. 

These bones (human they are said to be by some accounted-competent judges in such matters) have been examined by scores of people. Their state of decay leads to the supposition that a long time has elapsed since they were put beneath the ground. It is to be regretted that the ghost did not reveal more of the "secrets of his prison-house. " It may be he was forbidden to do so no one can tell, only that conjecture is rife as to the history of these canonised bones. Whether some foul unnatural murder has been committed of ancient date, long hidden but now come out under these circumstances, we are not prepared to say. The revelation and discovery so far are the foremost topics of remark both in the town and country, from the latter of which a great number of dealers in the marvellous have been to satisfy themselves as to the truth of what they had heard.


  1. Are hops considered a preservative ? The ancientEgyptians brewed a lot of beer (it was an everyday drink) but never read of hops being used in mummification.

    1. Apparently they are--part of the reason they're used in beer is to keep the brew fresh.

  2. I suppose the poor ghost was content with his remains being found, and perhaps troubled no one further. That's good because the people in the house aren't teh sort to be relied upon in an emergency: the violent knocking went on for some time, though it was thought the sick woman upstairs had fallen and was in need of assistance. Apparently, they sat aout discussing this possibility for a while...


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