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Title: Lancashire Folk-lore - Illustrative of the Superstitious Beliefs and Practices, - Local Customs and Usages of the People of the County - Palatine
Author: Harland, John, Wilkinson, T. T.
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Lancashire Folk-lore - Illustrative of the Superstitious Beliefs and Practices, - Local Customs and Usages of the People of the County - Palatine" ***

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Transcriber's Note:

    Minor spelling and typographical errors have been corrected without
    note. Archaic, dialect and variant spellings remain as printed.
    Greek text appears as originally printed. The carat (^) precedes a
    superscript character. Missing chapter titles have been included to
    match the Contents listing for readers' convenience.

                          ILLUSTRATIVE OF THE
                        LOCAL CUSTOMS AND USAGES

                         COMPILED AND EDITED BY
                          JOHN HARLAND, F.S.A.
                       T. T. WILKINSON, F.R.A.S.


                        FREDERICK WARNE AND CO.
                     BEDFORD STREET, COVENT GARDEN.
                       NEW YORK: SCRIBNER AND CO.

                             COVENT GARDEN.


"Folk-lore," though a term that will not be found in our standard
dictionaries, from Johnson down to Webster, is nevertheless simply a
modern combination of two genuine old English words--_Folc_, the folk,
the people, "the common people;" and _Lár_, _Laer_, _Lora_, learning,
doctrine, precept, law. In the earlier days of our English tongue,
folk-land, folk-gemote, folk-right, &c., were terms in common use, and
amongst this class of compound words our fore-elders had _folc-lare_, by
which they denoted plain, simple teaching suited for the people, what we
should now call "popular instruction," and hence _folk-lare_ also meant
a sermon. _Folk-Lore_, in its present signification--and for its general
acceptance we are largely indebted to the Editor of that valuable
periodical _Notes and Queries_,--means the notions of the folk or
people, from childhood upwards, especially their superstitious beliefs
and practices, as these have been handed down from generation to
generation, in popular tradition and tale, rhyme, proverb, or saying,
and it is well termed Folk-Lore in contradistinction to book-lore or
scholastic learning. It is the unlearned people's inheritance of
tradition from their ancestors, the modern reflection of ancient faith
and usage. This Folk-Lore has not been wholly without record in our
literature. Hone in his delightful _Every-Day Book_, _Year Book_, and
_Table Book_, has preserved many a choice bit of England's Folk-Lore;
and his example has been ably followed in Chambers's _Book of Days_.
Brand's _Popular Antiquities_, Aubrey's _Miscellanies_, Allies's
_Antiquities and Folk-Lore of Worcestershire_, and other like works,
have noted down for the information and amusement of future generations
the prevalent superstitions, and popular customs and usages of the
people in particular districts, during a past age, and at the present
time. But the greatest and best depository and record of the Folk-Lore
of various nations is that excellent periodical _Notes and Queries_,
from which a charming little volume entitled "_Choice Notes from Notes
and Queries,--Folk-Lore_," was compiled and published in 1859.

But Lancashire has hitherto been without adequate record, at least in a
collected form, of its Folk-Lore. This has not been because of any lack
of such lore. The North of England generally, and Lancashire in
particular, is remarkably rich in this respect. Possessed and peopled in
succession by the Celts of ancient Britain, by the Angles and other
Teutonic peoples, by the Scandinavian races, and by Norman and other
foreign settlers at early periods,--the result of the respective
contributions of these various peoples is necessarily a large mass of
traditionary lore. To bring this together and present it in a collected
form is the object of this little volume. Its editors have been long
engaged, apart,--distinctly, and independently of each other,--in
collecting particulars of the superstitions in belief and practice, and
of the peculiar customs and usages of the people of Lancashire. One of
them, born in one of its rural districts, still rich in these respects,
is thus enabled to remember and to preserve many of those customs and
usages of his childhood and youth, now rapidly passing into decay, if
not oblivion. The other, conversant from his earliest remembrances with
the Folk-Lore of East Yorkshire, and with that of Lancashire for the
last thirty-five years, is thus enabled to compare the customs and
usages of both, and to recognise the same essential superstition under
slightly different forms. Similarity of pursuit having led to personal
communication, the Editors agreed to combine their respective
collections; and hence the present volume. They do not pretend herein to
have exhausted the whole range of Lancashire Folk-Lore; but simply to
have seized on the more salient features of its superstitious side, and
those of popular custom and usage. Part I. comprises notices of a great
number of superstitious beliefs and practices. Part II. treats of
various local customs and usages, at particular seasons of the year;
during the great festivals of the church; those connected with birth and
baptism; betrothal and wedding; dying, death-bed, and funeral customs;
as well as manorial and feudal tenures, services, and usages.

Should the present volume find favour and acceptance, its Editors may
venture hereafter to offer another, embracing the fertile and
interesting subjects of popular pageants, maskings and mummings,
rushbearings, wakes and fairs, out-door sports and games; punishments,
legal and popular; legends and traditions; proverbs, popular sayings and
similes; folk-rhymes, &c. &c.

_September, 1866._

But for unavoidable delay, consequent on the preparation of a
large-paper edition, this volume would have been published prior to
"Notes on the Folk-Lore of the Northern Counties of England and the
Borders," by Wm. Henderson. As that work has appeared, it may be as well
to state that, notwithstanding similarity of subject, the two books do
not clash. Mr. Henderson's work relates chiefly to the three
north-eastern counties,--Northumberland, Durham, and Yorkshire,--with
large notices not only of the Scottish borders, but of Scotland
generally, and many details as to Devonshire folk-lore. Its notices of
Cumberland and Westmorland are fewer than of the three counties first
named; and Lancashire is only two or three times incidentally mentioned.
The field of this county palatine is therefore left free for the present

_January, 1867._


                                PART I.


 Introduction                                                         1

 Lancashire Alchemists                                               23

 Lancashire Astrologers                                              33

 Bells                                                               41

 Beal-tine or Beltane Fires; Relics of Baal Worship                  45

 Boggarts, Ghosts, and Haunted Places                                49

 Boggart Hole Clough                                                 50

 Boggarts or Ghosts in Old Halls                                     51

 House Boggarts, or Labouring Goblins                                56

 Hornby Park Mistress and Margaret Brackin                           59

 Boggarts in the Nineteenth Century                                  61

                           CHARMS AND SPELLS.

 Charms and Spells against Evil Beings                               62

 A Charm, written in Cypher, against Witchcraft and Evil Spirits     63

 The Crow Charm and the Lady-bird Charm                              70

 Pimpernel                                                           71

 The Mountain Ash, or Wicken or Wiggen Tree                          72

 Charms to Cure Sickness, Wounds, Cattle Distemper, etc.             74

 Charms for the Toothache                                            75

 Vervain, for Wounds, etc.                                           76

 Charms to Stop Bleeding                                             77

 Touching for the King's Evil                                        77

 Cures for Warts                                                     78

 Cure for Hydrocephalus in Cattle                                    79

 Cattle Disorders.--The Shrew Tree in Carnforth                      79

 Charms for Ague                                                     80

 Stinging of Nettles                                                 80

 Jaundice                                                            80

 To Procure Sleep by Changing the Direction of the Bed               80

                         THE DEVIL, DEMONS, &c.

 The Devil                                                           81

 Raising the Devil                                                   83

 The Devil and the Schoolmaster at Cockerham                         83

 Old Nick                                                            84

 Demonology                                                          86

 Demon and Goblin Superstitions                                      88

 Dispossessing a Demoniac                                            92

 Demoniacal Possession in 1594                                       92

 Demoniacal Possession in 1689                                       98


 Divination                                                         102

 Divination at Marriages                                            103

 Divination by Bible and Key                                        103

 Another Lancashire form of Divination                              104

 Divination by the Dying                                            104

 Second-sight                                                       105

 Spirits of the Dying and the Dead                                  105

 Casting Lots, &c.                                                  106

                        MISCELLANEOUS FOLK-LORE.

 Druidical Rock Basins                                              106

 Elves and Fairies                                                  110

 Folk-Lore of Eccles and the Neighbourhood                          113

 Tree Barnacles; or, Geese hatched from Sea-shells                  116

 Warts from Washing in Egg-water                                    121

 Fortune-telling.--Wise Men and Cunning Women, &c.                  121

 Magic and Magicians                                                126

 Edward Kelly, the Seer                                             126

 Raising the Dead at Walton-le-Dale                                 128

 An Earl of Derby charged with keeping a Conjuror                   129


 Miracles, or Miraculous Stories                                    131

 Miracles by a Dead Duke of Lancaster and King                      132

 A Miraculous Footprint in Brindle Church                           134

 The Footprint at Smithells of George Marsh, the Martyr             135

 A Legend of Cartmel Church                                         137

 The Prophet Elias, a Lancashire Fanatic                            138

                        OMENS AND PREDICATIONS.

 Omens and Predications                                             138

 Cats                                                               141

 Dogs                                                               142

 Lambs                                                              142

 Birds                                                              142

 Swallows                                                           143

 Magpies                                                            143

 Dreams                                                             145

 The Moon                                                           149

 Hæver or Hiver                                                     149

 Deasil or Widersinnis                                              151

 Omens of Weather for New Year's-day                                151

 Death Tick or Death Watch                                          152


 Popular Superstitions                                              153

 Bones of St. Lawrence, at Chorley                                  157

 The Dead Man's Hand                                                158

 Nineteenth Century Superstition                                    164

 Pendle Forest Superstition                                         164

 East Lancashire Superstition                                       165

 Superstitious Fears and Cruelties                                  167

 Superstitious Beliefs in Manchester in the Sixteenth Century       168

 Wells and Springs                                                  169

                        WITCHES AND WITCHCRAFT.

 Witchcraft in the Fifteenth Century                                174

 The Famous History of the Lancashire Witches                       176

 Dr. Dee charged with Witchcraft                                    178

 The Lancashire Witches                                             179

 Superstitious Fear of Witchcraft                                   182

 A Household Bewitched                                              184

 The Lancashire Witches of 1612                                     185

 The Samlesbury Witches                                             194

 Witchcraft at Middleton                                            195

 Witchcraft in 1633-34                                              195

 The Lancashire Witches of 1633-4                                   200

 Lancashire Witch-finders                                           200

 The Forest of Pendle--The Haunt of the Lancashire Witches          202

 Pendle Hill and its Witches                                        204

 Witchcraft about 1654                                              206

 A Liverpool Witch in 1667                                          206

 The Witch of Singleton                                             207

 Witchcraft at Chowbent in the Eighteenth Century                   207

 Killing a Witch                                                    208

 A Recent Witch, near Burnley                                       209

 "Lating" or "Leeting" Witches                                      210

                                PART II.


 Church and Season Festivals                                        212

 New Year's-day                                                     214

 Fire on New Year's Eve                                             214

 New Year's Luck                                                    214

 New Year's First Caller                                            215

 New Year's-day and Old Christmas-day                               216

 Auld Wife Hakes                                                    216

 New Year's Gifts and Wishes                                        216

 Shrovetide                                                         217

 Shrove-Tuesday, or Pancake Tuesday                                 218

 Cock-throwing and Cock-fighting                                    218

 Cock-fighting about Blackburn                                      220

 Cock-penny at Clitheroe                                            220

 Cock-fighting at Burnley                                           220

 Shrovetide Customs in the Fylde                                    221

 Lent.--Ash-Wednesday                                               221

 Mid-Lent Sunday, or "Mothering Sunday"                             222

 Simnel Cakes                                                       223

 To Dianeme                                                         223

 Bury                                                               224

 Bragot-Sunday                                                      225

 Fag-pie Sunday                                                     226

 Good Friday                                                        226

 Easter                                                             227

 Pasche, Pace, or Easter Eggs                                       228

 Pace Egging in Blackburn                                           228

 Pace or Peace Egging in East Lancashire                            231

 Easter Sports at the Manchester Free Grammar School                231

 "Lifting," or "Heaving" at Easter                                  233

 Easter Game of the Ring                                            234

 Playing "Old Ball"                                                 234

 Acting with "Ball"                                                 235

 Easter Customs in the Fylde                                        236

 May-day Customs                                                    238

 May Songs                                                          239

 May-day Eve                                                        239

 May-day Custom                                                     240

 Pendleton and Pendlebury May-pole and Games                        240

 May Custom in Spotland                                             242

 May-day Customs in the Fylde                                       242

 The May-pole of Lostock                                            243

 Robin Hood and May-games at Burnley, in 1579                       244

 May-day in Manchester                                              245

 Queen of the May, &c.                                              246

 Whitsuntide                                                        246

 Whit-Tuesday.--King and Queen at Downham                           248

 Rogations or Gang Days                                             248

 Oatmeal Charity at Ince                                            249

 Names for Moons in Autumn                                          250

 "Goose-Intentos"                                                   250

 All Souls'-day                                                     251

 Gunpowder Plot and Guy Fawkes                                      251

 Christmas                                                          252

 Creatures Worshipping on Christmas Eve                             253

 Christmas Mumming                                                  253

 The Hobby Horse, or Old Ball                                       254

 Christmas Customs in the Fylde                                     254

 Celebration of Christmas at Wycoller Hall                          256

 Carols, &c.                                                        257

                      EATING AND DRINKING CUSTOMS.

 Various                                                            258

 The Havercake Lads                                                 258

 Wooden Shoes and Oaten Bread or Jannocks                           259

 Pork Pasties                                                       260

                      BIRTH AND BAPTISMAL CUSTOMS.

 Presents to Women in Childbed                                      260

 Tea-drinking after Childbirth                                      261

 Turning the Bed after Childbirth                                   261

 An Unbaptized Child cannot die                                     262

 Gifts to Infants                                                   262


 Betrothing Customs                                                 263

 Curious Wedding Custom                                             263

 Courting and Wedding Customs in the Fylde                          264

 Ancient Bridal Custom.--The Bride's Chair and the Fairy Hole       265

 Burnley                                                            265

 Marriages at Manchester Parish Church                              265


 Dying Hardly                                                       268

 Burying in Woollen                                                 269

 Funeral Dole and Arval Cake                                        270

 Dalton-in-Furness                                                  271

 Old Funeral Customs at Warton                                      271

 Funeral Customs in the Fylde                                       272

 Mode of Burial of a Widow who had taken Religious Vows             273

 Funeral Customs in East Lancashire                                 273

 Bidding to Funerals                                                274

 Situation and Direction of Graves                                  275

                           CUSTOMS OF MANORS.

 The Honour of Knighthood                                           277

 Maritagium                                                         278

 Peculiar Services and Tenures                                      278

 Manor of Cockerham--Regulations for the Sale of Ale                281

 Manorial Customs in Furness                                        281

 The Lord's Yule Feast at Ashton                                    286

 Riding the Black Lad at Ashton-under-Lyne                          289

 Boon Shearing                                                      292

 The Principal or Heriot                                            293

 Denton Rent-boons                                                  294

 A Saxon Constablewick                                              295

 Talliage or Tallage                                                296

 Rochdale Tithe, Easter-dues, Mortuaries, etc.                      297

 Farm and Agricultural Celebrations in the Fylde                    298

 Dalton-in-Furness                                                  299

 Letting Sheep Farms in Bowland                                     300

 Mediæval Latin Law Terms                                           300

 Customs [Dues] at Warrington                                       301





                    "'Tis a history
    Handed from ages down; a nurse's tale
    Which children open-eyed and mouth'd devour,
    And thus, as garrulous ignorance relates,
    We learn it and believe."

In this large section of the Folk-lore of Lancashire we propose to treat
of all the notions and practices of the people which appear to recognise
a supernatural power or powers, especially as aids to impart to man a
knowledge of the future. An alphabetical arrangement has been adopted,
which is to some extent also chronological. Beginning with the pretended
sciences or arts of Alchemy and Astrology, the succeeding articles treat
of Bells, Beltane fires, Boggarts, Charms, Demons, Divination, &c.

Many of these superstitions are important in an ethnological point of
view, and immediately place us _en rapport_ with those nations whose
inhabitants have either colonized or conquered this portion of our
country. In treasuring up these records of the olden times, tradition
has, in general, been faithful to her vocation. She has occasionally
grafted portions of one traditional custom, ceremony, or superstition,
upon another; but in the majority of cases enough has been left to
enable us to determine with considerable certainty the probable origin
of each. So far as regards the greater portion of our local Folk-lore,
we may safely assert that it is rapidly becoming obsolete, and many of
the most curious relics must be sought in the undisturbed nooks and
corners of the county. It is there where popular opinions are cherished
and preserved, long after an improved education has driven them from
more intelligent communities; and it is a remarkable fact that many of
these, although composed of such flimsy materials, and dependent upon
the fancies of the multitude for their very existence, have nevertheless
survived shocks by which kingdoms have been overthrown, and have
preserved their characteristic traits from the earliest times down to
the present.

As what are called the Indo-European, or Aryan, nations--viz., the
Celts, Greeks, Latins, Germans (Teuton and Scandinavian), Letts, and
Sclaves--as is now generally acknowledged, have a common ancestry in the
race which once dwelt together in the regions of the Upper Oxus, in
Asia; so their mythologies, however diverse in their later European
developments, may be regarded as having a common origin. Space will not
allow us to enlarge on this great subject, which has been ably treated
by Jacob Grimm, Dr. Adalbert Kuhn, and many other German writers, and of
which an excellent _résumé_ is given in Kelly's _Curiosities of
Indo-European Tradition and Folk-lore_.

When we refer to the ancient Egyptians, and to the oldest history
extant, we find some striking resemblances between their customs and our
own. The rod of the magician was then as necessary to the practice of
the art as it still is to the "Wizard of the North." The glory of the
art of magic may be said to have departed, but _the use of the rod_ by
the modern conjuror remains as a connecting link between the harmless
deceptions of the present, and that powerful instrument of the
priesthood in times remote. The divining rod, too, which indicates the
existence of a hidden spring, or treasure, or even a murdered corpse, is
another relic of the wand of the Oriental Magi. The divining cup, as
noticed in the case of Joseph and his brethren, supplies a third
instance of this close connexion. Both our wise men and maidens still
whirl the tea-cup, in order that the disposition of the floating leaves
may give them an intimation of their future destiny, or point out the
direction in which an offending party must be sought. We have yet
"wizards that do peep and mutter," and who profess to foretell future
events by looking "through a glass darkly." The practice of "causing
children to pass through the fire to Moloch," so strongly reprobated by
the prophet of old, may be cited as an instance in which Christianity
has not yet been able to efface all traces of one of the oldest forms of
heathen worship. Sir W. Betham has observed, in his _Gael and Cymbri_,
pp. 222-4, that "we see at this day fires lighted up in Ireland, on the
eve of the summer solstice and the equinoxes, to the Phœnician god
Baal; and they are called _Baal-tane_, or Baal's fire, though the
_object_ of veneration be forgotten." Such fires are still lighted in
Lancashire, on Hallowe'en, under the names of Beltains or Teanlas; and
even such _cakes_ as the Jews are said to have made in honour of the
Queen of Heaven, are yet to be found at this season amongst the
inhabitants of the banks of the Ribble. These circumstances may appear
the less strange when we reflect that this river is almost certainly the
Belisama of the Romans; that it was especially dedicated to the Queen of
Heaven, under the designation of Minerva Belisamæ; and that her worship
was long prevalent amongst the inhabitants of Coccium, Rigodunum, and
other Roman stations in the north of Lancashire. Both the fires and the
cakes, however, are now connected with superstitious notions respecting
Purgatory, &c., but their origin and perpetuation will scarcely admit of

A belief in astrology and in sacred numbers prevails to a considerable
extent amongst all classes of our society. With many the stars still
"fight in their courses," and our modern fortune-tellers are yet ready
to "rule the planets," and predict good or ill fortune, on payment of
the customary fee. That there is "luck in _odd_ numbers" was known for a
fact in Lancashire long before Mr. Lover immortalized the tradition. Our
housewives always take care that their hens shall sit upon an _odd_
number of eggs; we always bathe _three_ times in the sea at Blackpool,
Southport, and elsewhere; and our names are called over _three_ times
when our services are required in courts of law. _Three_ times _three_
is the orthodox number of cheers; and we still hold that the _seventh_
son of a _seventh_ son is destined to form an infallible physician. We
inherit all such popular notions as these in common with the German and
Scandinavian nations; but more especially with those of the Saxons and
the Danes. Triads of leaders, or ships, constantly occur in their
annals; and punishments of _three_ and _seven_ years' duration form the
burden of many of the Anglo-Saxon and Danish laws.

A full proportion of the popular stories which are perpetuated in our
nurseries most probably date their existence amongst us from some
amalgamation of races; or, it may be, from the intercourse attendant
upon trade and commerce. The Phœnicians, no doubt, would impart a
portion of their Oriental Folk-lore to the southern Britons; the Roman
legions would leave traces of their prolific mythology amongst the
Brigantes and the Sistuntii; and the Saxons and the Danes would add
their rugged northern modifications to the common stock. The "History of
the Hunchback" is common to both England and Arabia; the "man in the
moon" has found his way into the popular literature of almost every
nation with which we are acquainted; "Cinderella and her slipper" is
"The little golden shoe" of the ancient Scandinavians, and was equally
familiar to the Greeks and Romans; "Jack and the bean-stalk" is told in
Sweden and Norway as of "The boy who stole the giant's treasure;" whilst
our renowned "Jack the giant-killer" figures in Norway, Lapland, Persia,
and India, as the amusing story of "The herd boy and the giant." The
labours of Tom Hickathrift are evidently a distorted version of those of
Hercules; and these again agree in the main with the journey of Thor to
Utgard, and the more classical travels of Ulysses. In Greece the clash
of the elements during a thunderstorm was attributed to the chariot
wheels of Jove; the Scandinavians ascribed the sounds to the ponderous
wagon of the mighty Thor; our Lancashire nurses _Christianize_ the
phenomenon by assuring their young companions, poetically enough, that
thunder "is the noise which God makes when passing across the heavens."
The notion that the gods were wont to communicate knowledge of future
events to certain favoured individuals appears to have had a wide range
in ancient times; and this curiosity regarding futurity has exerted a
powerful influence over the minds of men in every stage of civilization.
Hence arose the consulting of oracles and the practice of divination
amongst the ancients, and to the same principles we must attribute the
credulity which at present exists with respect to the "_wise men_" who
are to be found in almost every town and village in Lancashire. The
means adopted by some of the oracles when responses were required,
strangely remind us of the modern feats of ventriloquism; others can be
well illustrated by what we now know of mesmerism and its kindred
agencies; whilst these and clairvoyance will account for many of those
where the agents are said by Eustathius to have spoken out of their
bellies, or breasts, from oak trees, or been "cast into trances in which
they lay like men dead or asleep, deprived of all sense and motion; but
after some time returning to themselves, gave strange relations of what
they had seen and heard."

The ancient Greeks and Romans regarded dreams as so many warnings; they
prayed to Mercury to vouchsafe to them a night of good dreams. In this
county we still hold the same opinions; but our country maidens, having
Christianized the subject, now invoke St. Agnes and a multitude of other
saints to be similarly propitious. There are many other points of
resemblance between the Folk-lore of Lancashire and that of the
ancients. Long or short life, health or disease, good luck or bad, are
yet predicted by burning a lock of human hair; and the fire is
frequently poked with much anxiety when testing the disposition of an
absent lover. Many persons may be found who never put on the _left_ shoe
first; and the appearance of a _single_ magpie has disconcerted many a
stout Lancashire farmer when setting out on a journey of business or
pleasure. In the matter of sneezing we are just as superstitious as when
the Romans left us. They exclaimed, "May Jove protect you," when any one
sneezed in their presence, and an anxious "God bless you" is the common
ejaculation amongst our aged mothers. To the same sources we may
probably attribute the apprehensions which many Lancashire people
entertain with respect to spilling the salt; sudden silence, or fear;
lucky and unlucky days; the presence of thirteen at dinner; raising
ghosts; stopping blood by charms; spitting upon, or drawing blood from
persons in order to avert danger; the evil eye; and a multitude of
other minor superstitions. We possess much of all this in common with
the Saxons and the Danes, but the original source of a great, if not the
greater portion, is probably that of our earliest conquerors.

Divination by means of the works of Homer and Virgil was not uncommon
amongst the ancients; the earlier Christians made use of the Psalter or
New Testament for such purposes. In Lancashire the Bible and a key are
resorted to, both for deciding doubts respecting a lover, and also to
aid in detecting a thief. Divination by water affords another striking
parallel. The ancients decided questions in dispute by means of a
tumbler of water, into which they lowered a ring suspended by a thread,
and having prayed to the gods to decide the question in dispute, the
ring of its own accord would strike the tumbler a certain number of
times. Our "Lancashire witches" adopt the same means, and follow the
Christianized formula, with a wedding-ring suspended by a hair, whenever
the time before marriage, the number of a family, or even the length of
life, becomes a matter of anxiety.

Most nations, in all ages, have been accustomed to deck the graves of
their dead with appropriate flowers, much as we do at present. The last
words of the dying have, from the earliest times, been considered of
prophetic import; and according to Theocritus, some one of those
present endeavoured to receive into his mouth the last breath of a dying
parent or friend, "as fancying the soul to pass out with it and enter
into their own bodies." Few would expect to find this singular custom
still existing in Lancashire; and yet such is the fact. Witchcraft can
boast her votaries in this county even up to the present date, and she
numbers this practice amongst her rites and ceremonies.

A very large portion of the Lancashire Folk-lore is identical in many
respects with that which prevailed amongst the sturdy warriors who
founded the Heptarchy, or ruled Northumbria. During the Saxon and Danish
periods their heathendom had a real existence. Its practices were
maintained by an array of priests and altars, with a prescribed ritual
and ceremonies; public worship was performed and oblations offered with
all the pomp and power of a church establishment. The remnants of this
ancient creed are now presented to us in the form of popular
superstitions, in legends and nursery tales, which have survived all
attempts to eradicate them from the minds of the people. Christ, his
apostles, and the saints, have supplanted the old mythological
conceptions; but many popular stories and impious incantations which now
involve these sacred names were formerly told of some northern hero, or
perhaps invoked the power of Satan himself. The great festival in honour
of Eostre may be instanced as having been transferred to the Christian
celebration of the resurrection of our Lord; whilst the lighting of
fires on St. John's eve, and the bringing in of the boar's head at
Christmas, serve to remind us that the worship of Freja is not extinct.
When Christianity became the national religion, the rooted prejudices of
the people were evidently respected by our early missionaries, and hence
the curious admixture of the sacred and the profane, which everywhere
presents itself in our local popular forms of expression for the
pretended cure of various diseases. The powers and attributes of Woden
and Freja are attributed to Jesus, Peter, or Mary; but in all other
respects the spells and incantations remain the same.

Our forefathers appear to have possessed a full proportion of those
stern characteristics which have ever marked the Northumbrian
population. Whatever opinions they had acquired, they were prepared to
hold them firmly; nor did they give up their most heathenish practices
without a struggle. Both the "law and the testimony" had to be called
into requisition as occasion required; and even the terrors of these did
not at once suffice. In one of the Anglo-Saxon _Penitentiaries_, quoted
by Mr. Wright in his _Essays_, we find a penalty imposed upon those
women who use "any witchcraft to their children, or who draw them
through the earth at the meeting of roads, because that is great
heathenishness." A Saxon _Homily_, preserved in the public library at
Cambridge, states that divinations were used, "through the devil's
teaching," in taking a wife, in going a journey, in brewing, when
beginning any undertaking, when any person or animal is born, and when
children begin to pine away or to be unhealthy. The same _Homily_ also
speaks of divination by fowls, by sneezing, by horses, by dogs howling,
and concludes by declaring that "he is no Christian who does these
things." In a Latin _Penitentialia_ now in the British Museum, we find
allusions to incantations for taking away stores of milk, honey, or
other things belonging to another, and converting them to our own use.
He who rides with Diana and obeys her commands, he who prepares _three_
knives in company in order to predestine happiness to those born there,
he who makes inquiry into the future on the first day of January, or
begins a work on that day in order to secure prosperity during the whole
of the year, is pointed out for reprobation; whilst hiding charms in
grass, or on a tree, or in a path, for the preservation of cattle,
placing children in a furnace, or on the roof of a house, and using
characters for curing disease, or charms for collecting medicinal herbs,
are enumerated, for the purpose of pointing out the penances to be
undergone by those found guilty of "such heinous sins." Nearly all these
instances may be said to belong to the transition state of our
Folk-lore, and relate at once both to the ancient and the modern
portions of our subject. We have seen that much the same practices were
used by the Greeks and Romans; and it is a curious fact that many of the
more important are still in vogue amongst the peasantry of Lancashire.
Many persons will still shudder with apprehension if a dog howl during
the sickness of a friend: dragging a child across the earth at "four
lane ends" is yet practised for the cure of whooping-cough: fern seed is
still said to be gathered on the Holy Bible, and is then believed to be
able to render those invisible who will dare to take it. We still have
prejudices respecting the first day of the new year; black-haired
visitors are most welcome on the morning of that day; charms for the
protection of families and cattle are yet to be found; and herbs for the
use of man and beast are still collected when their "proper planets are
ruling" in the heavens. More copies of Culpepper's _Herbal_ and Sibley's
_Astrology_ are sold in Lancashire than all other works on the same
subjects put together, and this principally on account of the planetary
influence with which each disease and its antidote are connected. Old
Moore's _Almanac_, however, is now sadly at a discount, because it lacks
the table of the Moon's signs; the farmers are consequently at a loss to
know which will be healthy cattle, and hence they prefer a spurious
edition which supplies the grave omission.

Several lucky stones for the protection of cattle have, within a few
years past, been procured by the writer from the "shippons" of those
who, in other respects, are not counted behind the age; and it would
have been easy to collect an ample stock of horse-shoes and rusty
sickles from the same sources. However, during the last forty years the
inhabitants of Lancashire have made rapid progress both in numbers and
intelligence. They have had the "schoolmaster abroad" amongst them, and
have consequently divested themselves of many of the grosser
superstitions which formed a portion of the popular faith of their
immediate predecessors; but there is yet a dense substratum of popular
opinions existing in those localities which have escaped the renovating
influences of the spindle or the rail. As time progresses many of these
will become further modified, or perhaps totally disappear; and hence it
may be desirable to secure a permanent record of the customs and
superstitions of the county.

As to the most ancient forms of religious belief or cult, we may surely
assume that the _simple_ must of necessity precede the _complex_, and
consequently the idea of _one_ supernatural Being must be anterior in
point of time to that of _two_ or more. Under this view, the good and
the evil principles would form the second stage of development--a
necessary consequence of increased observation--and, accordingly, we
find the Great Spirit and his Adversary among the prevailing notions of
some of the least civilized communities. A gradual progression from one
to many gods appears to have been the natural process by which all known
mythologies have been formed. The tendency of observation to multiply
causes, real or ideal, and to personify ideas, may be ranked as one of
the tendencies of unassisted human nature; and the operation of this
natural force must have been equally efficient at all times and in all
countries. In the early stages of social improvement, man would be very
forcibly affected by natural phenomena. The regular succession of day
and night--the order of the seasons--the heat of summer--the cold of
winter--storms and tempests on sea and land--the sensations of pleasure
and pain, hope and fear--would each impress him with ideas of effects
for which he could assign no adequate causes; but having become
susceptible of supernatural influences, the addition of imaginary beings
to his mythology would keep pace with his experience, until every
portion of the heavens, the earth, and the sea, was peopled with, and
presided over, by its respective deity or demi-god. Thus it was that the
rolling thunder and the "lightning's vivid flash" suggested the idea of
a Jupiter grasping his destructive bolts, or of a Thor wielding his
ponderous hammer. The "raging tempest" and the "boiling surge" gave
birth to a Neptune or Njörd, each endowed with attributes suited to the
aspects of the locality where the observations were made, and specially
adapted to the intellectual condition of the community which first
deified the conception. As society progressed in civilization, so did
the study of philosophy and religion. The poets and the priests,
however, did not entrust their speculations to the judgment of the
people; they were too sensible of the power which secrecy conferred upon
their occult pursuits, and hence they allegorized their conceptions of
supernatural agencies, and also their ideas of the ordinary operations
of nature and art. The elements were spoken of as persons, and the
changes which these underwent were regarded as the actions of
individuals; and these in the lapse of ages, by losing their esoteric
meaning, came to be considered as realities, and so passed into the
popular belief. This is eminently the case with the northern mythology,
respecting which we are at present more particularly concerned; for by
far the greater portion of these highly poetical, though rugged myths,
admit of a very plausible and rational explanation on astronomical and
physical principles.[1] Whether this was equally the case with the Greek
and Roman mythologies is now, perhaps, more difficult to determine.
Enough, however, remains in the etymology of the names to prove that
both these and the northern systems had much in common. The fundamental
conceptions of each possess the same leading characteristics; and both
are probably due to the conquering tribes who migrated into Europe from
the fertile plains of Central Asia.[2]

During these early ages, war was considered to be the most honourable
occupation. Valour constituted the highest virtue; and in the absence of
all written records, tradition, in course of time, would add
considerably to the prowess of any daring chieftain. A mighty conqueror
would be considered by his followers as something more than human. The
fear of his enemies would clothe him with attributes peculiar to their
conceptions of inferior deities; and this, together with the almost
universal "longing after immortality" which seems to pervade society in
all its stages, sufficiently accounts for the origin of the heroes and
heroines--the demi-gods and goddesses of every mythology. Hence
Hercules--the younger Odin--and a numerous train of minor worthies to
whom divine honours were decreed in the rituals of Italy and of the

On the introduction of Christianity, a powerful reactionary force was
brought into the popular belief, and many of its grosser portions were
speedily eliminated. The whole of the mythological creations were
divided into two distinct classes, according to the attributes for which
they were more particularly distinguished. Those whose tendencies
inclined towards the benefit of mankind were translated to heavenly
mansions, with God as supreme; whilst the wickedly disposed were
consigned to the infernal regions, under the dominion of the Devil. The
festivals of the gods were transformed into Christian seasons for
rejoicing, their temples became churches, and the names of Christ, his
apostles, the Virgin Mary, and the saints, took the places of those of
Jupiter, Mercury, Thor, Freja, and Woden. All the inferior deities that
presided over the woods, the mountains, the seas, and the rivers, were
degraded into demons, and were classed amongst those fallen spirits who
are employed by the evil one to harass and deceive mankind. Our early
missionaries, however, had studied human nature too well to attempt too
violent a change. They contented themselves, for the most part, with
diverting the current of thought into different channels; they gave
_new_ names to _old_ conceptions, and then left their more rational and
more powerful faith to produce its known effects upon the superstitions
of the masses. But the habits and opinions of a people who have long
been under the influence of any mythological system, have become too
deeply rooted to admit of easy eradication; and hence, in our own
country, as in others, the transition from heathenism to Christianity
was effected by almost imperceptible steps.

There are, however, many points of resemblance between the early
Scandinavian and the Roman mythologies. Both had probably a common
origin, but each became modified by increased civilization and the
character of the localities occupied by each succeeding wave of a
migratory population. "Every country in Europe," says the learned editor
of Warton's _History of Poetry_, "has invested its popular belief with
the same common marvels: all acknowledge the agency of the lifeless
productions of nature; the intervention of the same supernatural
machinery; the existence of elves, fairies, dwarfs, giants, witches,
wizards, and enchanters; the use of spells, charms, and amulets." The
explosions and rumbling sounds occasionally heard in the interior of
Etna and Stromboli were attributed, in ancient times, to the rage of
Typhon, or the labours of Vulcan: at this day, the popular belief
connects them with the suffering souls of men in the infernal regions.
"The marks which natural causes have impressed upon the unyielding
granite were produced, according to the common creed, by the powerful
hero, the saint or the god, and large masses of stone, resembling
domestic implements in form, were the toys or the tools of the demi-gods
and giants of old. The repetition of the voice among the hills of
Scandinavia is ascribed by the vulgar to the dwarfs mocking the human
speaker; in England the fairies are said to perform the same exploits;
while the more elegant fancy of Greece gave birth to Echo, a nymph who
pined for love, and who still fondly repeats the accents that she hears.
The magic scenery occasionally presented on the waters of the Straits of
Messina is ascribed by popular opinion to the power of the Fata Morgana;
the gossamer threads which float through the haze of an autumnal morning
are [in Lancashire also] supposed to be woven by the ingenious dwarfs;
the verdant circlets in the dewy mead are traced beneath the light steps
of the dancing elves; and St. Cuthbert is said to forge and fashion the
beads that bear his name, and lie scattered along the shores of
Lindisfarne."[3] If we draw our parallels a little closer, we shall
find, as has been well observed, that "the Nereids of antiquity are
evidently the same with the Mermaids of the British and northern shores:
the inhabitants of both are placed in crystal caves, or coral palaces,
beneath the waters of the ocean; they are alike distinguished for their
partialities to the human race, and their prophetic powers in disclosing
the events of futurity. The Naiades differ only in name from the Nixens
of Germany, the Nisses of Scandinavia, or the Water-elves of the British
Isles. The Brownies are of the same kindred as the Lares of Latium [and
these agree exactly with the Portuni mentioned by Gervase of Tilbury in
his _Otia Imperialis_]. The English Puck [the Lancashire Boggart], the
Scotch Bogle, the French Goblin, the Gobelinus of the Middle Ages, and
the German Kobold, are probably only varied names for the Grecian
Khobalus, whose sole delight consisted in perplexing the human race, and
evoking those harmless terrors that constantly hover round the minds of
the timid. So, also, the German Spuck, and the Danish Spogel, correspond
with the more northern Spog; whilst the German Hudkin, and the Icelandic
Puki, exactly answer to the character of the English Robin
Goodfellow."[4] Our modern devil, with his horns and hoof, is derived
from the Celtic Ourisk and the Roman Pan.

Some of our elves and satyrs are arrayed in the costumes of Greece and
Rome; and the Fairy Queen, with her attendants, have at times too many
points of resemblance to escape being identified as Diana and her
nymphs. The Roman Jupiter, by an easy transformation, becomes identical
with the Scandinavian Thor--the thunderbolt and chariot of the former
corresponding to the hammer and wagon of the latter. Odin takes the
place of Mercury. Loki is the same as Lucifer, for, like him, he was
expelled from heaven for disobedience and rebellion. Hother encountered
Thor, as Diomede did Mars. "The Grendels of the north answer to the
Titans of the south; they were the gods of nature to our
forefathers--the spirits of the wood and wave." Jupiter's eagle, the
war-sign of the Romans, is similar in character to Odin's raven among
the Danes; both nations considered that if the bird appeared to flutter
its wings on the banners, conquest was certain; but if they hung
helplessly down, defeat would surely follow. Warcock Hill, on the
borders of Lancashire and Yorkshire, has probably derived its name from
the unfurling of this terrible ensign during the conflicts between the
Saxons and the Danes for the possession of Northumbria;--the local
nomenclature of the district attests the presence of colonists from both
nations, and extensive traces of their fortifications still remain as
evidence that our slopes and hill-tops formed at once the battle-fields
and the strongholds of the country.

The power of the Devil, his personal appearance and the possibility of
bartering the soul for temporary gain, must still be numbered among the
articles of our popular faith. Repeating the Lord's Prayer backwards is
said to be the most effectual plan for causing him to rise from beneath;
but when the terms of the bargain are not satisfactory, his exit can
only be secured by making the sign of the cross and calling on the name
of Christ.[5]

When we come to examine the miscellaneous customs and superstitions of
the county, we find many remarkable traces of a former belief. Tradition
has again been true to her vocation; and in several instances has been
most careful to preserve the _minutiæ_ of the mode of operation and
supposed effects of each minor spell and incantation. The principal
difficulty now lies in the selection; for the materials are so plentiful
that none but the most striking can be noticed. Among these we observe
that, a ringing in the ears; shooting of the eyes; throwing down, or
spilling the salt; putting on the left shoe first; lucky and unlucky
days; pouring melted lead into water; stopping blood by means of charms;
the use of waxen images; enchanted girdles; and lovers' knots, are all
observed and explained almost exactly as amongst the Greeks and Romans.
The details in many have been preserved to the very letter, whilst the
supposed effects are exactly the same both in the ancient and modern
times. Our marriageable maidens never receive knives, or any pointed
implements, from their suitors, for the very same reason that such
presents were rejected by their Scandinavian ancestors--they portend a
"breaking off" in the matrimonial arrangements, and are notorious for
"severing love."

    "If you love me as I love you,
    No knife shall cut our love in two."

We never return thanks for a loan of pins. A "winding sheet" on the
candle forebodes death; and dogs howling indicate a similar calamity.[6]
Almost every one is aware that cuttings of human hair ought always to be
burnt; that if _thirteen_ sit down to dinner one of them will die before
the end of the year; that it is unlucky to meet a woman the first thing
in the morning; and that a horse-shoe nailed or let into the step of
the door will prevent the entrance of any evil-disposed person. We have
probably derived nearly the whole of these notions from the Scandinavian
settlers in the North of England. They considered it quite possible too
to raise the Devil by the same means now practised by our "wise men;"
and after their conversion to Christianity they are known to have marked
their dough with a cross in order to ensure its rising--a practice which
many of our country matrons still retain. Sodden bread is always
considered to be bewitched, provided the yeast be good, and hence the
necessity for the protection of the cross.

We always get out of bed either on the right side, or with the right
foot first; we take care not to cross two knives on the table; mothers
never allow a child to be weighed soon after its birth; our children
still blow their ages at marriage from the tops of the dandelion; and
all these for similar reasons, and with similar objects, to those of the
peasantry of Northumbria during the period of Danish rule. They supposed
that the dead followed their usual occupations in the spirit-world, and
hence, probably, the weapons of war and the implements of domestic life
which we find amongst the ashes of their dead. They were also of opinion
that buried treasure caused the ghosts of the owners to haunt the places
of concealment; and many of our country population retain the same
opinions without the slightest modification.

The Folk-lore of dreams is an extensive subject, and would require a
series of essays for its full elucidation. The _Royal Dream Book_, and
_Napoleon's Book of Fate_, command an extensive sale amongst our
operatives, and may be consulted for additional information. Our country
maidens are well aware that _triple_ leaves plucked at hazard from the
common ash, are worn in the breast for the purpose of causing prophetic
dreams respecting a dilatory lover. The leaves of the yellow trefoil are
supposed to possess similar virtues; and the Bible is not unfrequently
put under their pillows with a crooked sixpence placed on the 16th and
17th verses of the first chapter of Ruth, in order that they may both
dream of, and see, their future husbands. "Opening the Bible for
direction" is still practised after any troublesome dream, or when about
to undertake any doubtful matter. To dream of the teeth falling out
betokens death, or the loss of a lawsuit. Other signs of death are
dreaming of seeing the Devil; or hearing a sound like the stroke of a
wand on any piece of furniture. The proverb that "lawyers and asses
always die in their shoes," is invariably quoted when any sudden
calamity befalls one of the profession.

Like the ancients, the folk of Lancashire have various superstitious
observances and practices connected with the moon, especially with the
new moon. Christmas thorns are said to blossom only on _Old_ Christmas
Day; and persons will go considerable distances at midnight in order to
witness the blossoming. Oxen, too, are supposed to acknowledge the
importance of the Nativity of Christ, by going down on their knees at
the same hour; and this is often quoted as a proof that our legislators
were wrong in depriving our forefathers of their "eleven days" when the
new style was enforced by Act of Parliament.[7]

Some of our farmers are superstitious enough to hang in the chimney a
portion of the flesh of any animal which has died of distemper, as a
protection from similar afflictions; they also preserve with great care
the membrane which sometimes envelopes a newly born foal, in the hope
that it will ensure them good luck for the future. Sailors do not like
to set sail on a Friday. Servant girls will rarely enter upon a new
service either on a Friday, or on a Saturday: should they do so, they
have an opinion that they will disagree with their mistresses and "not
stay long in place." Most females entertain strong objections against
giving evidence, or taking oaths, before the magistrates, when
_enceinte_. At Burnley, not long ago, a witness in a case of felony was
threatened with imprisonment before she would comply with the necessary
forms. All children that are born in the twilight of certain days are in
consequence supposed to be endowed with the faculty of seeing spirits;
and some of our "wise men" take advantage of this, and persuade their
dupes that they were so circumstanced at birth.

Such instances might be multiplied to an almost indefinite extent, did
space permit; but the preceding will suffice to prove both the probable
origin and prevalence of many of our popular superstitions. To a greater
or less extent their influence pervades all classes of society; and he
who would elevate the intellectual condition of the people must not
neglect this thick stratum of _common notions_ which underlies the
deepest deposits of mental culture. As a recent writer in the _Quarterly
Review_ reports of Cornwall, so we may state of Lancashire:--"Pages
might be filled, not with mere legends wrought up for literary purposes,
but with serious accounts of the wild delusions which seem to have lived
on from the very birth of Pagan antiquity, and still to hold their
influence among the earnest and Christian people of this portion of
England.... Superstition lives on, with little abatement of vitality, in
the human heart. In the lower classes it wears its old fashions, with
very slow alterations--in the higher, it changes with the rapidity of
modes in fashionable circles. We read with a smile of amusement and
pity, the account of some provincial conjuror, who follows, with slight
changes, the trade of the Witch of Endor; and we then compose our
features to a grave expression of interest--for so society requires--to
listen to some enlightened person's description of the latest novelties
in table-turning or spirit-rapping; or to some fair patient's account of
her last conversation with her last quack-doctor."

The labours of Croker, Keightley, Thorpe, and Kemble, following in the
wake of the Brothers Grimm, have added considerably to our knowledge of
the Folk-lore of the North of Europe; but much yet remains to be
collected before the subject can be examined in all its bearings.

It is hoped that in the following pages the facts collected will suffice
to prove that the superstitious beliefs, observances, and usages of
Lancashire are by no means unworthy of the attention of the antiquary,
the ethnologist, or the historian.


Alchemy (from _al_, Arab. the, and χημεία, chemistry), the pretended
art of transmuting the inferior metals into gold or silver, by means of
what was called the Philosopher's Stone, or the powder of projection, a
red powder possessing a peculiar smell, is supposed to have originated
among the Arabians; Geber, an Arabian physician of the seventh century,
being one of the earliest alchemists whose works are extant; but written
so obscurely as to have led to the suggestion that his name was the
origin of our modern term _gibberish_, for unintelligible jargon. A
subsequent object of alchemy was the discovery of a universal medicine,
the _Elixir Vitæ_, which was to give perpetual life, health, and youth.
The Egyptians are said to have practised alchemy; and Paulus Diaconus, a
writer of the eighth century, asserts that Dioclesian burned the library
of Alexandria, in order to prevent the Egyptians from becoming learned
in the art of producing at will those precious metals which might be
employed as "the sinews of war" against himself.[8] The earliest English
writer on alchemy was probably St. Dunstan, Archbishop of Canterbury, in
the tenth century. "He who shall have the happiness to meet with St.
Dunstan's work, 'De Occulta Philosophia' [that on the 'Philosopher's
stone' is in the Ashmole Museum], may therein read such stories as will
make him amazed to think what stupendous and immense things are to be
performed by virtue of the Philosopher's Mercury."[9] A John Garland is
also said to have written on alchemy and mineralogy prior to the
Conquest.[10] Alchemy was much studied in conventual establishments[11]
and by the most learned doctors and schoolmen, and the highest Church
dignitaries--nay, even by kings and popes. Albertus Magnus, a German,
born in 1282, wrote seven treatises on alchemy; and Thomas Aquinas "the
angelic doctor" (said to have been a pupil of Albert), wrote three works
on this subject. Roger Bacon ("Friar Bacon"), born at Ilchester in 1214,
though he wrote against the folly of believing in magic, necromancy, and
charms, nevertheless had faith in alchemy; and his chemical and
alchemical writings number eighteen. Of his _Myrrour of Alchemy_, Mr. J.
J. Conybeare observes, "Of all the alchemical works into which I have
been occasionally led to search, this appears the best calculated to
afford the curious reader an insight into the history of the art, and of
the arguments by which it was usually attacked and defended. It has the
additional merit of being more intelligible and more entertaining than
most books of the same class."[12]

Raymond Lully, born at Majorca in 1235, is said to have been a scholar
of Roger Bacon, and to have written nineteen works on alchemy. Arnoldus
de Villa Nova, born in 1235, amongst a number of works on this subject,
wrote _The Rosarium_, a compendium of the alchemy of his time. He died
in 1313, on his way to visit Pope Clement V. at Avignon. Another pope,
John XXII., professed and described the art of transmuting metals, and
boasts in the beginning of his book that he had made two hundred ingots
of gold, each weighing one hundred pounds. Among English alchemists of
the fourteenth century may be mentioned Cremer, abbot of Westminster
(the disciple and friend of Lully), John Daustein, and Richard, who both
practised and wrote upon the "hermetic philosophy," as it was termed. In
the fifteenth century was born George Ripley, a canon registrar of
Bridlington, who wrote the _Medulla Alchymiæ_ (translated by Dr. Salmon
in his _Clavis_), and another work in rhyme, called "The Compound of
Alchemie," which was dedicated to Edward IV. Dr. John Dee (born 1527),
the warden of Manchester College, and his assistant, or "seer," Edward
Kelly (born 1555), were both avowed alchemists. Dee wrote a _Treatise of
the Rosie Crucian Secrets, their excellent methods of making Medicines
and Metals_, &c. Ashmole says of him, that "some time he bestowed in
vulgar chemistry, and was therein master of divers secrets: amongst
others, he revealed to one Roger Cooke 'the great secret of the elixir'
(as he called it) 'of the salt of metals, the projection whereof was
one upon a hundred.'[13]

"'Tis generally reported that Dr. Dee and Sir Edward Kelly were so
strangely fortunate as to find a very large quantity of the elixir in
some parts of the ruins of Glastonbury Abbey." It had remained here,
perhaps, ever since the time of the highly gifted St. Dunstan, in the
tenth century.[14] The great Lord Bacon relates the following story in
his _Apothegms_:--

"Sir Edward Dyer, a grave and wise gentleman, did much believe in Kelly,
the alchemist, that he did indeed the work, and made gold; insomuch that
he went into Germany, where Kelly then was, to inform himself fully
thereof. After his return he dined with my Lord of Canterbury, where at
that time was at the table Dr. Brown, the physician. They fell in talk
of Kelly. Sir Edward Dyer, turning to the archbishop, said--'I do assure
your Grace that that I shall tell you is truth: I am an eye-witness
thereof; and if I had not seen it, I should not have believed it. I saw
Master Kelly put of the base metal into the crucible; and after it was
set a little upon the fire, and a very small quantity of the medicine
put in, and stirred with a stick of wood, it came forth, in great
proportion, perfect gold, to the touch, to the hammer, and to the test.'
My Lord Archbishop said, 'You had need take heed what you say, Sir
Edward Dyer, for here is an infidel at the board.' Sir Edward Dyer said
again pleasantly, 'I would have looked for an infidel sooner in any
place than at your Grace's table.' 'What say you, Dr. Brown?' said the
archbishop. Dr. Brown answered, after his blunt and huddling manner,
'The gentleman hath spoken enough for me.' 'Why,' saith the archbishop,
'what hath he said?' 'Marry,' saith Dr. Brown, 'he said he would not
have believed it except he had seen it; and no more will I.'"

Professor De Morgan observes that "Alchemy was more than a popular
credulity: Newton and Boyle were amongst the earnest inquirers into it."
Bishop Berkeley was of opinion that M. Homberg made gold by introducing
light into the pores of mercury. Amongst the works of the Hon. Robert
Boyle (vol. iv. 13-19), is _An Historical Account of a Degradation of
Gold, made by an anti-Elixir: a Strange Chemical Narrative_, in which he
says--"To make it more credible that other metals are capable of being
graduated or exalted into gold, by way of projection, I will relate to
you, that by the like way, gold has been degraded or imbased.... Our
experiment plainly shows that gold, though confessedly the most
homogeneous and the least mutable of metals, may be in a very short time
(perhaps not amounting to many minutes), exceedingly changed, both as to
malleableness, colour, homogeneity, and (which is more) specific
gravity; and all this by so very inconsiderable a portion of injected
powder," &c.

"When Locke, as one of the executors of Boyle, was about to publish some
of his works, Newton wished him to insert the second and third part of
Boyle's recipes (the first part of which was to obtain 'a mercury that
would grow hot with gold'), and which Boyle had communicated to him on
condition that they should be published after his death."[15] "Mangetus
relates a story of a stranger calling on Boyle, and leaving with him a
powder, which he projected into the crucible, and instantly went out.
After the fire had gone out, Boyle found in the crucible a
yellow-coloured metal, possessing all the properties of pure gold, and
only a little lighter than the weight of the materials originally put in
the crucible."[16]

From these proofs of the credulity of great men, let us turn to the
encouragements vouchsafed to alchemy and its adepts by the Kings and
Parliaments of England. Raymond Lully visited England on the invitation
of Edward I.; and he affirms in one of his works, that in the secret
chamber of St. Katherine, in the Tower of London, he performed in the
royal presence the experiment of transmuting some crystal into a mass of
diamond, or adamant, as he calls it; on which Edward, he says, caused
some little pillars to be made for the tabernacle of God. It was
popularly believed, indeed, at the time, that the English king had been
furnished by Lully with a great quantity of gold for defraying the
expense of an expedition which he intended to make to the Holy Land.
Edward III. was not less credulous on this subject than his grandfather,
as appears by an order which he issued in 1329, in the following
terms:--"Know all men that we have been assured that John of Rous, and
Master William of Dalby, know how to make silver by the art of alchemy;
that they have made it in former times, and still continue to make it;
and considering that these men, by their art, and by making the precious
metal, may be profitable to us and to our kingdom, we have commanded our
well-beloved Thomas Cary to apprehend the aforesaid John and William
wherever they can be found, within liberties or without, and bring them
to us, together with all the instruments of their art, under safe and
sure custody." The first considerable coinage of gold in England was
begun by Edward III. in 1343: and "The alchemists did affirm, as an
unwritten verity, that the rose nobles, which were coined soon after,
were made by projection or multiplication alchemical, by Raymond Lully,
in the Tower of London." But Lully died in 1315; and the story only
shows the strength of the popular faith in alchemy. That this pretended
science was much cultivated in the fourteenth century, and with the
usual evil results, may be inferred from an Act passed 5 Hen. IV. cap. 4
(1404), to make it felony "to multiply gold or silver, or to use the
craft of multiplication," &c. It is probable, however, that this statute
was enacted from some apprehension that the operations of the
multipliers might possibly affect the value of the king's coin. Henry
VI., a very pious, yet very weak and credulous prince, was as great a
patron of the alchemists as Edward III. had been before him. These
impostors practised with admirable success upon his weakness and
credulity, repeatedly inducing him to advance them money wherewith to
prosecute the operations, as well as procuring from him protections
(which he sometimes prevailed upon the Parliament to confirm) from the
penalties of the statute just mentioned.[17] In 1438, the king
commissioned three philosophers to make the precious metals; but, as
might be expected, he received no returns from them in gold or
silver.[18] His credulity, however, seems to have been unshaken by
disappointment, and we next find him issuing one of these protections,
which is too long to print entire, granted to the "three famous men,"
John Fauceby, John Kirkeby, and John Ragny, which was confirmed by
Parliament May 31, 1456. In this document the object of the researches
of these "philosophers" is described to be "a certain most precious
medicine, called by some philosophers 'the mother and empress of
medicines;' by some, 'the inestimable glory;' by others, 'the
quintessence;' by others, 'the philosopher's stone;' by others, 'the
elixir of life;' which cures all curable diseases with ease; prolongs
human life in perfect vigour of faculty to its utmost natural term;
heals all healable wounds; is a most sovereign antidote against all
poisons; and is capable of preserving to us and our kingdom other great
advantages, such as the transmutation of other metals into the most real
and finest gold and silver."[19] Fauceby, here mentioned, is elsewhere
designated the king's physician.[20] We have not traced the position of
the other two adepts named. Fauceby, however, notwithstanding his power
of gold-making, did not refuse to accept a grant from the king, in 1456,
of a pension of 100_l._ a year for life.[21]

We come now to the two most distinguished of Lancashire alchemists, both
knights, and at the head of the principal families of the county. They
seem to have been actively engaged together in the delusive pursuit of
the transmutation of metals; and, self-deceived, to have deluded the
weak king with promises of wealth which never could be realised. These
Lancashire adepts were Sir Edmund de Trafford, Knight, and Sir Thomas
Ashton [of Ashton], Knight. The former was the younger of two sons of
Henry de Trafford, Esq., and Elizabeth his wife, daughter of Sir Ralph
Radcliffe, Knight. The elder son, Henry, dying at the early age of
twenty-six years, this Edmund succeeded as his heir about King Henry V.
(1414), and he was knighted by Henry VI. at the Whitsuntide of 1426. He
married Dame Alice Venables, eldest daughter and co-heir to Sir William
Venables, of Bollyn, Knight. Their only son, Sir John Trafford, knighted
about 1444, in his father's life-time, married Elizabeth, daughter of
Sir Thomas Ashton, of Ashton-under-Lyne, Knight; whilst Sir Edmund's
youngest daughter, Dulcia, or Douce, married Sir John Ashton, a son of
Sir Thomas, in 1438; so that the two families were connected by this
double alliance. Sir Thomas Ashton, the alchemist, was the eldest son of
Sir John de Ashton (Knight of the Bath at the coronation of Henry IV. in
1399, Knight of the Shire in 1413, and Constable of Coutances in 1417),
and of his first wife, Jane, daughter of John Savile, of Tankersley,
county York. Sir Thomas married Elizabeth, daughter of Sir John Byron.
The date of his death is not known. Sir Edmund Trafford died in 1457.
Their supposed power of transmuting the baser metals into gold had great
attractions for a weak king, whose treasury was low, and who was
encumbered with debt. They were not mere adventurers, but men descended
from ancient families, opulent, and of high estimation in their native
county. Fuller found in the Tower of London, and copied,[22] a patent
granted to these two knights by Henry VI., in the twenty-fourth year of
his reign (1446), of which he gives the following translation:--"The
King to all unto whom, &c., greeting--Know ye, that whereas our beloved
and loyal Edmund de Trafford, Knight, and Thomas Ashton, Knight, have,
by a certain petition shown unto us, set forth that although they were
willing by the art or science of philosophy to work upon certain metals,
to translate [transmute] imperfect metals from their own kind, and then
to transubstantiate them by their said art or science, as they say, into
perfect gold or silver, unto all manner of proofs and trials, to be
expected and endured as any gold or silver growing in any mine;
notwithstanding certain persons ill-willing and maligning them,
conceiving them to work by unlawful art, and so may hinder and disturb
them in the trial of the said art and science: WE, considering the
premises, and willing to know the conclusion of the said work or
science, of our special grace have granted and given leave to the same
Edmund and Thomas, and to their servants, that they may work and try the
aforesaid art and science lawfully and freely, without any hindrance of
ours, or of our officers, whatsoever; any statute, act, ordinance, or
provision made, ordained, or provided to the contrary notwithstanding.
In witness whereof, &c., the King at Westminster, the 7th day of April"
[1446.][23] Fuller leaves this curious document, which might fitly have
been dated the _first_ instead of the 7th April, without a word of
comment. The two knightly alchemists, doubtlessly imposing on themselves
no less than on their royal patron, kept the king's expectation wound up
to the highest pitch; and in the following year he actually informed his
people that the happy hour was approaching when by means of "the stone"
he "should be able to pay off his debts!"[24] It is scarcely necessary
to add that the stone failed, and the king's debts must have remained
unpaid, if his majesty had not pawned the revenue of his Duchy of
Lancaster, to satisfy the demands of his clamorous creditors. Henry VI.
was deposed by Edward IV. in March, 1461, and though he was nominally
restored to the throne in October, 1470, he lost both crown and life in
May, 1471, being found dead (most probably murdered) in the Tower on the
evening or the morrow of the day on which Edward IV. entered London
after his victory at Barnet. Such are some of the most notable facts in
the practice of alchemy as connected with Lancashire. It will naturally
be asked if alchemy is still practised in this county? We can only say,
that if it be it is in very rare instances, and with the greatest
secrecy. The more chemistry is known--and the extent to which it has
been developed within the last twenty years is truly marvellous--the
more completely it takes the ground from under the feet of a believer in
alchemy. It is not like astrology, which accepts the facts of the true
science of astronomy, and only draws false conclusions from true
premisses. Alchemy could only have sprung up at a period when all the
operations of the chemist's laboratory were of the most rude, imperfect,
and blundering character; when the true bases of earths and minerals and
metals were unknown; when what was called chemistry was without
analysis, either quantitative or qualitative; before the law of definite
proportions had been discovered; when, in short, chemistry was a groping
in the dark without the help of any accurate weight or measure, or
other knowledge of the countless substances which are now so extensively
investigated, and so accurately described in the briefest formulas. A
man, to become an alchemist in the nineteenth century, must study only
the hermetical writings of past ages, shutting both eyes and ears to all
the facts of modern chemistry. It is scarcely possible at this day to
find such a combination of exploded learning and scientific ignorance.
Hence we conclude that alchemy is in all probability, from the very
nature of things, an obsolete and forgotten lore.


Astrology (literally the Science of the Stars), is now understood to
signify the mode of discovering future events by means of the position
of the heavenly bodies, which has been termed judicial astronomy. This
quasi science found universal belief among all the nations of antiquity
except the Greeks. Among the Romans it was eagerly cultivated from the
time of the conquest of Egypt. In the second century the whole world was
astrological. All the followers of Mohammed have ever been, and still
are, believers in it. The Church of Rome has repeatedly condemned the
art, but popes and cardinals rank amongst its votaries. Cardinal d'Ailly
(about 1400), calculated the horoscope of Jesus Christ; and in the
fifteenth century Pope Calixtus III. directed prayers and anathemas
against a comet which had either assisted in or predicted the success of
the Turks against the Christians. The establishment of the Copernican
system was the death of astrology. The last of the astrologers was
Morin, best known as the opponent of Gassendi. The latter in youth had
studied and believed in the art, but afterwards renounced and written
against it. Morin, who worked thirty years at a book on astrology, and
who disbelieved in the motion of the earth, repeatedly predicted the
death of Gassendi, but was always wrong, as he was in foretelling the
death of Louis XIII. Since his death, in 1656, the pseudo-science has
gradually sunk, and has not since, it is believed, been adopted by any
real astronomer. Roger Bacon and other early English philosophers were
believers in astrology, no less than in alchemy. In Lancashire the most
remarkable practisers of the art were Dr. John Dee, warden of Manchester
College, his friend and "seer," Sir Edward Kelly, and John Booker, of
Manchester. Dee was the son of a wealthy vintner, and was born in London
in 1527. At the age of fifteen he was entered at St. John's College,
Cambridge, where he seems to have devoted himself to the study of
mathematics, astronomy, and chemistry; displaying great assiduity and
industry. At twenty he made a year's tour on the Continent, chiefly in
Holland, and on his return was made one of the fellows of Trinity
College on its foundation by Henry VIII., in 1543. In 1548 he was
strongly suspected of being addicted to "the black art," probably from
his astrological pursuits; and having taken his degree of A.M., he again
went abroad to the university of Louvaine and to Rheims, and elsewhere
in France; returning to England in 1551, when he was presented by Cecil
to King Edward VI., who assigned him a pension of one hundred crowns,
which he subsequently relinquished for the rectory of Upton-on-Severn.
Shortly after the accession of Mary, he was accused of "practising
against the queen's life by _enchantment_;" the charge being founded on
some correspondence between him and "the servants of the Lady
Elizabeth." He was long imprisoned and frequently examined, but as
nothing could be established against him he was set at liberty by an
order of the church in 1555. On the accession of Elizabeth, Dee was
consulted by Lord Robert Dudley respecting "a propitious day" for the
coronation. He says, "I wrote at large and delivered it for her
Majesty's use, by the commandment of the Lord Robert (afterwards Earl of
Leicester), what in my judgment the ancient astrologers would determine
on the election day of such a time as was appointed for her Majesty to
be crowned in." He was presented to the queen, who made him great
promises (not always fulfilled); amongst others, that where her brother
Edward "had given him a crown, she would give him a noble" [one-third
more--viz., from 5_s._ to 6_s._ 8_d._]. Nothing can better mark the
belief in astrology than the fact that Queen Elizabeth's nativity was
cast, in order to ascertain whether she could marry with advantage to
the nation. Lilly, some eighty years later, declares[25] that he
received twenty pieces of gold, in order that he might ascertain where
Charles I. might be most safe from his enemies, and what hour would be
most favourable for his escape from Carisbrooke Castle.

In 1564 Dee again visited the Continent, and was presented to the
Emperor Maximilian, probably on some secret mission; for Lilly says, "he
was the Queen's intelligencer, and had a salary for his maintenance from
the Secretaries of State. He was a ready-witted man, quick of
apprehension, and of great judgment in the Latin and Greek tongues. He
was a very great investigator of the more secret hermetical learning
(alchemy), a perfect astronomer, a curious astrologer, a serious
geometrician; to speak truth, he was excellent in all kinds of
learning."[26] Dee was repeatedly and urgently sent for one morning "to
prevent the mischief which divers of her Majesty's privy council
suspected to be intended against her Majesty, by means of a certain
image of wax, with a great pin stuck into it, about the breast of it,
found in Lincoln's Inn Fields." For some years Dee led a life of privacy
and study at Mortlake in Surrey, collecting books and MSS., beryls and
magic crystals, talismans, &c. So strong was the popular belief in his
neighbourhood that he had dealings with the devil, that in 1576 a mob
assembled, broke into his house, and destroyed nearly all his library
and collections; and it was with difficulty that he and his family
escaped the fury of the rabble. In October, 1578, by the Queen's
command, he had a conference with Dr. Bayley, her Majesty's physician,
"about her Majesty's grievous pains, by reason of toothache and the
rheum," &c.; and the same year he was sent on a winter journey of about
1500 miles by sea and land, "to consult with the learned physicians and
philosophers [_i.e._, astrologers], for her Majesty's health-recovering
and preserving." Passing over his more useful and valuable services to
the State and to the world, as we are only noting here his doings as an
astrologer, &c., we may remark that most of his proceedings and writings
in this pseudo-science or art were accomplished after he had passed his
fiftieth year. It was in 1581 that he took into his service, as an
assistant in his alchemical and astrological labours, an apothecary of
Worcester named Edward Kelly, born in 1555, and who was called "The
Seer," because, looking into magic crystals or speculæ, it was said he
saw many things which it was not permitted to Dee himself to behold.
Kelly also acted as Dee's amanuensis, and together they held
"conversations with spirits." They had a black speculum, it is said "a
polished piece of cannel coal," in which the angels Gabriel and Raphael
appeared at their invocation. Hence Butler says--

    "Kelly did all his feats upon
    The devil's looking-glass--a stone."

In 1583 a Polish noble, Albert Lasque, palatine of Siradia [? Sieradz]
being in England, Dee and Kelly were introduced to him, and accompanied
him to Poland. He persuaded them to pay a visit to Rodolph, king of
Bohemia, who, though a weak and credulous man, is said to have become
disgusted with their pretensions. They had no better success with the
king of Poland, but were soon after invited by a rich Bohemian noble to
his castle of Trebona, where they continued for some time in great
affluence, owing, as they asserted, to their transmuting the baser
metals into gold. Kelly is said to have been sordid and grasping,
without honour or principle. Lilly asserts that the reason of many
failures in the conferences with spirits was because Kelly was very
vicious, "unto whom the angels were not obedient, or willingly did
declare [answers to] the questions propounded." Dee and Kelly quarrelled
and separated in Bohemia; Dee returning to England, while Kelly remained
at Prague. He died in 1595. In 1595 the Queen appointed Dee warden of
Manchester College, he being then sixty-eight years of age. He resided
at Manchester nine years, quitting it in 1604 for his old abode at
Mortlake, where he died in 1608, aged eighty-one, in great poverty, and
leaving a numerous family and a great many printed works and forty
unpublished writings behind him. The catalogue of Dee's library at
Mortlake shows that it was rich in the works of preceding astrologers
and alchemists, especially those of Roger Bacon, Raymond Lully, Albertus
Magnus, Arnold de Villa Nova, &c.

John Booker, a celebrated astrologer of the seventeenth century, was the
son of John Bowker (commonly pronounced Booker), of Manchester, and was
born 23rd March, 1601. He was educated at the Manchester Grammar School,
where he acquired some acquaintance with Latin. From childhood he showed
an inclination for astrology, and amused himself with studying almanacks
and other books on that subject. After serving some time to a
haberdasher in London, he practised as a writing-master at Hadley,
Middlesex; and was subsequently clerk for some time to the aldermen at
Guildhall. Becoming famous by his studies, he was appointed Licenser of
Mathematical Publications, which then included all those relating to the
"celestial sciences." Lilly tells us that he once thought him the
greatest astrologer in the world; but he afterwards came to think
himself a much greater man. George Wharton, who had been one of his
astrological acquaintances, quarrelled with him, and in consequence
published at Oxford in 1644, in answer to one of Booker's pamphlets,
what he called "Mercurio-Cœlica-Mastyx; or an Anti-caveat to all such
as have heretofore had the misfortune to be cheated and deluded by the
great and treacherous impostor, John Booker; in an answer to his
frivolous pamphlet, entitled 'Mercurius-Cœlicus, or a Caveat to all
the People of England.'" Booker died of dysentery in April, 1667, and
was buried in St. James's Church, Duke's Place, London, where the
following monument was erected to him by Ashmole, who was one of his
greatest admirers:--"Ne oblivione conteretur Urna Johannis Bookeri,
Astrologi, qui Fatis cessit 6 idus Aprilis, A.D. 1667. Hoc illi posuit
amoris Monumentum, Elias Ashmole, Armiger." Lilly, in his _Life and
Times_, gives the following character of Booker:--

"He was a great proficient in astrology, whose excellent verses upon
the twelve months, framed according to the configurations of each month,
being blest with success according to his predictions, procured him much
reputation all over England. He was a very honest man; abhorred any
deceit in the art he studied; had a curious fancy in judging of thefts;
and was successful in resolving love questions. He was no mean
proficient in astronomy; understood much of physic; was a great admirer
of the antimonial cup; not unlearned in chemistry, which he loved, but
did not practise; and since his decease I have seen a nativity of his
performance, exactly directed, and judged with as much learning as from
astrology can be expected. His library of books came short of the
world's approbation, and were sold by his widow to Elias Ashmole, Esq.,
who most generously gave far more than they were worth."

Lilly and Booker were frequently consulted during the differences
between the king and the parliamentary army, and were once invited by
General Fairfax, and sent in a coach-and-four to head quarters at
Windsor, to give their opinions on [_i.e._, their predictions as to] the
prosecution of the war. Booker became famous for a prediction on the
solar eclipse of 1613, in which year both the king of Bohemia and
Gustavus, king of Sweden, died. Booker's works (chiefly tracts or
pamphlets) were about fifteen or sixteen in number. The only work now
worth notice is his _Bloody Irish Almanack_ (London, 1646, quarto),
which contains some memorable particulars relative to the war in

Another Lancashire astrologer was Charles Leadbetter, who was born at
Cronton, near Prescot, and was the author of a _Treatise on Eclipses of
the Sun and Moon, commencing A.D. 1715, and ending A.D. 1749_; in which
he gives the horoscope of every eclipse of importance; and, from the
aspects of the stars, predicts the principal occurrences that may be
expected within limited periods. He failed, however, to predict the
Rebellion of 1715, or that of 1745; and though under the years 1720 and
1721 he predicated "Sea Fights and Death of Fish," no hint of the "South
Sea Bubble," the great event of those years, can be found amongst his
prophecies. He entertained no doubt of an "eclipse of the moon, moving
subjects to seduction [? sedition], servants to disobedience, and wives
to a disorder against their husbands." Yet Leadbetter's Works on
Astronomy, &c., were held in able repute, and he taught the "Arts and
Sciences Mathematical" with much success, "at the Hand and Pen, Cock
Lane, near Shore Ditch, London."

If we close here our notices of Lancashire Astrologers, it is not
because we suppose the class to be wholly extinct. But those to whom we
have so far referred, were well acquainted with astronomy, and erred
only in superadding the delusions of astrology to the truths of that
real science. The class still remaining in Lancashire, chiefly in
country districts, are (with very few exceptions) greatly inferior in
knowledge, and, mixing up the arts of the so-called sorcerer or conjuror
with the deductions of the so-called "astral science" (of which they are
blundering smatterers, often ignorant of the very elements of
astronomy), they do not merit the name of astrologers, but should be
classed with the numerous "wise men," "cunning women," and other
varieties of fortune-tellers, who have not even the negative merit of
being self-deluded by the phenomena of a supposed science; but are in
their way mere charlatans and cheats, knowingly cozening their credulous
dupes of as much money as they can extort. Some notices of this class
will be found in later pages.


It is not with Bells generally, but only with Church Bells, and not with
all their uses, but only such of them as are superstitious, that we are
called upon to deal here. The large church bells are said to have been
invented by Paulinus, Bishop of Nola, in Campania (whence the low Latin
name of Campana), about A.D. 400. Two hundred years afterwards they
appear to have been in great use in churches. Pope John XIII., in A.D.
968, consecrated a very large newly-cast bell in the Lateran Church at
Rome, giving it the name of John. This is the first instance known of
what has since been called "the baptising of bells," a Roman Catholic
superstition of which vestiges remain in England in the names of great
bells, as "Tom of Lincoln," "Great Tom of Oxford," &c. The priests
anciently rung them themselves. Amongst their superstitious uses, were
to drive away lightning and thunder; to chase evil spirits from persons
and places; to expedite childbirth, when women were in labour; and the
original use of the soul-bell or passing-bell was to drive away any
demon that might seek to take possession of the soul of the deceased.
Grose says that the passing-bell was anciently rung for two purposes:
one, to bespeak the prayers of all good Christians for a soul just
departing; the other, to drive away the evil spirits who stood at the
bed's foot and about the house, ready to seize their prey, or at least
to molest and terrify the soul in its passage. By the ringing of the
bell they were kept aloof, and the soul, like a hunted hare, gained the
start, or had what sportsmen call "law." Hence the high charge for
tolling the great bell of the church, which, being louder, the evil
spirits must go further off to be clear of its sound, by which the poor
soul got so much the more start of them; besides, being heard further
off, it would likewise procure the dying man a greater number of
prayers. Till about 1830, it was customary at Roman Catholic funerals in
many parts of Lancashire, to ring a merry peal on the bells, as soon as
the interment was over. Doubtless the greater the clang of the bells,
the further the flight of the fiends waiting to seize the soul of the
departed. There are some monkish rhymes in Latin on the uses of church
bells, some of which are retained in the following doggerel:--

    Men's deaths I tell               By doleful knell;
    Lightning and thunder             I break asunder;
    On Sabbath all                    To church I call;
    The sleepy head                   I raise from bed;
    The winds so fierce               I do disperse;
    Men's cruel rage                  I do assuage.

The following verses (the spelling modernized) further illustrate the

    "If that the thunder chance to roar, and stormy tempest shake,
    A wonder is it for to see the wretches how they quake;
    How that no faith at all they have, nor trust in any thing,
    The clerk doth all the bells forthwith at once in steeple ring;
    With wondrous sound and deeper far than he was wont before,
    Till in the lofty heavens dark the thunders bray no more.
    For in these christen'd bells they think doth lie much pow'r and might
    As able is the tempest great and storm to vanquish quite.

    I saw myself at Nurnberg once, a town in Toring coast,
    A bell that with this title bold herself did proudly boast:
    By name I 'Mary' called am, with sound I put to flight
    The thunder-cracks and hurtful storms, and every wicked sprite.
    Such things when as these bells can do, no wonder certainly
    It is, if that the papists to their tolling always fly,
    When hail, or any raging storm, or tempest comes in sight,
    Or thunderbolts, or lightning fierce, that every place doth smite."

Wynkin de Worde[29] tells us that bells are rung during thunder-storms,
to the end that the fiends and wicked spirits should be abashed, and
flee, and cease the moving of the tempest.[30] Bells appear to have had
an inherent power against evil spirits, but this power was held to be
greatly increased by the bells being christened. There is a custom in
some Lancashire parishes, in ringing the passing-bell, to conclude its
tolling with nine knells or strokes of the clapper, for a man, six for a
woman, and three for a child; the vestiges of an ancient Roman Catholic
injunction.[31] In an Old English Homily for Trinity Sunday,[32] it is
stated that "the form of the Trinity was found in man; that was, Adam
our forefather, on earth, one person, and Eve of Adam, the second
person; and of them both was the third person. At the death of a man
three bells should be rung, as his knell, in worship of the Trinity, and
for a woman, who was the second person of the Trinity, two bells should
be rung." Two couplets on the passing-bell may be inserted here:--

    "When the bell begins to toll,
    Lord have mercy on the soul!

    When thou dost hear a toll or knell
    Then think upon _thy_ passing-bell."[33]

The great bell which used to be rung on Shrove-Tuesday to call the
people together for the purpose of confessing their sins, or to be
"shriven," was called the "Pancake Bell," and some have regarded it
simply as a signal for the people to begin frying their pancakes. This
custom prevails still in some parts of Lancashire, and in many country
places throughout the North of England. Another bell, rung in some
places as the congregation quits the church on Sunday, is popularly
known among country people as the "pudding-bell," they supposing that
its use is to warn those at home to get the dinner ready, as, in homely
phrase, "pudding-time has come." A Lancashire clergyman[34] states that
this bell is still rung in some of the old Lancashire parish churches;
but he does not suggest any more probable reason for tolling this bell.
The Curfew Bell [_couvre feu_, cover-fire] is commonly believed to be of
Norman origin; a law having been made by William the Conqueror that all
people should put out their fires and lights at the eight o'clock
(evening) bell, and go to bed. In one place the sexton of a parish was
required to lie in the church steeple, and at eight o'clock every night
to ring the curfew for a quarter of an hour. The curfew-bell is still
rung at Burnley, Colne, Blackburn, Padiham, and indeed in most of the
older towns and many of the villages of Lancashire. It has nearly lost
its ancient name, and is a remarkable instance of the persistence of an
old custom or usage, long after all its significance or value has
ceased. It is now merely called "the eight o'clock bell." A morning
bell, rung anciently at four, now more commonly at six o'clock, is also
to be heard in Burnley and other places, and is called "the six o'clock
bell." Of what maybe called "the vocal ghosts of bells" many stories
might be told. Opposite the Cross-slack, on the sands near Blackpool,
out at sea, once stood the church and cemetery of Kilgrimol, long since
submerged. Many tales are told of benighted wanderers near this spot
being terrified with the sound of bells pealing dismal chimes o'er the
murmuring sea.[35]


Among the dim traces of an extinct worship of Bel, or Baal, the ancient
sun-god, perceptible still among Celtic peoples, especially in Ireland
and Scotland, are the three festival periods when fires are kindled on
eminences in honour of the sun. The _Bel_, or _Belus_, the chief deity
of the Babylonians and the Assyrians, seems to have been identical with
the _Baal_ of the Phœnicians and Carthaginians. The Chaldee _Bel_ and
the Hebrew _Baal_ alike mean "Lord;" and under these names worship was
paid by the old Asiatics to the sun, whose light and heat-giving
properties were typified by fires kindled on the tops of high hills. In
parts of Lancashire, especially in the Fylde, these traces of a heathen
cult still linger. "From the great heaps of stones on eminences, called
Cairns, from the Toot-hills (_i.e._, the hills dedicated to the worship
of the Celtic god, Tot, or Teut, or Teutates, the same with the Egyptian
Thoth), and the Belenian eminences, whereon was worshipped Bel, or
Belus, or Belenus, the sun-god; from these three kinds of heights the
grand sacred fires of the _Bel-Tine_ flamed thrice a year, at three of
the great festivals of the Druids, in honour of Beal, or the Sun--viz.,
on the eve of May-day, on Midsummer Eve, and on the eve of the 1st
November. Two such fires were kindled by one another on May-day Eve in
every village of the nation, as well throughout all Gaul as in Britain,
Ireland, and the outlying lesser islands, between which fires the men
and the beasts to be sacrificed were to pass; from whence came the
proverb, 'Between Bel's two fires,' meaning one in a great strait, not
knowing how to extricate himself. One of the fires was on the cairn, and
the other on the ground. On the eve of the 1st of November all the
people, out of a religious persuasion instilled into them by the Druids,
extinguished their fires. Then every master of a family was religiously
obliged to take home a portion of the consecrated fire, and to kindle
the fire anew in his house, which for the ensuing year was to be lucky
and prosperous. Any man who had not paid all his last year's dues to the
Druids was neither to have a spark of this holy fire from the cairns,
nor dared any of his neighbours let him take the benefit of theirs,
under pain of excommunication; which, as managed by the Druids, was
worse than death. If, therefore, he would live the winter out, he must
pay the Druids' dues by the last day of October. The Midsummer fires and
sacrifices were to obtain a blessing on the fruits of the earth, now
becoming ready for gathering; as those on the 1st of May, that they
might prosperously grow; and those on the last of October were a
thanksgiving for finishing their harvest. But in all of them regard was
had to the several degrees of increase and decrease in the heat of the
sun. At the cairn fires it was customary for the lord of the place, or
his son, or some other person of distinction, to take the entrails of
the sacrificed animal into his hands, and walking bare-foot over the
coals thrice, after the flames had ceased, to carry them to the Druid,
who waited in a whole skin at the altar. If the fire-treader escaped
harmless, it was reckoned a good omen, and welcomed with loud
acclamations; but if he received any hurt, it was deemed unlucky both to
the community and to himself."[36] In Ireland, May-day is called _la na
Beal tina_, and its eve, _neen na Beal tina_--_i.e._, the day and eve of
Beal's fire, from its having been in heathen times consecrated to the
god Beal, or Belus. The ceremony practised on May-day Eve, of making the
cows leap over lighted straw or faggots, has been generally traced to
the worship of this deity.[37]

The Irish have ever been worshippers of fire and of Baal, and are so to
this day. The chief festival in honour of the sun and fire is upon the
21st [24th] June, when the sun arrives at the summer solstice, or rather
begins its retrograde motion. "At the house where I was entertained, in
the summer of 1782, it was told me that we should see at midnight the
most singular sight in Ireland, which was _the lighting of fires in
honour of the sun_. Accordingly, exactly at midnight, the fires began to
appear; and, going up to the leads of the house, which had a
widely-extended view, I saw, on a radius of thirty miles all around, the
fires burning on every eminence. I learned from undoubted authority that
the people danced round the fires, and at the close went through these
fires, and made their sons and daughters, together with their cattle,
pass the fire; and the whole was conducted with religious
solemnity."[38] Bonfires are still made on Midsummer Eve in the northern
parts of England and in Wales. The 1st of November was considered among
the ancient Welsh as the conclusion of summer, and was celebrated with
bonfires, accompanied with ceremonies suitable to these events, and some
parts of Wales still retain these customs. Dr. Jamieson, in his
_Dictionary of the Scottish Language_, mentions a festival called
_Beltane_ or _Beltein_, annually held in Scotland on Old May Day (May
13th). A town in Perthshire is called _Tillee Beltein_--_i.e._, the
eminence or high place of the fire of Baal. Near it are two Druidical
Temples of upright stones, with a well adjacent to one of them, still
held in great veneration for its sanctity. The doctor describes the
drawing of bits of a cake, one part of which is made perfectly black
with charcoal, and he who draws the black bit is considered as "devoted
to Baal, and is obliged to leap three times through the flame." Pennant,
in his _Tour in Scotland_, gives a like account, with other ceremonies.
The custom existed in the Isle of Man on the eve of the 1st of May, of
lighting _two_ fires on a hill-top, in honour of the pagan god Baal, and
of driving cattle between those fires, as an antidote against murrain or
any pestilent distemper for the year following. It was also customary to
light these fires on St. John's Eve (June 23rd), and up to the present
time a stranger is surprised to see on this day, as evening approaches,
fires springing up in all directions around him, accompanied with the
blowing of horns and other rejoicings.[39] Macpherson notices the
_Beltein_ ceremonies in Ireland, and adds, "Beltein is also observed in
Lancashire." On Horwich Moor are two heaps of stones, or cairns, which
are called by the country people "The Wilder Lads." It is believed that
on May Day Eve the Druids made prodigious fires on cairns, situated as
these are, on lofty eminences, which being every one in sight of some
other like fire, symbolized a universal celebration. These fires were in
honour of _Beal_, or _Bealan_, latinized into _Belenus_, by which name
the Gauls and their colonies denoted the sun; and to this time the
first day of May is by the Irish called _La Bealtine_, or the Day of
Belen's Fire. It bears a like name among the Highlanders of Scotland,
and in the Isle of Man.[40]

The last evening in October was called the "Teanlay Night," or "The Fast
of All Souls." At the close of that day, till of late years, the hills
which encircle the Fylde shone brightly with many a bonfire; the mosses
of Marton, &c., rivalling them with their fires, kindled for the avowed
object of succouring their friends, whose souls were supposed to be
detained in purgatory. A field near Poulton in which the mummery of the
"Teanlay" was once celebrated (a circle of men standing with bundles of
straw, raised on high with forks), is named "Purgatory" by the old
inhabitants. Formerly this custom was not confined to one village or
town of the Fylde district, but was generally practised as a sacred


What is a Boggart? A sort of ghost or sprite. But what is the meaning of
the word Boggart? Brand says that "in the northern parts of England,
ghost is pronounced _gheist_ and _guest_. Hence _bar-guest_, or
_bar-gheist_. Many streets are haunted by a guest, who assumes many
strange appearances, as a mastiff-dog, &c. It is a corruption of the
Anglo-Saxon _gast_, spiritus, anima." Brand might have added that _bar_
is a term for gate in the north, and that all the gates of York are
named "bars," so that a _bar-gheist_ is literally a gate-ghost; and many
are the tales of strange appearances suddenly seen perched on the top of
a gate or fence, whence they sometimes leaped upon the shoulders of the
scared passenger. Drake, in his _Eboracum_, says (Appendix, p. 7), "I
have been so frightened with stories of the _barguest_ when I was a
child, that I cannot help throwing away an etymology upon it. I suppose
it comes from Anglo-Saxon _burh_, a town, and _gast_, a ghost, and so
signifies a town sprite. N.B.--_Guest_ is in the Belgic and Teutonic
softened into _gheist_ and _geyst_." The "Boggart Hole" therefore means
the hollow haunted by the bar-gheist or gate-ghost.


"Not far from the little snug, smoky village of Blakeley or Blackley,
there lies one of the most romantic of dells, rejoicing in a state of
singular seclusion, and in the oddest of Lancashire names, to wit, the
'Boggart Hole.' [In the present generation, by pleonasm, the place is
named 'Boggart Hole Clough.'] Rich in every requisite for picturesque
beauty and poetical association, it is impossible for me (who am neither
a painter nor a poet) to describe this dell as it should be described;
and I will, therefore, only beg of thee, gentle reader, who,
peradventure, mayst not have lingered in this classical neighbourhood,
to fancy a deep, deep, dell, its steep sides fringed down with hazel,
and beech, and fern, and thick undergrowth, and clothed at the bottom
with the richest and greenest sward in the world. You descend, clinging
to the trees, and scrambling as best you may, and now you stand on
haunted ground! Tread softly, for this is the Boggart's Clough, and see,
in yonder dark corner, and beneath the projecting mossy stone, where
that dusky sullen cave yawns before us, like a bit of Salvator's best,
there lurks that strange elf, the sly and mischievous Boggart. Bounce! I
see him coming; oh no, it was only a hare bounding from her form; there
it goes--there!"--Such is the introduction to a tale of a boggart, told
by Crofton Croker, in Roby's _Traditions of Lancashire_; but which, if
memory serve us faithfully, is but a localized version of a story told
of an Irish sprite, and also of a Scotch brownie; for in all three tales
when the farmer and his family are "flitting" in order to get away from
the nocturnal disturbance, the sprite pops up his head from the cart,
exclaiming, "Ay, neighbour, we're flitting!" Tradition, which has
preserved the name of the clough selected by the Lancashire boggart for
his domicile, has failed to record any particular pranks of this
individual elf, and we can only notice this charming little clough, as
conveying by its popular name the only remaining vestige of its lost
traditions. Perhaps the best story of this clough is that graphically
told by Bamford[42] of three friends seeking by a charm (consisting in
gathering three grains of St. John's fern seed there), to win for one of
them the love of a damsel who was indifferent to him.


There is scarcely an old house, or hall, of any antiquity in Lancashire,
that cannot boast of that proud distinction over the houses of
yesterday, a ghost or boggart. _Radcliffe Tower_ was haunted by a black
dog; perhaps in commemoration of the Fair Ellen of Radcliffe, who, by
order of her stepmother, was murdered by the master cook, and cut up
small, and of her flesh a venison pasty made for her father's dinner!

_Smithells Hall_, near Bolton, was formerly haunted by the ghost of the
martyr George Marsh, whose stamped footstep indenting a flagstone, is
still shown there.

_Ince Hall_ stands about a mile from Wigan, on the left-hand of the high
road to Bolton. It is a very conspicuous object, its ancient and
well-preserved front--one of those black and white half-timbered façades
now almost confined to the two counties palatine of Lancashire and
Cheshire--generally attracting the notice and inquiry of travellers.
About a mile to the south-east stands another place of the same name,
once belonging to the Gerards of Bryn. The manor is now the property of
Charles Walmsley, Esq., of Westwood, near Wigan. The two mansions _Ince
Hall_ and _Ince Manor House_, are sometimes confounded together in
topographical inquiries; and it is not now certain to which of them
properly belongs a tradition about a forged will and a ghost, on which
Mr. Roby has founded a very graphic story, in his _Traditions of
Lancashire_. There are the Boggart of _Clegg Hall_, near Rochdale; the
_Clayton Hall_ Boggart, Droylsden; the _Clock House_ Boggart, in the
same neighbourhood; the _Thackergate_ Boggart, near Alderdale; and many
others: indeed they are too numerous for us to attempt a full
enumeration. Mr. Higson observes[43] that few sombre or out-of-the-way
places, retired nooks and corners, or sequestered by-paths, escaped the
reputation of being haunted. Many domiciles had their presiding boggart,
and _feeorin'_ [fairies] swarmed at every turn of the dark old lanes,
and arch-boggarts held revel at every "three-road-end." After dusk, each
rustle of the leaves, or sigh of the night wind through the branches, to
the timid wayfarer heralded the instant and unceremonious appearance of
old wizards and witches, "Nut Nans," and "Clapcans," or the terrific
exploits of headless trunks, alias "men beawt yeds," or other
traditionary "sperrits," hobgoblins, and sprites, or the startling
semblances of black dogs, phantoms, and other indescribable apparitions.
Aqueous nymphs or _nixies_, yclept "Grindylow," and "Jenny Green Teeth,"
lurked at the bottom of pits, and with their long, sinewy arms dragged
in and drowned children who ventured too near. On autumnal evenings, the
flickering flame (carburetted hydrogen, spontaneously ignited) of the
"Corpse Candle," "Will-o'-th'-Wisp," or "Jack" or "Peg-a-Lantern" (for
the sex was not clearly ascertained), performed his or her fantastic and
impossible jumps in the plashy meadows near Edge Lane, to the terror of
many a simple-minded rustic. Fairies, also, were believed to commit many
depredations; such as eating the children's porridge, nocturnally riding
out the horses, loosing the cows in the shippon, or churning the milk
whilst "calving," by the fireside, and stealing the butter; and hence,
behind many a door, as yet observable in Clayton, both of dwelling and
shippon, was carefully nailed a worn horse-shoe, believed to be a potent
counter-charm or talisman against their freaks and fancies. There were
certain localities in the township of Droylsden notorious as the
rendezvous or favourite promenades of boggarts and feeorin', which after
nightfall few persons could muster pluck sufficient to linger in, or
even pass by, for--

    "Grey superstition's whisper dread,
    Debarr'd the spot to vulgar tread."

Manifestly pre-eminent was "th' owd Green Lone," which "Jem Hill, th'
king o' Dreighlesdin," used to assert "swaarmt wi' fairees, witches, un'
boggerts, un' which nob'dy could mester bur hissel'." The boggart
located at Thackergate, near Alderdale, has well-nigh scared many a
sober person out of his senses. Herds of four-footed boggarts used to
issue from a pit at East End, in form resembling "great big dhogs, wi'
great glarin' een, as big as tay-cups." The boggart at the
croft-tenter's lodge (South) Clock-house, as fancy dictated, stalked
through the chamber and stripped the bedclothes off the sleepers; or,
assuming gigantic proportions and snow-white vestments, perched in the
solemn yew-tree, a startling object by contrast. At last, being
exorcised by an array of divines, it was _laid_ for a time, beneath its
favourite tree. A field-path from Fairfield to Ashton Hill-lane was
nightly traversed by a being of another world, mostly representing a
shadowy lady, draped according to whim, either in a loose white robe, or
in rustling black silk. For a certain distance she glided in advance of
the pedestrian, and then, by suddenly vanishing, most likely left his
hair standing on end. At one of the Greenside farms a murder was said to
have been committed in the shippon; and the exact spot was supposed to
be indicated by the impossibility of securely fastening a cow in one
particular boose; for, however carefully its occupant was chained
overnight, next morning she was sure to be found at large, and once was
actually discovered on the shippon balks. Thither, it was believed, the
cow had been carried by supernatural agency; but, be that as it may, it
was necessary to lower her cautiously down, with the aid of ropes and
blocks. At a cottage adjoining, a boggart varied its amusements by
drumming on the old oaken chest, still preserved; or, growing
emboldened, shook the hangings of the bed, or rustled amongst the
clothes; the alarmed occupants sometimes in despair rolling up the
coverlet, and unavailingly whirling it at their invisible tormentor. At
a neighbouring farm-house, amongst other vagaries, the boggart would
snatch up the infant, whilst asleep between its parents, and, without
awakening them, would harmlessly deposit it on the hearthstone,
downstairs. "Clayton Ho'" [Hall] was of course honoured with a boggart,
which at dead of night diversified its pranks by snatching the clothes
from the beds, trailing heavy iron weights on the floors, or rattling
ponderous chains through the crazy apartments. These pranks becoming
insufferable, the help of a clergyman from the parish church was
obtained; and fortunately, with the aid of counter-spells and
incantations, he succeeded in _laying_ the spirit for ever, declaring

    "Whilst ivy climbs and holly is green,
    Clayton Hall Boggart shall no more be seen."

Even yet one room in the mansion is named "the Bloody Chamber," from
some supposed stains of human gore on the oaken floor planks; which,
however, in reality are only natural red tinges of the wood, denoting
the presence of iron. Even since the formation of the new road, J.
W----, the last of the ancient race of boggart-seers in the township,
used to combat with feeorin' between East End and Droylsden toll-gate;
but as he died a few years ago without bequeathing his gift, he
(happily) carried with him his mantle to the grave. At a period just
within memory, oft, after sunset, has the weary and tardy pedestrian
quickened his speed on approaching some lonely place, by remembering how
its tutelar spirit or Boggart could assume at will the shape of a
rabbit, dog, bear, or still more fearful form. On its appearance, of
course, the wayfarer fled in affright, and from fear and unwonted
exertion, often reached home utterly exhausted. Next day the story would
be widely circulated through the thinly populated district, detailing at
length (and of course gathering minuteness and improvement in its
transmission), how "Owd Yethurt o' Grunsho," or "Lung Tum woife," "th'
neet afore wur welly ta'en by a great black Boggart, wi' great lung
hurms, un' a whiskin' tail, un' yure as black as soot, un' rowlin' e'en
as big as saucers." The decadence of all these old superstitions is to
be attributed to a variety of causes. Straight, well-paved roads;
increased intellectual activity in useful channels, informing the minds
of one locality with the ideas of another, the publication of scientific
works; and lastly, according to one aged unbeliever, the introduction of
"Owd Ned [the steam-engine], un' lung chimblies; fact'ry folk havin'
summat else t'mind nur wanderin' ghosts un' rollickin' sperrits." The
same authority archly declared as a clincher, "There's no Boggarts neaw,
un' iv ther' were, folk han grown so wacken, they'd soon catch 'em."[44]


These humbler classes of boggarts are by turns both useful and
troublesome to the farmers of the district where they choose to reside.
Syke Lumb Farm, near Blackburn, is reputed to be still visited by one
of these anomalous beings, and many of his mad pranks are still talked
of and believed in the neighbourhood. When in a good humour, this noted
goblin will milk the cows, pull the hay, fodder the cattle, harness the
horses, load the carts, and stack the crops. When irritated by the
utterance of some unguarded expression or mark of disrespect, either
from the farmer or his servants, the cream-mugs are smashed to atoms; no
butter can be obtained by churning; the horses and other cattle are
turned loose or driven into the woods; two cows will sometimes be found
fastened in the same stall; no hay can be pulled from the mow; and all
the while the wicked imp sits grinning with delight upon one of the
cross-beams in the barn. At other times the horses are unable to draw
the empty carts across the farm-yard; if loaded, they are upset; whilst
the cattle tremble with fear, not at any visible cause. Nor do the
inmates of the house experience any better or gentler usage. During the
night the clothes are said to be violently torn from off the beds of the
offending parties, whilst invisible hands drag these individuals down
the stone stairs by the legs, one step at a time, after a more
uncomfortable manner than we need describe. Hothershall Hall, near
Ribchester, was formerly the scene of similar exploits; but the goblin
is understood to have been "laid" under the roots of a large laurel tree
at the end of the house, and will not be able to molest the family so
long as the tree exists. It is a common opinion in that part of the
country that the roots have to be moistened with milk on certain
occasions, in order to prolong its existence, and also to preserve the
power of the spell under which the goblin is laid. None but the Roman
Catholic priesthood are supposed to have the power of "laying an evil
spirit," and hence they have always the honour to be cited in our local
legends. Sometimes, too, they have the credit of outwitting the goblins;
and many an old farm residence has the reputation of having thus been
freed from these imps of darkness till they can spin a rope from the
sands of the Ribble. The mansion at Towneley does not escape the
imputation of having its "_Boggart_," although its visits are now
limited to once in seven years, when its thirst for vengeance has to be
satisfied by the untimely death of one of the residents at the Hall. A
Sir John Towneley is supposed to have injured the poor of the district,
nearly four hundred years ago, by "laying-in" a considerable portion of
common to his park, and, as a punishment for this offence, his soul is
said to haunt the scenes of his oppression. The peasantry still aver
"that the old knight's spirit, being unable to rest, wanders about the
mansion, and may be heard over the very parts taken in, crying, in most
piteous tones--

    "Be warned! Lay out! Be warned! Lay out!
    Around Hore-law and Hollin-hey clough:
    To her children give back the widow's cot,
    For you and yours there is still enough."[45]

The popular story of "The Boggart Flitting" is common to both Lancashire
and Yorkshire; and indeed to most of the nations in the North of Europe.

Of boggarts the Rev. William Thornber observes,[46] that there were
several different kinds, having their haunts in that part of the Fylde
near Blackpool; as, for instance, the wandering ghost of the homicide or
the suicide; that of the steward of injustice, or that of the victim of
a cruel murder; again, the lubber-fiends, the horse-boggarts, and the
house-boggarts, or industrious, yet mischievous imps, haunting
dwellings. He names, "The headless Boggart of White-gate Lane," as a
sample of the first class. So was "The Boggart of Staining Hall," near
Blackpool, said to be the wandering ghost of a Scotchman who was
murdered there near a tree, which has since marked the deed by perfuming
the soil around with a sweet odour of thyme. Of another kind were those
whose appearance was the forerunner of death in some families. The
Walmsleys, of Poulton-le-Fylde, he adds, were haunted by a boggart of
this description, always making its appearance with alarming noises
before the decease of one of the family.

Of the lubber-fiends, house-boggarts, or brownies, so strikingly
described by Milton,[47] Mr. Thornber mentions the ancient one of
Rayscar and Inskip, which at times kindly housed the grain, collected
the horses, and got them ready for the market; but at other times played
the most mischievous pranks. The famous "Boggart of Hackensall Hall"
had the appearance of a huge horse, which was very industrious if
treated with kindness. Every night it was indulged with a fire, before
which it was frequently seen reclining; and when deprived of this
indulgence by neglect, it expressed its anger by fearful outcries.


The following story is told and believed by some persons in Hornby. The
Park Mistress may be supposed to be the ghost of Lady Harrington, who
committed murder three hundred years ago. Margaret Brackin was born in
1745, and died in 1795. The dialect is that of the locality:--

    "In days that oud folks tell on still,
      Meg Brackin went up Windy Bank;
    Shou lated kinlin' on the hill,
      Till owr t' Lake Mountains t' sun it sank.

    Nat lang at efter t' sun was set,
      And shou hed fill'd her brat wi' sticks,
    Shou sid aside at t' Park wood yett,
      A woman stan'in mang the wicks.

    T' leaves on t' trees, they owm'ered t' land,
      And fadin' was the summer light,
    When Marget sid that woman stand
      Donn'd like a ghoost o' oor i' white.

    Marget was fear'd, but spak and ex'd,
      'Hey Missis! let me gang wi' ye,
    I hope as that ye'll nut be vext,
      But it is gitten dark and dree.'

    T' Park Mistress e'en shin'd o' wi' leet;
      Shou whyatly cam te Marget's side;
    T' gerss didn't bend underneath her feet;
      Shou seem'd in t' air te float and glide.

    As soon's shou cam whare Marget stood,
      Shou gript a tight houd on her hand;
    Shou led her first intul t' Park wood,
      Then back and forret o' owr t' land.

    They kept na road, they kept na path,
      They went thro' brackins, scrogs, and briar,
    Marget shou soon was out of breath,
      But t' lady didn't seem te tire.

    They baath com down te Wenning's brink,
      And Marget's throat was dry wi' dread,
    But shou dursn't ex te stop and drink,
      Saa forret still that woman led.

    Owr shillar and rough staans they trod,
      Intu t' Wenning, then out fra t' stream;
    Surlie their walkin' wasn't snod,
      T' way they travell'd was naan saa weam.

    Marget lous'd t' strings of her brat,
      And trail'd it gerss and bushes through,
    Till deg'd and damp and wet it gat;
      Then suck'd it out for t' cooling dew.

    Fra Weaver's Ayr they went up t' wood,
      Now gaain' straight and then aslant,
    They niver stopt, they niver stood,
      But raac'd up t' brow saa rough and brant.

    Marget could niver gradely say
      Where nesht wi' t' ghoost shou went that neet;
    On Windy Bank, when it was day,
      They fun' her liggin, spent wi' freet.

    Marget hed been stout and throddy,
      But t' walk she tuk that summer neet,
    Left lile fatness on her body;
      At efter shou was thin and leet."


Having fallen into conversation with a working man on our road to Holme
Chapel, we asked him if people in those parts were now ever annoyed by
beings of another world. Affecting the _esprit fort_, he boldly
answered, "Noa! the country's too full o' folk;" while his whole manner,
and especially his countenance, as plainly said "Yes!" A boy who stood
near was more honest. "O, yes!" he exclaimed, turning pale; "the Boggart
has driven William Clarke out of his house; he flitted last Friday."
"Why," I asked; "what did the Boggart do?" "O, he wouldn't let 'em
sleep; he stripp'd off the clothes." "Was that all?" "I canna' say,"
answered the lad, in a tone which showed he was afraid to repeat all he
had heard; "but they're gone, and the house is empty. You can go and see
for yoursel', if you loike. Will's a plasterer, and the house is in
Burnley Wood, on Brown Hills."[48]

Edwin Waugh, in his story of "_The Grave of Grislehurst Boggart_,"[49]
says, the most notable boggart of the hilly district towards Blackstone
Edge, was the Clegg Ho' Boggart, still the theme of many a winter's tale
among the people of the hills above Clegg Hall. The proverb, "Aw 'm
heere agen, like Clegg Ho' Boggart," is common there, and in all the
surrounding villages.... Boggarts appear, however, to have been more
numerous than they are now upon the country side, when working people
wove what was called "one lamb's wool" in a day; but when it came to
pass that they had to weave "three lambs' wools" in a day, and the
cotton trade arose, boggarts, and fairies, and feeorin' of all kinds,
began to flee away from the clatter of shuttles. As to the Grislehurst
Boggart, here is part of the story as told to Waugh, or by him:--"Whau
it isn't aboon a fortnit sin' th' farmer's wife at the end theer yerd
seed summat i' th' dyhed time o' th' neet; an' hoo war welly thrut eawt
o' bed, too, besides--so then" ... "Th' pranks 'at it's played abeawt
this plaze at time an' time, 'ud flay ony wick soul to yer tell on ...
unyawkin' th' byes, an' turnin' carts an' things o'er i' th' deep neet
time; an' shiftin' stuff up and deawn th' heawse when folk are i' bed;
it's rayther flaysome yo may depend."


[1] See Thorpe's _Northern Mythology_, vol. i. pp. 118-231.

[2] See Mallet's _Northern Antiquities_, Keightley's _Mythology of
Greece and Rome_, and Kelly's _Indo-European Tradition and Folk-lore_.

[3] Keightley's _Fairy Mythology_, pp. 2, 3.

[4] Roby's _Traditions of Lancashire_, p. xiv.

[5] It may be stated that this introductory essay is abridged from two
papers read before the Historical Society of Lancashire and Cheshire, in
1859 and 1860, which were written long before the writer saw any of the
almost identical general deductions and conclusions in Dr. Dasent's
introduction to his _Popular Tales from the Norse_.

[6] This popular opinion appears to be very ancient and wide-spread; for
it has been noticed by Moses as prevailing in Egypt.--Exodus xi. 5-7.

[7] The use of the old style in effect, is not yet extinct in
Lancashire. The writer knows an old man, R. H., of Habergham, about 77
years of age, who always reckons the changes of the seasons in this
manner. He alleges the practice of his grandfather and father in support
of his method; and states with much confidence that--"Perliment didn't
change t' seeasuns wen thay chang'd t' day o't' munth."

[8] _Conybeare_, p. 242.

[9] Charnock's _Breviary of Natural Philosophy_ in Ashmole's _Theatrum
Chemicum_, p. 297.

[10] _Companion to Almanac_ for 1837, p. 22.

[11] Maier's _Symbola Ameæ Mensæ_.

[12] Thomson's _Annals of Philosophy_, n. s., vol. vi. p. 241.

[13] Ben Jonson, in his play of the _Alchemist_, has the following

    "But when you see th' effects of the Great Medium,
    Of which one part projected on a hundred
    Of Mercury, or Venus, or the Moon,
    Shall turn it to as many of the Sun;
    Nay to a thousand, so ad infinitum,
    You will believe me."

[14] Godwin's _Lives of Necromancers_, Art. Dee. Dr. Dee's _Diary_
(Camden Soc.) contains many references to his alchemical pursuits.--See
pp. 7, 22, 25, 27, 28, 37, and 63.

[15] Brewster's _Life of Sir Isaac Newton_, vol. ii. p. 376.

[16] Preface to _Bibl. Chem. Curiosa_, quoted by Thomson, p. 18. For a
list of Boyle's works connected with alchemy, see the _Philosophical
Epitaphs_, by W. C.

[17] _Pictorial History of England_, vol. ii. p. 207.

[18] Baines's _Lancashire_.

[19] _Fœdera_, vol. ix. p. 379.

[20] _Rot. Parl._, vol. v. p. 314_a_.

[21] _Rot. Parl._, vol. v. p. 314_a_.

[22] _Worthies_, &c., p. 122.

[23] For a copy of this patent in the original Latin, see Baines's
_Lancashire_, vol. i. p. 406.

[24] Pennant's _London_.

[25] _History of his Life and Times._

[26] Lilly's _Life and Times_, p. 224.

[27] Whatton's _Memoir_ in Baines's _Lancashire_, vol. ii. p. 367.

[28] From Barnaby Googe's Translation of the _Regnum Papisticum_ (or
Popish Kingdom) of Naogeorgus, fol. 41 _b_.

[29] _Golden Legend._

[30] Hone's _Every-Day Book_, p. 141.

[31] See Durand's _Rationale_.

[32] Strutt's _Manners and Customs_, vol. iii. p. 176.

[33] Ray's _Collection of Old English Proverbs_.

[34] P. P., in _Notes and Queries_, vol. ix. p. 569.

[35] Thornber's _History of Blackpool_, p. 342.

[36] Toland's _History of the Druids_.

[37] Hone's _Every-Day Book_, vol. i. p. 594.

[38] _Gentleman's Magazine_, February, 1795.

[39] Mr. William Harrison's notes on Waldron's _Description of the Isle
of Man_, p. 125.

[40] Hampson's _Medii Ævi Kalendarium_, vol. i. p. 252.

[41] Rev. W. Thornber's _History of Blackpool_.

[42] _Passages in the Life of a Radical_, vol. i. p. 130.

[43] _History of Droylsden_, p. 67.

[44] Mr. John Higson's _Notices of Droylsden_.

[45] See _Pictorial History of Lancashire_, p. 189, and Whitaker's
_History of Whalley_, p. 342.

[46] _History of Blackpool_, p. 332.

[47] In his _L'Allegro_, where he

    "Tells how the drudging goblin sweat
    To earn the cream-bowl duly set,
    When, in one night, ere glimpse of morn,
    His shad'wy flail had thresh'd the corn,
    That ten day-labours could not end;
    Then lies him down the _lubber-fiend_,
    And stretch'd out all the chimney's length,
    Basks at the fire his hairy strength,
    And, cropful, out of doors he flings,
    Ere the first cock his matin rings."

[48] _Pictorial History of Lancashire._

[49] _Sketches of Lancashire Life_, p. 192.


These may be placed in two classes--those directed against evil beings,
witchcraft, &c., and those which may be termed in their object curative
of "all the ills that flesh is heir to." First as to


These are usually supplied for a consideration by the fortune-tellers,
astrologers, or "wise men" of a neighbourhood. The following is a
correct copy of one of these documents which was found over the door of
a house in the neighbourhood of Burnley. Its occupier had experienced
"ill luck," and he thus sought protection from all evil-doers:--

"Sun, Moon, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Venus, Saturn, Trine, Sextile,
Dragon's Head, Dragon's Tail, I charge you all to gard this hause from
all evils spirits whatever, and gard it from all Desorders, and from
aney thing being taken wrangasly, and give this famaly good Ealth &

Another individual, well known to the writer, was so far convinced that
certain casualties that happened to his cattle arose from the practice
of witchcraft, that he unconsciously resorted to Baal-worship, and
consumed a live calf in the fire, in order to counteract the influences
of his unknown enemies. At the same time, almost every door about his
house had its horse-shoe nailed to it as a charm, to protect all within
it from demons and witches.


Early in the nineteenth century, some men engaged in pulling down a
barn, or shippon, at West Bradford, about two miles north of Clitheroe,
were attracted by seeing a small square piece of wood fall from one of
the beams, and from it dropped a paper, folded as a small letter, but
measuring, when opened, 7¼ by 6 inches. A sort of superscription was in
large and unknown characters, and inside the paper was nearly covered
with a species of hieroglyphics, mixed with strange symbols; and in the
top left corner a table or square of thirty-six small squares, filled
with characters in red ink, the great bulk of the writing being in black
ink. The charm belongs to Jeremiah Garnett, Esq., of Roefield,
Clitheroe, and it was first deciphered by his brother, the late Rev.
Richard Garnett, of the British Museum, in May, 1825. It is this
gentleman's explanation, with a very few additions and corrections by
the present writer, the substance of which is now appended:--The table
in the top corner is a sort of magic square, called by astrologers "The
Table of the Sun." It consists of six rows of six small squares each,
and is so arranged that the sum of the figures in every row of six
squares, whether counted vertically, horizontally, or diagonally,
amounts to 111, and the sum total of the table to 666--a favourite
magical number, being that of "the beast."[50] To mystify the thing as
much as possible the numerals are expressed by letters, or rather by a
sort of cypher, chiefly formed from the Greek alphabet. Thus 1 is
represented by _a_; 2 = _e_; 3 = _i_; 4 = _o_; 5 = _u_; 6 = _l_; 7 =
_m_; 8 = _n_; 9 = _r_; and 0 = _z_. In a tablet, or space at the top of
the paper, flanking this table, are five mystical characters, or
symbols, in red ink. The first consists of the symbols of the sun, and
of the constellation Leo, which, in astrology, is "the sun's own house,"
and where, of course, he is supposed to have the greatest power. A word
in black-ink cyphers, under these symbols, is _Machen_, the cabalistic
name of "the third [or fourth] heaven;" and the Archangel Michael being
supposed to preside over the sphere [and to be the "Angel of the Lord's
Day"], his seal, or cypher, is introduced below these symbols--a series
of joined lines and swirls, like some long word written in one of the
older English shorthands. [This figure will be found under "The Lord's
Day," in the Heptameron of one Peter de Abano.] In cyphers below, in
black ink, is written his name, "Michael." The next cabalistic character
represents "the _Intelligence_ of the Sun," and over it, in cypher or
Greek letters, is written "intelligence." Under this is another
cabalistic symbol, denoting the "Spirit of the Sun," the word "spirit"
being written within it. In astrology, every planet is supposed to have
two beings, or spirits, attached to it, and called its Intelligence and
its Spirit. The last figure (which contains in a sort of quartering the
word _sigil_, seal) is "the seal of the Sun" himself, in astrological
language. All these symbols show that the charm was meant to be put in
operation on a Sunday, that being the day of the Archangel Michael, as
well as of the sun. These symbols and table occupy the upper third of
the paper, the remaining two-thirds being filled with the words of the
charm itself, in fourteen lines, of a sort of cypher-writing, in which
the five vowels are represented by a sort of arbitrary character, as are
most of the consonants, g, l, m, n, and p, being written as Greek
letters. The fourteen lines may be thus rendered in ordinary letters;
and it may be supposed that whoever pronounces the incantation, makes
the sign of the cross wherever it is indicated in the writing:--

Line 1. "apanton [or awanton] + hora + camab. + naadgrass + pynavet
ayias + araptenas.

2. "+ quo + signasque + payns [or pagns ? pagus] + sut gosikl +
tetragrammaton +

3. "inverma + amo + θ [apparently an abbreviation for _Theos_, God] +
dominus + deus + hora + [here a hole in the paper has destroyed a word]
+ fiat + fiat + fiat +

4. "ut dicitur decimo septimo capitulo Sancti Matthæi a vigesimo carmine

5. "fide demoveatis montes, fiat secundum fidem, si sit, vel fuerit

6. "ut cunque fascinum vel dæmon habitat vel perturbat hanc

7. "personam, vel hunc locum, vel hanc bestiam, adjuro te, abìre

8. "Sine perturbatione, molestia, vel tumultu minime, nomine

9. "Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sanctu. Amen. Pater noster qui es

10. "in cœlis, sanctificetur nomen tuum, veniat regnum tuum, fiat

11. "tuo, sicut in cœlo etiam in terra, panem nostrum quotidianum da

12. "nobis in diem, et remitte nobis peccata nostra, etenim ipsi

13. "remittimus omnibus qui nobis debent; et ne nos inducas in tentat-

14. "-ionem, sed libera nos a malo. Fiat."

       *       *       *       *       *

It will be seen that the first three lines of this charm are a sort of
gibberish, with an admixture of Greek and Latin words, constituting in
itself a charm, supposed to be efficacious in expelling or restraining
evil spirits. With the fourth line, then, we begin our translation.

"As it is said in the seventeenth chapter of St. Matthew, at the
twentieth verse, 'By faith ye may remove mountains: be it according to
[my] faith,'[51] if there is, or ever shall be, witchcraft [or
enchantment] or evil spirit, that haunts or troubles this person, or
this place, or this beast [or these cattle], I adjure thee to depart,
without disturbance, molestation, or trouble in the least, in the name
of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen." [Then
follows the Lord's Prayer in Latin, ending with the word "Fiat" (be it
done), instead of Amen.] These words are endorsed or written outside the
paper in two lines:--

    "Agla + On [or En] Tetragrammaton."

In a charm cited in the _Heptameron, or Mercurial Elements_ of Peter de
Abano, these are called "the three secret names." The first two are
names given to the Deity by the Jewish cabalists. The third (which is
also the last word in the second line of the charm) is one also
frequently in use amongst Talmudists and Jewish writers, meaning
literally "four-lettered," as descriptive of the sacred and
unpronounceable name ("Jehovah," written in Hebrew by four letters). The
word is here endorsed, as if to authenticate the whole charm, and to
show that it is the production of an artist who understood his business;
for "tetragrammaton," and "fiat," are words of such potency, that a
charm without them would be of no efficacy whatever. The Rev. Richard
Garnett adds to his account of this charm (in May, 1825):--"I should
think that the document is of no great antiquity, probably not more than
thirty or forty years old. It was doubtless manufactured by some country
'wise man,' a regular dealer in such articles. There are, I believe,
several persons within twenty miles of Blackburn, who still carry on a
trade of this sort."

       *       *       *       *       *

[In the _Heptameron_, already quoted, is "The Conjuration of the Lord's
Day," which runs thus:--"I conjure and confirm upon you, ye strong and
holy angels of God ... [here follow various names of angels, including
those 'who rule in the fourth heaven'], and by the name of his star,
which is _Sol_, and by his sign, and by the immense name of the living
God, and by all the names aforesaid--I conjure thee, Michael, O! great
angel, who art chief ruler of the Lord's Day," &c.].

Amongst other charms against evil may be named that of our ancestors,
who, when eating eggs, were careful to break the shells, lest the
witches should use them to their disadvantage. We do the same for a
similar reason; it is accounted unlucky to leave them whole. They
avoided cutting their nails on a Friday, because bad luck would follow;
but we have improved upon their practice, and lay down the whole theory
as follows:--

    "Cut your nails on a Monday, cut them for news;
    Cut them on Tuesday, a new pair of shoes;
    Cut them on Wednesday, cut them for health;
    Cut them on Thursday, cut them for wealth;
    Cut them on Friday, cut them for woe;
    Cut them on Saturday, a journey you'll go;
    Cut them on Sunday, you cut them for evil,
    For all the next week you'll be ruled by the Devil."

Most grandmothers will exclaim, "God bless you!" when they hear a child
sneeze, and they sum up the philosophy of the subject with the following
lines, which used to delight the writer in days of his childhood:--

    "Sneeze on a Monday, you sneeze for danger;
    Sneeze on a Tuesday, you kiss a stranger;
    Sneeze on a Wednesday, you sneeze for a letter;
    Sneeze on a Thursday, for something better;
    Sneeze on a Friday, you sneeze for sorrow;
    Sneeze on a Saturday, your sweetheart to-morrow;
    Sneeze on a Sunday, your safety seek,
    The Devil will have you the whole of the week."

These lines may be taken either as charms or spells to produce the
effect predicted; or as omens or warnings of the results to follow. In
most parts of Lancashire it is customary for children to repeat the
following invocation every evening on retiring to bed, after saying the
Lord's Prayer and the Apostles' Creed:--

    "Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John,
    Bless the bed that I lie on;
    There are four corners to my bed,
    And four angels overspread,
    Two at the feet, two at the head.

    If any ill thing me betide,
    Beneath your wings my body hide.
    Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John,
    Bless the bed that I lie on. Amen."[52]

The influence of the "_evil eye_" is felt as strongly in this county as
in any other part of the world, and various means are resorted to in
order to prevent its effects. "Drawing blood above the mouth" of the
person suspected is the favourite antidote in the neighbourhood of
Burnley; and in the district of Craven, a few miles within the borders
of Yorkshire, a person who was well disposed towards his neighbours is
believed to have slain a pear-tree which grew opposite his house by
directing towards it "the first morning glances" of his evil eye.[53]
Spitting three times in the person's face; turning a live coal on the
fire; and exclaiming, "The Lord be with us," are other means of averting
its influence.

In Lancashire our boys spit over their fingers in order to screw up
their courage to the fighting point, or to give them luck in the battle.
Sometimes they do this as a sort of asseveration, to attest their
innocence of some petty crime laid to their charge. Travellers and
recruits still spit upon a stone and then throw it away, in order to
insure a prosperous journey. Hucksters, market-people, &c., always spit
upon the first money they receive in the morning, in order to insure
ready sale and "good luck" during the day. "Hansell (they say) is always
lucky when well wet."

The ancients performed certain rites and ceremonies at the changes of
the moon; and hence that luminary has added some curious items to the
popular creed. _Old Mother Bunch's Garland_ is an authority on these
matters, and amongst many other things it teaches expectant females who
desire to pry into futurity, to cross their hands on the appearance of
the new moon, and exclaim--

    "All hail! new Moon; all hail to thee!
    I pray thee, good Moon, declare to me
    This night who my true love shall be."

We have noticed, in the introductory chapter, various other minor charms
and spells to avert evil, or "bad luck," and to secure "good luck" or
fortune for a coming period, usually a year.


The following charms are repeated by children throughout Lancashire and

_Crow Charm._

    "Crow, crow, get out of my sight,
    Or else I'll eat thy liver and lights."

_Lady-Bird Charm._

    "Lady-bird, lady-bird, eigh [hie] thy way home,
    Thy house is on fire, thy children all roam;
    Except little Nan, who sits in her pan,
    Weaving gold laces as fast as she can."

I remember as a child sitting out of doors on an evening of a warm
summer or autumn day, and repeating the crow charm to flights of rooks,
as they winged home to their rookery. The charm was chanted so long as a
crow remained in sight, their final disappearing being to my mind strong
proof of the efficacy of the charm. The lady-bird charm is repeated to
the insect (the _Coccinella septempunctata_ of Linnæus), the common
Seven-spotted Lady-bird, to be found in every field and garden during
summer. The lady-bird is placed upon the child's open hand, and the
charm is repeated until the insect takes to flight. The warmth and
moisture of the hand no doubt facilitate this, although the child fully
believes in the moving power of the charm. The lady-bird is also known
as _lady-cow_, _cow-lady_, and is sometimes addressed as

One of the present editors has often joined in the lady-bird charm, in
the East Riding of Yorkshire, where it ran--

    "Cusha-coo-lady, fly away home,
    Thy house is a-fire and all thy bairns gone," &c.


According to a MS. on Magic, preserved in Chetham's Library, Manchester,
"the herb pimpernel is good to prevent witchcraft, as Mother Bumby doth
affirm;" and the following lines must be used when it is gathered:--

    "Herb pimpernel I have thee found
    Growing upon Christ Jesus' ground;
    The same gift the Lord Jesus gave unto thee,
    When He shed his blood upon the tree.
    Arise up, pimpernel, and go with me,
    And God bless me,
    And all that shall wear thee. Amen."

Say this fifteen days together, twice a day; morning early fasting, and
in the evening full.--(_MS. Ibid._)


The anti-witching properties of this tree are held in very high esteem
in the northern counties of England. No witch will come near it; and it
is believed that its smallest twig crossing the path of a witch, will
effectually stop her career. To prevent the churn being bewitched, so
that the butter will not come, the churn-staff must be made of the
wiggen-tree. So cattle must be protected from witchery by sprigs of
wiggen over or in the shippons. All honest people wishing to have sound
sleep must keep the witches from their beds by having a branch of wiggen
at their bed-heads.[55]

The charms against the malevolence of witches and of evil beings were
very numerous. A horse-shoe nailed to the door protected the family
domicile; a _hag_-stone, penetrated with a hole, and attached to the key
of the stable, preserved the horse within from being ridden by the
witch; and when hung up at the bed-head, was a safeguard to the master
himself. A hot heater, put into the churn, kept witches and evil beings
from spoiling the cream or retarding the butter. The baking of dough was
protected by a cross, and so was the kneading-trough barred against
fiendly visitation. Another class of charms was of those used by and
amongst the witches themselves.

In the "Confession of James Device, prisoner at Lancaster," charged
with being a witch and practicing witchcraft, before "William Sands,
James Anderton, and Thomas Cowell, Esqrs.," we have the following
"charm" to get "_drink_ within one hour after saying the said prayer:"--

    "Upon Good Friday I will fast while I may,
    Untill I heare them knell
    Our Lord's own bell.
    Lord in his messe
    With his twelve Apostles good;--
    What hath he in his hand?
    Ligh in leath wand:
    What hath he in his other hand?
    Heaven's doore keys.
    Steck, Steck Hell door,
    Let Chrizun child
    Goe to its mother mild.
    What is yonder that casts a light so farrandly?
    Mine own dear Sonne that's naild to the tree.
    He is naild sore by the head and hand;
    And Holy harne Panne.
    Well is that man
    That Friday spell can,
    His child to learne:--
    A cross of Blue and another of Red,
    As Good Lord was to the Roode.
    Gabriel laid him down to sleep
    Upon the ground of Holy weepe:--
    Good Lord came walking by,
    Sleepest thou, wakest thou, Gabriel?
    No, Lord, I am sted with stick and stake,
    That I can neither sleepe nor wake.
    Rise up, Gabriel, and go with me,
    The stick nor the stake shall never deere thee.
    Sweet Jesus. Our Lord. Amen."

But James Device's charm was not the only one brought to light in this
memorable trial;--the witches themselves were liable to be bewitched by
others of superior power, nor were their domestic preparations
altogether free from the malevolent effects of an envious practitioner.
In these cases _counter charms_ were of frequent necessity, and none of
these seem to be of greater efficacy than the following one from the
"Examination of Anne Whittle, _alias_ Chattox [a celebrated Lancashire
witch], before Roger Nowell, Esq., of Read, April 2nd, 1612." "A charm
to help _drink_ that is forespoken or bewitched."

    "Three biters hast thou bitten.
    The Heart, ill Eye, ill Tongue.
    Three bitter shall be thy Boote,
    Father, Sonne, and Holy Ghost:--a God's name.
    Five Paternosters, five Avies and a Creede,
    In worship of five woundes of our Lorde."

The Scotch appear to have held similar notions on these subjects with
ourselves, for in Sinclair's "_Satan's Invisible World Discovered_" we
find the following charm, "To preserve the house and those in it from
danger at night:"--

    "Who sains the house the night?
    They that sains it ilk a night,
    Saint Bryde and her brate;
    Saint Colme and his hat;
    Saint Michael and his spear;
    Keep this house from the weir--
    From running thiefe--
    And burning thiefe--
    And from and ill Rea:--
    That be the gate can gae:--
    And from an ill wight:--
    That be the gate can light.
    Nine reeds about the house;
    Keep it all the night.
    What is that what I see,
    So red, so bright, beyond the sea?
    'Tis he was pierced through the hands,
    Through the feet, through the throat,
    Through the tongue,
    Through the liver and the lung.
    Well is them that well may
    Fast on Good Friday."


Many are the charms and spells which operate against disease or sickness
in two ways--they either ward it off, if it threaten; or if too late for
that, they dispel its virulence, and effect a marvellous cure. No
medical man, we are told, will rub ointment on a wound with the
forefinger of his right hand, because it is popularly accounted
venomous. A dead man's hand is said to have the power of curing wens and
other excrescences of the neck. Three spiders, worn about the neck, will
prevent the ague. A string with _nine_ knots tied upon it, placed about
the neck of a child, is reported to be an infallible remedy for the
whooping-cough. The same effect also follows from passing the child
_nine_ times round the neck of a she-ass, according to the popular creed
of the county. Formerly silver rings, made from the hinges of coffins,
were worn as charms for the cure of fits, or for the prevention of
cramp, or even of rheumatism. The superstition continues, though the
metal is of necessity changed, few coffins having now hinges of silver.
The stranger in Lancashire can be nowhere, in town or country, amongst
any considerable number of the humbler classes, without seeing on the
fingers of women chiefly, but occasionally of men, what are called
galvanized rings, made of two hoops, one of zinc, the other of copper,
soldered together. Many wear a belt to charm away rheumatism; brimstone
carried about the person is regarded as a sure remedy against cramp; so
also is placing the shoes under the bed, the toes peeping outwards.
These are the modern charms or cure-alls against disease. Fried mice are
yet given to children in some parts of Lancashire, to cure non-retention
of urine during sleep.


"The following," says the Rev. W. Thornber, of Blackpool, "is a foolish
charm, yet much accredited amongst us [in the Fylde] for the

    "Peter sat weeping on a marble stone.
    Jesus came near and said, 'What aileth thee, O Peter?'
    He answer'd and said, 'My Lord and my God!'
    He that can say this, and believeth it for my sake,
    Never more shall have the toothache."

Our "wise men" still sell the following charm for the cure of continued
toothache, but it must be worn inside the vest or stays, and over the
left breast:--

"Ass Sant Petter sat at the geats of Jerusalm our Blessed Lord and
Sevour Jesus Crist Pased by and Sead, What Eleth thee hee sead Lord my
Teeth ecketh hee sead arise and folow mee and thy Teeth shall never Eake
Eney moor. Fiat + Fiat + Fiat."[56]


A magical MS. in Chetham's Library, Manchester, of the time of Queen
Elizabeth, supplies the following metrical prayer, to be said in
gathering this herb:--

    "All-hele, thou holy herb, Vervin,
      Growing on the ground;
    In the Mount of Calvary
      There wast thou found;
    Thou helpest many a grief,
      And stanchest many a wound.
    In the name of sweet Jesus
      I take thee from the ground.
    O Lord, effect the same
      That I do now go about."

The following lines, according to the same authority, were to be said
when pulling it:--

    "In the name of God, on Mount Olivet
      First I thee found;
    In the name of Jesus
      I pull thee from the ground."


In an ancient 8vo. MS. volume, described by Dr. Whitaker, in his
_History of Whalley_, entitled _Liber Loci Benedicti de Whalley_,
commencing with the translation of the convent from Stanlaw (in 1296)
and ending about the year 1346, are the following monkish charms (in
Latin) for stopping hæmorrhage:--

"_For staunching bleeding from the Nostrils, or from Wounds, an approved
remedy._--O God, be Thou merciful to this Thy servant N., nor allow to
flow from his body more than one drop of blood. So may it please the Son
of God. So his mother Mary. In the name of the Father, stop, O blood! In
the name of the Son, stop, O blood! In the name of the Holy Ghost, stop,
O blood! In the name of the Holy Trinity.

"_To staunch Bleeding._--A soldier of old thrust a lance into the side
of the Saviour: immediately there flowed thence blood and water,--the
blood of Redemption, and the water of Baptism. In the name of the Father
+ may the blood cease. In the name of the Son + may the blood remain. In
the name of the Holy Ghost + may no more blood flow from the mouth, the
vein, or the nose."

To particular persons was attached the virtue of stopping bleeding by a
word; and a woman of Marton, near Blackpool, whose maiden name was
Bamber, was so celebrated for her success, that she was sought for to
stop hæmorrhage throughout a district of twenty miles around.


The records of the Corporation of Preston contain two votes of money, to
enable persons to go from Preston to be touched for the evil. Both are
in the reign of James II. In 1682, the bailiffs were ordered to "pay
unto James Harrison, bricklayer, 10_s._ towards the carrying of his son
to London, in order to the procuring of his Majesty's touch." And in
1687, when James was at Chester, the council passed a vote that "the
bailiffs pay unto the persons undermentioned each of them 5_s._ towards
their charge in going to Chester to get his Majesty's touch: Anne,
daughter of Abel Mope, ---- daughter of Richard Letmore."[57]


Steal a piece of meat from a butcher's stall or his basket, and, after
having well rubbed the parts affected with the stolen morsel, bury it
under a gateway at four lane ends, or, in case of emergency, in any
secluded place. All this must be done so secretly as to escape
detection; and as the portion of meat decays, the warts will disappear.
This practice is very prevalent in Lancashire, and two of my female
acquaintances having tried the remedy, stoutly maintain its

The following superstition prevails in the neighbourhood of Manchester:
Take a piece of twine, making upon it as many knots as there are warts
to be removed; touch each wart with the corresponding knot; then bury
the twine in a moist place, saying at the same time, "There is none to
redeem it besides thee." As the process of decay goes on [in the twine]
the warts gradually disappear.[59]

A snail hung upon a thorn is another favourite spell against warts; as
the snail wastes away, so do the warts. Again, take a bag of stones,
equal in number with the warts to be destroyed, and throw them over the
left shoulder; the warts soon quit the thrower. But whoever chances to
pick up one or more of these stones, takes with them as many of the
warts, which are thus transferred from the loser to the finder of the


Dr. Whitaker mentions what he designates as "one practical superstition"
in the district about Pendle, and peculiar to that neighbourhood. "The
hydrocephalus (he says) is a disease incident to adolescent animals, and
is supposed by the shepherds and herdsmen to be contagious; but in order
to arrest the progress of the disease, whenever a young beast had died
of this complaint, it was usual, and it has, I believe, been practised
by farmers yet alive, to cut off the head and convey it for interment
into the nearest part of the adjoining county. Stiperden, a desert plain
upon the border of Yorkshire, was the place of skulls." Whitaker thinks
the practice may have originated in some confused and fanciful analogy
to the case of Azazel (Numbers xvi. 22), an analogy between the removal
of sin and disease--that as the transgressions of the people were laid
upon the head of the scape-goat, the diseases of the herd should be laid
upon the head of the deceased animal.[60]


On an elevation in the township of Carnforth, in the parish of Warton,
called Moothaw [? Moot Hall], the ancient Saxon courts were held. Near
this place stood the "Shrew Tree" mentioned by Lucas, which, according
to rustic superstition, received so much virtue from plugging up a
number of living shrews, or field-mice, in a cavity prepared for their
reception in the tree, that a twig cut from it, when freely applied to
the backs of disordered cattle, would cure them of their maladies.[61]


"Casting out the ague" was but another name for "casting out the devil,"
for it was his possession of the sufferer that caused the body to shiver
and shake. One man, of somewhat better education than his neighbours,
acquired a reputation for thus removing the ague by exorcism, and was
much resorted to for many years for relief.


This was at once removed by the saying aloud of some charm in doggerel


Persons in the Fylde district suffering from this disorder were some
years ago cured at the rate of a shilling per head, by a person living
at the Fold, who, by some charm or incantation, performed on the urine
of the afflicted person, suspended in a bottle over the smoke of his
fire, was believed to effect most wonderful cures.


There are two superstitions respecting restlessness. One is that it is
caused by the bed standing north and south, and that it will be cured if
the bedstead be so moved as to stand east and west. The other goes
further, and says that to effect a perfect remedy, not only must the
bedstead range east and west, but that the head must be towards the
east. One informant stated that this was because the earth revolved from
west to east, or in an easterly course.


[50] Revelation xiii. 18.

[51] This is not a literal quotation. The verse runs thus in the
ordinary version: "If ye have faith as a grain of mustard-seed, ye shall
say to this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place, and it shall
remove; and nothing shall be impossible to you."

[52] This is noticed by the Rev. W. Thornber in his _History of
Blackpool_, p. 99; also in the _Oxford Essays_, 1858, p. 127; and the
late Rev. James Dugan, M.A., T.C.D., informed the writer that the Irish
midwives in Ulster use a very similar formula when visiting their
patients. They first mark each corner of the house, on the outside, with
a cross, and previously to entering repeat the following words:--

    "There are four corners to her bed,
    Four angels at her head:
    Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John,
    God bless the bed that she lies on.
    New Moon, new Moon, God bless me,
    God bless this house and family."

[53] See Carr's _Craven Glossary_, vol. i. p. 137.--"Look, sir," said
Mr. Carr's informant, "at that pear-tree, it wor some years back, sir, a
maast flourishin' tree. Ivvry mornin, as soon as he first oppans the
door, that he may not cast his ee on onny yan passin' by, he fixes his
een o' that pear-tree, and ye plainly see how it's deed away."

[54] Mr. Robert Rawlinson in _Notes and Queries_, vol. iv. p. 55.

[55] See Hone's _Table Book_, vol. i. p. 674.

[56] Carr's _Glossary_, vol. ii. p. 264.

[57] Wm. Dobson, in _Notes and Queries_, 2nd series, vol. iv. p. 287.

[58] T. T. W., ibid., vol. ii. p. 68.

[59] H., ibid.

[60] _History of Whalley._

[61] Baines's _Lancashire_.



The power of the devil, his personal appearance, and the possibility of
bartering the soul for temporary gain, must still be numbered among the
articles of our popular faith. Repeating the Lord's Prayer backwards is
said to be the most effectual plan for "raising the devil;" but when
the terms of the bargain are not satisfactory, his exit can only be
secured by making the sign of the cross and calling on the name of
Christ. In the neighbourhood of Blackburn a story prevails that two
threshers once succeeded in raising him through the barn floor; but on
their becoming alarmed at their success, he was summarily dismissed by
means of a vigorous thrashing on the head with the flails. His
partiality for playing at cards has long been proverbial, both in
Lancashire and elsewhere. A near relative of the writer firmly believed
that the devil had once visited their company when they had prolonged
their play into Sunday. How he joined them they never rightly knew, but
(as in the Danish legend respecting a similar visit) his presence was
first suspected in consequence of his extraordinary "run of good luck;"
and a casual detection of his _cloven foot_ completed the dispersion of
the players. It is not always, however, that he obtains the advantage;
for he has more than once been outwitted by a crafty woman or a cunning
priest. In the Lancashire tradition we find the poor tailor of Chatburn
stipulating for _three_ wishes, and, on the advice of his wife,
consulting the "holy father of Salley" in his extremity. When the fatal
day arrived, he freed himself from the bond by expressing as his last
wish, that his tormentor "were riding back to his quarters on a dun
horse, never to plague him more." The devil, it is said, gave a yell
which was heard to Colne, on finding that he had lost his man. Mr. Roby
in his _Traditions_, and the author of the _Pictorial History of
Lancashire_, give humorous engravings of this noted ride; and the sign
of "The Dule upo' Dun," over the door of the wayside inn, attests the
popular belief in the local tradition. From these and many other
instances it is evident that we have derived many of these superstitions
from the Saxon and Danish settlers in Northumbria. The essential parts
of each are identical, and as regards these particular bargains, it may
be added as a curious circumstance, that in no case is the bond held to
be binding unless it be signed with the blood of the person

Offering fowls to evil spirits appears to have been an ancient and
wide-spread practice. It was common to sacrifice a cock to the devil.
Burns, in his "Address to the Deil," says--"Some cock or cat your rage
must stop." Music and dancing are also associated in our popular
superstitions with witches, evil spirits, and the devil. The devils, it
is said, love music, but dread bells, and have a very delicate sense of
smells. In the _True and Faithful Relation of what passed between Dr.
Dee and some Spirits_, we learn that the devil appeared to the doctor
"as an angel in a white robe, holding a bloody cross in his right hand,
the same hand being also bloody," and in this guise he prayed, and
"anabaptistically bewailed the wickedness of the world."[63]


The boys at the Burnley Grammar-school are said to have succeeded on one
occasion in raising the devil. They repeated the Lord's Prayer
backwards, and performed some incantations by which, as it is said,
Satan was induced to make his appearance through a stone flag on the
floor of the school-house. After he had got his head and shoulders well
out, the boys became alarmed, and began to hammer him down with the
poker and tongs. With much ado they drove him back; but the _black mark_
he had left on the flag was shown in proof of his appearance until the
school-house was repaired, a few years ago, when the floor was boarded
over, and the flagstone disappeared.


It is said that the arch Spirit of Evil once took up his abode in
Cockerham, and so scared and disturbed the inhabitants of that quiet
place, that at length in public meeting, to consider how to free
themselves from this fiendish persecution, they appointed the
schoolmaster, as the wisest and cleverest man in the place, to do his
best to drive the devil away. Using the prescribed incantation at
midnight, the pedagogue succeeded in raising Satan; but when he saw his
large horns and tail, saucer eyes, and long claws, he became almost
speechless. According to the recognised procedure in such cases, the
devil granted him the privilege of setting three tasks, which if he
(Satan) accomplished, the schoolmaster became his prey; if he failed, it
would compel the flight of the demon from Cockerham. The first task, to
count the number of dewdrops on certain hedges, was soon accomplished;
and so was the second, to count the number of stalks in a field of
grain. The third task was then proposed in the following words,
according to a doggerel version of the tradition:--

    "Now make me, dear sir, a rope of yon sand,
    Which will bear washing in Cocker, and not lose a strand."

Speedily the rope was twisted of fine sand, but it would not stand
washing; so the devil was foiled, and at one stride he stepped over the
bridge over Broadfleet, at Pilling Moss. The metrical version of the
legend is scarcely worth printing.


According to Scandinavian mythology, the supreme god Odin assumes the
name of Nick, Neck, Nikkar, Nikur, or Hnikar, when he acts as the evil
or destructive principle. In the character of Nikur, or Hnikudur, a
Protean water-sprite, he inhabits the lakes and rivers of Scandinavia,
where he raises sudden storms and tempests, and leads mankind into
destruction. Nick, or Nickar, being an object of dread to the
Scandinavians, propitiatory worship was offered to him; and hence it has
been imagined that the Scandinavian spirit of the waters became, in the
middle ages, St. Nicholas, the patron of sailors, who invoke his aid in
storms and tempests. This supposition (which has a degree of probability
almost amounting to certainty) receives countenance from the great
devotion still felt by the Gothic nations towards St. Nicholas, to whom
many churches on the sea-shore are dedicated. The church of St.
Nicholas, in this situation at Liverpool, was consecrated in 1361; and,
says Mr. Baines,[64] "in the vicinity there formerly stood a statue of
St. Nicholas; and when the faith in the intercession of saints was more
operative than at present, the mariners were wont to present a
peace-offering for a prosperous voyage on their going out to sea, and a
wave-offering on their return; but the saint, having lost his votaries,
has long since disappeared." The Danish Vikings called the Scandinavian
sea-god _Hold Nickar_, which in time degenerated into the ludicrous
expression, "Old Nick."[65]

Another writer on this subject says:--We derive the familiar epithet of
"_Old Nick_" from the Norwegian Nök, the Norse Nikr, or the Swedish
Neck; and no further proof of their identity is required than a
comparison between the attributes possessed in common by all these
supernatural beings. The _Nök_ is said to require a human sacrifice once
a year, and some one is therefore annually missing in the vicinity of
the pond or river where this sprite has taken up its abode. The males
are said to be very partial to young maidens, whom they seize and drag
under the water; whilst those of the opposite sex are quite as
attractive and dangerous to the young fishermen who frequent the rivers.
The German _Nixes_ possess the same attributes. Both sexes have large
green teeth; and the male wears a green hat, which is frequently
mistaken by his victims for a tuft of beautiful vegetation. He is said
to kill without mercy whenever he drags a person down; and a fountain of
blood, which shoots up from the surface of the water, announces the
completion of the deed. A perfect identification of this with our own
popular belief is now easy. Nothing is more common at present than for
children who reside in the country to be cautioned against venturing too
near the water's brink, lest "_Green Teeth_" or "_Bloody Bones_" should
pull them in. "_Old Nick_" is said to lurk under the shady willows which
overhang the deep water; and the bubbles of gas which may be observed
escaping from the bottoms of quiet pools are attributed to the movements
of the water-sprites which lurk beneath.


A recent writer in _Blackwood's Magazine_ asks if Demonology "was not a
vague spirit-worship, the ancient religion of the bulk of mankind?"
"This Demonology" (he continues) "may be said to have been imported into
Christianity in its early days. It was the universal belief of the Pagan
world, and not easily to be eradicated; as the early Church accepted
things pretty much as it found them, and turned them to account;
teaching that these objects of heathen awe and reverence were fallen
angels, whose power for evil had been permitted to exist uncontrolled
till the advent of our Saviour. The early Roman Church elaborately
imitated, if it did not exceed, the Greeks and Romans in their
demonology. Every class of men had their guardians, who practically
represented the _Dii minores_ or _minorum gentium_; the hills and dales
and woods had their patrons, the successors of the Orcades, Napææ, and
the Dryades; every kind of disease, from the toothache to the gout, had
its special healer, and even birds and beasts their spiritual
protectors." No one who has paid the most passing attention to the
folk-lore of this country can have failed to note amongst us, even yet,
the remnants of this curious superstition. In 1531, John Cousell, of
Cambridge, and John Clarke, of Oxford, two learned clerks, applied for
and obtained from Henry VIII. a formal license to practise sorcery, and
to build churches, a quaint combination of evil and antidote. They
professed power to summon "the sprytes of the ayre," and to make use of
them generally, and particularly in the discovery of treasure and stolen
property. Their seventh petition is to build churches, bridges, and
chapels, and to have cognizance of all sciences. One of their petitions
refers to a certain "noyntment" to see the sprytes, and to speak with
them dayly. Strange that Henry VIII. should have granted this license,
seeing that a statute was passed in his reign, making "witchcraft and
sorcery felony, without benefit of clergy."[66] Bishop Jewell, preaching
before Queen Anne, on the marvellous increase of witches and sorcerers,
after describing how the victims pined away, even unto death, loyally
concluded his sermon thus, "I pray God they never practise further than
upon the subject." The following charm or spell against St. Vitus's
Dance was, and very likely is still, in use in Devonshire. It was
written on parchment, and carried about by an old woman so afflicted:--

    "Shake her, good Devil,
    Shake her once well;
    Then shake her no more,
    Till you shake her in hell."

Some of our laws against sorcery remained unrepealed a little more than
forty years ago. The Irish law against sorcery was only repealed in
1831. So late as August, 1863, an old man of eighty was flung into a
mill-stream in the parish of Little Hedingham, being what is called
"swimming for a wizard," and he died of his maltreatment. One curious
book on Demonology is entitled "An Account of Demoniacs, and the power
of casting out Demons, both in the New Testament, and the four first
Centuries," by William Whiston, M.A. (London, 1737, 8vo). He observes
that "The symptoms of these demoniacal distresses were very different
from the symptoms of other diseases, and even included wild raving,
irregular convulsions of the body, unnatural contortions of the limbs,
or dismal malady of the mind, and came upon the unhappy patients by
terrible fits of paroxysms, to the amazement of the spectators, and the
horrible affection of the possessed, and included the sorest illness and
madness in the world." The same symptoms revived in the extraordinary
epidemic called the _hystero-demonopathy_, which visited Morzine, in
Savoy, in 1857. The persons afflicted were violently and unnaturally
convulsed; now rushed phrenetically into the woods, or to the river, now
were subject to fits of coma; were insensible to pain; believed
themselves to be haunted by evil spirits; were violent, but in their
violence injured no one; and exhibited generally symptoms not observed
in any known disorder.[67] The people of Morzine believed themselves
possessed by spirits of dead persons, a peculiarity which appears to
have occurred in many cases during the prevalence of the epidemic.


Among the more prominent of the demon superstitions prevalent in
Lancashire, we may instance that of the _Spectre Huntsman_, which
occupies so conspicuous a place in the folk-lore of Germany and the
North. This superstition is still extant in the Gorge of Cliviger, where
he is believed to hunt a milk-white doe round the Eagle's Crag in the
Vale of Todmorden, on All-Hallows' Eve. His hounds are said to fly
yelping through the air on many other occasions, and under the local
name of "_Gabriel Ratchets_," are supposed to predict death or
misfortune to all who hear the sounds.[68] The "_Lubber Fiend_," or
stupid demon, still stretches his hairy length across the hearth-stones
of the farm-houses in the same district, and the feats of the "_Goblin
Builders_" form a portion of the popular literature of almost every
locality. They are said to have removed the foundations of Rochdale
Church from the banks of the river Roach, up to their present elevated
position. Samlesbury Church, near Preston, possesses a similar
tradition. The "_Demon Pig_" not only determined the site of St.
Oswald's Church, at Warwick, but gave a name to the parish. The
parochial church at Burnley, it is said, was originally intended to be
built on the site occupied by the old Saxon Cross in Godly Lane; but,
however much the masons might have built during the day, both the stones
and the scaffolding were invariably found where the church now stands,
on their coming to work next morning. The local legend states that on
this occasion, also, the goblins took the form of _pigs_, and a rude
sculpture of such an animal, on the south side of the steeple, lends its
aid to confirm and perpetuate the story.

Our peasantry retain the notion so prevalent in North Germany, that the
_Night-mare_ is a demon, which sometimes takes the form of a cat or a
dog, and they seek to counteract its influence by placing their shoes
under the bed with the toes outwards, on retiring to rest.

The _Water Sprites_, believed in by our ancestors in the north of
England, still form a portion of the folk-lore of Lancashire and
Yorkshire. There is scarcely a stream of any magnitude in either county
which does not possess a presiding spirit in some part of its course.
The stepping-stones at Bungerley, near Clitheroe, are said to be haunted
by a malevolent sprite, who assumes almost as many shapes as Proteus of
old. He is not known by any particular designation, nor are there any
traditions to account for his first appearance; but at least _one_ life
in every _seven_ years is required to appease the anger of the spirit
of the Ribble at this place. It was at these stepping-stones that King
Henry VI. was treacherously betrayed by a Talbot of Bashall and others;
whence may have arisen a tradition of a malevolent spirit at that place.

Our local literature possesses Roby's traditions of "The _Mermaid_ of
Martin Mere," which has given permanence to the popular notions
respecting mermen and mermaids. The _Schrat_, or _Schritel_, of the
German nations, is identical with the more ancient _Skrat_ of the
Scandinavians. He is noted for making game of persons who are out late
at night. Occasionally he places himself on a cart, or other vehicle,
which then becomes so heavy that the horses are unable to move the load.
They begin to tremble and perspire, as if sensible of the presence of
something diabolical; but after a short time "_Old Scrat_" slips off
behind, and disappears with a malicious laugh. In Lancashire we are no
strangers to Old Scrat and his doings. With many the name is merely a
synonyme for that of the devil; but our city carters are able to mark
the distinction, and have besides a goodly store of anecdotes respecting
the heavy loads which their horses have sometimes been compelled to
draw, when nothing could be seen except the empty cart. One of them
assured me that on such occasions his horses reared, and became almost
frantic; their manes stood erect; and he himself could see the wicked
imp actually dancing with delight between their ears. Another very
respectable person affirms that, not many years ago, as a funeral was
proceeding to church, the coffin became so heavy that it could not be
carried. On this being made known to a clergyman, who was present, he
offered up a short prayer, and commanded Old Scrat to take his own. This
was no sooner done than the excessive weight was felt no more, and the
corpse was carried forward to the place of interment. Similar
superstitions prevail in the more northern cities with but slight
variations; and hence sufficiently indicate their common origin. The
_Barguest_, or _Barn-ghaist_ of the Teutons, is also reported to be a
frequent visitor in Lancashire. The appearance of this sprite is
considered as a certain death-sign, and has obtained the local names of
"_Trash_" and "_Skriker_." He generally appears to one of the family
from whom Death is about to select his victim, and is more or less
visible, according to the distance of the event. I have met with persons
to whom the barguest [bar-ghaist, _i.e._, gate-ghost] has assumed the
form of a white cow, or a horse; but on most occasions "Trash" is
described as having the appearance of a very large dog, with very broad
feet, shaggy hair, drooping ears, and eyes "as large as saucers." When
walking, his feet make a loud splashing noise, like old shoes in a miry
road, and hence the name of "Trash." The appellation "_Skriker_" has
reference to the screams uttered by the sprite, which are frequently
heard when the animal is invisible. When followed by any individual he
begins to walk backwards with his eyes fixed full on his pursuer, and
vanishes on the slightest momentary inattention. Occasionally he plunges
into a pool of water, and at times he sinks at the feet of the persons
to whom he appears with a loud splashing noise, as if a heavy stone were
thrown into the miry road. Some are reported to have attempted to strike
him with any weapon they had at hand, but there was no substance to
receive the blows, although the Skriker kept his ground. He is said to
frequent the neighbourhood of Burnley at present, and is mostly seen in
Godly Lane, and about the parish church. But he by no means confines his
visits to the churchyard, as similar sprites are said to do in other
parts of England and Wales.[69]


Richard Rothwell, a native of Bolton-le-Moors, born about 1563, a
minister of the Gospel, ordained by Dr. Whitgift, Archbishop of
Canterbury, who was called by his biographer, the Rev. Stanley Gower,
minister of Dorchester--"_Orbis terrarum Anglicarum oculus_" (the eye of
our English world), is said to have dispossessed one John Fox, near
Nottingham, of a devil; with whom he had a discourse, by way of question
and answer, a good while. Such dialogues are said to be frequent amongst
the Popish exorcists, but being rare amongst Protestants, is the more to
be observed, and not disbelieved, because vouched by so good a man. Mr.
Rothwell died at Mansfield, Notts, in 1627, aged sixty-four.[70]

[There is a long account of this contest with the devil in Rothwell's
_Life_, by Gower, pp. 178-183. After the devil had been driven out of
him, John Fox was dumb for three years, but afterwards had speech
restored to him, and wrote a book about the temptations the devil
haunted him with.]


Towards the close of the sixteenth century, seven persons in Lancashire
were alleged to be "possessed by evil spirits." According to the
narrative of the Rev. John Darrell, himself a principal actor in the
scene, there lived in 1594 at Cleworth (now called Clayworth), in the
parish of Leigh, one Nicholas Starkie, who had only two children, John
and Ann; the former ten and the latter nine years of age. These
children, according to Mr. Darrell, became possessed with an evil
spirit; and John Hartlay, a reputed conjuror, was applied to, at the end
of from two to three months, to give them relief, which he effected by
various charms, and the use of a magical circle with four crosses, drawn
near Mr. Starkie's seat, at Huntroyd, in the parish of Whalley. Hartlay
was conjuror enough to discover the difference between Mr. Starkie's
table and his own, and he contrived to fix himself as a constant inmate
in his benefactor's family for two or three years. Being considered so
essential to their peace, he advanced in his demands, till Mr. Starkie
demurred, and a separation took place; but not till five other persons,
three of them the female wards of Mr. Starkie, and two other females,
had become "possessed," through the agency of Hartlay, "and it was
judged in the house that whomsoever he kissed, on them he breathed the
devil." According to the narrative, all the seven demoniacs sent forth a
strange and supernatural voice of loud shouting. In this extremity Dr.
Dee, the Warden of Manchester College, was applied to, to exorcise the
evil spirits; but he refused to interfere, advising that they should
call in some godly preachers, with whom he would, if they thought
proper, consult concerning a public or private fast; at the same time he
sharply reproved Hartlay for his fraudulent practices. Some remission of
violence followed, but the evil spirits soon returned, and Mr.
Starkie's house became a perfect bedlam. John Starkie, the son, was "as
fierce as a madman, or a mad dog;" his sister Anne was little better;
Margaret Hardman, a gay, sprightly girl, was also troubled, and aspired
after all the splendid attire of fashionable life, calling for one gay
thing after another, and repeatedly telling her "lad," as she called her
unseen familiar, that she would be finer than him. Ellinor, her younger
sister, and Ellen Holland, another of Mr. Starkie's wards, were also
"troubled;" and Margaret Byrom, of Salford, a woman of thirty-three, who
was on a visit at Cleworth, became giddy, and partook of the general
malady. The young ladies fell down, as if dead, while they were dancing
and singing, and "playing the minstrel," and talked at such a rate that
nobody could be heard but themselves. The preachers being called in,
according to the advice of Dr. Dee, they inquired how the demoniacs were
handled. The "possessed" replied that an angel, like a dove, came from
God, and said that they must follow him to heaven, which way soever he
would lead them. Margaret Hardman then ran under a bed, and began to
make a hole, as she said, that her "lad" (or familiar) might get through
the wall to her; and, amongst other of her feats, she would have leaped
out of the window. The others were equally extravagant in their
proceedings, but when they had the use of their feet, the use of their
tongues was taken away. The girls were so sagacious that they foretold
when their fits would come on. When they were about any game or sport,
they seemed quite happy; but any godly exercise was a trouble to them.
Margaret Byrom was grievously troubled. She thought in her fits that
something rolled in her inside like a calf, and lay ever on her left
side; and when it rose up towards her heart, she thought the head and
nose thereof had been full of nails, wherewith being pricked, she was
compelled to shriek aloud, with very pain and fear; sometimes she barked
and howled, and at others she so much quaked that her teeth chattered in
her head. At the sight of Hartlay she fell down speechless, and saw a
great black dog, with a monstrous tail and a long chain, running at her
open-mouthed. Six times within six weeks the spirit would not suffer her
to eat or drink, and afterwards her senses were taken away, and she was
as stiff as iron. Two nights before the day of her examination against
Hartlay, who was committed to Lancaster Castle, the devil appeared to
her in his likeness, and told her to speak the truth! On the 16th of
March, Maister George More, pastor of Cawlke, in Derbyshire, and Maister
John Darrell, afterwards preacher at St. Mary's, in Nottingham, came to
Cleworth, when they saw the girls grievously tormented. Jane Ashton, the
servant of Mr. Starkie, howled in a supernatural manner--Hartlay had
given her kisses, and promised her marriage. The ministers having got
all the seven into one chamber, gave them spiritual advice; but, on the
Bible being brought up to them, three or four of them began to scoff,
and called it--"Bib-le, Bab-le; Bible, Bable." The next morning they
were got into a large parlour, and laid on couches, when Maister More
and Maister Dickens, a preacher (and their pastor), along with Maister
Darrell and thirty other persons, spent the day with them in prayer and
fasting, and hearing the word of God. All the parties afflicted remained
in their fits the whole of the day. Towards evening every one of them,
with voice and hands lifted up, cried to God for mercy, and He was
pleased to hear them, so that six of them were shortly dispossessed, and
Jane Ashton in the course of the next day experienced the same
deliverance. At the moment of dispossession, some of them were miserably
rent, and the blood gushed out both at the nose and mouth. Margaret
Byrom said that she felt the spirit come up her throat, when it gave her
"a sore lug" at the time of quitting her, and went out of the window
with a flash of fire, she only seeing it. John Starkie said his spirit
left him, in appearance like a man with a hunch on his back, very
ill-favoured; Ellinor Hardman's was like an urchin; Margaret Byrom's
like an ugly black man, with shoulders higher than his head. Two or
three days afterwards the unclean spirits returned, and would have
re-entered had they not been resisted. When they could not succeed
either by bribes or entreaties, they threw some of them [the
dispossessed] violently down, and deprived others of the use of their
legs and other members; but the victory was finally obtained by the
preachers, and all the devils banished from Mr. Starkie's household.
Meanwhile Hartlay the conjuror, who seems to have been a designing
knave, after undergoing an examination before two magistrates, was
committed to Lancaster Castle, where, on the evidence of Mr. Starkie and
his family, he was convicted of witchcraft, and sentenced to death,
principally, as it is stated, for drawing the magic circle, which seems
to have been the least part of his offence, though the most obnoxious to
the law. In this trial _spectral evidence_ was adduced against the
prisoner, and the experiment was tried of saying the Lord's Prayer. When
it no longer served his purpose he endeavoured to divest himself of the
character of a conjuror, and declared that he was not guilty of the
crime for which he was doomed to suffer; the law, however, was
inexorable, and he was brought to execution. On the scaffold he
persisted in declaring his innocence, but to no purpose; the executioner
did his duty, and the criminal was suspended. While hanging, the rope
broke, when Hartlay confessed his guilt; being again tied up, he died,
the victim of his own craft, and of the infatuation of the age in which
he lived. On the appearance of Mr. Darrell's book, the _Narrative_ of
these remarkable events, a long controversy arose on the doctrine of
Demonology, and it was charged upon him by the Rev. Samuel Harsnet,
afterwards Bishop of Chichester and Norwich, and Archbishop of York,
that he made a trade of casting out devils, and that he instructed the
"possessed" how to conduct themselves, in order to aid him in carrying
on the imposition. Mr. Darrell was afterwards examined by the Queen's
Commissioners; and by the full agreement of the whole court, he was
condemned as a counterfeit, deposed from the ministry, and committed to
close confinement, there to remain for further punishment. The clergy,
in order to prevent the scandal brought upon the Church by false
pretensions to the power of dispossessing demons, soon afterwards
introduced a new canon into the ecclesiastical law, in these
terms:--"That no minister or ministers, without license and direction of
the bishop, under his hand and seal obtained, attempt, upon any pretence
whatever, either of possession or obsession, by fasting and prayer, to
cast out any devil or devils, under pain of the imputation of imposture,
or cozenage, and deposition from the ministry." Some light is cast upon
the case of Mr. Starkie's household by "A Discourse Concerning the
Possession and Dispossession of Seven Persons in one Family in
Lancashire," written by George More, a puritanical minister, who had
engaged in exorcising devils. This discourse agrees substantially with
Darrell's narrative, but adds some noteworthy facts: amongst others,
that he (Mr. More) was a prisoner in the Clinke for nearly two years,
for justifying and bearing witness to the facts stated by Darrell. He
also states that Mr. Nicholas Starkie having married a gentlewoman that
was an inheritrix [Ann, widow of Thurstan Barton, Esq., of Smithells,
and daughter and sole heiress of John Parr, Esq., of Kempnough, and
Cleworth, Lancashire], and of whose kindred some were Papists;
these--partly for religion, and partly because the estate descended but
to heirs male--prayed for the perishing of her issue, and that four sons
pined away in a strange manner; but that Mrs. Starkie, learning this
circumstance, estated her lands on her husband, and _his_ heirs, failing
issue of her own body; after which a son and daughter were born, who
prospered _well till_ they became "possessed."[71]


Richard Dugdale, called "The Surey Demoniac," was a youth just rising
into manhood, a gardener, living with his parents at Surey, in the
parish of Whalley, addicted to posture, and distinguished even at school
as a posture-master and ventriloquist. During his "possession" he was
attended by six Dissenting ministers--the Revs. Thomas Jolly, Charles
Sagar, Nicholas Kershaw, Robert Waddington, Thomas Whalley, and John
Carrington, who were occasionally assisted at the meetings held to
exorcise the demon by the Rev. Messrs. Frankland, Pendlebury, and Oliver
Heywood. According to the narrative, under their sanction, entitled _An
Account of Satan's entering in and about the Body of Richard Dugdale,
and of Satan's removal thence through the Lord's blessing of the
within-mentioned Ministers and People_, when Dugdale was about nineteen
years of age he was seized with an affliction early in 1689; and from
the strange fits which violently seized him, he was supposed to be
possessed by the devil. When the fit was upon him "he shewed great
despite [says the narrative], against the ordinary of God, and raged as
if he had been nothing but a devil in Richard's bodily shape; though
when he was not in his fits he manifested great inclination to the word
of God and prayer; for the exercise of which in his behalf he desired
that a day of fasting might be set apart, as the only means from which
he could expect help, seeing that he had tried all other means, lawful
and unlawful." Meetings were accordingly appointed of the ministers, to
which the people crowded in vast numbers. These meetings began on the
8th May, 1689, and were continued about twice a month till the February
following. At the first meeting the parents of the demoniac were
examined by the ministers, and they represented that "at Whalley
rush-bearing, on the James's tide, in July, 1688, there was a great
dancing and drinking, when Richard offered himself to the devil, on
condition that he would make him the best dancer in Lancashire." After
becoming extremely drunk he went home, where several apparitions
appeared to him, and presented to him all kinds of dainties and fine
clothing, with gold and precious things, inviting him at the same time
to "take his fill of pleasure." In the course of the day some compact,
or bond, was entered into between him and the devil, after which his
fits grew frequent and violent. While in these fits his body was often
hurled about very desperately, and he abused the minister and blasphemed
his Maker. Sometimes he would fall into dreadful fits; at others he
would talk Greek and Latin, though untaught; sometimes his voice was
small and shrill, at others hollow and hideous. Now he was as light as a
bag of feathers, then as heavy as lead. At one time he upbraided the
ministers for their neglect, at others he said they had saved him from
hell. He was weather-wise and money-wise by turns; he could tell when
there would be rain, and when he should receive presents. Sometimes he
would vomit stones an inch and a half square, and in others of his
trances there was a noise in his throat, as if he was singing psalms
inwardly. But the strongest mark of demoniacal possession consisted in a
lump, which rose from the thick of his leg, about the size of a mole,
and did work up like such a creature towards the chest of his body, till
it reached his breast, when it was as big as a man's fist, and uttered
strange voices. He opened his mouth at the beginning of his fits so
often, that it was thought spirits went in and out of him. In agility he
was unequalled, "especially in dancing, wherein he excelled all that the
spectators had seen, and all that mere mortals could perform. The
demoniac would for six or seven times together leap up, so as that part
of his legs might be seen shaking and quivering above the heads of the
people, from which heights he oft fell down on his knees, which he long
shivered and traversed on the ground, at least as nimbly as other men
can twinkle or sparkle their fingers; thence springing up into his high
leaps again, and then falling on his feet, which seemed to reach the
earth but with the gentlest and scarce perceivable touches when he made
his highest leaps." And yet the divines by whom he was attended most
unjustly rallied the devil for the want of skill in his pupil. The Rev.
Mr. Carrington, addressing himself to the devil, says, "Cease dancing,
Satan, and begone from him. Canst thou dance no better, Satan? Ransack
the old record of all past times and places in thy memory: canst thou
not there find out some other way of finer trampling? Pump thine
invention dry! Cannot that universal seed-plot of subtle wiles and
stratagems spring up one new method of cutting capers? Is this the top
of skill and pride, to shuffle feet and brandish knees thus, and to trip
like a doe, and skip like a squirrel? And wherein differs thy leapings
from the hoppings of a frog, or bounces of a goat, or friskings of a
dog, or gesticulations of a monkey? And cannot a palsy shake such a
loose leg as that? Dost thou not twirl like a calf that has the turn,
and twitch up thy houghs just like a spring-hault [? spring-galled]
tit?" In some of his last fits he announced that he must be either
killed or cured before the 25th March. This, says the deposition of his
father and mother, and two of his sisters, proved true; for on the 24th
of that month he had his last fit, the devil being no longer able to
withstand the means used with so much vigour and perseverance to expel
him; one of the most effectual of which was a medicine, prescribed, in
the way of his profession, by Dr. Chew, a medical practitioner in the
neighbourhood. Mr. Zachary Taylor asserts that the preachers,
disappointed and mortified at their ill success in Dugdale's case, gave
it out that some of his connexions were witches, and in contract with
the devil, and that, they supposed, was the cause why they had not been
able to relieve him. Under this impression they procured some of the
family to be searched, that they might see if they had not teats, or the
devil's mark; and they tried them by the test of saying the Lord's
Prayer. Some remains of the evil spirit, however, seem still to have
possessed Richard; for, though after this he had no fits, yet once, when
he had got too much drink, he was after another manner than drunken
persons usually are. In confirmation of which feats, not only the eight
ministers, but twenty respectable inhabitants, affixed their
attestations to a document prepared for the purpose; and three of the
magistrates of the district--Hugh, Lord Willoughby [of Parham], Ralph
Egerton, Esq., and Thos. Braddyll, Esq.--received depositions from the
attesting parties. This monstrous mass of absurdity, superstition, and
fraud--for it was beyond doubt a compound of them all--was exposed with
success by the Rev. Zachary Taylor, the Bishop of Chester's curate at
Wigan, one of the King's preachers in Lancashire; but the reverend
divine mixed with his censures too much party asperity, insisting that
the whole was an artifice of the Nonconformist ministers, in imitation
of the pretended miracles of the Roman Catholic priests, and likening it
to the fictions of John Darrell, B.A., which had been practised a
century before upon the family of Mr. Starkie, in the same county. Of
the resemblance in many of its parts there can be no doubt; but the
names of the venerable Oliver Heywood and Thomas Jolly form a sufficient
guarantee against imposition on their part; and the probability is that
the ministers were the dupes of a popular superstition in the hands of a
dissolute and artful family.[72]


[62] See _Transactions of Historical Society of Lancashire and

[63] Casaubon, extracted from Dee's MSS., P. I., p. 22, fol. 1659.

[64] _History of Lancashire_, vol. iv. p. 63.

[65] Hampson's _Medii Ævi Kal._, vol. i. p. 74.

[66] 33 Henry VIII., cap. 8.

[67] "The Devils of Morzine," in the _Cornhill Magazine_, April, 1865.

[68] See Roby's _Traditions of Lancashire_; Homerton's _Isles of Loch
Awe_ and _Choice Notes: Folk-Lore_, pp. 247-8.

[69] See _Transactions of Lancashire and Cheshire Historical Society_.

[70] _Magna Britannica_, by Rev. M. S. Cox, p. 1303.

[71] Baines's _Lancashire_.

[72] Baines's _Lancashire_.


This word, derived from _divinare_, to foretell, denotes a mode of
foretelling future events, and which, among the ancients, was divided
into two kinds, natural and artificial. Natural divination was prophecy
or prediction, the result of supposed inspiration or the divine
afflatus; artificial divination was effected by certain rites,
experiments, or observations, as by sacrifices, cakes, flour, wine,
observation of entrails, flight of birds, lots, verses, omens, position
of the stars, &c. In modern divination, two modes are in popular
favour--thrusting a pin or a key between the leaves of a closed Bible,
and taking the verse the pin or key touches as a direction or omen; and
the divining-rod, a long forked branch or twig of hazel, which being
held between the finger and thumb in a particular way, is said to turn
of itself when held near the earth over any hidden treasure, precious
metals, or over a spring of water. It has also been used to discover a
buried body of one murdered.


The following practices are very prevalent at marriages in the districts
around Burnley, and they are not noticed in the last edition of Brand's
_Popular Antiquities_:--1. Put a wedding-ring into the _posset_, and
after serving it out, the unmarried person whose cup contains the ring
will be the first of the company to be married. 2. Make a common flat
cake of flour, water, currants, &c., and put therein a wedding-ring and
a sixpence. When the company are about to retire on the wedding-day the
cake must be broken, and distributed amongst the unmarried females. She
who gets the ring in her portion of the cake will shortly be married,
and the one who gets the sixpence will die an old maid.[73]


When some choice specimen of the "Lancashire Witches" thinks it
necessary to decide upon selecting a suitor from among the number of her
admirers, she not unfrequently calls in the aid of the Bible and a key
to assist in deciding her choice. Having opened the Bible at the passage
in Ruth: "Whither thou goest will I go," &c., and having carefully
placed the wards of the key upon the verses, she ties the book firmly
with a piece of cord, and having mentioned the name of an admirer, she
very solemnly repeats the passage in question, at the same time holding
the Bible suspended _by joining the ends of her little fingers_ inserted
under the handle of the key. If the key retain its position during the
repetition the person whose name has been mentioned is considered to be
rejected; and so another name is tried, till the book turns round and
falls through the fingers, which is held to be a sure token the name
just mentioned is that of an individual who will certainly marry her. I
have a Bible in my possession which bears evidence of having seen much
service of this description.[74]


When a Lancashire damsel desires to know what sort of a husband she will
have, on New Year's Eve she pours some melted lead into a glass of
water, and observes what forms the drops assume. When they resemble
scissors, she concludes that she must rest satisfied with a tailor; if
they appear in the form of a hammer, he will be a smith or a carpenter,
and so on of others. The writer has met with many instances of this
class, in which the examples given did not admit of easy contradiction.


Dying persons, especially if they have been distinguished for piety when
in health, are considered to possess, for a short time, the spirit of
prophecy. Hence many persons are then anxious to see them, in order that
they may divine the _future_ by means of their oracular words. They also
_know_ persons who have died before them. This is a curious remnant of
the old Greek and Roman belief. Homer makes Hector foretell the death of
Achilles, _Iliad_, v. 355. Virgil causes Orodes to foretell the death
of Mezentius, _Æneid_, x. 739. Cicero also furnishes another instance,
_De Divin._ lib. ii.


Though this faculty of seeing into the future has usually been regarded
as limited to Scotland, and there chiefly possessed by natives of the
Highlands, there have been individuals in Lancashire who have laid claim
to the possession of this species of foresight. Amongst those in the
Fylde district was a man named Cardwell, of Marton, near Blackpool, who
foretold deaths and evil events from his vision of things to come. Men
of superior ability were credulous enough to visit him, and to give
implicit faith to his marvellous stories. The real form of second-sight
is the seeing of the wraith, spirit, or ghost of one about to die; and
in one notable instance Cardwell's second-sight failed him utterly. On
seeing something in a vision, he concluded that his own child was about
to die, and so strong was his own faith in this delusion that he carried
sand to the churchyard to be ready for its grave. The death, however,
did not happen: the child grew to maturity, and retaining robust health,
lived for many years afterwards.


1. Persons born during twilight are supposed to be able to _see_
spirits, and to know who of their acquaintance will die next.

2. Some say that this property also belongs to those who happen to be
born _exactly_ at twelve o'clock at night.

3. The spirits of persons about to die, especially if the persons be in
distant lands, are supposed to return to their friends, and thus predict
the calamity. While the spirit is thus _away_, the person is supposed to
be in a _swoon_, and unaware of what is passing. His _desire_ to see his
friends is also necessary; he must have been _thinking_ of them. I am
not aware that these spirits ever _speak_.

4. If no one in a family can _see_ a spirit, most can hear them, and
hence strange noises are supposed to indicate death or misfortune to
distant friends.


This is a species of divination or consulting of fate by omen. Great
faith is placed by most in casting lots. Putting numbers in a box or bag
is the common practice, and then drawing them out at random. Scripture
was once quoted to the writer in proof that this mode of deciding
doubtful matters was of God's appointment, and therefore could not
fail. "The lot is cast into the bag, but the _disposal_ thereof is the
Lord's." (Prov. xvi. 33; 1. Sam. xiv. 41.) When boys do not wish to
divide anything they decide "who must take all" by drawing "short-cuts."
A number of straws, pieces of twine, &c., of different lengths, are held
by one not interested; each boy draws one, and he who gets the _longest_
is entitled to the whole.


[73] T. T. W., in _Notes and Queries_, vol. ii. p. 117.

[74] T. T. W., in _Notes and Queries_, vol. ii. p. 5.



Dr. Borlase, in his _Antiquities of Cornwall_, notices the existence of
Druidical Rock Basins, which appear to have been scooped out of the
granite rocks and boulders which lie on the tops of the hills in the
county. Several such cavities in stones are found on Brimham Rocks,
near Knaresborough, and they have also been found at Plumpton and
Rigton, in Yorkshire,[75] and on Stanton Moor, in Derbyshire. The writer
first drew attention to the fact of similar Druidical remains existing
in Lancashire in a paper read before the Historical Society of
Lancashire and Cheshire, in December, 1864. They are found in
considerable numbers around Boulsworth, Gorple, Todmorden, and on the
hills which separate Lancashire from Yorkshire between these places.
Commencing the enumeration of the groups of boulders, &c., containing
rock basins, with the slopes of Boulsworth, about seven miles from
Burnley, we have first the Standing Stones, mostly single blocks of
millstone grit, at short distances from each other on the north-western
side of the hill. One is locally termed the Buttock Stone, and near it
is a block which has a circular cavity scooped out on its flat upper
surface. Not far from these are the Joiner Stones, the Abbot Stone, the
Weather Stones, and the Law Lad Stones [? from _llad_, British,
sacrifices]. Next come the Great and Little Saucer Stones, so named from
the cavities scooped out upon them. The Little Chair Stones, the Fox
Stones, and the Broad Head Stones lie at no great distance, each group
containing numerous like cavities. Several of these groups are locally
named from resemblance to animals or other objects, as the Grey Stones
and the Steeple Stones on Barn Hill, and one spur of Boulsworth is
called Wycoller Ark, as resembling a farmer's chest or ark. On Warcock
Hill several groups of natural rocks and boulders are locally named
Dave or Dew Stones. On the surface of one immense Dave Stone boulder is
a perfect hemispherical cavity, ten inches in diameter. The surface of
another contains an oblong basin of larger dimensions, with a long
grooved channel leading from its curved contour towards the edge of the
stone. On a third there are four circular cavities of varying
dimensions, the largest in the centre, and three others surrounding it,
but none of these is more than a few inches in diameter. At the Bride
Stones, near Todmorden, thirteen cavities were counted on one block, and
eleven on another. All the basins here and elsewhere are formed on the
_flat_ surfaces of the blocks; their upper surfaces being always
parallel to the lamination of the stone. Along Widdop Moor we find the
Grey Stones, the Fold Hole Stones, the Clattering Stones, and the
Rigging Stones; the last named from occupying the rig or ridge of the
hills in this locality. Amongst the Bride Stones is an immense mass of
rock which might almost be classed among the rocking stones. It is about
twenty-five feet in height, at least twelve feet across its broadest
part, and rests on a base only about two feet in diameter. The Todmorden
group contains the Hawk Stones, on Stansfield Moor, not far from
Stiperden Cross, on the line of the Long Causeway (a Roman road); the
Bride Stones, near Windy Harbour; the Chisley Stones, near Keelham; and
Hoar Law, not far from Ashenhurst Royd and Todmorden. The rock basins on
these boulders are very numerous, and of all sizes, from a few inches in
diameter and depth to upwards of two feet. The elliptical axes of some
of these basins did not appear to the writer to have been caused by the
action of wind or water, or to follow any regular law. Lastly, taking
for a centre, Gorple,[76] about five miles south-east of Burnley is
another extensive group of naked rocks and boulders. Close to the
solitary farm-house there are the Gorple Stones; and at a short distance
the Hanging Stones form conspicuous objects in the sombre landscape. On
Thistleden Dean are the Upper, Middle, and Lower Whinberry Stones, so
named from the "whinberry" shrubs, with which this moor abounds. The
Higher and Lower Boggart Stones come next, and these are followed by the
Wicken Clough, and other minor groups of stones. Above Gorple Bottom is
another set of grey stones; and these are followed by the Upper, Middle,
and Lower Hanging Stones, on Shuttleworth Moor.[77] The rock basins here
are very numerous, and mostly well defined. There are forty-three
cavities in these Gorple, Gorple Gate, and Hanging Stones, ranging from
four to forty inches in length, from four to twenty-five in breadth, and
from two to thirteen inches in depth.

Dr. Borlase confidently asserts that the ancient Druids used these rock
basins for baptismal and sacrificial purposes--a conjecture which the
authors of the _Beauties of Derbyshire_ admit to be probable; and so
does Higgins in his elaborate work on the _Celtic Druids_. The
supposition is supported by the fact of their occurring in such numbers
mostly _on the tops of hills_, in so many counties, and in such
different materials as the granite and the millstone-grit
formations.[78] Whether they have been formed by natural or artificial
means is still a matter of dispute. On the whole the writer's opinion
is, that the rock basins of Scilly, Cornwall, Derbyshire, Yorkshire, and
East Lancashire are partly natural, and partly artificial; the former
being comparatively few, and easily distinguished by their varying
depths and forms.[79] Whether wholly or partially natural or artificial,
he thinks it safe to conclude that they have been appropriated by the
Druids to their religious worship, as furnishing the means by which they
could offer their sacrifices and perform their ablutions. They would
also suffice for baptism, and preserve the rain or the dew from being
polluted by touching the earth. The Tolmen on the neighbouring hills[80]
may be taken as an additional reason for associating Druidical worship
with such remains. These contain small basins on the summits, which
differ in no respect from those here enumerated. They have, therefore,
most probably been used for similar purposes. Those above described form
a curious chapter in the oldest folk-lore of Lancashire.


    "Like elves and fairies in a ring."--_Macbeth._

England has ever been full of the favourite haunts of those pleasantest
of all the supernatural sprites of childhood and superstition--elves and
fairies. Volumes might be filled with the stories of their feats and
pranks in all parts of England; and our greatest poet has for ever
embalmed this superstition in the richest hues of poetic imagery and
fancy--especially in his _Midsummer Night's Dream_. The _Fairies_, or
"Hill Folk," yet live amongst the rural people of Lancashire. Antique
tobacco-pipes, "formerly belonging to the fairies," are still
occasionally found in the corners of newly-ploughed fields. They
themselves still gambol on the grassy meads at dewy eve, and their
revels are yet believed to be witnessed at times by some privileged
inhabitants of our "calm sequestered vales." It is generally stated
that, in order to see one of these diminutive beings, the use of
ointments, four-leaved clover, or other specific preparations, is
necessary; but a near relative of the writer, not more imbued with
superstition than the majority, firmly believed that he once saw a real
dwarf or fairy, without the use of any incantation. He had been amusing
himself one summer evening on the top of Mellor Moor, near Blackburn,
close to the remains of the Roman encampment, when his attention was
arrested by the appearance of a dwarf-like man, attired in full hunting
costume, with top-boots and spurs, a green jacket, red hairy cap, and a
thick hunting whip in his hand. He ran briskly along the moor for a
considerable distance, when, leaping over a low stone wall, he darted
down a steep declivity, and was lost to sight. The popular opinion of
the neighbourhood is, that an underground city exists at this place;
that an earthquake swallowed up the encampment, and that on certain days
in the year the hill folk may be heard ringing their bells, and
indulging in various festivities. Considerable quantities of stone,
which still remain around the ditches of this rectangular place, may
have suggested the ideas of a city and an earthquake. On other occasions
the fairies are supposed to exhibit themselves in military array on the
mountain sides; their evolutions conforming in every respect to the
movements of modern troops. Such appearances are believed to portend the
approach of civil commotions, and are said to have been more than
usually common about the time of the rebellion in 1745-6. This would
suggest an explanation of a more rational character. [Doubtless the
mirage, Fata Morgana, or Spectral appearances of the Hartz mountains.]

One Lancashire Fairy tale runs thus:--

Two men went poaching, and having placed nets, or rather sacks, over
what they supposed to be rabbit holes, but which were in reality
fairies' houses, the fairies rushed into the sacks, and the poachers
(believing them to be rabbits), content with their prey, marched
homewards again. One fairy missing another in the sack, called out (the
story was told in the broad Lancashire dialect)--"Dick" (dignified name
for a fairy), "where art thou?" To which fairy Dick replied,--

          "In a sack,
          On a back,
    Riding up Barley Brow."

The story has a good moral ending; for the men were so frightened that
they never poached again.[81]

The Rev. William Thornber[82] characterizes the elves and fairies as
kind, good-natured creatures, at times seeking the assistance of
mortals, and in return, liberally rewarding them. They have a favourite
spot between Hardhorn and Staining, at a cold spring of water called
"Fairies' Well" to this day. Most amusing stories of fairies are told
around that district. A poor woman, when filling her pitcher at the well
just named, in order to bathe the weak eyes of her infant child, was
mildly accosted by a handsome man, who presented her with a box of
ointment, and told her it would be a specific remedy. She was grateful
for the gift, but love for her child made her somewhat mistrustful; so
she first applied the ointment to one of her own eyes. Shortly
afterwards, she saw her benefactor at Preston, stealing corn from the
mouths of the sacks open for sale, and, much to his amazement, accosted
him. On his inquiry how she could recognise him, since he was invisible
to all else around, she told him how she had used his ointment, and
pointed to the powerful eye; when he immediately struck it out. A
milkmaid, observing a jug and a sixpence placed at her side by some
invisible being, filled the jug with milk, and took the money; this was
repeated for weeks, till, overjoyed with her good fortune, she could not
refrain from imparting it to her lover; but the jug and sixpence never
appeared again. A ploughman when engaged in his daily labour, heard a
plaintive cry, "I have broken my _speet_."[83] Hastily turning round,
the ploughman beheld a lady, holding in her hand a broken _spittle_, a
hammer, and nails, and beckoning him to repair it. He did so, and
instantly received a handsome reward; and then the lady vanished,
apparently sinking into the earth.


Under this general head we bring together a few scattered notices not
naturally falling under any precise classification, but all showing the
nature and character of common and popular notions, beliefs, and
superstitions. Where, however, the subject will admit of it, many
examples of this Folk-lore will be found in later pages, under the
general head of "Superstitions."


A very curious book exhibits some of the usages of our ancestors in this
part of the county, early in the reign of James I., entitled _The Way to
the True Church ... directed to all that seek for Resolution; and
especially to all his loving Countrymen of Lancashire, by John White,
Minister of God's Word at Eccles_. [White was vicar of Eccles only a few
months--from May, 1609.] The fifth edition or "impression" is a folio,
printed at London, 1624, but the Preface is dated Oct. 29th, 1608. White
complains of "the prodigious ignorance" which he found among his
parishioners when he entered upon his ministrations, and he proceeds
thus to tell his own tale:--"I will only mention what I saw and learned,
dwelling among them, concerning the saying of their prayers; for what
man is he whose heart trembles not to simple people so far seduced [or
so ill-taught] that they know not how to pronounce or say their daily
prayers; or so to pray that all that hear them shall be filled with
laughter? And while, superstitiously, they refuse to pray in their own
language with understanding, they speak that which their leaders [Roman
Catholic priests] may blush to hear. These examples I have observed from
the common people:

"'_The Creed._

"'Creezum zuum patrum onitentem Creatorum ejus anicum, Dominum nostrum
qui sum sops, virgini Mariæ, crixus fixus, Ponchi Pilati audubitiers,
morti by Sonday, father a fernes, scelerest unjudicarum, finis a
mortibus. Creezum spirituum sanctum, eccli Catholi, remissurum
peccaturum, communiorum obliviorum, bitam et turnam again.'

"'_The Little Creed._

    "'Little creed, can I need
    Kneele before our Ladies' knee;
    Candlelight, candles burne,
    Our Ladie pray'd to her dear Sonne
    That we all to heaven might come.
        Little creed. Amen.'

"This that followeth they call--

"'_The White Paternoster._

    "'White Paternoster, Saint Peter's brother,
    What hast i' th' t' one hand? White book leaves.
    What hast i' th' t' other hand? Heaven yate keys.
    Open heaven yates, and steyk [shut] hell yates:
    And let every crysome child creep to it own mother.
        White Paternoster, Amen.'

"'_Another Prayer._

    "'I bless me with God and the rood,
    With his sweet flesh and precious blood;
    With his cross and his creed,
    With his length and his breed,
    From my toe to my crown,
    And all my body up and down,
    From my back to my breast,
    My five wits be my rest;
    God let never ill come at ill,
    But through Jesus' own will,
    Sweet Jesus, Lord, Amen.'

"Many also use to wear vervain against blasts; and, when they gather it
for this purpose, first they cross the herb with their hand, and then
they bless it thus:--

    "'Hallowed be thou, Vervain,
    As thou growest on the ground,
    For in the Mount of Calvary,
    There thou wast first found.
    Thou healedst our Saviour Jesus Christ,
    And staunchedst his bleeding wound;
    In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,
    I take thee from the ground.'

"And so they pluck it up and wear it. Their prayers and traditions of
this sort are infinite, and the ceremonies they use in their actions are
nothing inferior to the Gentiles in number and strangeness. Which any
man may easily observe that converseth with them."[84]


The learned and venerable John Gerarde, author or translator of _A
History of Plants, or Herball_; first published in folio in 1597, has
the following marvellous story respecting barnacle-shells growing on
trees, and giving birth to young geese; not as a thing which some
wonder-monger had related to him, but as what he had seen with his own
eyes, and the truth of which he could, therefore, and does, most
solemnly avouch.

"There are found in the north parts of Scotland, and the isles adjacent
called Orcades, certain trees, whereon do grow certain shell-fishes, of
a white colour, tending to russet; wherein are contained little living
creatures; which shells in time of maturity do open, and out of them
grow those little living things; which, falling into the water, do
become fowls, whom we call barnacles, in the North of England brant
geese, and in Lancashire tree geese; but the others that do fall upon
the land perish and do come to nothing. Thus much by the writings of
others, and also from the mouths of people of those parts, which may
very well accord with truth. But _what our eyes have seen and hands have
touched, we shall declare_. There is a small island in Lancashire called
The Pile of Foulders [or Peel of Fouldrey] wherein are found the broken
pieces of old and bruised ships, some whereof have been cast thither by
shipwreck, and also the trunks or bodies, with the branches, of old
rotten trees, cast up there likewise; whereon is found a certain spume
or froth, that in time breedeth unto certain shells, in shape like those
of the mussel, but sharper pointed, and of a whitish colour; wherein is
contained a thing in form like a lace of silk, finely woven as it were
together, as of a whitish colour, one end whereof is fastened unto the
inside of the shell, even as the fish of oysters and mussels are. The
other end is made fast unto the belly of a rude masse or lump, which in
time cometh to the shape and form of a bird; when it is perfectly formed
the shell gapeth open, and the first thing that appeareth is the
foresaid lace or string; next come the legs of the bird hanging out; and
as it groweth greater it openeth the shell by degrees, till at length it
is all come forth and hangeth only by the bill. In short space after it
cometh to full maturity and falleth into the sea, where it gathereth
feathers and groweth to a fowl, bigger than a mallard and lesser than a
goose; and black legs and bill, or beak, and feathers black and white,
spotted in such a manner as is our magpie (called in some places a
pie-annet), which [not the magpie, but the barnacle-hatched fowl] the
people of Lancashire call by no other name than a tree goose; which
place aforesaid, and all those parts adjoining, do so much abound
therewith, that one of the best is bought for 3_d._; For the truth
hereof, if any doubt, may it please them to repair to me, and I shall
satisfy them by the testimony of good witnesses(!).... They spawn as it
were in March and April; the geese are formed in May and June, and come
to fulness of feathers in the month after." "There is another sort
hereof, the history of which is _true, and of mine own knowledge_; for
travelling upon the shores of our English coast between Dover and
Romney, I found the trunk of an old rotten tree, which (with some help
that I procured by fishermen's wives, that were there attending their
husbands' return from the sea) we drew out of the water upon dry land.
On this rotten tree I found growing many thousands of long crimson
bladders, in shape like unto puddings newly filled, before they be
sodden, which were very clear and shining; at the nether end whereof did
grow a shell-fish, fashioned somewhat like a small mussel, but much
whiter, resembling a shell-fish that groweth upon the rocks about
Guernsey and Jersey, called a limpet. Many of these shells I brought
with me to London, which, after I had opened, I found in them living
things, without form or shape; in others, which were nearer come to
ripeness, I found living things that were very naked, in shape like a
bird; in others, the birds covered with soft down, the shell half open,
and the bird ready to fall out, which no doubt were the fowls called
barnacles.... That which I have seen with my eyes and handled with my
hands, I dare confidently avouch and boldly put down for verity.... We
conclude and end our present volume with this wonder of God. For which
God's name be ever honoured and praised." This author figures the
_Britannica Conchæ Anatifera_, or the breed of barnacles; the woodcut
representing a tree growing by the sea, with leaves like mussel shells,
opening, and living creatures emerging; while others, swimming about in
the sea beneath, are perfect goslings! Well may the old herbalist call
this "one of the marvels of this land; we may say of the world." Dr.
Charles Leigh, in his _Natural History of Lancashire_, gravely labours
to refute the notion that barnacles grow into geese, as had been
asserted by Speed and others.

Sir J. Emerson Tennent, writing in _Notes and Queries_ (vol. viii. p.
223), referring to Porta's _Natural Magic_ for the vulgar error that not
only in Scotland, but in the river Thames, "there is a kind of
shell-fish which get out of their shells and grow to be ducks, or
such-like birds," observes that this tradition is very ancient, Porta,
the author, having died in 1515. In _Hudibras_ is an allusion to those--

    "Who from the most refin'd of saints,
    As naturally grow miscreants,
    As _barnacles_ turn Soland geese,
    In th' islands of the Orcades."

The story (says Sir James) has its origin in the peculiar formation of
the little mollusc which inhabits the multivalve shell, the _Pentalasmi
Anatifera_, which by a fleshy peduncle attaches itself by one end to the
bottoms of ships or floating timber, whilst from the other there
protrudes a bunch of curling and fringe-like cirrhi, by the agitation of
which it attracts and collects its food. These cirrhi so much resemble
feathers, as to have suggested the leading idea of a bird's tail; and
hence the construction of the remainder of the fable, which is given
with grave minuteness in _The Herball, or General Historie of Plants_,
gathered by John Gerarde, Master in Chirurgie (London, 1597). After
quoting the account, Sir James adds, that Gerarde, who is doubtless
Butler's authority, says elsewhere, "that in the north parts of
Scotland, and the islands called Orcades, there are certain trees
whereon these tree geese and barnacles abound." The conversion of the
fish into a bird, however fabulous, would be scarcely more astounding
than the metamorphosis which it actually undergoes, the young of the
little animal having no feature to identify it with its final
development. In its early stage (see Carpenter's _Physiology_, i. 52) it
has a form not unlike that of the crab, "possessing eyes and powers of
free motion: but afterwards becoming fixed to one spot for the remainder
of its life, it loses its eyes, and forms a shell, which, though
composed of various pieces, has nothing in common with the jointed shell
of the crab." Mr. T. J. Buckton (_Notes and Queries_, vol. viii. p.
224) says that Drayton (1613), in his _Polyolbion_, p. iii., in
connexion with the river Dee, speaks of--

    "Th' anatomised fish, and fowls from planchers sprung,"

to which a note is appended in Southey's edition (p. 609), that such
fowls were "_barnacles_, a bird breeding upon old ships." In the
_Entertaining Library_, "Habits of Birds," (pp. 363-379), the whole
story of this extraordinary ignorance of natural history is amply
developed. The barnacle-shells which I once saw in a sea-port attached
to a vessel just arrived from the Mediterranean had the brilliant
appearance at a distance of flowers in bloom. (See _Penny Cyclopædia_,
article "Cirripeda," vii. 206, reversing the woodcut). The foot of the
_Lepas Anatifera_ (Linn.), appeared to me like the stalk of a plant
growing from the ship's side. The shell had the semblance of a calyx,
and the flower consisted of the fingers (_tentacula_) of the shell-fish,
"of which twelve project in an elegant curve, and are used by it for
making prey of small fish." The very ancient error was to mistake the
foot of the shell-fish for the neck of a goose, the shell for its head,
and the _tentacula_ for a tuft of feathers. As to the body, _non est
inventus_. The Barnacle Goose is a well-known bird; and these shell-fish
bearing, as seen out of the water, resemblance to the goose's neck,
were ignorantly, and without investigation, confounded with geese
themselves. In France, the barnacle goose may be eaten on fast-days, by
virtue of this old belief in its fishy origin. From a passage in the
_Memoirs of Lady Fanshaw_, it appears that Sir Kenelm Digby, at the
table of the Governor of Calais, declared that barnacles, a bird in
Jersey, was first a shell-fish to appearance, and from that, sticking
upon old wood, became in time a goose! An advertisement of June, 1807,
sets forth that the "Wonderful curiosity called the Goose Tree, Barnacle
Tree, or Tree bearing geese, taken up at sea on the 12th January, 1807,
by Captain Bytheway, and was more than twenty men could raise out of the
water--may be seen at the Exhibition Rooms, Spring Gardens, from ten
o'clock in the morning till ten at night, every day. The Barnacles which
form the present exhibition possess a neck upwards of two feet in
length, resembling the windpipe of a chicken; each shell contains five
pieces, and notwithstanding the many thousands which hang to eight
inches of the tree, part of the fowl may be seen from each shell. Sir
Robert Moxay, in the _Wonders of Nature and Art_, speaking of this
singularly curious production, says, that in every shell he opened he
found a perfect sea-fowl[!], with a bill like that of a goose, feet like
those of water-fowl, and the feathers all plainly formed." (_Ibid._, p.


It is commonly held that washing the hands in water in which eggs have
been boiled will produce a plentiful crop of warts. Not long ago two
young and intelligent ladies stated that they had inadvertently washed
their hands and arms in egg-water, and in each case this had been
followed by large numbers of warts. This sequence they affirmed to be a
consequence, and the warts were shown as an ocular demonstration of the
unpleasant results of such lavation.


There is scarcely a town of any magnitude in Lancashire, or in one or
two adjacent counties, which does not possess its local "fortune-teller"
or pretender to a knowledge of astrology, and to a power of predicting
the future events of life, under the talismanic name of "fortune," to a
large and credulous number of applicants. The fortune-teller of the
nineteenth century professes to be able to "cast nativities" and to
"rule the planets." If, as is not unfrequently the case, he be a medical
botanist, he gathers his herbs when the proper planet is "in the
ascendant." Some of these impostors also profess to "charge the crystal"
(_i.e._, to look into a globular or egg-shaped glass), and thereby to
solve the gravest questions respecting the future fortunes of those who
consult them. Nor is this by any means an unprofitable pursuit. The
writer is aware of several instances in which "casting nativities," &c.,
has proved a golden harvest to the professor. One individual gave up a
well-paid occupation in order that he might devote himself wholly to the
still more lucrative practice of astrology and fortune-telling. He not
only predicted future events by means of the stars, but he gave heads of
families advice as to the recovery of stolen property and the detection
of the thief; while impatient maidens he counselled how to bring shy or
dilatory lovers to the point. Another practitioner added to these
practices the construction of sun-dials, in which he was very
ingenious, and thereby amassed considerable property after a long and
successful career. Instances are very common that credulity is not
confined to the ignorant or uneducated classes. An intelligent and
well-meaning lady once very seriously cautioned the writer against
diving into the secrets of astrology, as, she said, that pursuit had
"turned the head" of one of her acquaintance. She not only had a firm
faith in the truth of all astrological predictions, but (from
apprehension engendered by this faith) she would not on any account
suffer any of these practitioners to predict her fortune, nor would she
on any account consult them. It seems that on one occasion she did
commit herself so far as to go to "a wise man," whom we will call Mr.
I., in company with Miss J., whose marriage with Mr. K. was then
somewhat doubtful; and she afterwards solemnly affirmed that the
astrologer told her all her fortune. She described him as first
carefully drawing the requisite diagram, showing the state of the
heavens at the hour of Miss J.'s birth; and after "charging his glass"
he declared that the marriage would take place within a few months;
"but," he added, "he was also very sorry to inform her that she would
die young." Both these events did really happen within a limited period;
and of course the lady's belief in the truth of astrological prediction
was very powerfully strengthened and confirmed. Some time after these
events, this identical Mr. I. was brought before the magistrates in
petty sessions, charged with obtaining money under false pretences; with
practising astrology, palmistry, &c., and he only narrowly escaped
imprisonment through some technical error in the charge or summons. It
was said that the charge was a vindictive one--hence there was great
rejoicing amongst his friends when it was dismissed; but the inspector
of police who had charge of the case did not hesitate to declare that
there were many persons then present who had paid Mr. I. money for his

Another specimen of the fortune-teller we may notice from a rural
district. In the hamlet of Roe Green, in the township of Worsley, in a
humble cottage, a few years ago lived a man who held the position of
overseer or head of one class of workmen in the employ of the
Bridgewater Trust. In the language of the locality, "Owd Rollison
[Rawlinson] was a _gaffer_." But to this regular avocation he added the
profession of fortune-telling, and in the evenings many were the
applicants for a little knowledge of future events from the villages and
hamlets for miles around. His stock-in-trade consisted of various books
on astrology, &c., and of two magic glasses or crystals, one a small
globular mass of common white glass, with a short stem by which to hold
it; the other was about the size and shape of a large hen's egg, but
without any stem or handle. His whole apparatus was for some months in
the possession of the writer, and a list of his books may serve to show
the sort of literature held in esteem amongst this class of planet
rulers. 1. _The Three Books of Occult Philosophy_ of Henry Cornelius
Agrippa, translated by J. Freake (London, 1651, pp. 583).[85] 2. Lilly's
_Christian Astrology_, in three books (London, 1659, pp. 832). 3. John
Gadbury's _Thesaurus Astrologiæ_ (Westminster, 1674, pp. 272). 4. _The
Star_, by Ebn Shemaya (London, 1839, pp. 203). Zadkiel's _Grammar of
Astrology_ (London, 1849, pp. 178): in this volume were also bound up
"Tables for Calculating Nativities," by Zadkiel (London, 1850, pp. 64).
6. _A Plea for Urania_ (London, 1854, pp. 387).

One or two MS. books, apparently blank copy-books, which had been used
to draw diagrams, or, as the phrase goes, to "construct horoscopes," or
"erect schemes," or "cast nativities," showed that "Owd Rollison" had
dabbled a little in a sort of Astrology; but the rudeness of these
attempts betrayed him to be but a mere tyro in the "celestial science."
He had also a reputation for selling "charms" against the various ills
that flesh is heir to; amongst others, one to stop hæmorrhage. One
countryman told the writer that he remembered, when a boy, that his
uncle having a very severe hæmorrhage, so that he was believed to be
bleeding to death, this boy was told to run off as hard as he could to
Owd Rollison to get something to stop the bleeding. He soon received a
small piece of parchment containing sundry unintelligible characters
upon it, which was to be sewed up in a small bag and worn continually,
so that the bag should rest on the skin just over the heart. This was
done, the bleeding stopped, and the man recovered. Another person, who
had been a sort of confidant of the wise man, told the writer that at
one period Rawlinson went at regular intervals, and on stated days, to
Manchester, where at a quiet public-house he met other "wise men," and
they assembled in an upper chamber, with locked door, and sometimes
remained for hours in deliberation. Of the subject of such deliberations
the informant said he knew nothing, for he was never admitted; he had
the honour of remaining outside the door as watchman, guard, or
sentinel, to prevent any prying listeners from approaching. He
conjectured that what they were about was "magic and such like;" but
more he knew not. "Owd Rollison" kept his situation under the
Bridgewater Trust until his death, at a ripe old age; and though he left
several sons and a daughter, the mantle of his astrological or
fortune-telling wisdom does not seem to have fallen on any of them.

Much might be stated respecting the practice of the art of
fortune-telling by wandering gipsies, especially in that branch of it
termed palmistry--predicting the future from an examination of the
"lines" of the palm of the left hand, each of which, in the jargon of
palmists, has its own peculiar character and name, as the line of life,
of fortune, &c.; but as these wanderers are not indigenous to
Lancashire, but may be found in every county in England, it may suffice
thus to name them. Of the old women who tell fortunes by cards chiefly,
to silly women who are always wanting to know whether their future
husband is to be denoted by the King of Hearts (a true-loving swain) or
by the Monarch of Diamonds (as indicative of great wealth), it is enough
to say that they may be found by scores or hundreds in every town in


Our forefathers had a strong faith in the power of magic, and even
divided the knowledge of it into two opposite kinds--viz., "white
magic," which was acquired from the communications of the archangels and
angels, or at least from some of the good spirits who were allowed to
aid human beings by their supernatural power in deeds of beneficence;
and black magic, or "the black art," also termed "necromancy," which was
derived from dealings with the devil, or at least from commerce with
his imps, or the evil spirits of wicked dead men. At one period the
terms magician and conjuror had the same meaning--one who conjured, by
magical power, spirits and demons to appear and do his bidding. Conjuror
has since become a name for a professor of _legerdemain_ or


Edward Kelly, whose dealings in the Black Art, it is said, would fill a
volume, was born at Worcester, and had been an apothecary. We have
elsewhere noticed his doings as an alchemist. He was for a considerable
time the companion and associate of "Dr." John Dee, performing for him
the office of "Seer," by looking into the doctor's crystal or stone, a
faculty not possessed by Dee, who in consequence was obliged to have
recourse to Kelly for the revelations he has published respecting the
world of spirits. These curious transactions may be found in Casaubon's
work, entitled, _A True and Faithful Relation of what Passed for many
years between Dr. John Dee and some Spirits_--opening out another dark
page in the history of imposture and credulity. Dee says that he was
brought into unison with Kelly by the mediation of the angel Uriel.
Afterwards he found himself deceived by him, in his opinion that these
spirits which ministered unto him were messengers of the Deity. They had
had several quarrels before; but when Dee found Kelly degenerating into
the worst species of the magic art, for the purposes of avarice and
fraud, he broke off all connexion with him, and would never afterwards
be seen in his company. Kelly, being discountenanced by the doctor,
betook himself to the meanest practices of magic, in all which money and
the works of the devil appear to have been his chief aim. Many wicked
and abominable transactions are recorded of him.

In Lilly's Memoirs are the following passages relating to this
Seer:--"Kelly outwent the Doctor, viz., about the Elixir and the
Philosopher's Stone, which neither he nor his master attained by their
own labour and industry. It was in this manner that Kelly obtained it,
as I had it related from an ancient minister, who knew the certainty
thereof from an old English merchant, resident in Germany, at what time
both Kelly and Dee were there. Dee and Kelly, being on the confines of
the Emperor's dominions, in a city where resided many English merchants,
with whom they had much familiarity, there happened an old friar to come
to Dr. Dee's lodgings, knocking at the door. Dee peeped down stairs:
'Kelly,' says he, 'tell the old man I am not at home.' Kelly did so. The
friar said, 'I will take another time to wait upon him.' Some few days
after, he came again. Dee ordered Kelly, if it were the same person, to
deny him again. He did so; at which the friar was very angry. 'Tell thy
master I came to speak with him, and to do him good; because he is a
great scholar, and famous: but now tell him, he put forth a book, and
dedicated it to the Emperor. It is called _Monas Hieroglyphicas_. He
understands it not. I wrote it myself. I came to instruct him therein,
and in some other more profound things. Do thou, Kelly, come along with
me. I will make thee more famous than thy master Dee.' Kelly was very
apprehensive of what the friar delivered, and thereupon suddenly
retired from Dr. Dee, and wholly applied unto the friar, and of him
either had the Elixir ready made, or the perfect method of its
preparation and making. The poor friar lived a very short time after:
whether he died a natural death, or was otherwise poisoned or made away
by Kelly, the merchant who related this, did not certainly know." "It
was vulgarly reported that he [Kelly] had a compact with the devil,
which he out-lived, and was seized at midnight by infernal spirits, who
carried him off in sight of his family, at the instant he was meditating
a mischievous design against the minister of the parish, with whom he
was greatly at enmity."[86]


In the reign of Queen Elizabeth and the year 1560, three judicial
astrologers met in Preston, for the purpose of raising a corpse by
incantations. They were Dr. Dee, Warden of Manchester, Edward Kelly, his
assistant, and "seer," and Paul Wareing, of Dove Cotes, near Clayton
Brook. Casaubon, in his "True and faithful Account of what passed for
many years between John Dee and some Spirits," (apparently quoting from
Weever's _Funeral Monuments_) states that "The aforesaid Master Edward
Kelly, a person well skilled in judicial astrology, with one Paul
Wareing (who acted with him in these incantations and all these
conjurations) and Dr. Dee, went to the churchyard of St. Leonard's, in
Walton-le-Dale, near Preston, and entered the burial ground exactly at
midnight, the moon shining brightly, for the purpose of raising the body
of a person who had been interred there, and who had during his life
hidden a quantity of money without disclosing the fact previous to his
death. Having had the grave pointed out to them on the preceding day,
they opened it, removed the coffin lid, and set to work by various
exorcisms, until the body became animated, by the spirit entering it
again. The body then rose out of the grave and stood upright before
them. It not only satisfied their wicked desires, it is said, but
delivered several strange predictions concerning persons in the
neighbourhood, which were literally and exactly fulfilled. Sibley, in
his _Occult Sciences_, relates a similar account of this transaction,
and also gives an engraving representing the scene, which took place at
the midnight hour in the church of Walton. Another account states that
Dr. Dee was engaged with Kelly in this enterprise, August 12th, 1560,
and that Paul Wareing, of Clayton Brook, was the other who gave
assistance in endeavouring to obtain an intercourse with familiar
spirits."--(_Whittle's Preston._)


The loyal and munificent Edward (third) Earl of Derby, notwithstanding
his great services to Queen Elizabeth, and his long-proved loyalty, was
maligned and accused of traitorous intentions. The Earl of Huntingdon
wrote to Sir William Cecil, then the Queen's Secretary of State
(afterwards Lord Burghley, her Treasurer), a letter, communicating
suspicions of the Earl of Derby, which the writer asked should be burned
as soon as read, but which has been preserved (and printed) amongst Lord
Burghley's _State Papers_ (I. 603.) Modernising the spelling, the letter
runs thus:--

    Sir,--I am bolder to write to you on weighty matters, than I dare be
    to some others; the cause I leave to your consideration, and so to
    you only I am bold to impart that I hear. The matter in short is
    this:--Among the Papists of Lancashire, Cheshire, and the Cosynes
    (?), great hope and expectation there is, that Derby will play as
    foul a part this year as the two Earls did the last year. [See the
    Rising in the North.] I hope better of him for my part, and for my
    respects, both general and particular, I wish him to do better. I
    know he hath hitherto been loyal, and even the last year, as you
    know, gave good testimony of his fidelity, and of his own
    disposition, I think, will do so still; but he may be drawn by evil
    counsel, God knoweth to what. I fear he hath even at this time many
    wicked counsellors, and some too near him. _There is one Browne, a
    conjuror, in his house, kept secretly._ There is also one Uphalle,
    who was a pirate, and had lately his pardon, that could tell
    somewhat, as I hear, if you could get him. He that carried my Lord
    Morley over, was also there within this se'ennight, kept secretly.
    He with his whole family never raged so much against religion as
    they do now, he never came to common prayer for this quarter or this
    year, as I hear, neither doth any of the family, except five or six
    persons. I dare not write what more I hear, because I cannot justify
    and prove it; but this may suffice for you in time to look to it.
    And surely, in my simple opinion, if you send some faithful and wise
    spy, that would dissemble to come from D'Alva, and dissemble popery,
    you might understand all; for if all be true that is said, there is
    a very fond company in the house at this present. I doubt not but
    you can and will use this matter better than I can advise you. Yet
    let me wish you to take heed to which of your companions (though you
    be now but five together) you utter this matter _ne fortè_ it be in
    Lathom sooner than you would have it; for some of you have men about
    you and friends attending on you, &c., that deal not always well. I
    pray God save our Elizabeth and confound all her enemies; and thus I
    take my leave, committing you to God his tuition.

                                        Your assured poor friend,
                                                          H. HUNTYNGDON.
    From Ashby, 24 Aug., 1570.

    P.S.--Because none there should know of my letter, I would not send
    it by my servant, but have desired Mr. Ad to deliver it to you in
    secret. When you have read it, I pray you to burn it and forget the
    name of the writer. I pray God I may not hear any more of your
    coming to ----.

There seems to have been no substantial ground for suspecting the
loyalty of the Earl of Derby, which remained unshaken through another
ordeal, the conspiracy of the Duke of Norfolk to marry the Queen of
Scots, and place her on the English throne. But the Bishop of Ross gave
evidence, that in Mary's design, in 1571, to escape from Sheffield
Castle to the Continent, she was aided by several Lancashire gentlemen;
and adds, that she wrote a letter by a little priest of Rolleston's to
Sir Thomas Stanley. Sir Thomas Gerrard and Rolleston devised a cypher
for her; and they offered to convey her away, and willed the Bishop to
ask the Duke of Norfolk's opinion therein. The prelate further stated
that Hall told him that if the Queen [Mary] would get two men landed in
Lancashire, Sir Thomas Stanley, and Sir Edward Stanley, along with Sir
Thomas Gerrard, and Rolleston, would effect her escape to France or
Flanders, &c. Upon this evidence Sir Thomas Stanley, Sir Thomas Gerrard,
and Rolleston, were apprehended, and committed to the Tower as state


[75] Allen's _History of Yorkshire_, vol. iii. pp. 421-425.

[76] _Gort_, narrow; _gor_, upper, Brit.; _gór_, blood, A.-S. _Gorple_
may mean the bloody pile, or the upper pile.

[77] From _Sceot-hull_, afterwards _Scout_ or _Shoot-hill_, and
_worth_--_i.e._, the farm or hamlet of the projecting ledge or hill.

[78] Dr. Borlase's argument is cumulative. He observes that rock basins
are always on the _top_, never on the _sides_ of the stones; that the
ancients sacrificed on rocks; that water was used by them for lustration
and purification; that snow, rain, or dew, was preferred by them to
running water; that it was not permitted to touch the earth; that the
Druids practised similar rites, and held rain or snow-water to be holy;
and they attributed a healing virtue to the gods inhabiting rocks; that
their priests stood upon rocks to wash, sprinkle, and drink, &c. All
these considerations, he conceives, favour his opinion that rock basins
were _used_, if not _formed_, by the Druids.

[79] See Watson's _History of Halifax_, pp. 27-36.

[80] Professor Hunt is of the same opinion. See his recent work on the
_Drolls of Cornwall_, vol. i. pp. 186-228.

[81] T. G. C., in _Notes and Queries_, vol. vii. p. 177.

[82] In his _History of Blackpool_, pp. 333-4.

[83] Speet, spit, or spittle, are names in Lancashire for a spade.

[84] L. B., in _Notes and Queries_, vol. viii. p. 613.--_Bibliographical
Notice of the Works of the Learned and Rev. Divine, John White, D.D.,
&c._ London, 1624; in _Chet. Soc. Books_, vol. xxxviii. p. 52.

[85] There is another curious volume, which professes to contain a
fourth book of Agrippa; but it is spurious. It includes five
treatises--viz., 1. Henry Cornelius Agrippa's Fourth Book on Occult
Philosophy and Geomancy; 2. The Magical Elements of Peter de Abano; 3.
The Astronomical Geomancy of Gerard Cremonensis; 4. Isagoge, or the
Nature of Spirits, by Geo. Victorius Villinganus, M.D.; and 5. Arbatel
of Magick. Translated into English by Robert Turner, Philomathées.
(London, 1665, 8vo, pp. 266.) Another version of this book appeared in
1783, 8vo. It would lead us too far to describe the strange contents of
this book, which contains long lists of the names of good and evil
spirits, and symbols representing their characters; also symbols of the
archangels and angels, their sigils, planets, signs, &c.

[86] See Roby's _Traditions of Lancashire_.

[87] (_Lord Burghley's Papers_, vol. ii., p. 771.) The death of Edward
Earl of Derby, "with whom (says Camden) the glory of hospitality hath in
a manner been laid asleep," took place on the 24th October, 1572.


An age of credulity is naturally rich in miracles. Superstition is ever
prone to explain the mysterious, or to account for the questionable, by
hunting for some supernatural cause; and hence the popular love for and
strong faith in the miraculous. No church erected before the Reformation
but had its miraculous legend; no well or spring of a remote antiquity
but had its tradition, either connected with its origin or with its
marvellous and miraculous powers of healing. The miracle of a past age,
preserved to the present in the form of a legend, is equally entitled to
a place in our Folk-Lore.


One of the Harleian Manuscripts (Cod. 423), found amongst the papers of
Fox the Martyrologist, and entitled "De Miraculis Beatissimi Militis Xpi
Henrici Vj." (Of the Miracles of the Most blessed Knight of Christ,
Henry VI.), consisting of about 150 closely written pages, contains an
account of a vast number of reputed miracles performed by this weak and
credulous monarch (who long hoped to pay his large debts by the aid of
two alchemists!) and of which the following specimens will doubtless
suffice for our readers:--How Richard Whytby, priest of St. Michael's,
was long ill of a fever, and at last miraculously cured by journeying to
the tomb of Henry VI. John, called Robynson, who had been blind ten
years, recovered his sight by visiting Henry's tomb. How Henry
Lancaster, afflicted in fever, was miraculously cured in three days by
the appearance of the blessed prince Henry VI. in the sky. How a girl
called Joan Knyght, who was nearly killed with a bone sticking in her
throat, and considered dead, on the bystanders invoking Henry VI.,
vomited the bone and was restored to health. If these superstitions
wanted a crowning absurdity, that is not wanting in the fact that Henry
VII. actually sent an embassy to Rome, to importune the newly-elected
Pope Julius II. to canonize Henry VI. as a saint! His holiness referred
the matter to certain cardinals, to take the verification of the
deceased monarch's holy acts and miracles; but these were not
sufficiently obvious to entitle him to the dignity of the calendar, and
the negotiation was abandoned in despair.[88]

Mr. Monckton Milnes, M.P. (now Lord Houghton), in an interesting letter
in _Notes and Queries_, I. 181, asks for information respecting this
popular "saint," to whom the Church, however, denied canonization. He
refers to Brady for an account of the miracle performed at the tomb of
Thomas Earl of Lancaster, and of the picture or image of the Earl
exhibited in St. Paul's, London, and the object of many offerings. Brady
cites the opinion of an ecclesiastic, who doubted the propriety of this
devotion being encouraged by the Church; the Earl, besides his political
offences, having been a notorious evil-liver. In June 1327, a "King's
letter" (of Edward III.) was given to Robert de Weryngton, authorizing
him and his agents to collect alms throughout the Kingdom for the
purpose of building a chapel on the hill where the Earl was beheaded;
and praying all prelates and authorities to give him aid and heed. This
sanction gave rise to imposture; and in the following December a
proclamation appeared, ordering the arrest and punishment of
unauthorized persons collecting money under this pretence and taking it
for their own use. The chapel was constructed, and officiated in till
the dissolution of the monasteries; the image in St. Paul's was always
regarded with especial affection, and the cognomen of "_Saint_ Thomas of
Lancaster" was generally accepted and understood. Five hundred years
after the execution of the Earl of Lancaster [in 1822], a large stone
coffin, massive and roughly hewn, was found in a field that belonged of
old to the Priory of Pomfret, but at least a quarter of a mile distant
from the hill where the chapel stood. Within was the skeleton of a
full-grown man, partially preserved; the skull lay between the thighs.
There is no record of the decapitation of any person at Pontefract of
sufficient dignity to have been interred in a manner showing so much
care for the preservation of the body, except the Earl of Lancaster. The
coffin may have been removed here at the time the opposite party forbade
its veneration, from motives of precaution for its safety.--R. M.
M.--[The Editor of _Notes and Queries_ adds, that "The Office of St.
Thomas of Lancaster," which begins "_Gaude, Thoma, ducum decus, lucerna
Lancastriæ_," is printed in the volume of "_Political Songs_" edited by
Mr. Wright for the Camden Society, from a royal MS. in the British
Museum, _MS. Reg. 12_. Another correspondent, we believe Mr. James
Thompson of Leicester, states that at the dissolution of the monasteries
in that town, several relics of St. Thomas (who was Earl of Leicester,
as well as of Lancaster) were exhibited; amongst others his felt hat,
which was considered a great remedy for the headache!]


Beneath the eastern gable of the chancel lies a huge stone coffin, with
a cavity for the head, but its history is unknown. In the wall just
above it is a small indentation, resembling the form of a foot, which,
according to tradition, was made by the high-heeled shoe of a Popish
disputant, who, in the ardour of debate, wished, if the doctrine he
advanced was not true, that his foot might sink into the stone, "upon
which the reforming stone instantly softened, and buried the papistical
foot;" much in the same way, no doubt, as the flag in Smithells Hall
received the print of the foot of George Marsh, the martyr.[89]


George Marsh, one of the three Lancashire martyrs in the reign of Queen
Mary, was the son of Mr. George Marsh, a yeoman of Dean, and was born
about 1575. He was educated at the Bolton Free Grammar School, and for a
time followed farming, and, marrying at twenty-five, settled there till
the death of his wife; when, placing his children with his father, he
became a student at Cambridge University, was ordained, and was
appointed curate of All-Hallows, Bread-street, London. He continued for
some time preaching the reformed doctrines, and zealously supporting the
Protestant faith, both in London and Lancashire; and while in his native
county, in March 1555, he learned that he had been sought after by the
servants of Mr. Barton of Smithells Hall, a magistrate; on which he went
thither voluntarily, and was examined before Mr. Barton. In a passage
near the door of the dining-room is a cavity in a flag, bearing some
resemblance to the print of a man's foot, and this cavity is said by
tradition to have been caused by the martyr stamping his foot to confirm
his testimony, and it is shown to this day as a miraculous memorial of
the holy man. The story goes, that "being provoked by the taunts and
persecutions of his examiners, he stamped with his foot upon a stone,
and, looking up to Heaven, appealed to God for the justness of his
cause; and prayed that there might remain in that place a constant
memorial of the wickedness and injustice of his enemies." It is said
that about the beginning of the eighteenth century this stone was
removed by two or three young men, of the family of Barton, then living
at the hall, during the absence of their parents; that they cast it into
the clough behind the hall; but all the inmates of the house were so
much disturbed that same night by alarming noises, that they could not
rest. Inquiry led to confession, the stone was replaced, and the noises
ceased. It is also stated that in 1732, a guest (John Butterworth, of
Manchester,) sleeping alone in the Green Chamber at Smithells Hall, saw
an apparition, in the dress of a minister with bands, and a book in his
hand. The ghost of Marsh (for so it was pronounced to be) disappeared
through the door-way, and on the owner of Smithells hearing the story,
he directed that divine service (long discontinued) should be resumed at
the hall chapel every Sunday. Such are some of the stories told about
Smithells Hall; and there is hardly an old hall in the country that has
not one or more such traditions floating about its neighbourhood. It is
as if ghostly visitants scorned to honour with their presence any house
below the dignity of a hall. In this case, it may be observed that
neither in Marsh's own account of what passed at Smithells, nor in Mr.
Whatton's Biographical notice of him in Baines's _History of
Lancashire_, is any mention made of the miraculous footprint. But in a
volume of four or five tracts printed at Bolton (no year stated) the
third tract is "The Life and Martyrdom of George Marshe," &c. "Also, the
particulars respecting the print of a foot on the flag shewn at
Smithills Hall, near Bolton;" which latter is signed "W. D.," and dated
"August 22, 1787." Amongst other discrepancies, it may be observed that
W. D. makes Marsh's interrogator "Sir Roger Barton;" while Marsh, a
native of the immediate neighbourhood invariably writes of him as "Mr.


Better than six hundred years ago (runs the story) some monks came over
to Lancashire from another country; and, finding all this part of the
kingdom covered with wood, they resolved to build a monastery in some
part of Cartmel Forest. In their rambles, they found a hill which
commanded a prospect so beautiful and extensive that they were quite
charmed with it. They marked out a piece of ground on the summit, and
were preparing to build the church, when a voice spoke to them out of
the air, saying "Not there, but in a valley, between two rivers, where
the one runs north, and the other south." Astonished at this strange
command, they marvelled where the valley could be, for they had never
seen a valley where two rivers ran in contrary directions. They set out
to seek this singular valley, and travelled throughout the North of
England, but in vain. Wearied with their fruitless search, they were
returning to the hill where they had heard the strange voice. In passing
through a valley covered with wood, they came to a small river, the
stream of which ran north. They waded through it, and shortly after
found another, the stream of which ran south. They placed the church
midway between the two streams, upon a little island, of hard ground, in
the midst of a morass; dedicating it to St. Mary. They also built a
small chapel on the hill where they had heard the voice, which they
dedicated to St. Bernard. The chapel has long since disappeared, but the
hill is still called Mount Bernard.[90]


In 1562, a native of Manchester who called himself Elias, but whose real
name was Ellys, pretended to possess the spirit of prophecy. He went to
London, where he made some proselytes, uttering his "warning voice" in
the public places. James Pilkington, D.D., a native of Rivington, in
Lancashire, and an eminent Protestant divine, who was raised by Queen
Elizabeth in 1560 to the See of Durham, preached before the Queen at
Greenwich, against the supposed mission of this Manchester fanatic. The
Bishop of London, three days afterwards, ordered the northern prophet to
be put in the pillory in Cheapside. He was thence committed to
Bridewell, where he died in or about 1565.


[88] Baines's _Lancashire_.

[89] Baines's _Lancashire_.

[90] See _Lonsdale Magazine_, February, 1821.


An intense desire to know future events, besides being the great
encouragement of astrologers, sorcerers, and magicians, wise men,
cunning women, fortune-tellers, &c., has given rise to a large class of
small circumstances which are regarded as indicative of coming good or
bad luck, of good or evil fortune, to the observer or the person
experiencing their influence. Hence, nothing is more common than to hear
amongst uneducated and credulous people predications from the most
trivial occurrences of daily life. A winding-sheet in the candle,
spilling the salt, crossing knives, and various other trifles, are omens
of evil to thousands of lore-folk to this day. Should one of your
children fall sick when on a visit at a friend's house, it is held to be
sure to entail bad luck on that family for the rest of the year, if you
stay over New Year's-day. Persons have been known to travel sixty miles
with a sick child rather than run the risk. A flake of soot on the bars
of the grate is said to indicate the approach of a stranger; a bright
spark on the wick of a candle, or a long piece of stalk in the tea-cup,
betokens a similar event. When the fire burns briskly, some lover smirks
or is good-humoured. A cinder thrown out of the fire by a jet of gas
from burning coals, is looked upon as a coffin, if its hollow be long;
as a purse of gold, if the cavity be roundish. Crickets in a house are
said to indicate good fortune; but should they forsake the chimney
corner, it is a sure sign of coming misfortunes.

In the neighbourhood of Lancaster I know ladies who consider it "lucky"
to find _old iron_: a horse-shoe or rusty nail is carefully conveyed
home and hoarded up. It is also considered lucky if you see the _head_
of the first lamb in spring; to present his _tail_ is the certain
harbinger of misfortune. It is also said that if you have money in your
pocket the first time you hear the cuckoo, you will never be without all
the year.[91]

In Lancashire we still dislike the moaning or hooting of owls and the
croaking of ravens, as much as the Romans did of old. In a large class
of our population few would yet defy evil fate, by beginning a journey
or any important undertaking, or marrying, on a Friday; on which day
Lancashire, like other sailors, have a strong repugnance to beginning a
voyage. This day of the week is regarded as of evil augury, because it
was the day (Good Friday) when our Saviour's blood was shed. The
auguries of dreams are so numerous, that a large class of chap-books are
still to be found circulating in country places, from _Mother Shipton_
to _Napoleon's Book of Fate_. Few young women in the country, farmers'
daughters and servants, were without a favourite "Dream-Book." Again,
the farmer or cottager deems it necessary, in order to secure a crop of
onions, to sow the seed on St. Gregory's-day [March 12] named
"Gregory-gret-Onion," (_i.e._, Gregory the Great). Amongst the more
pardonable longings to raise the veil of futurity are those of village
maidens (and not a few of those in towns too, and of all ranks) to get a
peep at the figure of the husband whom the future has in store for her.
On All-Hallows' Eve she strews the ashes which are to take the form of
one or more letters of her lover's name; she throws hemp-seed over her
shoulder and timidly glances to see who follows her. On the fast of St.
Agnes she watches a small candle called a "pig-tail," to see the passing
image of her future husband. The up-turned tea-cup, for its leaves, or
the coffee-cup for its "grounds;" the pack of cards, with the desired
King of Hearts or Diamonds, the sputterings and spurtings of a
tallow-candle, all furnished to the omen-instructed damsel some sign by
which to read the future, and to arrive at a knowledge of her lot in
life, as to husband, children, fortune, &c. When leaving home to begin a
journey, or to commence any future enterprise, it is deemed an
important observance, necessary to insure good luck, to walk
"withershins" (_i.e._, as the weather or sun shines). In many country
places this is always observed by a bridal party when advancing to the
altar to have the marriage solemnized, and, of course, one particular
aisle of the church is the only fortunate or lucky one to proceed by.
Some, however, say that to walk "widdershins" is to take a direction
contrary to the course of the sun, _i.e._, from right to left.[92] Some
persons more credulous than humane, will shut up a poor cat in the oven,
to ensure their own good luck. Days have long been parcelled out between
lucky and unlucky, for any important undertaking, as a journey, taking a
partner in business or for life, buying land, or even for such trivial
matters as blood-letting, taking physic, cutting the hair, or paring
nails. Again, the moon's age is an important element in securing future
weal or woe. For the first year of an infant's life many mothers will
not have its hair or nails cut, and when the year is gone these
operations must be performed when the moon is so many days old, to
ensure good results. A tooth, as soon as it has been drawn, should be
sprinkled with salt, and thrown into the fire; if it be lost, no rest or
peace will be enjoyed till it is found again. The following are a few
omens drawn from observing peculiarities about animals:--


1. If a cat tear at the cushions, carpets, &c., with its claws, it is
considered to be a sign of wind. Hence we say, "the cat is raising the
wind." 2. If a cat in washing its face draw its paw quite over its
forehead, it is a sign of fair weather. If not so, it betokens speedy
rain. 3. Allowing cats to sleep with you is considered very unhealthy.
They are said to "draw your health away." 4. Those who play much with
cats have never good health. A cat's hair is said to be indigestible,
and you will die if one get into your stomach. 5. It is counted unlucky
to allow cats to die in a house. Hence when they begin to be ill they
are usually drowned. A case of this kind occurred in Burnley a short
time ago. 6. If a kitten come to a house, it is counted a lucky omen.


1. Dogs are said to sit down and howl before the door when any one is
about to be sick, or die. A death is considered _certain_ if the dog
return as often as driven away. 2. Dogs are hence considered to be
somehow acquainted with the spirit world, "or else," as one said, "how
should they know when a person is going to die?" This is firmly
believed in about Mellor and Blackburn. In Burnley and neighbourhood
equally so at present. 3. The _life_ of a dog is sometimes said to be
_bound up_ with that of its master or mistress. When either _dies_ the
other cannot _live_. Is this a remnant of the old belief in the
transmigration of souls? 4. The whining of a favourite dog is considered
by many to betoken calamity to the family to which it belongs.


It is very lucky for lambs to have their faces towards you when you
first see them in Spring. The omen is much more favourable when they are
looking towards the east.


To kill or ill-use swallows, wrens, redbreasts, &c., is accounted
unfortunate; for these all frequent our houses for good. There is a
stanza common among us which declares that

    "A Cock Robin and a Jenny Wren
    Are God Almighty's cock and hen;
    A Spink and a Sparrow
    Are the Devil's bow and arrow."

Birds are supposed by some to be somehow cognizant of what is about to
happen. A _jackdaw_ is always an unwelcome visitor, if it alight on the
window-sill of a sick chamber. A _white dove_ is thought to be a
favourable omen; its presence betokens recovery to the person within, or
it is _an angel in that form_ ready to convey the soul of a dying person
to heaven. I once knew a Wesleyan Methodist who was of opinion that
"forgiveness of sins" was assured to her by a small bird, which flew
across her path when she had long been praying for a token of this kind.
When a _Canary-bird_ sings cheerfully, all is well with the family that
keeps it; when it becomes silent, and remains so, there is calamity in
store for that household. If you hear the _cuckoo_ shout towards the
east, for the first time in any year, and have gold, silver, and copper
coin in your pockets, you will never want money during that year.


1. If swallows, or martins, begin to build their nests about a house or
barn, it is looked upon as predicating good luck to the occupier. "The
_more_ birds the _better_ luck." 2. On the contrary, when they forsake a
haunt, the occupiers become apprehensive of misfortune. Hence farmers
will always protect such birds, and often ill-use boys who may be
stoning them, or attempting to rob their nests.


There are, at least in Lancashire and Yorkshire, many curious
superstitions connected with this bird. Its appearance _singly_ is still
regarded in both these counties by many even of the educated
representatives of the last generation, as an evil omen, and some of the
customs supposed to break the charm are curious. One is simply to raise
the hat as in salutation, another to sign the cross on the breast, and
to make the same sign by crossing the thumbs. This last custom is
confined to Yorkshire, and I know one elderly gentleman who not only
crosses his thumbs, but spits over them when in that position, a
practice which was, he says, common in his youth. The superstition
applies only to a single magpie, according to the old nursery legend:--

    "One for sorrow,
    Two for mirth,
    Three for a wedding,
    And four for a birth."[93]

I met a person the other day who solemnly assured me that he had seen a
'pynot' as he came along the road; but he had made the figure of a cross
on the mire in the road, in order to avert the evil omen.[94]

In Lancashire they say:--

    "One for anger,
    Two for mirth,
    Three for a wedding,
    Four for a birth,
    Five for rich,
    Six for poor,
    Seven for a witch:
    I can tell you no more."[95]

But in Tim Bobbin it is expressly said that two magpies are indicative
of ill-fortune:--"I saigh two rott'n pynots, hong 'um, that wur a sign
of bad fashin; for I heerd my gronny say hoo'd as leef o' seen two Owd
Harries os two pynots."[96] "I shall catch none to-day," we heard a man
advanced in life, exclaim in a melancholy tone, who was angling in the
river Ribble. "Why?" we asked, "the day is not inauspicious." "No; but
do you not see that magpie?" In fact _pynots_, that is, magpies,
according to an old Lancashire superstition, are considered birds of
ill-omen. In spring it is considered by old-fashioned anglers unlucky to
see a single magpie; but two are a favourable auspice, because in cold
weather one bird only leaves the nest in search of food, the other
remaining to keep the eggs or the young ones warm; but when both are out
together, the weather is warm, mild, and favourable for fishing.[97]


This might well form a great division of itself, in any work on
Folk-lore. Yet a little reflection will serve to show that it is only
one branch, though a very large one, of the general subject of "Omens."
Dreams are regarded by the superstitious simply for what they predicate
as about to happen; in other words, they are important to the credulous
only as _omens_ of coming events. Itinerant hawkers and small village
shops drive a considerable trade in "Dream Books," or "Books of Fate,"
which profess to interpret every dream and to explain every omen,
whether of good or evil import. Of the great variety and extent of
"Dream-Book literature" we cannot treat, for want of space. Hawkers and
small shops sell a vast quantity of penny dream-books in Lancashire. One
of the oldest specimens of these chap-books we have met with is a little
32mo. volume, entitled "_Mother Shipton's Legacy_, or a favourite
Fortune-book, in which is given a pleasing interpretation of dreams, and
a collection of prophetic verses, moral and entertaining." (York, 1797,
price 4_d._) Cap. I. treats of Lucky and Unlucky Days; II. of Moles on
the Person; III. Miscellaneous; IV. Dreams; and V. a Magical Table. A
few specimens of the dream portion may suffice:--To dream of joy denotes
grief; of fine clothes, poverty; of sweetmeats, a whipping; of flying,
falling down; of fire, anger; of serpents, private enemies; of money,
loss; of weeping, joy; of bathing, ease from pain; of kissing, strife;
of feasting, want; of many people, affliction; of singing, sorrow; of
changing abode, sudden news; of fishing, good luck; of death, marriage;
of finding money, bad luck; of gold, death; of embracing, death; of
being bald, misfortune; of a long nose, death; of growing fat, wealth;
of drinking water, good entertainment; of the sun rising, preferment; of
flashes of fire, sudden death; of being among tombs, riches by the death
of relations; of your teeth falling out, losses; of a lean ox, famine;
of a fine garden, much pleasure.


    Though plain and palpable each subject seems,
    Yet do not put your trust too much in dreams;
    Events may happen, which in dreams you see,
    And yet as often quite contrary be:
    This learned hint observe, for Shipton's sake--
    Dreams are but interludes which fancies make.

Many persons persuade themselves into the belief that events are
revealed to them in dreams. Those who can neither _see_ nor _hear_
spirits generally presume to have this faculty. _One_ dream is not taken
much notice of, but if the dream be repeated substantially _three_
times, the events of the dreams are supposed to be sure to come to pass.
Some _see_ all the circumstances as _realities_ in their dreams, others
only have dim recollections; they _hear_ all but do not _see_ the
persons. This agrees with the supposed _prophetical_ dreams of the
ancient Greeks and Romans. (_Homer_, _Virgil_, _Ovid_, &c.) Morning
dreams are more to be relied on than those of any other time. Those of
the morning twilight are most valued. Horrid dreams, or those in which
the dreamer feels very uneasy, are supposed to predict bad luck, or
misfortune to the family. "Dreams," they say, "always go by contraries."
There is a very general belief in dreams among the people of Lancashire.
The following are a few not hitherto noticed by the writer:--1. Dreaming
of _misfortune_ betokens _prosperity_.

    "Content and happy may they be
    Who dream of cold adversity;
    To married man and married wife
    It promises a happy life."

2. To dream of sickness betokens _marriage_ to young persons. 3.
Dreaming of being before an altar indicates sorrow and misfortune. 4. To
see angels is a sure sign of coming happiness. 5. When you dream of
being angry with any one, you may count that person amongst your best
friends. 6. To dream of catching fish is very unfortunate; every fish
you take betokens the death of some valued friend. 7. Dreaming about
balls, dances, &c., indicates coming good fortune. To the young we may

    "Who dreams of being at a ball,
      No cause have they for fear;
    For soon they will united be
      To those they hold most dear."

8. When persons dream of losing their hair, it is a sign of loss of
health, friends, or property. 9. If a person dream of losing _one_, or
_more_, of his teeth, it is a sign that he will lose _one_, or _more_,
lawsuits which he may happen to be engaged in. I knew a person who had a
case in our county court. The case was to come on on the Thursday; but
on Wednesday night he dreamt he had lost a tooth. On the case being
decided against him, he appealed to his dream as a sure indication of
his non-success. 10. Dreaming of bees is counted lucky, because they are

    "Happy the man who dreaming sees
    The little humble busy bees
      Fly humming round their hive."

If the bees sting you, it is a sign of bad luck, crosses and
difficulties. 11. Dreaming of marriage, brides, &c., is a sign of death,
or long sickness. 12. To dream of a candle burning _brightly_ betokens
health, prosperity; and _vice versâ_. 13. Dreaming of cats betokens
treachery; but if you kill the cat you will have revenge. 14. To dream
of seeing a _coffin_ is unlucky; but to dream of seeing a _corpse_
betokens a speedy marriage. 15. Dreaming of _death_ betokens long life
and happiness. 16. To dream that you are _dirty_ implies sickness for a
longer or shorter period. 17. If you dream of being _drowned_ you will
experience some loss. 18. To dream of _falling_ indicates loss. 19. To
dream of _flying_ implies that you will not succeed in accomplishing
high things. 20. If you dream of the water in a river being very _clear_
you will have good luck; if the water be _muddy_ you will have
misfortune. 21. When a widow dreams of seeing her husband, it is a sure
sign that she will soon have an eligible offer. 22. If you dream that
you are daubed with ink, you may be sure that some one is _writing_ evil
of you. 23. Dreaming of going on a journey indicates a change in your
circumstances. 24. To dream of flying kites, or playing with bunches of
keys, betokens prosperity and advancement in business. 25. To dream of
cutting yourself, or of being infested with lice, indicates misfortune
or disease. 26. It is very fortunate to dream of milk. 27. To dream of
being naked indicates shame and misfortune. 28. To dream of the nose
bleeding is a very sure sign of misfortune and loss. 29. Dreaming of
seeing the ocean in a calm state betokens steadiness of circumstances;
and _vice versâ_. 30. To dream of rats indicates difficulties; of snow,
prosperity and success; of a wedding, death; and of a widow, that your
husband, wife, or lover, will desert you.

All the preceding, and many more, are well-known to every Lancashire lad
and lass.


Our farmers predict fair weather, or the reverse, according as the new
moon "lies on her back," or "stands upright." It is also very unlucky
for anyone to look at the new moon, for the first time, through the


A "quarter" of the heavens, or compass, or direction; "a lucky hæver" is
a fortunate or desirable direction. The origin of this word is somewhat
difficult of explanation; nor is it certain whether its proper etymon
has yet been ascertained. It is still in common use among some of the
farmers in East Lancashire, and was much more frequently used some
thirty or forty years ago. "What _hæver_ is the wind in this morning?"
was a common inquiry when any prediction respecting the weather for the
day was about to be hazarded. "I don't expect much rain," would probably
be the reply, "the wind is in a good _hæver_." There is generally most
rain in these parts of Lancashire when the wind blows from the south or
south-west; and hence if the wind came from the eastward continued rain
was not to be expected.

Most persons have a notion that the East is the most sacred point of the
compass. The Star of the Nativity was seen in the east; the chancel, or
most holy portion of a church is placed at the east; and the dead are
buried so as to rise with their faces towards the east on the morning of
the resurrection. These considerations have been applied to the _hæver_
from which the wind may blow; and hence the proverb occasionally met
with among those who live in the neighbourhood of Mellor and Ramsgreave,
near Blackburn, to the effect that "the East is a lucky _hæver_."

A writer who signs himself "F. C. H." in _Notes and Queries_, 3rd
series, vol. vii. p. 310, asks whether _hæver_ is not "a peculiar
pronunciation of ever, so that the above inquiry would be in plain
English, _whatever_ is the wind in this morning?" This derivation
appears both too fanciful and insufficient; for when we consider that
Lancashire formed part of the Danelagh, and was long a Danish kingdom,
and that its dialect contains a large admixture of Danish words; we are
naturally led to examine whether such a term may not be found in the
Danish language. On examination this proves to be the fact, for "Hive,"
(pronounced "heeve," as "high" is pronounced "hee,") is the verb "to
blow;" and hence "hiver" or "hæver," as applied to the place whence the
wind is blowing. This derivation appears to be both natural and
sufficient, since it fully accounts for the use of this peculiar term;
which, by the way, is not found in Halliwell's _Dictionary of Archaic
Words_, or in Wright's more recent work on the same subject.


These are Celtic names for going round by way of ensuring good fortune.
The former name is derived from the Gaelic _deas_ or _des_, the right
hand, and _Syl_, the sun, and denotes a motion from east to west, or
according to the apparent motion of the sun; and is a custom of high
antiquity in religious ceremonies. In the western isles fire was carried
in the right hand in this course, about the house, corn, cattle, &c.,
about women before they were churched, and children before they were
baptized. So the fishermen rowed the boat about first sun-wise to ensure
a lucky voyage. On the other hand, the Highland _Wider-sinnis_ (whence
the Lancashire _Wither-shins_) was from left to right or west to east,
or opposed to the course of the sun, a course used in magical
ceremonies, and said to be the mode of salutation given by witches and
warlocks to the devil.[98]--(See page 140 _suprâ_.)


In a Saxon MS. we find that "If the Kalends, or first of January, fall
on the Lord's-day, then will the winter be good, pleasant and warm."[99]
Another Saxon MS. in the Cotton Library contains the omens to the
following effect:--"If the Kalends of January be on the moon's day
(Monday) then there will be a severe and confused winter, a good spring,
windy summer, and a rueful year, in which there will be much sickness.
If the Kalends fall on Tuesday, then the winter will be dreary and
severe, a windy heat and rainy summer, and many women will die; ships
will voyage in danger, and kings and princes will die. If on Wednesday,
there will be a hard winter and bad spring; but a good summer. The
fruits of the earth will be much beaten down, honey will be scarce, and
young men will die. If on Thursday, there will be a good winter, windy
spring, good summer, and abundance of the fruits of the earth, and the
plough will be over the earth; but sheep and children will die. If on
Friday, there will be a variable winter, good spring and summer, with
great abundance, and sheep's eyes will be tender in the year. If on
Saturday, there will be a snowy winter, blowing spring, and rainy
summer; earth fruits will labour, sheep perish, old men die, and other
men be sick; the eyes of many will be tender, and fires will be
prevalent in the course of the year. If the Kalends fall on Sunday,
there will be a good winter, windy spring, and dry summer; and a very
good year this year will be; sheep will increase, there will be much
honey, and plenty and peace will be upon the earth."[100]


The death tick is not yet forgotten in the district around Burnley. Very
recently the insect has disturbed the imagination of a young lady, and
its ticks have led to more than one gloomy conjecture. It is a curious
circumstance that the _real_ death tick must only tick _three_ times on
each occasion.


[91] T. D., in _Notes and Queries_.

[92] See Halliwell's _Archaic Dictionary_, in voce.

[93] E. B., (Liverpool) in _Notes and Queries_, 3rd series, vol. ix. p.

[94] T. T. W.

[95] Another version has the last four lines thus:--

    "Five for a fiddle,
    Six for a dance,
    Seven for England,
    Eight for France."

[96] J. O. Halliwell's _Nursery Rhymes_.

[97] _Pictorial History of Lancashire._

[98] Hampson's _Medii Ævi Kalend._, vol. I. 255.

[99] Hickes's _Thesaurus_, II. 194.

[100] _Bibl. Cott. MSS. Tiberius, A._ III., fol. 39 b., and 40.


There are great numbers of small superstitions, beliefs, and practices
which we must place under this general head. Before entering on these at
length, we may briefly notice the fact in many cases, the probability in
a still greater number, that the origin of superstitions still held to
the popular heart, is to be found in other countries and in remote
times. Indeed Folk-lore superstitions may be said to be the _débris_ of
ancient mythologies; it may be of Egypt or India, Greece or Rome,
Germany or Scandinavia. Many of the following superstitions have been
already glanced at or briefly referred to in the introductory chapter.


Lancashire, like all other counties, has its own peculiar superstitions,
manners, and customs, which find no parallels in those of other
localities. It has also, no doubt, many local observances, current
opinions, old proverbs, and vulgar ditties, which are held and taken in
common with the inhabitants of a greater extent of country, and differ
merely in minor particulars,--the necessary result of imperfect oral
transmission. The following are a few of these local superstitions:--

1. If a person's hair, when thrown into the fire, burns brightly, it is
a sure sign that the individual will live long. The brighter the flame,
the longer life; and _vice versâ_.

2. A young person lightly stirs the fire with the poker to test the
humour of a lover. If the fire blaze brightly, the lover is
good-humoured; and _vice versâ_.

3. A crooked sixpence, or a copper coin with a hole through, is
accounted a _lucky_ coin.

4. Cutting or paring the nails of the hands or feet, on a Friday or
Sunday, is very unlucky.

5. If a person's _left_ ear burn, or feel hot, somebody is praising the
party; if the _right_ ear burn, then it is a sure sign that some one is
speaking evil of the person.

6. Children are frequently cautioned by their parents not to walk
_backwards_ when going an errand; it is a sure sign that they will be
unfortunate in their objects.

7. Belief in witchcraft is still strong in many of the rural districts.
Many believe that others have the power to bewitch cows, sheep, horses,
and even persons to whom the witch has an antipathy. One respectable
farmer assured me that his horse was bewitched into a stable through a
loophole twelve inches by three! The fact, he said, was beyond doubt,
for he had locked the stable-door himself when the horse was in the
field, and had kept the key in his pocket. Soon afterwards a party of
farmers went through the process known as "burning the witch out," or
"killing the witch" as some express it; the person suspected soon died,
and the neighbourhood became free from his evil doings.

8. A horse-shoe is still nailed behind many doors to counteract the
effects of witchcraft. A _hagstone_ with a hole through, tied to the key
of the stable-door, protects the horses, and, if hung up at the bed's
head, the farmer also.

9. A hot iron put into the cream during the process of churning, expels
the witch from the churn. Dough in preparation for the baker is
protected by being marked with the figure of a cross.

10. Warts are cured by being rubbed over with a black snail; but the
snail must afterwards be impaled upon a hawthorn. If a bag, containing
as many pebbles as a person has warts, be tossed over the _left_
shoulder, it will transfer the warts to whomsoever is unfortunate enough
to pick up the bag.

11. If black snails are seized by the horns and tossed over the _left_
shoulder, the process will ensure good luck to the person who performs

12. Profuse bleeding is said to be instantly stopped by certain persons,
who pretend to possess the secret of a certain form of words or charm.

13. The power of bewitching, producing evil to persons by _wishing_ it,
&c., is supposed to be transmitted from one possessor to another when
one of the parties is about to die.

14. Cramp is effectually prevented by placing the shoes with the toes
just peeping from beneath the coverlet; or by tying the garter round the
_left_ leg, below the knee.

15. Charmed rings are worn by many for the cure of dyspepsia; and so
also are charmed belts for the cure of rheumatism.

16. A red-haired person is supposed to bring ill-luck, if he be the
first to enter a house on New Year's Day. Black-haired persons [are on
the contrary deemed so lucky that they] are rewarded with liquor or
small gratuities for "taking in the New Year" to the principal houses in
their respective neighbourhoods.

17. If any householder's fire does not burn _through_ the night of New
Year's Eve, it betokens bad luck through the ensuing year. If any one
allow another to take a live coal, or to light a candle, on that eve,
the bad luck extends to the grantor.[101]

Amongst other Lancashire popular superstitions are the following:--

That a man must never "go a courting" on a Friday. If an unlucky fellow
is caught with his lady-love on that day, he is followed home by a band
of musicians, playing on pokers, tongs, pan-lids, &c., unless he can rid
himself of his tormentors by giving them money for drink.

That whooping-cough will never be taken by any child that has ridden
upon a bear. The old bearward's profits arose in great part from the
money given by parents whose children had had a ride. The writer knows
of cases in which the charm is said to have been effectual.

That whooping-cough may be cured by tying a hairy caterpillar in a small
bag round the child's neck, and as the caterpillar dies the cough goes.

That Good Friday is the best day of all the year to begin weaning
children, which ought, if possible, to be put off till that day.

That May cats are unlucky, and will suck the breath of infants.

That crickets are lucky about a house, and will do no harm to those who
use them well; but that they eat holes in the worsted stockings of such
members of the family as kill them. I was assured of this on the
experience of a respectable farmer's family.

That ghosts or boggarts haunt certain neighbourhoods. There is scarcely
a dell in my vicinity where a running stream crosses a road by a small
bridge or stone plat, where such may not be seen. Wells, ponds, gates,
&c., have often this bad repute. I have heard of a calf with "eyes like
saucers," a woman without a head, a white greyhound, a column of white
foam like a large sugar loaf in the midst of a pond, or group of little
cats, &c., as the shape of the boggart; and sometimes it took that of a
lady, who jumped behind hapless passengers on horseback. It is supposed
that a Romish priest can lay them, and that it is best to cheat them to
consent to being laid "while hollies are green." Hollies being
evergreens, the ghosts can reappear no more.[102]

Mr. J. Eastwood, of Ecclesfield, adds to T. T. W.'s seventeen
superstitions the following six:--

1. If a cock near the door crows with his face towards it, it is a sure
prediction of the arrival of a stranger.

2. If the cat frisk about the house in an unusually lively manner, windy
or stormy weather is approaching.

3. If a dog howl under the window at night, a death will shortly happen
in the house.

4. If a _female_ be the first to enter a house on Christmas or New
Year's Day, she brings ill-luck to the house for the coming year.

5. For whooping-cough, pass the child nine times over the back and under
the belly of an ass. (This ceremony I once witnessed, but cannot vouch
for its having had the desired effect.)

6. For warts, rub them with a cinder, and this tied up in paper, and
dropped where four roads meet [_i.e._, where two roads cross] will
transfer the warts to whoever opens the parcel.[103]


In the parish church of Chorley, within the porch of the chancel, which
belongs to the Standish family of Duxbury, _four_ bones were shown,
apparently thigh bones, said to have belonged to Saint Lawrence, the
patron saint, which were brought over from Normandy by Sir Rowland
Standish, in 1442, along with the head of that saint, which skull has,
amongst the _Harl. MSS._,[104] a certificate of a vicar of Croston, to
which Chorley was then subject, preserved with the arms of the knight
(azure, 3 plates) rudely tricked:--"Be it known to all men that I,
Thomas Tarlton [or Talbot] vicar of the church of Croston, beareth
witness and certify, that Mr. James Standish, of Duxbury, hath delivered
a relique of St. Laurence's head unto the church of Chorley, the which
Sir Rowland of Standish, knight, brother of the said James, and Jane his
wife, brought out of Normandy, to the worship of God and St. Lawrence,
for the profit and avail of the said church; to the intent that the
foresaid Sir Rowland Standish, and Dame Jane his wife, with their
predecessors and successors, may be in the said church perpetually
prayed for. And in witness of the which to this my present writing I
have set my seal. Written at Croston aforesaid, the 2nd day of March, in
the year of our Lord God, 1442." [20 Hen. VI.][105] St. Lawrence's Day
is August 10. As his martyrdom was said to be roasting alive upon a
gridiron, it is not clear how his thigh bones should be preserved. But
when we find there are _four_ of them, the miraculous character of the
relics is at once exhibited.


At Bryn Hall, now demolished, once the seat of the Gerards, was a Roman
Catholic Chapel and a priest, who continued long after the family had
departed, having in his custody "The Dead Man's Hand," which is still
kept by the same or another priest, now residing at Garswood. Preserved
with great care, in a white silk bag, it is still resorted to by many
diseased persons, and wonderful cures are said to have been wrought by
this saintly relic. It is said to be the hand of Father Arrowsmith,--a
priest who is stated to have been put to death at Lancaster for his
religion, in the time of William III. The story goes, that when about to
suffer, he desired his spiritual attendant to cut off his right hand,
which should then have the power to work miraculous cures on those who
had faith to believe in its efficacy. Not many years ago, a female sick
of the small-pox had this dead hand lying in bed with her every night
for six weeks, in order to effect her recovery, which took place.[106] A
poor lad, living in Withy Grove, Manchester, afflicted with scrofulous
sores, was rubbed with it; and though it had been said he was
miraculously restored, on inquiry the assertion was found incorrect,
inasmuch as he died in about a fortnight after the operation.[107] Not
less devoid of truth is the tradition that Arrowsmith was hanged for
"witnessing a good confession."

Having been found guilty of a rape (says Mr. Roby), in all probability
this story of his martyrdom, and of the miraculous attestation to the
truth of the cause for which he suffered, were contrived for the purpose
of preventing the scandal that would have come upon the church through
the delinquency of an unworthy member. A subordinate tradition
accompanies that already related. It is said that one of the family of
the Kenyons attended as under-sheriff at the execution, and that he
refused the culprit some trifling favour at the gallows; whereupon
Arrowsmith denounced a curse upon him,--to wit, that whilst the family
could boast of an heir, so long they should never want a cripple; which
prediction was supposed by the credulous to have been literally
fulfilled.[108] Mr. Roby, professing to give the _fact_ upon which he
founded one of his tales, accuses the unfortunate priest of rape, and
states that he was executed for that crime in the reign of William III.
All this Mr. Roby gives as from himself, and mentions a curse pronounced
by Father Arrowsmith upon the under-sheriff who executed him, in the
reign of William III. Now Arrowsmith was hung, under sanction of an
atrocious law, for no other reason but because he had taken orders as a
Catholic priest, and had endeavoured to prevail upon others to be of his
own faith. For this offence, and for this offence alone, in 1628,--in
the reign not of William III., but of Charles I.,--he was tried at
Lancashire Assizes, and hanged, drawn, and quartered, in the same year
that Edmund Ashton, Esq., was sheriff. Mr. Roby must have seen what was
the real state of the case in the same history of Lancashire[109] as
that which he repeatedly quotes.[110]

The hand of Arrowsmith, having been cut off after his death, was brought
to Bryn Hall, where it was used by the superstitious to heal the sick,
sometimes by the touch, and at others by friction: faith, however, is
essential to success, and a lack of the necessary quality in the
patient, rather than any decrease in the healing emission from the
relic, is made to account for the disappointment which awaits the
superstitious votaries of this fanatical operation. The "dead man's
hand," or, as the Irish harvestmen are accustomed to call it, "the holy
hand," was removed from Bryn to Garswood, and subsequently to the
priest's house at Ashton, near Lancaster, where it remains in possession
of the priest, if the light and knowledge of the present age have not
consigned it to the earth.[111] A Roman Catholic publication, issued in
1737, signed by nineteen witnesses, seventeen of whom were Protestants
(the names being withheld, however, as it is alleged, for prudential
reasons), attest, that in 1736, a boy of twelve years, the son of Caryl
Hawarden, of Appleton-within-Widness, county of Lancaster, was cured of
what appeared to be a fatal malady by the application of Father
Arrowsmith's hand, which, according to the narrative, was effected in
the following manner:--The boy had been ill fifteen months, and was at
length deprived of the use of his limbs, with loss of his memory, and
impaired sight. In this condition, which the physicians had declared
hopeless, it was suggested to his parents, that as wonderful cures had
been effected by the hand of "the martyred saint," it was advisable to
try its effects upon their afflicted child. The "holy hand" was
accordingly procured from Bryn, packed in a box, and wrapped in linen.
Mrs. Hawarden having explained to the invalid her hopes and intentions,
applied the back part of the dead hand to his back, stroking it down
each side the backbone, and making the sign of the cross, which she
accompanied with a fervent prayer that Jesus Christ would aid it with
his blessing. Having twice repeated this operation, the patient, who had
before been utterly helpless, rose from his seat, and walked about the
house, to the surprise of seven persons who had witnessed the "miracle."
From that day the boy's pains left him, his memory was restored, and his
health became re-established! The witnesses add, that the boy, on being
afterwards interrogated, said that he _believed_ the hand would do him
good, and that upon its first touch he felt something give a short or
sudden motion from his back to the end of his toes![112]

Another account states that Father Edmund Arrowsmith, of the Society of
Jesus, was a native of Haydock, in the parish of Winwick, and was born
in 1585. In 1605 he entered the Roman Catholic College of Douay, where
he was educated, and in 1612 he was ordained priest. His father's name
was Robert Arrowsmith, and his mother, Margery, was a lady of the
ancient family of the Gerards. In 1613 Father Arrowsmith was sent upon
the English mission, and in 1628 (4th Charles I.) was apprehended and
brought to Lancaster on the charge of being a priest, contrary to the
laws of the realm. He was tried, sentenced to death, and executed on the
28th of August, 1628, his last words being "Bone Jesu!" He was
afterwards cut down, embowelled, and quartered. His head was set upon a
pole or stake amongst the pinnacles of Lancaster Castle, and his
quarters were hung upon four separate places of the same building. The
hand of the martyr, having been cut off after his death, was brought to
Bryn Hall [amongst his maternal relatives], where it was preserved as a
precious relic, and by the application of which numerous miraculous
cures are said to have been effected. "The holy hand" was removed from
Bryn to Garswood [in Ashton, a seat of the Gerards], and subsequently to
the priest's house at Ashton-in-Makerfield, where it still remains.[113]
While the relic remained at Garswood, it was under the care of the
Gerards' family-chaplain for the time being, and a fee was charged for
its application to all who were able to pay, and this money was bestowed
in charity on the needy or distressed. It is believed that no fee is now
charged. The late Sir John Gerard had no faith in its efficacy, and many
ludicrous anecdotes are current in the neighbourhood of pilgrims having
been rather roughly handled by some of his servants, who were as
incredulous as himself;--such as getting a good beating with a wooden
hand (used for stretching gloves), and other heavy weapons; so that the
patients rapidly retraced their steps, without having had the
application of the "holy hand." The applicants usually provide
themselves with a quantity of calico or flannel, which the priest of St.
Oswald's, Ashton, causes to come in contact with the "dead hand;" the
cloth is then applied to the part affected. Many instances are recorded
of persons coming upon crutches or with sticks, having been suddenly so
far restored as to be able to leave behind them these helps, as
memorials, and return home, walking and leaping; praising the priest for
his charity; the holy hand, for being the means of obtaining a cure; and
God for giving such power to the dead hand. Persons have been known to
come from Ireland, and other distant parts, to be cured. Some of these
return home with a large piece of the cloth which has been in contact
with the hand. This they tear into shreds, and dispose of them to the
credulous neighbours who have not the means of undertaking so long a
pilgrimage. About four years ago (writes our informant), I saw a poor
maniac being dragged along by two or three of her relatives, and howling
most piteously. I asked what they were going to do with her, when one of
them (apparently her mother) replied: "And sure enough, master, we're
taking her to the priest, to be rubbed with the holy hand, that the
devil may leave her." A short time afterwards I saw them returning, but
the rubbing had not been effectual. A policeman assisted to remove the
struggling maniac to a neighbouring house, till a conveyance could be
got to take her to Newton Bridge railway station.[114]


Will it be credited that thousands of people have, during the past week,
crowded a certain road in the village of Melling, near Ormskirk, to
inspect a sycamore tree, which has burst its bark, and the sap protrudes
in a shape resembling a man's head? Rumour spread abroad that it was the
re-appearance of Palmer, who "had come again, because he was buried
without a coffin!" Some inns in the neighbourhood of this singular tree
reaped a rich harvest.[115]


Pendle Forest, in the neighbourhood of Burnley, has long been notorious
for its witches. [After referring to the cases of alleged witchcraft in
the beginning of the 17th century, the writer continues:] Two hundred
years have since passed away, and yet the old opinions survive; for it
is notorious that throughout the Forest the farmers still endeavour to

    "Chase the evil spirits away by dint
    Of sickle, horse-shoe, and hollow flint."

Clay or wax images, pierced through with pins and needles, are
occasionally met with in churchyards and gardens, where they have been
placed for the purpose of causing the death of the persons they
represent. Consumptive patients and paralytics are frequently said to be
bewitched; and the common Lancashire proverb, "Draw blood of a witch,
and she cannot harm you," has been many times practically verified upon
quarrelsome females within my own experience. In extreme cases the
"witch-killer" is resorted to, and implicit faith in his powers is not a
rare item in the popular creed. Such a person usually combines the
practice of Astrology with his other avocations. He casts nativities;
gives advice respecting stolen property; tells fortunes; and writes out
"charms" for the protection of those who may consult him.... Even the
wives of clergymen have been known to consult "wise men" on doubtful
matters respecting which they desired more satisfactory
information.--_T. T. W._


Strong minds often are unable to escape the thraldom of tradition and
custom, with the help of liberal education and social intercourse. How
then are the solitary farmers on the skirts of moorland wastes, to free
themselves from hereditary superstition? The strength of such traditions
is often secret and unacknowledged. It nevertheless influences the life;
it lurks out of sight, ready to assert its power in any great crisis of
our being. It is a homage to the unseen and the unknown, in fearful
contradiction with the teaching of Christianity, for it creates, like
the religion of the Jezzidies, a ritual of propitiation to malignant
powers, instead of the prayer of faith to the All-merciful. The solitude
of the life in the moorland farm-houses does not, however, foster the
influence of superstitious madness, perhaps, so much as the wild, stormy
climate, which holds its blustering reign through six months of every
year, in this region of morass and fog, dark clough, and craggy chasm.
Night shuts in early. The sun has gone down through a portentous gulf of
clouds which have seemed to swallow up the day in a pit of darkness. The
great sycamores stagger in the blast which rushes from the distant sea.
The wind moans through the night like a troubled spirit, shakes the
house as though it demanded admittance from the storm, and rushes down
the huge chimney (built two centuries ago for the log fires, and large,
hot heap of wood ashes), driving down a cloud of smoke and soot, as
though by some wicked cantrip the witches careering in the storm would
scatter the embers and fire the building. The lone watcher by some sick
bed, shudders as the casements are battered by the tempest; or the bough
of some tree, or a branch of ivy, strikes the panes like the hand of
some unseen thing fumbling at the casement latch; or, awake from pain or
care, restless with fever or fatigue, or troubled with superstitious
horror, the lone shepherd waits for the day, as for a reprieve to
conscious guilt, and even trembles while he mutters some charm to
exorcise the evil that rides exulting on the storm. A year of ill-luck
comes. The ewes are barren; the cows drop their untimely calves, though
crooked sickles and lucky stones have been hung in the shippons. The
milk is "bynged," or will not churn, though a hot poker has been used to
spoil the witchery. The horses escape from the stable at night, though
there is a horse-shoe over the door, and the hinds say they were
carefully "heawsed an' fettled, and t'dooers o weel latched, bur
t'feeorin (fairies) han 'ticed 'em eawt o' t' leawphooles, an' flown wi'
em' o'er t'stone dykes, wi' o t'yates tynt (gates shut), an' clapp'd 'em
reet i' t' meadow, or t' corn, just wheer tey shudna be." As the year
advances, with such misadventures, apprehension grows. Is there some
evil eye on the house? Will the hay be spoiled in the field? Will the
oats ripen, or must they be cut green and given to the cattle? Or, if
they ripen, will the stormy autumn wrap its mantle of mist and rain so
closely about them, that they cannot be housed before they have
sprouted, or have spoiled? The cold, bitter damp benumbs the strength of
the feeble. Appetite and health fail; a fear creeps into the life. Fate
seems to have dragged the sufferer into a vault of gloom, to whisper
foreboding and inspire dread. These traditions of mischief wrought by
malignant men inheriting the wicked craft and vindictive spite of the
sorcerers, are uttered at the fireside, or if not so uttered, are
brooded upon by a disturbed fancy.[116]


John Webster, the great exposer of shams and denouncer of superstitions
in his day, and author of the "_Discovery of pretended Witchcraft_,"
speaking of a clear head and sound judgment as necessary to competent
witnesses, says:--"They ought to be of a sound judgment, and not of a
vitiated and distempered phantasy, nor of a melancholic constitution;
for these will take a bush to be a bugbear, and a black sheep to be a
demon; the noise of the wild swans flying high in the night, to be
spirits; or, as they call them here in the north, 'Gabriel Ratchets;'
the calling of a daker hen in the meadow, to be the Whistlers; the
howlings of the female fox in a gill or clough for the male, to be the
cry of fairies." The Gabriel Ratchets seem to be the same with the
German Rachtvogel or Rachtraven. The word and the superstition are still
known in Lancashire, though in a sense somewhat different; for the
Gabriel Ratchets are supposed to be something like litters of puppies
yelping in the air. Ratch is certainly a name for a dog in general (see
_Junius, in voce_). The whistlers are supposed to be the green or
whistling plovers, which fly very high in the night, uttering their
characteristic note. Speaking of the practices of witch-finders, Webster
says:--"By such wicked means and unchristian practices, divers innocent
persons have lost their lives; and these wicked rogues wanted not
greater persons (even of the ministry too) that did authorize and
encourage them in their diabolical courses. And the like in my time
happened here in Lancashire, where divers, both men and women, were
accused of supposed witchcraft, and were so unchristianly and inhumanly
handled, as to be stripped stark naked and laid upon tables and beds to
be searched for their supposed witch-marks; so barbarous and cruel acts
doth diabolical instigation, working upon ignorance and superstition,


At no period in the history of Manchester was there a greater
disposition to believe in witchcraft, demoniacal possession, and the
occult sciences, than at the close of the sixteenth century. The seer,
Edward Kelly, was ranging through the country, practising the black art.
Dr. Dee, the friend and associate of this impostor, had recently
obtained the appointment of warden of the Collegiate Church of
Manchester, by favour of his royal patroness, Queen Elizabeth, herself a
believer in his astrological calculations; and the fame of the strange
doings [the alleged demoniacal possession of seven persons] in the
family of Mr. Starkie, had spread far and wide. The new warden was
really a learned man, of the most inquisitive mind, addicted to chemical
pursuits, not wholly unconnected with those of alchemy, and not
altogether detached from the practice of necromancy and magic,
notwithstanding his positive asseverations to the contrary, in his
petition to King James. His life was full of vicissitudes; though
enjoying the patronage of princes, he was always involved in
embarrassments, and was at length obliged to relinquish his church
preferment at Manchester, owing to the differences that existed between
himself and his ecclesiastical brethren. It does not appear that during
his residence in Lancashire he encouraged the deceptions of the
exorcists. On the contrary he refused to become a party in the pretended
attempt to cast out devils at Cleworth, and he strongly rebuked Hartlay,
the conjuror, who was afterwards executed at Lancaster for his
disgraceful practices.


Water, everywhere a prime necessity of life, is pre-eminently so in the
hot and arid plains and stony deserts of Asia and Africa. We need not be
surprised, therefore, to find that in all the ancient Eastern cults and
mythologies, springs and wells were held in reverence, as holy and
sacred gifts to man from the Great Spirit of the universe. The great
Indo-European tide of migration, rolling ever westward, bore on its
bosom these graceful superstitions, which were eagerly adopted by the
old church of Christendom; and there is scarcely an ancient well of any
consequence in the United Kingdom which has not been solemnly dedicated
to some saint in the Roman Catholic calendar.

WELLS NEAR LIVERPOOL.--At Wavertree, near Liverpool, is a well bearing
the following inscription, "Qui non dat quod habet, dæmon infra videt:
1414" (Who giveth not what he hath, the devil below, seeth--or, if the
last word be not _videt_ but _ridet_--laughs). Tradition says that at
one period there was a cross above it, inscribed "Deus dedit, homo
bibit" (God gave it, man drinks it); and that all travellers gave alms
on drinking. If they omitted to do so, a devil who was chained at the
bottom of the well, laughed. A monastic building stood near, and the
occupants received the contributions.[118] A well at Everton, near
Liverpool, has the reputation of being haunted, a fratricide having been
committed there; but it is not mentioned in the local history of Syer,
which merely says,--"The water for this well is procured by direct
access to the liquid itself, through the medium of a few stone steps: it
is free to the public, and seldom dry." Being formerly in a lonely
situation, it was a haunt of pickpockets and other disorderly
characters. It is now built over, and in a few years the short
subterranean passage leading to the well will be forgotten.[119]

PEGGY'S WELL.--Peggy's Well is near the Ribble, in a field below Waddow
Hall, not far from Brunckerley stepping-stones, in attempting to cross
by which several lives have been lost, when the river was swollen by a
rapid rise, which even a day's rain will produce. These calamities, as
well as any other fatal accidents that occur in the neighbourhood, are
usually attributed to Peggy, the evil spirit of the well. There is a
mutilated stone figure by the well, which has been the subject of many
strange tales and apprehensions. It was placed there when turned out of
the house at Waddow, to allay the terrors of the domestics, who durst
not continue under the same roof with this mis-shapen figure. It was
then broken, either from accident or design, and the head, some time
ago, as is understood, was in one of the attic chambers at Waddow. Who
Peggy of the Well was, tradition doth not inform us.

The writer of the _Pictorial History of Lancashire_ states that going to
Waddow Hall he inquired after the headless stone statue known as "Peg o'
th' Well;" and a neat, intelligent young woman, one of the domestics,
showed him Peggy's head on the pantry table, and the trunk by a well in
an adjacent field. He gives the following as the substance of the
tradition:--The old religion had been supplanted in most parts of the
country, yet had left memorials of itself and its rites in no few
places, nor least in those which were in the vicinity of an old Catholic
family, or a monastic institution. Some such relic may Peggy have
originally been. The scrupulous proprietors of Waddow Hall regarded the
innocuous image with distrust and aversion; nor did they think
themselves otherwise than justified in ascribing to Peggy all the evils
and mischances that befel in the house. If a storm struck and damaged
the house, Peggy was the author of the damage. If the wind whistled or
moaned through the ill-fitting doors and casements, it was "Peggy at her
work," requiring to be appeased, else some sad accident was sure to
come. On one occasion Master Starkie--so was the host named--returned
home very late with a broken leg. He had been hunting that day, and,
report said, made too free with the ale afterwards. But, as usual, Peggy
bore the blame: for some dissatisfaction she had waylaid the master of
the house and caused his horse to fall. Even this was forgiven. A short
time afterwards a Puritan preacher was overtaken by a fresh in the
river, in attempting to cross over on the stepping-stones which lay just
above the Hall, the very stones on which poor King Henry (VI.) was
captured. Now, Mrs. Starkie had a great attachment to those preachers,
and had indeed sent for the one in question, for him to exorcise and
dispossess her youngest son, a boy of ten years of age, who was
grievously afflicted with a demon, or, as was suspected, tormented by
Peggy. "Why does he not come?" asked the lady, as she sat that night in
her best apparel, before a blazing fire and near a well-furnished table.
"The storm seems to get worse. Hark! heard ye no cry? Yes! there again.
Oh, if the dear man be in the river! Run all of ye to his rescue." In a
few minutes two trusty men-servants returned, panting under the huge
weight of the dripping parson. He told his tale. "'Tis Peg," she
suddenly exclaimed, "at her old tricks! This way, all!" She hurried from
the apartment, rushed into the garden, where Peggy stood quiet enough
near a spring, and with one blow of an axe, which she had seized in her
passage, severed Peggy's head from her body.

ST. HELEN'S WELL IN BRINDLE.--Dr. Kuerden in one of his MSS., describing
the parish of Brindle in Leyland, states that "Over against Swansey
House, a little towards the hill, standeth an ancient fabric, once the
manor-house of Brindle, where hath been a chapel belonging to the same;
and a little above it, a spring of very clear water, rushing straight
upwards into the midst of a fair fountain, walled square about in stone
and flagged in the bottom, very transparent to be seen, and a strong
stream issuing out of the same. This fountain is called St. Ellen's
Well, to which place the vulgar neighbouring people of the Red Letter
[_i.e._, Roman Catholics] do much resort with pretended devotion on each
year upon St. Ellins-day--[St. Helen's-day is either on May 21, August
18, or September 3, the two first being days of a queen, and the last of
an empress saint]--where and when, out of a foolish ceremony, they offer
or throw into the well, pins, which there being left, may be seen a long
time after by any visitor of the fountain."[120]

ST. HELEN'S WELL, NEAR SEFTON.--Mr. Hampson[121] notices the
superstition of casting pins or pebbles into wells, and observing the
circles formed thereby on the surface of the agitated water, and also
whether the water were troubled or preserved its clearness and
transparency; from which appearances they drew omens or inferences as to
future events. He adds: "I have frequently seen the bottom of St.
Helen's Well, near Sefton, Lancashire, almost covered with pins, which,
I suppose, must have been thrown in for the like purposes."


[101] T. T. W., in _Notes and Queries_, iii. 55.

[102] P. P., in _Notes and Queries_, iii. 516.

[103] _Notes and Queries_, iii. p. 516.

[104] Harl. MSS. Cod. 2042, fol. 239 a.

[105] Harl. MSS. Cod. 2042, fol. 239.

[106] Mr. Roby derived this statement from Thomas Barritt, the
antiquary, who in one of his MSS. writes--"I was in company with a woman
who had lain with a relation of hers sick of the small-pox. During all
the time they had this hand lying with them every night, on purpose to
effect a safe recovery of the afflicted person." Barritt does not say,
however, that the recovery took place.

[107] This story Mr. Roby derived from the same MSS. of Barritt, and
also the statement of the real crime for which Arrowsmith was executed,
and his alleged prophecy as to the Kenyons. Barritt says the dead hand
was brought to Manchester about the time of the troubles in 1745, to
cure a poor Papist lad, who came with Hill.

[108] See Roby's _Traditions of Lancashire_.

[109] Baines's _Lancashire_, vol. iii. p. 638.

[110] _Pictorial History of Lancashire._

[111] Mannex's _Hist. and Topog. of Lancashire_.

[112] Baines's _History of Lancashire_, vol. iii. pp. 638-9.

[113] Mannex's _History and Topography of Lancashire_.

[114] From a Correspondent.

[115] The _Tablet_, July 26, 1856.

[116] Scarsdale.

[117] Dr. Whitaker's _History of Whalley_.

[118] Mr. Baines, in his _History of Lancashire_ (vol. iii. p. 760),
says that in Wavertree is an ancient well with a rude, unintelligible
inscription, of the date of 1414, which is thus _charitably_ rendered by
the villagers:--

    "He that hath, and won't bestow,
    The Devil will reckon with him below."


    "He who here does not bestow,
    The Devil laughs at him below."

[119] "Agmond," in _Notes and Queries_, vol. vi. p. 305.

[120] Baines's _History of Lancashire_, vol. iii. p. 497.

[121] _Medii Ævi Kalendarium._


In the lore of these subjects no county in England is richer than
Lancashire. The subject is a large one, and may even be said to include
all the cases of demoniacal possession described in the earlier pages of
this volume, since all these alleged possessions were the result of
malice and (so-called) witchcraft. Indeed it is not easy to separate
these two superstitious beliefs in their practical operation; witchcraft
being the supposed cause, and demoniacal possession the imagined effect.
The reader will find much, bearing on both branches of the subject,
under both titles.


The first distinct charge of witchcraft in any way connected with this
county, is that of the wife of the good Duke Humphrey, Eleanor, Duchess
of Gloucester, the associate of Roger Bolingbroke, the priest and
necromancer, and Margery Jourdain, the witch of Eye. The Duke of
Gloucester, uncle and protector to the king, having become obnoxious to
the predominant party, they got up in 1441 a strange prosecution. The
Duchess of Gloucester, Eleanor, the daughter of Lord Cobham, a lady of
haughty carriage and ambitious mind, being attached to the prevailing
superstitions of the day, was accused of the crime of witchcraft "for
that she, by sorcery and enchantment, intended to destroy the king, to
the intent to advance and promote her husband to the crown."[122] It was
alleged against her and her associates, Sir Roger Bolingbroke, a priest,
and chaplain to the Duke, (who was addicted to astrology,) and Margery
Jourdain, the witch of Eye, that they had in their possession a wax
figure of the king, which they melted by a magical device before a slow
fire, with the intention of wasting away his force and vigour by
insensible degrees. The imbecile mind of Henry was sensibly affected by
this wicked invention; and the Duchess of Gloucester, on being brought
to trial (in St. Stephen's Chapel, before the Archbishop of Canterbury)
and found guilty of the design to destroy the king and his ministers by
the agency of witchcraft, was sentenced to do public penance in three
places within the city of London, and to suffer perpetual imprisonment.
Her confederates were condemned to death and executed, Margery Jourdain
being burnt to death in Smithfield. The duchess, after enduring the
ignominy of her public penance, rendered peculiarly severe by the
exalted state from which she had fallen, was banished to the Isle of
Man, where she was placed under the ward of Sir Thomas Stanley. On the
way to her place of exile, she was confined for some time, first in
Leeds Castle, and afterwards in the Castle of Liverpool;[123] the
earliest and the noblest witch on record within the county of Lancaster.
Another account states that amongst those arrested as accomplices of the
duchess were a priest and canon of St. Stephen's, Westminster, named
Southwell, and another priest named John Hum or Hume. Roger Bolingbroke,
the learned astronomer and astrologer (who died protesting his ignorance
of all evil intentions), was drawn and quartered at Tyburn; Southwell
died in prison before the time of execution; and John Hum received the
royal pardon. The worst thing proved against the duchess was that she
had sought for love-philters to secure the constancy of her
husband.[124] Shakspere, in the _Second Part of King Henry VI._, Act 1,
Scene 4, represents the duchess, Margery Jourdain, Hume, Southwell, and
Bolingbroke, as engaged in raising an evil spirit in the Duke of
Gloucester's garden, when they are surprised and seized by the Dukes of
York and Buckingham and their guards. The duchess, after remaining in
the Isle of Man some years, was transferred to Calais, under the ward of
Sir John Steward, knight, and there died.


    Containing the manner of their becoming such; their enchantments,
    spells, revels, merry pranks, raising of storms and tempests, riding
    on winds, &c. The entertainments and frolics which have happened
    among them. With the loves and humours of Roger and Dorothy. Also, a
    Treatise of Witches in general, conducive to mirth and recreation.
    The like never before published.[125]

    CHAPTER I.--_The Lancashire Witch's Tentation, and of the Devil's
    appearing to her in sundry shapes, and giving her money._

    Lancashire is a famous and noted place, abounding with rivers,
    hills, woods, pastures, and pleasant towns, many of which are of
    great antiquity. It has also been famous for witches, and the
    strange pranks they played. Therefore, since the name of Lancashire
    Witches has been so frequent in the mouths of old and young, and
    many imperfect stories have been rumoured abroad, it would
    doubtless tend to the satisfaction of the reader, to give some
    account of them in their merry sports and pastimes.

    Some time since lived one Mother Cuthbert, in a little hovel at the
    bottom of a hill, called Wood-and-Mountain Hill, in Lancashire.
    This woman had two lusty daughters, who both carded and spun for
    their living, yet was very poor; which made them often repine at
    and lament their want. One day, as Mother Cuthbert was sauntering
    about the hill-side, picking the wool off the bushes, out started a
    thing like a rabbit, which ran about two or three times, and then
    changed into a hound, and afterwards into a man, which made the old
    beldame to tremble, yet she had no power to run away. So, putting a
    purse of money in her hand, and charging her to be there the next
    day, he immediately vanished away, and old Mother Cuthbert returned
    home, being somewhat disturbed between jealousy and fear.

Such is the first chapter of this marvellous story, which, it is clear,
is a fiction based upon real narratives. It relates the witcheries of
Mother Cuthbert and her two daughters, Margery and Cicely, under the
auspices of an arch-witch, "Mother Grady, the Witch of Penmure
[Penmaen-mawr] a great mountain of Wales." Here is "_The Description of
a Spell._--A spell is a piece of paper written with magical characters,
fixed in a critical season of the moon, and conjunction of the planets;
or sometimes by repeating mystical words. Of these there are many
sorts." As showing what was the popular notion as to witches, take the
following:--"About this time great search was made after witches and
many were apprehended, but most of them gave the hangman and the gaoler
the slip; though some hold that when a witch is taken she hath no power
to avoid justice. It happened, as some of them were going in a cart to
be tried, a coach passed by, in which appeared a person like a judge,
who, calling to one, bid her be of good comfort, for neither she nor any
of her companions should be harmed. In that night all the prison locks
flew open, and they made their escape; and many, when they had been cast
into the water for a trial, have swam like a cork. One of them boasted
she could go over the sea in an egg-shell. It is held on all hands they
adore the devil, and become his bond-slaves, to have for a term of years
their pleasure and revenge. And indeed many of them are more mischievous
than others in laming and destroying cattle, and in drowning ships at
sea, by raising storms. But the Lancashire witches, we see, chiefly
divert themselves in merriment, and are therefore found to be more
sociable than the rest." The closing chapter in this chap-book, contains
"A short description of the famous Lapland Witches."


On the usual proclamation of a general pardon, on the accession of James
I., the crime of witchcraft was specially excepted from the general
amnesty; and the credulous King's belief in this superstition encouraged
witch-finders and numerous accusations in all parts of the country.
Amongst others, it was remembered that Dr. Dee, then warden of the
Collegiate Church of Manchester, had in the preceding reign predicted a
fortunate day for the coronation of Queen Elizabeth, and had also
undertaken to render innocuous the waxen effigy of that Queen, found in
Lincoln's Inn-fields. He was also known to have made various
predictions, to be the possessor of a magic crystal or stone,[126] and
to have held a close intimacy with Edward Kelly, _alias_ Talbot, a noted
seer, conjuror and necromancer of the time. Accordingly Dr. Dee was
formally accused of practising witchcraft, and a petition from him,
dated 5th January, 1604, (preserved in the _Lansdowne MSS._, Cod. 161,)
praying to be freed from this revolting imputation, even at the risk of
a trial for his life, sufficiently indicates the horror excited by the
charge. The doctor's petition sets forth that "It has been affirmed that
your Majesty's supplicant was the conjuror belonging to the most
honourable privy council of your Majesty's predecessor of famous memory,
Queen Elizabeth, and that he is, or hath been, a caller or invocator of
devils or damned spirits. These slanders, which have tended to his utter
undoing, can no longer be endured; and if, on trial, he is found guilty
of the offence imputed to him, he offers himself willingly to the
punishment of death, yea, either to be stoned to death, or to be buried
quick, or to be burned unmercifully." He seems to have escaped
scatheless, save in reputation; and in 1594, when applied to for the
purpose of exorcising seven demons who held possession of five females
and two of the children of Mr. Nicholas Starkie, of Leigh, he refused to
interfere; advising they should call in some godly preachers, with whom
he would, if they thought proper, consult concerning a public or private
fast. He also sharply reproved Hartlay, a conjuror, for his practices in
this case.


    Come, gallant sisters, come along,
    Let's meet the devil ten thousand strong;
    Upon the whales' and dolphins' backs,
    Let's try to choak the sea with wracks,
    Spring leaks, and sink them down to rights.
              [_Line wanting._]
    And then we'll scud away to shour,
    And try what tricks we can play more.

    Blow houses down, ye jolly dames,
    Or burn them up in fiery flames;
    Let's rowse up mortals from their sleep,
    And send them packing to the deep,
    Let's strike them dead with thunder-stones,
    With lightning search [? scorch] to skin and bones;
    For winds and storms, by sea and land,
    You may dispose, you may command.

    Sometimes in dismal caves we lie,
    Or in the air aloft we flie;
    Sometimes we caper o'er the main,
    Thunders and lightnings we disdain;
    Sometimes we tumble churches down,
    And level castles with the ground;
    We fire whole cities, and destroy
    Whole armies, if they us annoy.

    We strangle infants in the womb,
    And raise the dead out of their tomb;
    We haunt the palaces of kings,
    And play such pranks and pretty things
    And this is all our chief delight,
    To do all mischief in despight;
    And when we've done, to shift away,
    Untoucht, unseen, by night or day.

    When imps do * * *
    We make them act unlucky feats;
    In puppets' wax, sharp needles' points
    We stick, to torture limbs and joints.
    With frogs' and toads' most poys'nous gore
    Our grizly limbs we 'noint all o'er,
    And straight away, away we go,
    Sparing no mortal, friend or foe.

    We'll sell you winds, and ev'ry charm
    Or venomous drug that may do harm;
    For beasts or fowls we have our spells
    Laid up in store in our dark cells;
    For there the devils used to meet,
    And dance with horns and cloven feet;
    And when we've done, we frisk about,
    And through the world play revel-rout.

    We ride on cows' and horses' backs,
    O'er lakes and rivers play nice knacks;
    We grasp the moon and scale the sun,
    And stop the planets as they run.
    We kindle comets' whizzing flames,
    And whistle for the winds by names;
    And for our pastimes and mad freaks,
    'Mongst stars we play at barley-breaks.[127]

    We are ambassadors of state,
    And know the mysteries of fate;
    In Pluto's bosom there we ly,
    To learn each mortal's destiny.
    As oracles their fortunes show,
    If they be born to wealth or wo,
    The spinning Sisters' hands we guide,
    And in all this we take a pride.

    To Lapland, Finland, we do skice,
    Sliding on seas and rocks of ice,
    T' old beldames there, our sisters kind,
    We do impart our hellish mind;
    We take their seals and hands in blood
    For ever to renounce all good.
    And then, as they in dens do lurk,
    We set the ugly jades a-work.

    We know the treasures and the stores
    Lock'd up in caves with brazen doors;
    Gold and silver, sparkling stones,
    We pile on heaps, like dead men's bones.
    There the devils brood and hover,
    Keep guards, that none should them discover;
    Put upon all the coasts of hell,
    'Tis we, 'tis we, stand sentinel.


During the sixteenth century whole districts in some parts of Lancashire
seemed contaminated with the presence of witches; men and beasts were
supposed to languish under their charm, and the delusion which preyed
alike on the learned and the vulgar did not allow any family to suppose
that they were beyond the reach of the witch's power. Was the family
visited by sickness? It was believed to be the work of an invisible
agency, which in secret wasted the image made in clay before the fire,
or crumbled its various parts into dust. Did the cattle sicken and die?
The witch and the wizard were the authors of the calamity. Did the yeast
refuse to ferment, either in the bread or the beer? It was the
consequence of a "bad wish." Did the butter refuse to _come_? The
"familiar" was in the churn. Did the ship founder at sea? The gale or
hurricane was blown by the lungless hag who had scarcely sufficient
breath to cool her own pottage. Did the Ribble overflow its banks? The
floods descended from the congregated sisterhood at Malkin tower. The
blight of the season, which consigned the crops of the farmer to
destruction, was the saliva of the enchantress, or distillations from
the blear-eyed dame who flew by night over the field on mischief bent.
To refuse an alms to a haggard mendicant, was to incur maledictions soon
manifest in afflictions of body, mind, and estate, in loss of cattle and
other property, of health, and sometimes even of life itself. To escape
from evils like these no sacrifice was thought too great. Superstitions
begat cruelty and injustice; the poor and the rich were equally
interested in obtaining a deliverance; and the magistrate in his
mansion, no less than the peasant in his cot, was deeply interested in
abating the universal affliction. The Lancashire witches were
principally fortune-tellers and conjurors. The alleged securities
against witchcraft were numerous, the most popular being the horse-shoe;
hence we see in Lancashire so many thresholds ornamented with this
counter-charm. Under these circumstances the situation of the reputed
witch was not more enviable than that of the individuals or families
over whom she exerted her influence. Linked by a species of infernal
compact to an imaginary imp, she was shunned as a common pest, or
caressed only on the same principle which leads some Indian tribes to
pay homage to the devil. The reputed witches themselves were frequently
disowned by their families, feared and detested by their neighbours, and
hunted by the dogs as pernicious monsters. When apprehended they were
cast into ponds in the belief that witches swim; so that to sink or swim
was almost equally perilous to them; they were punctured by bodkins to
discover the witch imp or devil marks; they were subjected to hunger and
kept in perpetual motion till confessions were obtained from a
distracted mind. On their trials they were listened to with incredulity
and horror, and consigned to the gallows with as little pity as the
basest of malefactors. Their imaginary crimes created a thirst for their
blood; and people of all stations, from the highest to the lowest,
attended their trials at Lancaster with an intensity of interest that
such mischievous persons, now divested of their sting, naturally
excited. It has been said that witchcraft and kingcraft in England came
in and went out with the Stuarts. This is not true. The doctrine of
necromancy was in universal belief in the fourteenth and fifteenth
centuries, and there was not perhaps a man in Lancashire who doubted its
existence. The belief in witchcraft and in demoniacal possession was
confined to no particular sect or persuasion; the Roman Catholics, the
members of the Church of England, the Presbyterians, Independents, and
even the Methodists (though a sect of more recent standing) have all
fallen into this delusion; and yet each denomination has upbraided the
other with gross superstition, and not unfrequently with wilful fraud.
It is due, however, to the ministers of the Established Church to say
that they were among the first of our public writers to denounce the
belief in witchcraft with all its attendant mischiefs; and the names of
Dr. Harsnett, afterwards Archbishop of York, of Dr. John Webster (who
detected Robinson, the Lancashire witch-hunter), of Zach. Taylor, one of
the king's preachers for Lancashire, and of Dr. Hutchinson, the chaplain
in ordinary to George I., are all entitled to the public gratitude for
their efforts to explode these pernicious superstitions. For upwards of
a century the sanguinary and superstitious laws of James I. disgraced
the English statute-book; but in the ninth year of George II. (1735) a
law was enacted repealing the statute of James I., and prohibiting any
prosecution, suit, or proceeding against any person for witchcraft,
sorcery, enchantment, or conjuration. In this way the doctrine of
witchcraft, with all its attendant errors, was finally exploded, except
among the most ignorant of the vulgar.[128]


(From the _Late Lancashire Witches_, a comedy, by Thomas Heywood.)

    My Uncle has of late become the sole
    Discourse of all the country; for a man respected
    As master of a govern'd family;
    The house (as if the ridge were fix'd below,
    And groundsills lifted up to make the roof),
    All now's turn'd topsy turvy
    In such a retrograde, preposterous way
    As seldom hath been heard of, I think never.
    The good man
    In all obedience kneels unto his Son;
    He, with an austere brow, commands his Father.
    The Wife presumes not in the Daughter's sight
    Without a prepared curtsey; the Girl, she
    Expects it as a duty, chides her mother,
    Who quakes and trembles at each word she speaks;
    And what's as strange, the Maid, she domineers
    O'er her young Mistress, who is awed by her.
    The Son, to whom the Father creeps and bends,
    Stands in as much fear of the groom, his Man!
    All in such rare disorder, that in some
    As it breeds pity, and in others wonder,
    So in the most part laughter. It is thought
    This comes by WITCHCRAFT!


King James VI. of Scotland, in 1594 (nine years before he ascended the
English throne as James I.), wrote and published his disgracefully
credulous and cruel treatise, entitled "Dæmonologie," containing
statements as to the making of witches, and their practice of
witchcraft, which, _if true_, would only prove their revealer to be deep
in the councils of Satan, and a regular member or attendant of
assemblages of witches. The royal witch-hater held that, as witchcraft
is an act of treason against the prince, the evidence of barnes
[children] or wives [weak women], or ever so defamed persons [_i.e._, of
character however infamous], may serve for sufficient witnesses against
them; for [he asks], who but witches can be provers, and so witnesses of
the doings of witches? Besides evidence, "there are two other good helps
that may be used for their trial; the one is the finding of their
_mark_, and then trying the insensibleness thereof; the other is
floating on the water" [or drowning], &c. Having thus opened the door by
admitting the loosest evidence and the most absurd tests for the most
unjust convictions, the royal fanatic adds, that all witches [_i.e._,
persons thus convicted] ought to be put to death, without distinction of
age, sex, or rank. This "British Solomon" ascended the English throne in
1603, and, as might have been expected, witch-finders soon plied their
infamous vocation with success. The wild and desolate parts of the
parish of Whalley furnished a fitting scene for witch assemblies, and it
was alleged that such meetings were held at Malkin Tower, in Pendle
Forest, within that parish. At the assizes at Lancaster in the autumn of
1612, twenty persons, of whom sixteen were women of various ages, were
committed for trial, and most of them tried for witchcraft. Their names
were--1. Elizabeth Southerne, widow, _alias_ "Old Demdike" (aged eighty
or more); 2. Elizabeth Device [probably Davies], _alias_ "Young
Demdike," her daughter; 3. James Device, son of No. 2; 4. Alizon Device,
daughter of No. 2; 5. Anne Whittle, widow, _alias_ "Chattox," _alias_
Chatterbox [more probably Chadwicks], the rival witch of "Old Demdike"
(and, like her, eighty or more years of age); 6. Anne Redferne, daughter
of No. 5; 7. Alice Nutter; 8. Katherine Hewytt, _alias_ "Mould-heels;"
9. Jane Bulcock, of the Moss End; 10. John Bulcock, her son; 11. Isabel
Robey; and 12. Margaret Pearson, of Padiham. No. 12 was tried first for
murder by witchcraft; 2nd for bewitching a neighbour; 3rd for bewitching
a horse; and, being acquitted of the two former charges, was sentenced
for the last to stand upon the pillory in the markets of Clitheroe,
Padiham, Colne, and Lancaster for four successive market days, with a
printed paper upon her head, stating her offence. The twelve persons
already named were styled "Witches of Pendle Forest." The following
eight were called "Witches of Samlesbury:"--13. Jennet Bierley; 14.
Ellen Bierley; 15. Jane Southworth; 16. John Ramsden; 17. Elizabeth
Astley; 18. Alice Gray; 19. Isabel Sidegraves; and 20. Lawrence Haye.
The last four were all discharged without trial. The sensation produced
by these trials was immense, not only in this, but throughout
neighbouring counties, and Thomas Potts, Esq., the clerk of the court,
was directed by the judges of assize, Sir Edward Bromley, Knt., and Sir
James Altham, Knt., to collect and publish the evidence and other
documents connected with the trial, under the revision of the judges
themselves; and Potts's "Discovery of Witches," originally published in
1613, has been reprinted by the Chetham Society (vol. vi.), under the
editorship of its president, Mr. James Crossley, F.S.A. According to
Potts, Old Mother Demdike, the principal actress in the tragedy, was a
general agent for the devil in all these parts; no man escaping her or
her furies that ever gave them occasion of offence, or denied them
anything they stood in need of. The justices of the peace in this part
of the country, Roger Nowell and Nicholas Bannister, having learned that
Malkin Tower [Malkin is a north-country name for a hare], in the Forest
of Pendle, the residence of Old Demdike and her daughter, was the resort
of the witches, ventured to arrest their head and another of her
followers, and to commit them to Lancaster Castle. Amongst the rest of
the voluntary confessions made by the witches, that of Dame Demdike is
preserved. She confessed that, about twenty years ago, as she was coming
home from begging, she was met near Gould's Hey, in the forest of
Pendle, by a spirit or devil in the shape of a boy, the one half of his
coat black and the other brown, who told her to stop, and said that if
she would give him her soul, she should have anything she wished for.
She asked his name, and was told _Tib_. She consented, from the hope of
gain, to give him her soul. For several years she had no occasion to
make any application to her evil spirit; but one Sunday morning, having
a little child upon her knee, and she being in a slumber, the spirit
appeared to her in the likeness of a brown dog, and forced himself upon
her knee, and begun to suck her blood under her left arm, on which she
exclaimed, "Jesus! save me!" and the brown dog vanished, leaving her
almost stark mad for eight weeks. On another occasion she was led, being
blind, to the house of Richard Baldwyn, to obtain payment for the
services her daughter had performed at his mill, when Baldwyn fell into
a passion, and bid them to get off his ground, calling them w----s and
witches, and saying he would burn the one and hang the other. On this,
_Tib_ appeared, and they concerted matters to revenge themselves on
Baldwyn; how, is not stated. This poor mendicant pretender to the powers
of witchcraft, in her examination stated that the surest way of taking a
man's life by witchcraft is to make a picture of clay, like unto the
shape of the person meant to be killed, and when they would have the
object of their vengeance suffer in any particular part of his body, to
take a thorn or pin and prick it into that part of the effigy; and when
they would have any of the body to consume away, then to burn that part
of the figure; and when they would have the whole body to consume, then
to burn the clay image; by which means the afflicted will die. The
substance of the examinations of the so-called witches and others, may
be given as follows:--Old Demdike persuaded her daughter, Elizabeth
Device, to sell herself to the devil, which she did, and in turn
initiated her daughter, Alizon Device, in these infernal arts. When the
old witch had been sent to Lancaster Castle, a grand convocation of
seventeen witches and three wizards was held at Malkin Tower on Good
Friday, at which it was determined to kill Mr. M'Covell, the governor of
the castle, and to blow up the building, to enable the witches to make
their escape. The other two objects of this convocation were to christen
the familiar of Alizon Device, one of the witches in the castle, and
also to bewitch and murder Mr. Lister, a gentleman of Westby-in-Craven,
Yorkshire. The business being ended, the witches, in quitting the
meeting, walked out of the barn, named Malkin Tower, in their proper
shapes, but on reaching the door, each mounted his or her spirit, which
was in the form of a young horse, and quickly vanished. Before the
assizes, Old Demdike, worn out by age and trouble, died in prison. The
others were brought to trial. The first person arraigned before Sir
Edward Bromley, who presided in the criminal court, was Ann Whittle,
_alias_ "Chattox," who is described by Potts as a very old, withered,
spent, and decrepit creature, eighty years of age, and nearly blind, a
dangerous witch, of very long countenance, always opposed to Old
Demdike, for whom the one favoured, the other hated deadly, and they
accused each other in their examinations. This witch was more
mischievous to men's goods than to themselves; her lips ever chattered
as she walked (hence, probably, her name of Chattox or Chatterbox), but
no one knew what she said. Her abode was in the Forest of Pendle,
amongst the company of other witches, where the woollen trade was
carried on, she having been in her younger days a wool-carder. She was
indicted for having exercised various wicked and devilish arts called
witchcrafts, enchantments, charms and sorceries, upon one Robert Nutter,
of Greenhead, in the Forest of Pendle, and with having, by force
thereof, feloniously killed him. To establish this charge her own
examination was read, from which it appeared that fourteen or fifteen
years ago, a thing like "a Christian man" had importuned her to sell her
soul to the devil, and that she had done so, giving to her familiar the
name of _Fancy_. On account of an insult offered to her daughter,
Redfern, by Robert Nutter, they two conspired to place a bad wish upon
Nutter, of which he died. It was further deposed against her that John
Device had agreed to give Old Chattox a dole of meal yearly if she would
not hurt him, and that when he ceased to make this annual tribute, he
took to his bed and died. She was further charged with having bewitched
the drink of John Moore, and also with having, without using the churn,
produced a quantity of butter from a dish of skimmed milk! In the face
of this evidence, and no longer anxious about her own life, she
acknowledged her guilt, but humbly prayed the judges to be merciful to
her daughter, Anne Redfern; but her prayer was in vain. Against
Elizabeth Device, the testimony of her own daughter, a child nine years
of age, was received; and the way in which her evidence was given,
instead of filling the court with horror, seems to have excited their
applause and admiration. Her familiar had the form of a dog and was
called _Bull_, and by his agency she bewitched to death John and James
Robinson and James Mitton; the first having called her a strumpet, and
the last having refused to give Old Demdike a penny when she asked him
for charity. To render her daughter proficient in the art, the prisoner
taught her two prayers, by one of which she cured the bewitched, and by
the other procured drink. The person of Elizabeth Device, as described
by Potts, seems witch-like. "She was branded (says he) with a
preposterous mark in nature; her left eye standing lower than her right;
the one looking down and the other up at the same time." Her process of
destruction was by modelling clay or marl figures, and wasting her
victims away along with them. James Device was convicted principally on
the evidence of his child-sister, of bewitching and killing Mrs. Ann
Towneley, the wife of Mr. Henry Towneley, of the Carr, by means of a
picture of clay; and both he and his sister were witnesses against their
mother. This wizard (James Device), whose spirit was called _Dandy_, is
described as a poor, decrepit boy, apparently of weak intellect, and so
infirm, that it was found necessary to hold him up in court on his

Upon evidence of this kind no fewer than ten of these unfortunate people
were found guilty at Lancaster, and sentenced to suffer death. Eight
others were acquitted; why, it is not easy to see, for the evidence
appears to have been equally strong, or rather equally weak and absurd,
against all. The ten persons sentenced were--Ann Whittle _alias_
"Chattox," Elizabeth Device, James Device, Anne Redfern, Alice Nutter,
Catherine Hewytt, John Bulcock, Jane Bulcock, Alizon Device, and Isabel

The judge, Sir Edward Bromley, in passing sentence on the convicted
prisoners, said, "You, of all people, have the least cause of complaint;
since on the trial for your lives there hath been much care and pains
taken; and what persons of your nature and condition were ever arraigned
and tried with so much solemnity? The court hath had great care to
receive nothing in evidence against you but matter of fact(!)[129] As
you stand simply (your offence and bloody practices not considered)
your fate would rather move compassion than exasperate any man; for whom
would not the ruin of so many poor creatures at one time touch, as in
appearance simple, and of little understanding? But the blood of these
innocent children, and others his Majesty's subjects whom cruelly and
barbarously you have murdered and cut off, cries unto the Lord for
vengeance. It is impossible that you, who are stained with so much
innocent blood, should either prosper or continue in this world, or
receive reward in the next." Having thus shut the door of hope, both as
to this life and the future, the judge proceeded to urge the wretched
victims of superstition to repentance! and concluded by sentencing them
all to be hanged. They were executed at Lancaster on the 20th of August,
1612, for having bewitched to death "by devilish practices and hellish
means" no fewer than sixteen inhabitants of the Forest of Pendle. These
were, 1. Robert Nutter, of Greenhead. 2. Richard Assheton, son of
Richard Assheton, Esq., of Downham. 3. A child of Richard Baldwin, of
Westhead, in the Forest of Pendle. 4. John Device, or Davies, of Pendle.
5. Ann Nutter, daughter of Anthony Nutter, of Pendle. 6. A child of John
Moor, of Higham. 7. Hugh Moor, of Pendle. 8. John Robinson, _alias_
Swyer. 9. James Robinson. 10. Henry Mytton, of Rough Lee. 11. Ann
Towneley, wife of Henry Towneley, of Carr Hall, gentleman. 12. John
Duckworth. 13. John Hargreaves, of Goldshaw Booth. 14. Blaize
Hargreaves, of Higham. 15. Christopher Nutter. 16. Ann Folds, near
Colne. John Law, a pedlar, was also bewitched, so as to lose the use of
his limbs, by Alizon Device, because he refused to give her some pins
without money, when requested to do so by her on his way from Colne.
Alizon Device herself _was a beggar by profession_, and the evidence
sufficiently proved that Law's affliction was nothing more than what
would now be termed paralysis of the lower extremities.

In his _Introduction_ to _Potts's Discovery of Witches_, Mr. Crossley
observes that "the main interest in reviewing this miserable band of
victims will be felt to centre in Alice Nutter. Wealthy, well conducted,
well connected, and placed probably on an equality with most of the
neighbouring families, and the magistrate before whom she was brought
and by whom she was committed, she deserves to be distinguished from the
companions with whom she suffered, and to attract an attention which has
never yet been directed to her. That James Device, on whose evidence she
was convicted, was instructed to accuse her by her own nearest
relatives, and that the magistrate, Roger Nowell, entered actively as a
confederate into the conspiracy, from a grudge entertained against her
on account of a long-disputed boundary, are allegations which tradition
has preserved, but the truth or falsehood of which, at this distance of
time, it is scarcely possible satisfactorily to examine. Her mansion,
Rough Lee, is still standing, a very substantial and rather fine
specimen of the houses of the inferior gentry, _temp._ James I., but now
divided into cottages."


The trials of these persons took place at the same assizes, and before
the same judge. Against Jane and Ellen Bierley and Jane Southworth, all
of Samlesbury, charged with having bewitched Grace Sowerbutts there, the
only material evidence was that of Grace Sowerbutts herself, a girl of
licentious and vagrant habits, who swore that these women (one of them
being her grandmother), did draw her by the hair of the head and lay her
upon the top of a hay-mow, and did take her senses and memory from her;
that they appeared to her sometimes in their own likeness, and sometimes
like a black dog. She declared that they by their arts had induced her
to join their sisterhood; and that they were met from time to time by
"four black things going upright and yet not like men in the face," who
conveyed them across the Ribble, where they danced with them, &c. The
prisoners were also charged with bewitching and slaying a child of
Thomas Walshman's, by placing a nail in its navel; and after its burial,
they took up the corpse, when they ate part of the flesh, and made an
"_unxious_ ointment" by boiling the bones. This was more than even the
capacious credulity of the judge and jury could digest. The Samlesbury
witches were, therefore, acquitted, and a seminary priest named Thompson
_alias_ Southworth, was suspected by two of the county magistrates [the
Rev. William Leigh and Edward Chisnall, Esq.,] to whom the affair was
afterwards referred, of having instigated Sowerbutts to make the charge;
but this imputation was not supported by any satisfactory evidence.


About 1630, a man named Utley, a reputed wizard, was tried, found
guilty, and hanged, at Lancaster, for having bewitched to death,
Richard, the son of Ralph Assheton, Esq., of Downham, and Lord of


In 1633, a number of poor and ignorant people, inhabitants of Pendle
Forest, or the neighbourhood, were apprehended, upon the information of
a boy named Edmund Robinson, and charged with witchcraft. The following
is a copy of Robinson's deposition:--

    "The examination of Edmund Robinson, son of Edmund Robinson, of
    Pendle Forest, mason, taken at Padiham, before Richard Shuttleworth
    [of Gawthorpe, Esq., then forty-seven or forty-eight] and John
    Starkie, Esq. [one of the seven demoniacs of Cleworth, in 1595] two
    of his Majesty's Justices of the Peace, within the county of
    Lancaster, 10th of February, A.D. 1633 [1634]. Who informeth upon
    oath (being examined concerning the great outrages of the witches),
    and saith, that upon All Saints' Day last past [Nov. 1, 1633], he,
    this informer, being with one Henry Parker, a next door neighbour to
    him, in Wheatley-lane, desired the said Parker to give him leave to
    get some bulloes [? bullace], which he did. In which time of getting
    bulloes, he saw two greyhounds, viz., a black and a brown one, come
    running over the next field towards him; he verily thinking the one
    of them to be Mr. Nutter's, and the other to be Mr. Robinson's, the
    said Mr. Nutter and Mr. Robinson having then such like. And the said
    greyhounds came to him and fawned on him, they having about their
    necks either of them a collar, and to either of which collars was
    tied a string, which collars, as this informant affirmeth, did shine
    like gold; and he thinking that some either of Mr. Nutter's or Mr.
    Robinson's family should have followed them, but seeing nobody to
    follow them, he took the said greyhounds, thinking to hunt with
    them, and presently a hare rise [rose] very near before him, at the
    sight of which he cried 'Loo! loo!' but the dogs would not run.
    Whereupon being very angry he took them, and with the strings that
    were at their collars, tied either of them to a little bush on the
    next hedge, and with a rod that he had in his hand he beat them. And
    instead of the black greyhound, one Dickonson wife stood up (a
    neighbour), whom this informer knoweth; and instead of the brown
    greyhound a little boy, whom this informer knoweth not. At which
    sight this informer being afraid, endeavoured to run away, but being
    stayed by the woman, viz., by Dickonson's wife, she put her hand
    into her pocket and pulled out a piece of silver much like to a fair
    shilling, and offered to give him to hold his tongue, and not to
    tell, which he refused, saying, 'Nay, thou art a witch.' Whereupon
    she put her hand into her pocket again, and pulled out a string like
    unto a bridle, that jingled, which she put upon the little boy's
    head that stood up in the brown greyhound's stead; whereupon the
    said boy stood up a white horse. Then immediately the said
    Dickonson's wife took this informer before her upon the said horse
    and carried him to a new house called Hoare-stones, being about a
    quarter of a mile off; whither when they were come there were divers
    persons about the door, and he saw divers others come riding upon
    horses of several colours towards the said house, which tied their
    horses to a hedge near to the said house, and which persons went
    into the said house, to the number of three score or thereabouts, as
    this informer thinketh, where they had a fire and meat roasting,
    and some other meat stirring in the house, whereof a young woman,
    whom he, this informer, knoweth not, gave him flesh and bread upon a
    trencher, and drink in a glass, which, after the first taste, he
    refused, and would have no more, and said it was nought. And
    presently after, seeing divers of the company going to a barn
    adjoining, he followed after, and there he saw six of them kneeling,
    and pulling at six several ropes, which were fastened or tied to the
    top of the house, at or with which pulling came then in this
    informer's sight flesh smoking, butter in lumps, and milk as it were
    syling [skimming or straining] from the said ropes, all which fell
    into basins which were placed under the said ropes. And after that
    these six had done, there came other six, which did likewise; and
    during all the time of their so pulling, they made such foul faces
    that feared this informer, so as he was glad to steal out and run
    home; whom, when they wanted, some of their company came running
    after him, near to a place in a highway called Boggard-hole, where
    this informer met two horsemen, at the sight whereof the said
    persons left following him; and the foremost of which persons that
    followed him, he knoweth to be one Loynd wife, which said wife,
    together with one Dickonson wife, and one Janet Davies, he hath seen
    at several times in a croft or close adjoining to his father's
    house, which put him in a great fear. And further this informer
    saith, upon Thursday after New Year's Day last past, he saw the said
    Loynd wife sitting upon a cross piece of wood being near the chimney
    of his father's dwelling-house: and he, calling to her, said, 'Come
    down, thou Loynd wife,' and immediately the said Loynd wife went up
    out of his sight. And further, this informer saith, that after he
    was come from the company aforesaid to his father's house, being
    towards evening, his father bade him go fetch home two kine to seal
    [cows to yoke], and in the way, in a field called the Ollers
    [_i.e._, Alders,] he chanced to hap upon a boy who began to quarrel
    with him, and they fought so together till this informer had his
    ears made very bloody by fighting; and looking down, he saw the boy
    had a cloven foot, at which sight he was afraid, and ran away from
    him to seek the kine. And in the way he saw a light like a lantern,
    towards which he made haste, supposing it to be carried by some of
    Mr. Robinson's people; but when he came to the place he only found a
    woman standing on a bridge, whom, when he saw her, he knew to be
    Loynd wife, and knowing her he turned back again, and immediately he
    met with the aforesaid boy, from whom he offered to run; which boy
    gave him a blow on the back, which caused him to cry. And he further
    saith, that when he was in the barn, he saw three women take three
    pictures from off the beam, in the which pictures many thorns, or
    such like things, sticked; and that Loynd wife took one of the said
    pictures down; but the other two women that took the other two
    pictures down he knoweth not. And being further asked what persons
    were at the meeting aforesaid, he nominated these persons hereafter
    mentioned; viz., Dickonson wife, Henry Priestly wife and her son,
    Alice Hargreaves, widow, Jennet Davies, William Davies, the wife of
    Henry Jacks and her son John, James Hargreaves of Marsden, Miles
    wife of Dicks, James wife, Saunders as he believes, Lawrence wife of
    Saunders, Loynd wife, Boys wife of Barrowford, one Holgate and his
    wife as he believes, Little Robin wife of Leonards of the West

    "Edmund Robinson of Pendle, father of the said Edmund Robinson, the
    aforesaid informer, upon oath saith, that upon All Saints' Day he
    sent his son, the aforesaid informer, to fetch home two kine to
    seal, and saith that he thought his son stayed longer than he
    should have done, and went to seek him; and in seeking him heard
    him cry very pitifully, and found him so afraid and distracted,
    that he neither knew his father, nor did know where he was, and so
    continued very near a quarter of an hour before he came to himself;
    and he told this informer his father all the particular passages
    that are before declared in the said Edmund Robinson his son's

Upon such evidence as the above, these poor creatures, chiefly women and
children, were committed by the two magistrates named, to Lancaster
Castle, for trial. On their trials at the assizes, a jury, doubtless
full of prejudice and superstitious fear, found seventeen of them
guilty. The judge respited the convicts and reported the case to the
king in council. They were next remitted to the Bishop of Chester (Dr.
Bridgeman), who certified his opinion of the case, which, however, does
not appear. Subsequently, four of these poor women, Margaret Johnson,
Frances Dickonson, Mary Spencer, and the wife of one of the
Hargreaveses, were sent for to London, and examined, first by the king's
physicians and surgeons, and afterwards by Charles I. in person. The
strangest part of this sad story of superstition is that one of the
four, who underwent examination before the magistrates, trial before "my
lords the king's justices," a sifting question by the Right Rev. the
Lord Bishop of Chester, aided, probably, by his chancellor, archdeacons,
chaplains, proctors, &c., next before the lords of his majesty's privy
council, and lastly, before his sacred majesty the king himself, whose
very touch would remove the king's evil,--one of these four women,
doubtless after much badgering, bullying, and artful questioning,
actually made a confession of her guilt as a witch. When this was made
it does not appear; but here is the confession as preserved in
Dodsworth's Collection of MSS., vol. lxi. p. 47:--

    "THE CONFESSION OF MARGARET JOHNSON.--That betwixt seven and eight
    years since, she being in her own house in Marsden in a great
    passion of anger and discontent, and withal pressed with some want,
    there appeared unto her a spirit or devil in the proportion or
    similitude of a man, apparelled in a suit of black, tied about with
    silk points; who offered that if she would give him her soul he
    would supply all her wants, and bring to her whatsoever she did
    need; and at her appointment would in revenge either kill or hurt
    whom or what she desired, were it man or beast. And saith, that
    after a solicitation or two, she contracted and covenanted with the
    said devil for her soul. And that the said devil or spirit bade her
    call him by the name of Mamilian; and when she would have him do
    anything for her, call in 'Mamilian,' and he would be ready to do
    her will. And saith, that in all her talk and confidence she calleth
    her said devil, 'Mamil, my God.' She further saith that the said
    Mamilian, her devil (by her consent) did abuse and defile * * * And
    saith that she was not at the great meeting at Hoare-stones, at the
    Forest of Pendle, upon All Saints' Day, where * * * But saith she
    was at a second meeting the Sunday next after All Saints' Day, at
    the place aforesaid, where there was at the time between thirty and
    forty witches, who did all ride to the said meeting, and the end of
    the meeting was to consult for the killing and hurting of men and
    beasts. And that besides their private familiars or spirits, there
    was one great or grand devil or spirit, more eminent than the rest.
    And if any desire to have a great and more wonderful devil, whereby
    they may have more power to hurt, they may have one such. And saith
    that such witches as have sharp bones given them by the devil to
    prick them, have no paps or dugs whereon the devil may suck; but the
    devil receiveth blood from the place pricked with the bone; and they
    are more grand witches than any that have marks. She also saith,
    that if a witch had but one mark, she hath but one spirit; if two,
    then two spirits; if three, yet but two spirits. And saith that
    their spirits usually have keeping of their bodies. And being
    desired to name such as she knew to be witches, she named, &c. And
    if they would torment a man, they bid their spirit go and torment
    him in any particular place. And that Good Friday is one constant
    day for a yearly general meeting of witches, and that on Good Friday
    last they had a meeting near Pendle water-side. She also saith that
    men witches usually have women spirits, and women witches men
    spirits. And their devil or spirit gives them notice of their
    meeting, and tells them the place where it must be. And saith, if
    they desire to be in any place upon a sudden their devil or spirit
    will, upon a rod, dog, or anything else, presently convey them
    thither; yea, into any room of a man's house. But she saith, it is
    not the substance of their bodies, but their spirit [that] assumeth
    such form and shape as go into such rooms. She also saith that the
    devil (after he begins to suck) will make a pap or dug in a short
    time, and the matter which he sucks is blood. And saith that their
    devils can cause foul weather and storms, and so did at their
    meetings. She also saith that when her devil did come to suck her
    pap, he usually came to her in the likeness of a cat, sometimes of
    one colour and sometimes of another. And that since this trouble
    befel her, her spirit hath left her, and she never saw him since."

One cannot read this farrago of revolting absurdities without
instinctively feeling that no uneducated woman could have dictated it;
that it must have been prepared and dressed up for her to attach her
mark, and that all she did was to make the cross to it, in fear,
peradventure, of impending tortures. It is at least satisfactory to know
that all these examinations of the poor women by legal, ecclesiastic,
and regal authorities had a beneficial result. Strong presumption was
afforded that the chief witness, the boy Robinson, had been suborned to
accuse the prisoners falsely; and they were accordingly discharged. The
boy afterwards confessed that he was suborned. The story excited, at the
time, so much interest in the public, that in the following year, 1634,
was acted and published a play entitled "The Witches of Lancashire,"
which Steevens cites in illustration of Shakspeare's witches. _Dr.
Whitaker's Whalley._ [Reference is probably made here to Heywood and
Broome's play of "The late Lancashire Witches" (London, 1634, quarto).
There was a much later play entitled "The Lancashire Witches," by
Shadwell (London, 1682)].


Sir Wm. Pelham writes, May 16, 1634, to Lord Conway:--"The greatest news
from the country is of a huge pack of witches, which are lately
discovered in Lancashire, whereof, 'tis said, 19 are condemned, and that
there are at least 60 already discovered, and yet daily there are more
revealed: there are divers of them of good ability, and they have done
much harm. I hear it is suspected that they had a hand in raising the
great storm, wherein his Majesty [Charles I.] was in so great danger at
sea in Scotland." The original is in the State Paper Office.[131]


Dr. Webster, in his "Display of Witchcraft," depicts the consternation
and alarm amongst the old and decrepit, from the machinations of the
witch-finders. Of the boy Robinson, who was a witness on several trials
of witches, he says--"This said boy was brought into the church at
Kildwick [in Yorkshire, on the confines of Lancashire], a large parish
church, where I, being then curate there, was preaching in the
afternoon, and was set upon a stool to look about him, which moved some
little disturbance in the congregation for a while. After prayers, I
enquired what the matter was: the people told me that it was the boy
that discovered witches; upon which I went to the house where he was to
stay all night, and here I found him and two very unlikely persons, that
did conduct him and manage the business. I desired to have some
discourse with the boy in private, but that they utterly refused. Then,
in the presence of a great many people, I took the boy near me and said:
'Good boy, tell me truly and in earnest, didst thou see and hear such
strange things at the meeting of witches as is reported by many thou
didst relate?' But the two men, not giving the boy leave to answer, did
pluck him from me, and said he had been examined by two _able_ justices
of the peace, and _they did never ask him such a question_. To whom I
replied, the persons accused had therefore the more wrong." Dr. Webster
subsequently adds, that "The boy Robinson, in more mature years,
acknowledged that he had been instructed and suborned to make these
accusations against the accused persons, by his father and others, and
that, of course, the whole was a fraud. By such wicked means and
unchristian practices, divers innocent persons lost their lives; and
these wicked rogues wanted not greater persons (even of the ministry
too) that did authorise and encourage them in their diabolical courses;
and the like in my time happened here in Lancashire, where divers, both
men and women, were accused of supposed witchcraft, and were so
unchristianly and inhumanly handled, as to be stript stark naked, and
laid upon tables and beds to be searched for their supposed witch-marks;
so barbarous and cruel acts doth diabolical instigation, working upon
ignorance and superstition, produce."


The Forest of Pendle is a portion of the greater one of
"Blackburnshire," and is so called from the celebrated mountain of that
name, over the declivity of which it extends, and stretches in a long
but interrupted descent of five miles to the Water of Pendle, a barren
and dreary tract. Dr. Whitaker observes of this and the neighbouring
forests, and the remark even yet holds good, "that they still bear the
marks of original barrenness and recent cultivation; that they are still
distinguished from the ancient freehold tracts around them, by want of
old houses, old woods, high fences (for these were forbidden by the
forest laws); by peculiarities of dialect and manners in their
inhabitants; and lastly, by a general air of poverty which all the
opulence of manufactures cannot remove." He considers that "at an
uncertain period during the occupancy of the Lacies, the first principle
of population (in these forests) commenced;" it was found that these
wilds, bleak and barren as they were, might be occupied to some
advantage in breeding young and depasturing lean "cattle, which were
afterwards fattened in the lower domain. _Vaccaries_, or great upland
pastures, were laid out for this purpose; _booths_ or mansions erected
upon them for the residence of herdsmen; and at the same time that herds
of deer were permitted to range at large as heretofore, _lawnds_, by
which are meant parks within a forest, were enclosed, in order to chase
them with greater facility, or by confinement to produce fatter venison.
Of these lawnds Pendle had New and Old Lawnd, with the contiguous Park
of Ightenhill." In the early part of the 17th century the inhabitants of
this district must have been, with few exceptions, a wretchedly poor and
uncultivated race, having little communication with the occupants of the
more fertile regions around them, and in whose minds superstition, even
yet unextinguished, must have had absolute and uncontrollable
domination. Under the disenchanting influence of steam, still much of
the old character of its population remains. The "parting genius" of
superstition still clings to the hoary hill tops and rugged slopes and
mossy water sides, along which the old forest stretched its length, and
the voices of ancestral tradition are still heard to speak from the
depth of its quiet hollows, and along the course of its gurgling
streams. He who visits Pendle will find that charms are yet generally
resorted to amongst the lower classes; that there are hares which, in
their persuasion, never can be caught, and which survive only to baffle
and confound the huntsman; that each small hamlet has its peculiar and
gifted personage, whom it is dangerous to offend; that the wise man and
woman (the white witches of our ancestors) still continue their
investigations of truth, undisturbed by the rural police or the progress
of the schoolmaster; that each locality has its haunted house; that
apparitions still walk their ghostly rounds,--and little would his
reputation for piety avail that clergyman in the eyes of his
parishioners, who should refuse to lay those "extravagant and erring
spirits," when requested, by those liturgic ceremonies which the
orthodoxy of tradition requires. In the early part of the reign of James
I., and at the period when his execrable statute against witchcraft
might have been sharpening its appetite by a temporary fast for the full
meal of blood by which it was eventually glutted--for as yet it could
count no recorded victims--two wretched old women with their families
resided in the Forest of Pendle. Their names were Elizabeth Southernes
and Ann Whittle, better known, perhaps, in the chronicles of witchcraft
by the appellations of Old Demdike and Old Chattox [perhaps, Chadwick].
Both had attained, or reached the verge of the advanced age of eighty,
and were evidently in a state of extreme poverty, subsisting with their
families by occasional employment, by mendicancy, but principally,
perhaps, by the assumption of that unlawful power which commerce with
spirits of evil was supposed to procure, and of which their sex, life,
appearance, and peculiarities might seem to the prejudiced neighbourhood
in the Forest to render them not unsuitable depositaries.[132]

[For the details of the witchcraft alleged to be practised by these old
crones and their families, with their trials and fate, see an article
(page 185 _suprâ_) in the present volume, entitled "The Lancashire
Witches of 1612."]


(From Rev. Richard James's _Iter Lancastrense_.)

            "Penigent, Pendle Hill, and Ingleborough,
    Three such hills be not in all England thorough."[133]

    I long to climb up Pendle[134]: Pendle stands
    Round cop, surveying all the wild moor lands,
    And Malkin's Tower,[135] a little cottage, where
    Report makes caitiff witches meet, to swear
    Their homage to the devil, and contrive
    The deaths of men and beasts. Let who will dive
    Into this baneful search, I wonder much
    If judges' sentence with belief on such
    Doth pass: then sure, they would not for lewd gain
    Bad clients favour, or put good to pain
    Of long pursuit; for terror of the fiend
    Or love of God, they would give causes end
    With equal justice. Yet I do confess
    Needs must strange fancies poor old wives possess,
    Who in those desert, misty moors do live,
    Hungry and cold, and scarce see priest to give
    Them ghostly counsel. Churches far do stand
    In laymen's hands, and chapels have no land
    To cherish learned curates,[136] though Sir John
    Do preach for four pounds unto Haslingden.
    Such yearly rent, with right of begging corn,
    Makes John a sharer in my Lady's horn:
    He drinks and prays, and forty years this life
    Leading at home, keeps children and a wife.[137]
    These are the wonders of our careless days:
    Small store serves him who for the people prays.


Dr. Webster, in his _Display of Witchcraft_, dated February 23, 1673,
mentions two cases somewhat vaguely, in the following terms:--"I myself
have known two supposed witches to be put to death at Lancaster, within
these eighteen years [_i.e._, between 1654 and 1673] that did utterly
deny any league or covenant with the devil, or even to have seen any
visible devil at all; and may not the confessions of those (who both
died penitent) be as well credited as the confessions of those that were
brought to such confessions by force, fraud, or cunning persuasion and


In the MS. _Rental of Sir Edward More_ (p. 62), dated in the year 1667,
it is gravely recorded that one of his tenants residing in
Castle-street, Liverpool, was a witch, descended from a witch, and
inheriting the faculty of witchcraft in common with her maiden
sister:--"Widow Bridge, a poor old woman, her own sister Margaret Ley,
being arraigned for a witch, confessed she was one, and when she was
asked how long she had so been, replied, since the death of her mother,
who died thirty years agone, and at her decease she had nothing to leave
her and this widow Bridge, that were sisters, but her two spirits, and
named then the elder spirit to this widow, and the other spirit to her,
the said Margaret Ley. God bless me and all mine from such legacies.


The village of Singleton [in the Fylde] is remarkable only for having
been the residence of "Mag Shelton," a famous witch in her day. Her
food, we are told, was _haggis_ (at that time commonly used in the
district) made of boiled groats, mixed with thyme or parsley. Many are
the wild tales related of her dealings in the black art. The cows of her
neighbours were constantly milked by her; the pitcher in which she
conveyed the stolen milk away, walking before her in the shape of a
goose. Under this disguise her depredations were carried on till a
neighbour, suspecting the trick, struck the seeming goose, and lo!
immediately it was changed into a broken pitcher, and the vaccine liquor
flowed. Once only was this witch foiled by a powerful spell, the
contrivance of a maiden, who, having seated her in a chair, before a
large fire, and stuck a bodkin, crossed with two weaver's healds, about
her person, thus fixed her irremovably to her seat.[139]


In the beginning of this [the eighteenth] century, one Katherine
Walkden, an old woman of the township of Atherton, Chowbent, was
committed to Lancaster as a witch. She was examined at Hulton Hall,
where the magistrate then resided, by a jury of matrons, by whom a
private teat was discovered, and upon this and other evidence (I suppose
of equal importance) her _mittimus_ was made out, but she died in gaol
before the ensuing assizes.[140]


Some years ago I formed the acquaintance of an elderly gentleman who had
retired from business, after amassing an ample fortune by the
manufacture of cotton. He was possessed of a considerable amount of
general information--had studied the world by which he was
surrounded--and was a leading member of the Wesleyan connexion. The
faith element, however, predominated amongst his religious principles,
and hence both he and his family were firm believers in witchcraft. On
one occasion, according to my informant, both he and the neighbouring
farmers suffered much from loss of cattle, and from the unproductiveness
of their sheep. The cream was _bynged_ [soured] in the churn, and would
bring forth no butter. Their cows died mad in the shippons, and no
farrier could be found who was able to fix upon the diseases which
afflicted them. Horses were bewitched out of their stables through the
loopholes, after the doors had been safely locked, and were frequently
found strayed to a considerable distance when they ought to have been
safe in their stalls. Lucky-stones had lost their virtues; horse-shoes
nailed behind the doors were of little use; and sickles hung across the
beams had no effect in averting the malevolence of the evil-doer. At
length suspicion rested upon an old man, a noted astrologer and
fortune-teller, who resided near New Church, in Rossendale, and it was
determined to put an end both to their ill-fortune and his career, by
performing the requisite ceremonials for "killing a witch." It was a
cold November evening when the process commenced. A thick fog covered
the valleys, and the wild winds whistled across the dreary moors. The
farmers, however, were not deterred. They met at the house of one of
their number, whose cattle were then supposed to be under the influence
of the wizard; and having procured a live cock-chicken, they stuck him
full of pins and burnt him alive, whilst repeating some magical
incantation. A cake was also made of oatmeal, mixed with the urine of
those bewitched, and, after having been marked with the name of the
person suspected, was then burnt in a similar manner.... The wind
suddenly rose to a tempest and threatened the destruction of the house.
Dreadful moanings as of some one in intense agony, were heard without,
whilst a sense of horror seized upon all within. At the moment when the
storm was at the wildest, the wizard knocked at the door, and in piteous
tones desired admittance. They had previously been warned by the "wise
man" whom they had consulted, that such would be the case, and had been
charged not to yield to their feelings of humanity by allowing him to
enter. Had they done so, he would have regained all his influence, for
the virtue of the spell would have been dissolved. Again and again did
he implore them to open the door, and pleaded the bitterness of the
wintry blast, but no one answered from within. They were deaf to all his
entreaties, and at last the wizard wended his way across the moors as
best he could. The spell, therefore, was enabled to have its full
effect, and within a week the Rossendale wizard was locked in the cold
embrace of death.[141]


Not many years ago there resided in the neighbourhood of Burnley an old
woman, whose malevolent practices were supposed to render themselves
manifest by the injuries she inflicted on her neighbours' cattle; and
many a lucky-stone, many a stout horse-shoe and rusty sickle may now be
found behind the doors or hung from the beams in the cow-houses and
stables belonging to the farmers in that locality, which date their
suspension from the time when this "witch" in reputation held the
country-side in awe. Not one of her neighbours ever dared to offend her
openly; and if she at any time preferred a request, it was granted at
all hazards, regardless of inconvenience and expense. If, in some
thoughtless moment, any one spoke slightingly, either of her or her
powers, a corresponding penalty was threatened as soon as it reached her
ears, and the loss of cattle, personal health, or a general "run of bad
luck" soon led the offending party to think seriously of making peace
with his powerful tormentor. As time wore on, she herself sickened and
died; but before she could "shuffle off this mortal coil" she must needs
_transfer her familiar spirit_ to some trusty successor. An intimate
acquaintance from a neighbouring township was consequently sent for in
all haste, and on her arrival was immediately closeted with her dying
friend. What passed between them has never fully transpired, but it is
confidently affirmed that at the close of the interview this associate
_received the witch's last breath into her mouth, and with it the
familiar spirit_. The dreaded woman thus ceased to exist, but her powers
for good or evil were transferred to her companion; and on passing along
the road from Burnley to Blackburn, we can point out a farm-house at no
great distance, with whose thrifty matron no one will yet dare to


All-Hallows' Eve, Hallowe'en, &c. (from the old English _halwen_,
saints), denote the vigil and day of All Saints, October 31 and November
1, a season abounding in superstitious observances. It was firmly
believed in Lancashire that the witches assembled on this night at their
general rendezvous in the Forest of Pendle,--a ruined and desolate
farm-house, called the _Malkin Tower_ (_Malkin_ being the name of a
familiar demon in Middleton's old play of _The Witch_; derived from
_maca_, an equal, a companion). This superstition led to another, that
of _lighting_, _lating_, or _leeting_ the witches (from _leoht_, A.-S.
light). It was believed that if a lighted candle were carried about the
fells or hills from eleven to twelve o'clock at night, and burned all
that time steadily, it had so far triumphed over the evil power of the
witches, who, as they passed to the Malkin Tower, would employ their
utmost efforts to extinguish the light, and the person whom it
represented might safely defy their malice during the season; but if, by
any accident the candle went out, it was an omen of evil to the luckless
wight for whom the experiment was made. It was also deemed inauspicious
to cross the threshold of that person until after the return from
_leeting_, and not then unless the candle had preserved its light. Mr.
Milner describes this ceremony as having been recently performed.[142]


[122] Hall's _Chronicle_.

[123] William of Worcester's _Annales Rerum Anglicarum_, pp. 460-61.

[124] _Pictorial History of England_, vol. ii. p. 81; also Hall's

[125] This is the title-page of an old 12mo chap-book, the date of
publication of which is not shown.

[126] This was sold by auction only a few years ago.

[127] For Sir Philip Sidney's poetical description of this old game, see
his _Arcadia_, or Brand's _Popular Antiquities_ (Ed. 1841, vol. ii. p.

[128] Baines's _History of Lancashire_.

[129] To prove the guilt of one of the prisoners, evidence was received
that it was the opinion of a man not in court, that she had turned his
beer sour. To prove the charge of murder, it was thought sufficient to
attest that the sick person had declared his belief that he owed his
approaching death to the maledictions of the prisoner. The bleeding of
the corpse on the touch of Jennet Preston, was received as an
incontrovertible evidence of guilt. It would be nearer the truth to say
that nothing but fiction was received in evidence.

[130] Dr. Whitaker's _Whalley_, p. 528.

[131] W. N. S., in _Notes and Queries_, 2nd series, vol. iv. p. 365.

[132] Mr. James Crossley's introduction to _Potts's Discovery of

[133] This is an old local proverb, amongst the Yorkshire proverbs in
Grose's _Provincial Glossary_. Ray gives it thus:--

    "Ingleborough, Pendle, and Penigent,
    Are the highest hills between Scotland and Trent."

[134] Pendle Hill, or _Pen hull_ (_i.e._, the head hill) is situated on
the borders of Lancashire, in the northern part of Whalley, and rises
about 1800 feet above the level of the sea. The views from the summit
are very extensive, including the Irish sea on one side, and York
Minster (at a distance of nearly sixty miles) on the other.
Notwithstanding the boast of the old proverb above, there are several
hills round it of higher elevation.

[135] Malkin Tower, in the Forest of Pendle, and on the declivity of
Pendle Hill, was the place where, according to vulgar belief, a sort of
assembly or convention of reputed witches took place on Good Friday in
1612, which was attended by seventeen pretended witches and three
wizards, who were afterwards brought to trial at Lancaster Assizes, and
ten of these unfortunate creatures being found guilty, were executed.

[136] The laymen here referred to were not the patrons, but the persons
officiating, who were called readers, and had no orders. Nearly every
chapel in the parish of Whalley was destitute of land in 1636.

[137] The Sir John was probably John Butterworth, clerk, curate of
Haslingden about this period. "Sir John" was a designation frequently
applied to an illiterate priest. The old allowance to the priest in
Haslingden, according to Bishop Gastrell, was 4_l._ Formerly parish
clerks (and perhaps the priests of poor cures also) claimed once a year
a bowl of corn from each parishioner of substance.

[138] The _Moore Rental_, p. 62.

[139] Rev. W. Thornber's _History of Blackpool_, p. 308.

[140] _MS. Description of Atherton and Chowbent in 1787_, by Dorning
Rasbotham, Esq.

[141] See _Transactions of Lancashire and Cheshire Historical Society_.

[142] _Year Book_, part xiii. col. 1558.



Every greater or lesser festival of the church had its popular no less
than its ecclesiastical observances. The three great events of human
birth, marriage, and death, with their church rites of baptism, wedding,
and burial, naturally draw towards them many customs and usages deemed
fitting to such occasions. There are many customs in connexion with the
free and the inferior tenants of manors, and their services to the
manorial lord. Another class of customs will be found in observance in
agricultural districts amongst the owners, occupiers, and labourers of
farms and the peasantry generally. Lastly, as has been observed of the
English generally, every great occasion, collective or individual, must
have its festal celebration by eating and drinking in assembly. The
viands and the beverages proper to particular occasions, therefore,
constitute a not unimportant part of the local customs and usages of the
people; and hence demand a place in a volume of Folk-Lore. To these
subjects the present Part of this book is appropriated, and it is
believed that they will be found not less strikingly illustrative of the
manners and habits of the people of Lancashire, than the Superstitious
Beliefs and Practices recorded in the first Part of this little work.


The feasts of dedication of parish churches to their particular
tutelary saints, of course are much too numerous to be more than named
in a work of this nature. The eve of such anniversary was the yearly
wake [or watching] of the parishioners; and originally booths were
erected in the churchyards, and feasting, dancing, and other revelry
continued throughout the night. The parishioners attended divine service
on the feast day, and the rest of that day was then devoted to popular
festivities. So great grew the excesses committed during these prolonged
orgies, that at length it became necessary to close the churches against
the pageants and mummeries performed in them at these anniversaries, and
the churchyards against the noisy, disorderly, and tumultuous
merry-makings of the people. Thenceforth the great seat of the revels
was transferred from the church and its graveyard, to the village green
or the town market-place, or some space of open ground, large enough for
popular assemblages to enjoy the favourite sports and pastimes of the
period. Such were the general character and features of the wakes and
feasts of country parishes, changing only with the name of the patron
saint, the date of the celebration. But the great festivals of the
church, celebrated alike in city and town, in village and hamlet,
wherever a church "pointed its spire to heaven," were held with more
general display, as uniting the ceremonials and rites of the church,
with the popular festivities outside the sacred precincts. Of these
great festivals the chief were New Year's Day, Twelfth Night (Jan. 5),
Shrove or Pancake Tuesday, Ash-Wednesday or the first day of Lent,
Mid-Lent or Mothering Sunday, Palm Sunday, Good Friday, Easter,
Whitsuntide or Pentecost, May-Day, Midsummer Day (St. John's Eve and
Day, June 23 and 24), Michaelmas Day (Sept. 29), and Christmas Day, with
the Eve of the New Year. Of these we propose to notice various customs
and practices as observed in Lancashire from the beginning to the close
of the year.


In the church calendar this day is the festival of the Circumcision; in
the Roman church it is the day of no fewer than seven saints. But it is
much more honoured as a popular festival. Many families in Lancashire
sit up on New Year's Eve till after twelve o'clock midnight, and then
drink "a happy New Year" to each other over a cheerful glass. The church
bells, too, in merry peals ring out the Old Year, and ring in the New.
In the olden time the wassail-bowl, the spiced ale called "lamb's wool,"
and currant bread and cheese, were the viands and liquor in vogue on New
Year's Eve and Day. A turkey is still a favourite dish at dinner on New
Year's Day.


My maid, who comes from the neighbourhood of Pendle, informs me that an
unlucky old woman in her native village, having allowed her fire to go
out on New Year's Eve, had to wait till one o'clock on the following day
before any neighbour would supply her with a light.[143]


Should a female, or a light-haired male, be the first to enter a house
on the morning of New Year's Day, it is supposed to bring bad luck for
the whole of the year then commencing. Various precautions are taken to
prevent this misfortune: hence many male persons with black or dark
hair, are in the habit of going from house to house, on that day, "to
take the New Year in;" for which they are treated with liquor, and
presented with a small gratuity. So far is the apprehension carried,
that some families will not open the door to any one until satisfied by
the voice that he is likely to bring the house a year's good luck by
entering it. Then, the most kindly and charitable woman in a
neighbourhood will sternly refuse to give any one a light on the morning
of New Year's Day, as most unlucky to the one who gives away light.


For years past, an old lady, a friend of mine, has regularly reminded me
to pay her an early visit on New Year's Day; in short, to be her first
caller, and to "let the New Year in." I have done this for years, except
on one occasion. When I, who am of fair complexion, have been her first
visitor, she has enjoyed happy and prosperous years; but on the occasion
I missed, some dark-complexioned, black-haired gentleman
called;--sickness and trouble, and commercial disasters, were the
result.[144] [This is at variance with the preceding paragraph as to
the favourite colour of the hair, &c. Perhaps this differs in different
localities; but of this at least we are assured, that any male, dark or
fair, is regarded as a much more lucky "letter-in" of the New Year, than
any girl or woman, be she blonde or brunette.]

In Lancashire, even in the larger towns, it is considered at this time
of day particularly fortunate if "a black man" (meaning one of a dark
complexion) be the first person that enters the house on New Year's


Some persons still keep Old Christmas Day. They always look for a change
of weather on that day, and never on the 25th December. The common
people have long begun their year with the 1st of January. The Act of
1752, so far as they were concerned, only caused the Civil and the
Ecclesiastical Year to begin together. In Hopton's _Year Book_ for A.D.
1612, he thus speaks of _January 1st_:--"January. New-yeares day in the
morning being red, portends great tempest and warre."


Christmas and New Year's tea parties and dances are called "Auld Wife
Hakes" in the Furness district of Lancashire. The word _hake_ is never
used in the central part of the county.[146] Can this be from _hacken_
(? from _hacking_, chopping small), a pudding made in the maw of a sheep
or hog. It was formerly a standard dish at Christmas, and is mentioned
by N. Fairfax, _Bulk and Selvedge_, 1674, p. 159.[147] [To _hake_, is to
sneak, or loiter about.]


It was formerly a universal custom to make presents, especially from
superiors to dependents, and _vice versâ_. Now the custom is chiefly
confined to parents and elders giving to children or young persons. The
practice of making presents on New Year's Day existed among the Romans,
and also amongst the Saxons; from one or both of which peoples we have
doubtless derived it. The salutation or greeting on New Year's Day is
also of great antiquity. Pieces of Roman pottery have been found
inscribed "A happy new year to you," and one inscriber wishes the like
to himself and his son. In country districts, the homely phrase is: "A
happy New Year t'ye, and monny on 'em." In more polished society, and in
correspondence, "I wish you a happy New Year," or "The compliments of
the season to you."


This name, given to the last few days before Lent, is from its being the
custom for the people to go to the priest to be _shriven_, _i.e._, to
make their confession, before entering on the great fast of Lent, which
begins on Ash-Wednesday. _Tide_ is the old Anglo-Saxon word for time,
and it is still retained in Whitsuntide. After the people had made the
confession required by the ancient discipline of the church, they were
permitted to indulge in festive amusements, though restricted from
partaking of any repasts beyond the usual substitutes for flesh: hence
the Latin and continental name _Carnaval_,--literally "Carne, vale,"
"Flesh, farewell." In Lancashire and other Northern counties, three days
in this week had their peculiar dishes, viz.: "Collop Monday," "Pancake
Tuesday," and "Fritters Wednesday." Originally, collops were simply
slices of bread, but these were long ago discarded for slices or rashers
of bacon. Fritters were thick, soft cakes, made from flour batter, with
or without sliced apples intermixed. Shrovetide was anciently a great
time for cock-throwing and cock-fighting, and indeed of many other loose
and cruel diversions, arising from the indulgences formerly granted by
the church, to compensate for the long season of fasting and humiliation
which commenced on Ash-Wednesday. As Selden observes--"What the church
debars us on one day, she gives us leave to take on another; first we
feast, and then we fast; there is a carnival, and then a Lent."


The tossing of pancakes (and in some places fritters) on this day was a
source of harmless mirth, and is still practised in the rural parts of
Lancashire and Cheshire, with its ancient accompaniments:--

    "It is the day whereon the rich and poor,
    Are chiefly feasted on the self-same dish,
    When every paunch till it can hold no more,
    Is fritter-filled, as well as heart can wish;
    And every man and maid do take their turn
    And toss their pancakes up for fear they burn,
    And all the kitchen doth with laughter sound,
    To see the pancakes fall upon the ground."[148]

Another writer gives this injunction:--

    "Maids, fritters and pancakes enow see ye make,
    Let Slut have one pancake for company's sake."[149]


Cock-fighting was a barbarous pastime of high antiquity, being practised
by the Greeks and Romans. In England it may be traced back to the
twelfth century, when it appears to have been a childish or boyish
sport. FitzStephen, in his description of London in the time of Henry
II., says: "Every year, on the morning of Shrove-Tuesday, the schoolboys
of the city of London, and of other cities and great towns, bring game
cocks to their masters, and in the fore-part of the day, till
dinner-time, are permitted to amuse themselves with seeing them fight."
The school was the cock-pit, and the master the comptroller or director
of the pastime. The victor, or hero of the school, who had won the
greatest number of fights was carried about upon a pole by two of his
companions. He held the cock in his hands, and was followed by other
boys bearing flags, &c. Cock-throwing was a sport equally cruel; but
only one cock was needed. The poor bird was tied to a peg or stake, by a
string, sometimes long, sometimes short, and the boys from a certain
distance, in turn, threw a stick at the cock. The victor in this case
was he whose missile killed the poor bird. Amongst the recognised
payments by the boys at the old Free Grammar Schools, was a penny yearly
to the master for the privilege of cock-fighting or cock-throwing on
Shrove-Tuesday. The statutes of the Manchester Free Grammar School, made
about 1525, show a creditable desire to abolish these barbarous sports.
One of these statutes, as to the fees of the master, provides that "he
shall teach freely and indifferently [not carelessly, but impartially]
every child and scholar coming to the same school, without any money or
other reward taking there-for, as cock-penny, victor-penny," &c. Another
is still more explicit:--"The scholars of the same school shall use no
cock-fights, nor other unlawful games, and riding about for victors,
&c., which be to the great let [hindrance] of virtue, and to charge and
cost of the scholars, and of their friends." At a much later period,
however, the scholars seem to have been allowed, on Easter Monday, to
have archery practice at a target, one of the prizes being a
dunghill-cock; but this was abolished by the late Dr. Smith, when high


About thirty years ago cock-fighting formed a common pastime about
Mellor and Blackburn. A blacksmith, named Miller, used to keep a large
number of cocks for fighting purposes. He was said to have "sold himself
to the devil" in order to have money enough for betting; and it was
remarked that he rarely won! If the practice is still followed, it is
done _in secret_; but the number of game-cocks one sees kept by
"sporting characters" can scarcely admit of any other inference.


In the Clitheroe Grammar School an annual present at Shrovetide is
expected from the scholars, varying in amount according to the
circumstances of the parents. With the exception of this _cock-penny_,
the school is free. The origin of this custom it is now difficult to
trace. Shrove-Tuesday, indeed, was a sad day for cocks. Cock-fighting
and throwing at cocks were among its barbarous sports. Schoolboys used
to bring game-cocks to the master, and delight themselves in
cock-fighting all the forenoon. In Scotland, the masters presided at the
fight, and claimed the runaway cocks called "forgers" [? 'fugees] as
their perquisites. The "cock-penny" may have been the substitute devised
by a less cruel age for the ordinary gratuity.[150]


The head master of Burnley Grammar School used to derive a portion of
his income from "cock-pence" paid to him by his pupils at Shrovetide.
This has been disused for half a century. Latterly it degenerated into a
"clubbing together" of pence by the pupils for the purpose of providing
themselves with materials for a carouse. This was, therefore, at last


Shrove-Tuesday was also called "Pancake Day," pancakes being the
principal delicacy of the day. At eleven o'clock in the forenoon, the
"pancake bell" rang at Poulton church, and operations were immediately
commenced. Great was the fun in "tossing" or turning the pancake by a
sudden jerk of the pan; while the appetites of the urchins never
flagged. Amongst the sports on Shrove-Tuesday, was pre-eminently
cock-fighting; though bull and bear baiting were also among the rude and
savage pastimes of the season.[151] In Poulton, on Shrove-Tuesday, the
pancake bell still warns the apprentice to quit his work, not indeed to
go to the confessional and be _shriven_, but to prepare for the feast of
the day.[152]


The forty days' fast at the beginning of spring, in commemoration of the
temptation and fast of our Saviour in the wilderness, was called Lent,
from the Saxon name for Spring, _lengten-tide_. The fast, as prescribed
by the church, consisted in abstaining from flesh, eggs, preparations of
milk, and wine, and in making only one meal, and that in the evening.
Fish was not forbidden, though many restricted themselves to pulse and
fruit. Ash-Wednesday, the first day in Lent, was one of severe
discipline in the Roman church; and to remind the faithful, at the
beginning of the long penitential fast, that men are but "dust and
ashes," the priest, with ashes of the wood of the palm-tree, marked the
sign of the cross on the forehead of each confessing worshipper; whence
the name. Since the Reformation the observance of Lent by fasting is not
general in Lancashire.


The fourth or middle Sunday between Quadragesima (the first Sunday in
Lent) and Easter Sunday. It was of old called _Dominica Refectionis_, or
the Sunday of Refreshment, from the gospel of the day treating of the
miraculous feeding of the five thousand. It was originally called
"Mothering Sunday," from the ancient usage of visiting the mother or
cathedral churches of the dioceses, when Lent or Easter offerings were
made. The public processions have been discontinued ever since the
middle of the thirteenth century; but the name of Mothering Sunday is
still retained, a custom having been substituted amongst the people of
Lancashire, Cheshire, Yorkshire, and other counties, of those who have
left the paternal roof visiting their natural mother, and presenting to
her small tokens of their filial affection, in money, trinkets,
frumenty, or cakes. In some parts of Lancashire, the particular kind of
cakes have long been fixed by old custom, being what are called
"simnels," or, in the dialect of the district, "simlins;" and with these
sweet-cakes, it was, and in places is still, the custom to drink warm,
spiced ale, called "bragot." Another viand especially eaten on Mid-Lent
Sunday was that of fig or fag-pies.


In days of yore, there was a little alleviation of the severities of
Lent permitted to the faithful, in the shape of a cake called "Simnel."
Two English towns claim the honour of its origin,--Shrewsbury and
Devizes. The first makes its simnel in the form of a warden-pie, the
crust being of saffron and very thick; the last has no crust, is
star-shaped, and the saffron is mixed with a mass of currants, spice,
and candied lemon. Bury, in Lancashire, is almost world-famous for its
simnels and its bragot (or spiced sweet ale), on Mothering Sunday, or
Mid-Lent. As to the name, Dr. Cowell, in his _Law Directory or
Interpreter_ (folio, 1727), derives _simnell_ (Lat. _siminellus_), from
the Latin _simila_, the finest part of the flour: "_panis
similageneus_," simnel bread,--"still in use, especially in Lent." The
English _simnel_ was the purest white bread, as in the Book of Battle
Abbey: "Panem regiæ mensæ apsum, qui _simenel_ vulgo vocatur." (Bread
fit for the royal table, which is commonly called _simenel_.) Dr. Cowell
adds that it was sometimes called _simnellus_, as in the "Annals of the
Church of Winchester," under the year 1042, "conventus centum
_simnellos_" (the convent 100 _simnels_). He also quotes the statute of
51 Henry III. (1266-7), which enacts that "bread made into a _simnel_
should weigh two shillings less than wastel bread;" and also an old
manuscript of the customs of the House of Farendon (where it is called
"bread of symenel"), to the same effect. Wastel was the finest sort of
bread. Herrick, who was born in 1591, and died in 1674 (?) has the
following in his _Hesperides_:--

    A Ceremony in Gloucester.

    I'll to thee a _Simnell_ bring
    'Gainst thou go'st a _mothering_;
    So that when she blesseth thee,
    Half that blessing thou'lt give me.

Bailey, in his Dictionary (folio 1764), says _simnel_ is probably
derived from the Latin _simila_, fine flour, and means, "a sort of cake
or bun, made of fine flour, spice, &c." It will thus appear that
_simnel_ cakes can boast a much higher antiquity than the reign of Henry
VII. (Lambert _Simnel_ probably taking his name from them, as a baker,
and not giving his name to them), and that they were not originally
confined to any particular time or place.[153]

In the _Dictionarius_ of John de Garlande, compiled at Paris in the
thirteenth century, the word _simineus_ or _simnels_, is used as the
equivalent to the Latin _placentæ_, which are described as cakes exposed
in the windows of the hucksters, to sell to the scholars of the
University and others.[154]


There is an ancient celebration in Bury, on Mid-Lent Sunday, there
called "Simblin Sunday," when large cakes called "simblins" (_i.e._,
simnels), are sold generally in the town, and the shops are kept open
the whole day, except during Divine Service, for the purpose of vending
this mysterious aliment.[155] These cakes are a compound of currants,
candied lemon, sugar, and spice, sandwich-wise, between crust of short
or puff paste. They are in great request at the period, not only in
Bury, but in Manchester and most of the surrounding towns. A still
richer kind, approaching the bride-cake in character, are called "Almond


Formerly it was the practice in Leigh to use a beverage on Mid-Lent
Sunday, called "bragot," consisting of a kind of spiced ale; and also
for the boys to indulge themselves by persecuting the women on their way
to church, by secretly hooking a piece of coloured cloth to their gowns.
A similar custom prevails in Portugal, at Carnival time, when many
persons that walk the streets on the three last days of the Intrudo,
have a long paper train hooked to their dress behind, on which the
populace set up the cry of "Raboleve," which is continued till the butt
of the joke is divested of his "tail." As to "Bragot," or more properly
"Braget" Sunday, it is a name given in Lancashire to the fourth Sunday
in Lent, which is in other places called "Mothering Sunday." Both
appellations arise out of the same custom. Voluntary oblations, called
_Quadragesimalia_ (from the Latin name of Lent, signifying forty days),
were formerly paid by the inhabitants of a diocese to the Mother
Cathedral Church, and at this time prevailed the custom of processions
to the Cathedral on Mid-Lent Sunday. On the discontinuance of
processions, the practice of "mothering," or visiting parents, began;
and the spiced ale used on these occasions was called _braget_, from the
British _bragawd_, the name of a kind of metheglin. Whitaker[156]
observes that this description of liquor was called "Welsh ale" by the
Saxons. Since his time, the liquor drunk on this day is principally
_mulled ale_, of which there is a large consumption in Lancashire on
Mid-Lent Sunday.[157]


Fig-pies--(made of dry figs, sugar, treacle, spice, &c., and by some
described as "luscious," by others as "of a sickly taste")--or, as they
are locally termed, "fag-pies," are, or were at least till recently,
eaten in Lancashire on a Sunday in Lent [? Mid-Lent Sunday], thence
called "Fag-pie Sunday."[158]

In the neighbourhood of Burnley Fag-pie Sunday is the second Sunday
before Easter, or that which comes between Mid-Lent and Palm Sunday.
About Blackburn fig-pies are always prepared for Mid-Lent Sunday, and
visits are usually made to friends' houses in order to partake of the


This name is believed to be an adoption of the old German _Gute_ or
_Gottes Freytag_, Good or God's Friday, so called on the same principle
that Easter Day in England was at no very remote period called "God's
Day." The length of the Church Services in ancient times, on this day,
occasioned it to be called Long Friday. In most parts of Lancashire,
buns with crosses stamped upon them, and hence called "cross buns," are
eaten on this day at breakfast; and it is in many places believed that a
cross bun, preserved from one Good Friday to another, will effectually
prevent an attack of the whooping-cough. Some writers declare that our
cross buns at Easter are only the cakes which our pagan Saxon
forefathers ate in honour of their goddess Eostre, and from which the
Christian clergy, who were unable to prevent people from eating them,
sought to expel the paganism by marking them with the cross. On the
Monday before Good Friday the youths about Poulton-le-Fylde and its
neighbourhood congregate in strange dresses, and visit their friends'
houses, playing antics, on which occasion they are styled "the Jolly
Lads."[159] It is stated that in some places in Lancashire, Good Friday
is termed "Cracklin' Friday," as on that day it is a custom for children
to go with a small basket to different houses, to beg small wheaten
cakes, which are something like the Jews' Passover bread; but made
shorter or richer, by having butter or lard mixed with the flour. "Take
with thee loaves and cracknels." (1 Kings xiv.)


This name is clearly traced to that of Eostre, a goddess to whom the
Saxons and other Northern nations sacrificed in the month of April, in
which our Easter usually falls. Easter Sunday is held as the day of our
Lord's resurrection. Connected with this great festival of the Church
are various local rites and customs, pageants and festivities; such as
_pace_ or _Pasche_ [_i.e._, Easter] egging, lifting or heaving, Ball
play, the game of the ring, guisings or disguisings, fancy cakes, "old
hob," "old Ball," or hobby horse, &c.

Easter-Day is a moveable feast, appointed to be held on the first Sunday
after the full moon immediately following the 21st of March; but if the
moon happen to be at the full on a Sunday, then Easter is held on the
following Sunday and not on the day of the full moon. Thus, Easter-Day
cannot fall earlier than the 22nd of March, nor later than the 25th of
April, in any year.


In Lancashire and Cheshire children go round the village and beg eggs
for the Easter dinner, accompanying their solicitation by a short song,
the burthen of which is addressed to the farmer's dame, asking for "an
egg, bacon, cheese, or an apple, or any good thing that will make us
merry;" and ending with

    And I pray you, good dame, an Easter egg.

In the North of Lancashire, Cumberland, Westmorland, and other parts of
the North of England, boys beg on Easter Eve eggs to play with, and
beggars ask for them to eat. These eggs are hardened by boiling and
tinged with the juice of herbs, broom-flowers, &c. The eggs being thus
prepared, the boys go out and play with them in the fields, rolling them
up and down like bowls, or throwing them up like balls into the


The old custom of "pace egging" is still observed in Blackburn. It is an
observance limited to the week before Easter-Day, and is said to be
traceable up to the theology and philosophy of the Egyptians, Persians,
Gauls, Greeks, and Romans; among all of whom an egg was an emblem of the
universe, the production of the Supreme Divinity. The Christians
adopted the egg as an emblem of the resurrection, since it contains the
elements of a future life.

The immediate occasion of the observance may have been in the resumption
on the part of our forefathers of eggs as a food at Easter on the
termination of Lent; hence the origin of the term _pace_ or _pasque_
[rather from _Pasche_] that is, Easter egg. In a curious roll of the
expenses of the household of Edward I., communicated to the Society of
Antiquaries, is the following item in the accounts for Easter Sunday:
"For four hundred and a half of eggs, eighteen pence." The following
prayer, found in the ritual of Pope Paul V., composed for the use of
England, Ireland, and Scotland, illustrates the meaning of the custom:
"Bless, O Lord, we beseech thee, this Thy creation of eggs, that it may
become a wholesome sustenance to Thy faithful servants, eating it in
thankfulness to Thee, on account of the resurrection of our Lord." In
Blackburn at the present day, pace egging commences on the Monday and
finishes on the Thursday before the Easter-week. Young men in groups
varying in number from three to twenty, dressed in various fantastic
garbs, and wearing masks--some of the groups accompanied by a player or
two on the violin--go from house to house singing, dancing, and
capering. At most places they are liberally treated with wine, punch, or
ale, dealt out to them by the host or hostess. The young men strive to
disguise their walk and voice; and the persons whom they visit use their
efforts on the other hand to discover who they are; in which mutual
endeavour many and ludicrous mistakes are made. Here you will see
Macbeth and a fox-hunter arm in arm; Richard the Third and a black
footman in familiar converse; a quack doctor and a bishop smoking their
pipes and quaffing their "half and half;" a gentleman and an
oyster-seller; an admiral and an Irish umbrella-mender; in short, every
variety of character, some exceedingly well-dressed, and the characters
well sustained. A few years ago parties of this description were much
subject to annoyance from a gang of fellows styled the "Carr-laners,"
(so-called, because living in Carr-lane, Blackburn,) armed with
bludgeons, who endeavoured to despoil the pace-eggers. Numerous fights,
with the usual concomitants of broken eggs and various contusions, were
amongst the results. This lawless gang of ruffians is now broken up, and
the serious affrays between different gangs of pace-eggers have become
of comparatively rare occurrence. An accident, however, which ended
fatally, occurred last year [? 1842]. Two parties had come into
collision, and during the affray one of the young men had his skull
fractured, and death ensued. Besides parties of the sort we have
attempted to describe, children, both male and female, with little
baskets in their hands, dressed in all the tinsel-coloured paper,
ribbons, and "doll rags" which they can command, go up and down from
house to house; at some receiving pence, at others eggs, at others
gingerbread, some of which is called _hot_ gingerbread, having in it a
mixture of ginger and Cayenne, causing the most ridiculous contortions
of feature in the unfortunate being who partakes of it. Houses are
literally besieged by these juvenile troops from morning till night.
"God's sake! a pace-egg," is the continual cry. There is no particular
tune, but various versions of pace-egging and other songs are sung. The
eggs obtained by the juveniles are very frequently boiled and dyed in
logwood and other dyes, on the Easter Sunday, and rolled in the fields
one egg at another till broken. Great quantities of mulled ale are drunk
in this district on Easter Sunday. The actors do not take the eggs with
them; they are given at the places where they call. The actors are
mostly males; but in the course of one's peregrinations on one of these
evenings it is not unusual to discover one or two of the fair sex in
male habiliments, and supporting the character admirably. This old
custom of pace-egging was again observed this year [? 1843]
notwithstanding the fatal accidents we have mentioned, without any
molestation from the authorities, and without any accident


The week before Easter is a busy one for the boys and girls in East
Lancashire. They generally deck themselves up in ribbons and fantastic
dresses, and go about the country begging for money or eggs.
Occasionally they go out singly, and then are very careful to provide
themselves with a neat little basket, lined with moss. Halfpence or
eggs, or even small cakes of gingerbread, are alike thankfully received.
Sometimes the grown young men are very elaborately dressed in ribbons,
and ornamented with watches and other jewellery. They then go out in
groups of five or six, and are attended by a "fool" or "tosspot," with
his face blackened. Some of them play on musical instruments while the
rest dance. Occasionally young women join in the sport, and then the
_men_ are dressed in women's clothing, and the _women_ in men's.


A gentleman, using the initials G. H. F., some years ago communicated to
a local paper the following facts relative to the sports of the scholars
at Easter in the early part of the nineteenth century:--"On Easter
Monday the senior scholars had a treat and various festivities. On the
morning of that day, masters and scholars assembled in the school-room,
with a band of music, banners, &c. One essential thing was a target, in
a square frame, to which were suspended one or more pairs of silver
buckles, constituting the chief archery prize, the second being a good
dunghill-cock. These were the only prizes, and they were duly contended
for by the scholars, the whole being probably devised in the old times,
with a view to keep the youth of Manchester in the practice of the old
English archery, which on the invention of gunpowder and fire-arms fell
rapidly into desuetude. The gay procession thus provided, the scholars,
bearing their bows and arrows, set out from the Grammar School, headed
by some reverend gentleman of the Collegiate church, by the masters of
the school, the churchwardens, &c.--the band playing some popular airs
of the day--and took its route by Long Millgate, to Hunt's Bank, and
along the Walkers' [_i.e._, fullers'] Croft, to some gardens, where it
was then the custom for artizans on Sunday mornings to buy 'a penny
posy.' Here the targets were set up, and the 'artillery practice,' as
it was the fashion to call archery, commenced. At its close the prizes
were awarded, and the procession returned in the same order, along
Hunt's Bank, the Apple Market, Fennel Street, Hanging Ditch, and Old
Millgate, to the Bull's Head, in the Market Place,--in those days a very
celebrated house, where the junior boys were treated with
_frumenty_--wheat stewed, and then boiled in milk with raisins,
currants, and spices, till it forms a thick, porridge-like mess,
exceedingly palatable to young folk. The masters and assistants, and the
senior scholars, partook of roast beef, plum pudding, &c. The abolition
of this Easter Monday custom, said to have been by Dr. Smith, was by no
means relished by the Grammar School boys."


This singular custom formerly prevailed in Manchester, and it is now
common in the neighbourhood of Liverpool, in the parish of Whalley, at
Warrington, Bolton, and in some other parts of Lancashire, especially in
rural districts, though it is by no means general, and in some places is
quite unknown. A Manchester man, in 1784, thus describes it:--"_Lifting_
was originally designed to represent our Saviour's resurrection. The men
lift the women on Easter Monday, and the women the men on Tuesday. One
or more take hold of each leg, and one or more of each arm, near the
body, and lift the person up, in a horizontal position, three times. It
is a rude, indecent, and dangerous diversion, practised chiefly by the
lower class of people. Our magistrates constantly prohibit it by the
bellman, but it subsists at the end of the town; and the women have of
late years converted it into a money job. I believe it is chiefly
confined to these northern counties."

The following [translated] extract from a document entitled _Liber
Contrarotulatoris Hospicii_, 13 Edward I. [1225], shows the antiquity of
the custom:--"To the Ladies of the Queen's Chamber, 15th of May; seven
ladies and damsels of the queen, because they took [or lifted] the king
in his bed, on the morrow of Easter, and made him pay fine for the peace
of the king, which he made of his gift by the hand of Hugh de Cerr [or
Kerr], Esq., to the lady of Weston, £14."[162]

On Easter Monday, between Radcliffe and Bolton, we saw a number of
females surround a male, whom they mastered, and fairly lifted aloft in
the air. It was a merry scene. What humour in the faces of these
Lancashire witches! What a hearty laugh! What gratification in their
eyes! The next day would bring reprisals: the girls would then be the
party to be subjected to this rude treatment.[163]


In his _History of Lancashire_, Mr. Baines states that the Easter Game
of the Ring, little known in other parts of Lancashire, prevails at
Padiham, in the parish of Whalley, on the Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday in
Easter week; when young people, having formed themselves into a ring,
tap each other repeatedly with a stick, after the manner of the holiday
folks at Greenwich. The stick may be a slight difference; but the game
of Easter ring, with taps of the hand, or the dropping of a handkerchief
at the foot, the writer has seen played at Easter and at Whitsuntide in
many villages and hamlets round Manchester.


This is an Easter custom. A huge and rude representation of a horse's
head is made; the eyes are formed of the bottoms of old broken wine or
other "black bottles"; the lower and upper jaws have large nails put in
them to serve as teeth; the lower jaw is made to move by a contrivance
fixed at its back end, to be operated on by the man who plays "Old
Ball." There is a stick, on which the head rests, which is handled and
used by the operator, to move "Old Ball" about, and as a rest. Fixed to
the whole is a sheet of rough sacking-cloth, under which the operator
puts himself, and at the end of which is a tail. The operator then gets
into his position, so as to make the whole as like a horse as possible.
He opens the mouth by means of the contrivance before spoken of. Through
the opening he can see the crowd, and he runs first at one and then
another, neighing like a horse, kicking, rising on his hind legs,
performing all descriptions of gambols, and running after the crowd; the
consequence is, the women scream, the children are frightened, and all
is one scene of the most ridiculous and boisterous mirth. This was
played by sundry "Old Balls" some five years ago, at the pace-egging
time, at Blackburn; but it has gradually fallen into disuse. This year
[? 1843] our informant has not heard it even mentioned. [It is still
continued in various parts of Lancashire, amongst others at Swinton,
Worsley, &c.] The idea of this rude game may have been taken from the
hobby-horse in the ancient Christmas mummings.--_Pictorial History of
Lancashire._ [From the editor of the above work calling this "playing
the old ball," and never marking the word ball by a capital B, he seems
to have supposed it meant a spherical ball; whereas "Old Ball"
throughout Lancashire is a favourite name for a cart-horse,--See a
further notice of "Old Ball" under Christmas.--EDS.]


This is a curious practice, and is often substituted for "pace-egging."
The bones of a horse's head are fixed in their natural position by means
of wires. The bottoms of glass bottles do duty for eyes; and the head is
covered with the skin of a calf. A handle is then fixed in the upper
portion of the head, and the whole skull is supported on a stout pole
shod with an iron hoop. A sack is then made to fit the skull neatly, and
to hang low enough down so as to hide the person who plays "Ball." The
sack, or cover, is also provided with a tail so as to look as nearly
like a horse's tail as possible. Some five or six then take "Ball" about
the country and play him where they can obtain leave. Sometimes a
doggrel song is sung, while "Ball" prances about and snaps at the
company. As soon as the song is finished, "Ball" plays his most
boisterous pranks, and frequently hurts some of the company by snapping
their fingers between his teeth when they are defending themselves from
his attacks. The writer has seen ladies so alarmed as to faint and go
into hysterics:--on this account "Ball" is now nearly extinct in the
neighbourhoods of Blackburn, Burnley, &c.


Children and young people as Easter approached, claimed their
"pace-eggs" [from Pasche, the old term for Easter] as a privileged "dow"
[dole]. On the afternoon of Easter Sunday the young of both sexes amused
themselves in the meadows with these eggs, which they had dyed by the
yellow blossoms of the "whin," or of other colours by dyeing materials.
Others performed a kind of Morris or Moorish dance or play, called
"_Ignagning_," which some have supposed to be in honour of St. Ignatius;
but more probably its derivation is from "_ignis Agnæ_," a virgin and
martyr who suffered at the stake about this time of the year.
"Ignagning," says the Rev. William Thornber,[164] "has almost fallen
into disuse, and a band of boys, termed 'Jolly Lads,' has succeeded,
who, instead of reciting the combat of the Turk and St. George, the
champion of England, the death of the former, and his restoration to
life by the far-travelled doctor, now sing of the noble deeds of Nelson
and Collingwood; retaining, however, the freaks and jokes of 'Old
Toss-pot,' the fool of the party, who still jingles the small bells hung
about his dress." Easter Monday was a great day for the young people of
the neighbourhood going to the yearly fair at Poulton. Happy was the
maiden who could outvie her youthful acquaintance in exhibiting a
greater number of "white cakes," the gifts of admiring youths; thereby
proving beyond dispute the superior effects of her charms. Then the
excitement and exertion of the dance! At that time dancing consisted in
the feet beating time to a fiddle, playing a jig in double quick time;
one damsel succeeding another, and striving to outdo her companions in
her power of continuing this violent exercise, for much honour was
attached to success in this respect, the bystanders meanwhile
encouraging their favourites, as sportsmen do their dogs, with voice and
clapping of hands. Such was--

    "The dancing pair that simply sought renown,
    By holding out, to tire each other down."

On Good Friday a jorum of _browis_ and roasted wheat or _frumenty_ was
the treat for dinner; white _jannocks_, introduced by the Flemish
refugees, and _throdkins_[165] were also then eaten with great zest by
the hungry labourer.[166]


The Romans commenced the festival of Flora on the 28th April, and
continued it through several days in May, with various ceremonies and
rejoicings, and offerings of spring flowers and the branches of trees in
bloom, which, through the accommodation of the Romish church to the
pagan usages, remain to us as May-day celebrations to the present time.
It was formerly a custom in Cheshire [and Lancashire] for young men to
place birchen boughs on May-day over the doors of their mistresses, and
mark the residence of a scold by an alder bough. There is an old rhyme
which mentions peculiar boughs for various tempers, as an owler (alder)
for a scolder, a nut for a slut, &c. Ormerod thinks the practice is
disused; but he mentions that in the main street of Weverham are two
May-poles, which are decorated on May-day with all due attention to the
ancient solemnity; the sides are hung with garlands, and the top
terminated by a birch, or other tall slender tree with its leaves on;
the bark being peeled off and the stem spliced to the pole, so as to
give the appearance of one tree from the summit.[167] The principal
characteristics of May-day celebrations and festivities are of rejoicing
that the reign of winter is at an end, and that of early summer with its
floral beauties, has come. The hawthorn furnishes its white blossoms in
profusion; and the tall May-poles, gaily decorated with garlands of
leaves and flowers, and festoons of ribbons of the brightest colours,
are centres of attraction on the village green, for the youth of both
sexes to dance the May-pole dance, hand-in-hand, in a ring.


Amongst the old customs of rural Lancashire and Cheshire is that of a
small party of minstrels or carollers going round from house to house
during the last few evenings of April, and singing a number of verses,
expressive of rejoicing that "cold winter is driven away," and that the
season is "drawing near to the merry month of May." The singers are
generally accompanied by one or two musical instruments, a violin and
clarionet for instance, and the tunes are very quaint and peculiar. Of
course for their good wishes for the master of the house, with his
"chain of gold," for the mistress, with "gold along her breast," and the
children "in rich attire," a trifling gift in money is made.[168]


The evening before May-day is termed "Mischief Night" by the young
people of Burnley and the surrounding district. All kinds of mischief
are then perpetrated. Formerly shopkeepers' sign-boards were exchanged;
"John Smith, grocer," finding his name and vocation changed, by the sign
over his door, to "Thomas Jones, tailor," and _vice versâ_; but the
police have put an end to these practical jokes. Young men and women,
however, still continue to play each other tricks, by placing branches
of trees, shrubs, or flowers under each others' windows, or before their
doors. All these have a symbolical meaning, as significant, if not
always as complimentary, as "the Language of Flowers." Thus, "a thorn"
implies "scorn;" "wicken" (the mountain ash) "my dear chicken;" a
"bramble," for one who likes to "ramble," &c. Much ill-feeling is at
times engendered by this custom.


On the 1st of May the following custom is observed in some parts of
Lancashire, though now very nearly obsolete. Late on the preceding
night, or early on that morning, small branches of trees are placed at
the doors of houses in which reside any marriageable girls. They are
emblematical of the character of the maidens, and have a well-understood
language of their own, which is rhythmical. Some speak flatteringly;
others quite the reverse; the latter being used when the character of
the person for whom it is intended is not quite "above suspicion." A
malicious rustic wag may sometimes put a branch of the latter
description where it is not deserved; but I believe this is an
exception. I only remember a few of the various trees which are laid
under contribution for this purpose. _Wicken_ is the local name for
mountain ash.

_Wicken_, sweet chicken.

_Oak_, for a joke.

_Gorse, in bloom_, rhymes with "at noon" (I omit the epithet given here
to an unchaste woman) and used for a notorious delinquent.[169]


The people of these townships for centuries celebrated May-day (a relic
of the ancient heathen festival of the goddess Flora) by the May-pole,
to which the watchful care of Charles I. and his royal progenitor
extended, when they printed in their proclamation and "Book of Sports,"
that after the end of divine service on Sundays, their "good people be
not disturbed, letted, nor discharged from the having of May-games, and
the setting up of the May-poles," &c. The ancient practice was to erect
the pole on May-day, and to surround it with a number of verdant boughs,
brought from "Blakeley Forest," which were decked usually with garlands
and flowers, and around which the people assembled to dance and
celebrate their May-games. "Pendleton Pole" is of much higher antiquity
than the Reformation; for in the will of Thomas del Bothe, who died 47
Edw. III. (1373) the sum of 30_s._ is bequeathed towards making the
causeway at Pendleton near "le Poll." In the time of the Commonwealth
the Pendleton Pole was taken down, in virtue of an ordinance of
Parliament against May-poles, and such other "heathenish vanities;" but
it was re-erected at the Restoration, and still presents its lofty head,
surmounted by a Royal Crown; though much of the spacious field of the
ancient May-games is now occupied by buildings [in 1780 the township
was little more than a fold of cottages, with its May-pole and green],
and much of the spirit of the rural sports of our ancestors has
subsided. In Pasquil's "_Palinodia_," (published in 1654) the decay of
May-games two centuries ago, is recorded and lamented:--

    "Happy the age, and harmless were the days
      (For then true love and amity was found);
    When every village did a May-pole raise,
      And Whitsun ales and May-games did abound,
    And all the lusty younkers in a rout,
    With merry lasses, danced the rod about;
    Then friendship to their banquets bid the guests,
    And poor men fared the better for their feasts.

    The lords of castles, manors, towns, and towers,
      Rejoiced when they beheld the farmers flourish,
    And would come down unto the summer bowers,
      To see the country gallants dance the Morice.
       .       .       .       .       .
    But since the summer poles were overthrown,
      And all good sports and merriments decay'd,
    How times and men are changed, so well is known,
      It were but labour lost if more were said."


A custom of high antiquity and of primitive simplicity prevails in the
district of Spotland, in the parish of Rochdale. On the first Sunday in
May the young people of the surrounding country assemble at Knott Hill
yearly, for the purpose of presenting to each other their mutual
greetings and congratulations on the arrival of this cheering season,
and of pledging each other in the pure beverage which flows from the
mountain springs.[170]


On the morning of the first day of May, many a May-bough[171] ornamented
the villages and towns of the Fylde, inserted by some mischievous
youngsters, at the risk of life or limb, in the chimney-tops of their
neighbours' houses. Then came a most imposing piece of pageantry, that
of "bringing-in May;" when a king and queen, with their royal attendants
and rustic band of music, mummers, &c., attracted the attention and
admiration of the country side. May-day with its pageants, sports,
games, dances, garlands, and May-poles, was peculiarly a season of
hilarity, merry-making, and good humour. The pageant of "bringing-in
May," was a favourite pastime at Poulton about fifty years ago [_i.e._,
about 1787]; the causeways were strewed with flowers, and at the door of
the house of each respectable inhabitant, sweetmeats, ale, and even
wine, were handed about as a treat and refreshment to the young, who
were thus affording them amusement. By degrees the pageant ceased; a
vigorous attempt, however, was made to revive it in 1818, with all its
honours; but the age-worn custom proved to be utterly incapable of
resuscitation. Another writer,[172] however, states that at
Poulton-le-Fylde and in its neighbourhood, some of the customs of the
olden time are still observed. Very recently May-day was ushered in with
a dance round the May-pole, and the lavish exhibition of garlands and


The May-pole of Lostock, a village near Bolton, is probably the most
ancient upon record. It is mentioned in a charter by which the town of
Westhalchton [? Westhaughton] was granted to the Abbey of Cockersand,
about the reign of King John. The pole, it appears, had superseded a
cross, and formed one of the landmarks which defined the boundaries, and
it must therefore have been a permanent and not an annual erection. The
words of the charter are:--"De Lostock meypull, ubi crux situ fuit,
recta linea in austro, usque ad crucem super le Tunge."[173] (From
Lostock May-pole, where the cross was formerly, in a straight line to
the south, as far as to the cross upon the Tunge.)


In a letter from Edmond Assheton, Esq., then a magistrate of Lancashire,
and aged 75, to William Farington, Esq. (who was also in the commission
of the peace), dated Manchester, May 12, 1580, the writer thus complains
of "lewd sports" and sabbath-breaking:--"I am sure, Right Worshipful,
you have not forgotten the last year stirs at Burnley about Robin Hood
and the May-games. Now, considering that it is a cause that bringeth no
good effect, being contrary to the best, therefore a number of the
justices of the peace herein in Salford Hundred have consulted with the
[Ecclesiastical] Commission [of Queen Elizabeth] to suppress those lewd
sports, tending to no other end but to stir up our frail natures to
wantonness; and mean not to allow neither old custom. Then their excuse
in coming to the church in time of divine service, for every man may
well know with what minds, after their embracings, kissings, and
unchaste beholding of each other, they can come presently prepared to
prayer. A fit assembly to confer of worse causes, over and besides their
marching and walking together in the night time. But chiefly because it
is a profanation of the Sabbath-day, and done in some places in
contempt of the gospel and the religion established, I pray God it be
not so at Burnley. It is called in the Scriptures the Lord's Day, and
was not lawful under the old law to carry a pitcher of water on the
Sabbath, or to gather sticks, but it was death. Such regard was had in
the time of the law to keeping holy the Sabbath. And do not we withdraw
even the practice and use of good and godly works upon the same day?
Then in reason the other should cease. Tell me, I pray you, if you can
find in the presence of the foresaid lewd pastimes, good example or
profit to the commonwealth, the defence of the realm, honour to the
prince, or to the glory of God? Then, let them continue; otherwise, in
my opinion, they are to be withdrawn. For to that end I address these
contents unto you, because we would not deal for any reformation within
the limits of your walk; and for the better credit of the consent of the
Commissioners, you may peruse how they mean to proceed against them of
Burnley who have revived their former follies, if you redress not the
same.... Your assured always to use, EDMOND ASSHETON. It will not be
long afore [there] will be order taken for this dancing, either by the
Privy Council or by the Bishops by their commandment. My meaning is, I
would have you to do it yourself, which will with one word be brought to
pass.... If you would set your hand to this precept with us, I think it
would end these disorders within prescribed."[174]


In the now olden days of coaching, this was a great day in Manchester.
The great coaching establishments, those of the royal mails, north,
south, east, and west, and all the highflyers, &c., turned out all their
spare vehicles and horses for a grand procession through the principal
streets of the town. Many of the mail and other coaches were newly
painted for the occasion; all the teams were provided with new harness
and gearing; the coachmen and guards had new uniforms; Jehu wore a great
cockade of ribbons, and a huge bouquet of flowers, and he handled the
new ribbons with a dignity and grace peculiar to this almost defunct
race. The guard, in bright scarlet uniform, blew on his Kent bugle some
popular tune of the time; and the horses wore cockades and nosegays
about their heads and ears; almost every coach on this occasion was
drawn by four horses, their coats shining with an extra polish for
May-day; and the cavalcade was really a pretty sight on a bright May-day
morning. Second only to it in decorative splendour, and in horseflesh,
was the display of lorries, wagons, drays, and carts, with their fine
draught-horses. Then came the milk-carts, with their drivers in dresses
covered with ribbons. These equine and asinine glories have passed
away, extinguished by the rail.


The custom of choosing a May King and Queen is now disused. May-games,
and the May-pole, were kept up at the quiet little village of Downham
when all other places in the neighbourhood had ceased to celebrate
May-day. Nothing is now made of May-day, if we except the custom of
carters dressing their horses' heads and tails with ribbons on that day.


The Feast of Pentecost, or Whitsuntide, was formerly kept as a high
church festival, and by the people was celebrated by out-door sports and
festivities, and especially by the drinking assemblies called
"Whitsun-Ales." One writer (inquiring whether the custom of "lifting at
Easter" is a memorial of Christ being raised up from the grave) observes
that, "there seems to be a trace of the descent of the Holy Ghost on the
heads of the Apostles, in what passes at Whitsuntide Fair, in some parts
of Lancashire; where one person holds a stick over the head of another,
whilst a third, unperceived, strikes the stick, and thus gives a smart
blow to the first. But this probably is only local."[175] "Whit-week,"
as it is generally called, has gradually grown to be the great yearly
holiday of the hundred of Salford, and the manufacturing district of
which Manchester is the centre. This seems to have arisen from the
yearly races at Manchester being held from the Wednesday to the Saturday
inclusive, in that week. After the rise of Sunday-schools, their
conductors, desiring to keep youth of both sexes from the demoralizing
recreations of the racecourse, took them to fields in the neighbourhood
and held anniversary celebrations, tea-parties, &c., in the schools. The
extension of the railway system has led to "cheap trips" and "school
excursion trains" during Whitsuntide; which are occasionally taken to
Wales, the Lakes, and other great distances. Canal boats take large
numbers of Sunday scholars to Dunham Park, Worsley, &c. Short excursions
are made in carts, temporarily fitted with seats. It is customary for
the cotton-mills, &c., to close for Whitsuntide week to give the hands a
holiday; the men going to the races, &c., and the women visiting
Manchester on Whit-Saturday, thronging the markets, the Royal Exchange,
the Infirmary Esplanade, and other public places; and gazing in at the
"shop windows," whence this day is usually called "Gaping Saturday." The
collieries, too, are generally closed in Whit-week; and in some the
underground horses are brought to the surface to have a week's daylight,
the only time they enjoy it during the year. The mills, coalpits, &c.,
generally have the requisite repairs of machinery, &c., made during this
yearly holiday--those at least which would necessitate the stoppage of
the work at another time.


The last rural queen chosen at Downham is still living in Burnley. The
lot always fell to the prettiest girl in the village, and certainly it
must be admitted that in this instance they exercised good judgment. A
committee of young men made the selection; then an iron crown was
procured and dressed with flowers. The king and queen were ornamented
with flowers, a procession was then formed, headed by a fiddler. This
proceeded from the Inn to the front of "Squire Assheton's," Downham
Hall, and was composed of javelin men, and all the attendants of
royalty. Chairs were brought out of the Hall for the king and queen, ale
was handed round, and then a dance was performed on the lawn, the king
and queen leading off. The procession next passed along through the
village to the green, where seats were provided for a considerable
company. Here again the dancing began, the king and queen dancing the
first set. The afternoon was spent in the usual games, dances, &c. On
the next night all the young persons met at the inn, on invitation from
the king and queen--each paid a shilling towards the "Queen's Posset." A
large posset was then made and handed round to the company. After this
the evening was spent in dancing and merry-making.


These days are so named from the Litanies or Processions of the Church,
before Holy Thursday or Ascension Day. It was a general custom in
country parishes to "gang" or go round the boundaries and limits of the
parish, on one of the three days before Holy Thursday, or the Feast of
our Lord's Ascension; when the minister, accompanied by his
churchwardens and parishioners, was wont to deprecate the vengeance of
God, beg a blessing on the fruits of the earth, and preserve the rights
and properties of the parish. In some parishes this perambulation took
place on Ascension Day itself. In a parochial account-book, entitled "A
Record of the Acts and Doings of the thirty men of the parish of
Kirkham," Lancashire, is the following entry under the year 1665: "Spent
on going perambulations on Ascension Day, 1_s._ 6_d._"


Under the name of Richardson's Charity, a distribution takes place
annually on the Feast of the Ascension or Holy Thursday (ten days before
Whit-Sunday) of _five loads of oatmeal_, each load weighing 240 lb.
Three loads are given to the poor of the township of Ince, one to the
poor of Abram, and the other to the poor of Hindley; adjacent
townships, all in the parish of Wigan. The Charity Commissioners, in
their twenty-first report, state that the meal is provided by Mr.
Cowley, of Widnes, the owner of an estate in Ince, formerly the property
of Edward Richardson, who, as the commissioners were informed, directed
by his will that this distribution should be made for fifty years from
the time of his death. The year 1784 was given as the date of this
benefaction, in the Returns made to Parliament in 1786. Mr. Cowley has
himself had the disposal of this charity. The charity would, according
to this statement, legally cease in 1836.


In Lancashire, as well as in the South of Scotland and the South of
Ireland, the moon of September is commonly called "the harvest moon,"
that of October "the huntsman's moon."[176]


In "An Universal Etymological English Dictionary," by N. Bailey, London,
1745, I read:--"Goose-intentos, a goose claimed by custom by the
husbandmen in Lancashire, upon the sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost,
when the old Church prayers ended thus: 'ac bonis operis jugiter
præstat esse _intentos_.'" These words occur in the old Sarum books, in
the Collect for the sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost; in the present
Liturgy, in that for the seventeenth Sunday after Trinity.[177]

Blount, in his _Glossographia_, says that "in Lancashire the husbandmen
claim it as a due to have a goose-intentos on the sixteenth Sunday after
Pentecost: which custom takes its origin from the last word of the old
Church prayer of that day:--'Tua nos Domine, quæ sumus, gratia semper et
præveniat et sequatur; ac bonis operibus jugiter præstet esse
_intentos_.' The vulgar people called it 'a goose with ten toes.'"
Beckwith, in his new edition of Blount's _Fragmenta Antiquitatis_
(London, 4to, 1815, p. 413), after quoting this passage, remarks:--"But
besides that the sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost, or after Trinity
rather, being movable, and seldom falling upon Michaelmas Day, which is
an immovable feast, the service for that day could very rarely be used
at Michaelmas, there does not appear to be the most distant allusion to
a goose in the words of that prayer. Probably no other reason can be
given for this custom, but that Michaelmas Day was a great festival, and
geese at that time most plentiful. In Denmark, where the harvest is
later, every family has a roasted goose for supper on St. Martin's Eve
[Nov. 10]." It must be borne in mind that the term _husbandman_ was
formerly applied to persons of a somewhat higher position in life than
an agricultural labourer, as for instance to the occupier and holder of
the land. In ancient grants from landlords of manors to their free
tenants, among other reserved rents, boons, and services, the landlord
frequently laid claim to a good stubble goose at Michaelmas. After all,
the connexion between the goose and the collect is not apparent.[178]


    So named, because in the Church of Rome prayers are offered on this
    day for "all the faithful deceased."

There is a singular custom still kept up at Great Marton, in the Fylde
district, on this day. In some places it is called "soul-caking," but
there it is named "psalm-caking,"--from their reciting psalms for which
they receive cakes. The custom is changing its character also--for in
place of collecting cakes from house to house, as in the old time, they
now beg for money. The term "psalm" is evidently a corruption of the old
word "sal," for soul; the mass or requiem for the dead was called
"Sal-mas," as late as the reign of Henry VI.


The anniversary of the Gunpowder Plot of November 5, 1605, is still more
or less kept in many parts of Lancashire, in towns by the effigy of Guy
Fawkes being paraded about the streets, and burnt at night with great
rejoicing; and by the discharge of small cannon, guns, pistols, &c., and
of fireworks. In the country the more common celebration is confined to
huge bonfires, and the firing of pistols and fireworks. In some places,
especially about Blackburn, Burnley, and that district, as well as in
villages about Eccles, Worsley, &c., it is customary for boys for some
days before the 5th of November, to go round to their friends and
neighbours to beg for coals. They generally take their stand before the
door, and either say or sing some doggerel, to the following effect:--

    "Remember, remember,
    The Fifth of November,
      The gunpowder treason and plot;
    A stick and a stake,
    For King George's sake,
      We hope it will ne'er be forgot."


In the olden time, before the Reformation, Christmas was the highest
festival of the Church. In some rural parts of Lancashire it is now but
little regarded, and many of its customs are observed a week later,--on
the eve and day of the New Year. But still there linger in many places
some relics of the old observances and festivities, as the carols, the
frumenty on Christmas Eve, the mummers, with "old Ball," or the
hobby-horse, and the decoration of churches and dwellings with boughs of
evergreen shrubs and plants; in the centre of which is still to be
found, in many country halls and kitchens, and in some also in the
towns, that mystic bough of the mistletoe, beneath whose white berries,
it is the custom and licence of the season to steal a kiss from fair
maidens, and even from matrons "forty, fat, and fair."


I have been told in Lancashire, that at midnight on Christmas Eve the
cows fall on their knees, and the bees hum the Hundredth Psalm. I am
unwilling to destroy the poetry of these old superstitions; but their
origin can, I think, be accounted for. Cows, it is well known, on rising
from the ground, get up on their knees first; and a person going into
the shippon at midnight would, no doubt, disturb the occupants, and by
the time he looked around, they would all be rising on their knees. The
buzzing of the bees, too, might easily be formed into a tune, and, with
the Hundredth Psalm running in the head of the listener, fancy would
supply the rest.[179]


Mr. J. O. Halliwell, in his _Nursery Rhymes of England_, relates the
following as a Christmas custom in Lancashire:--The boys dress
themselves up with ribands, and perform various pantomimes, after which
one of them, who has a blackened face, a rough skin coat, and a broom in
his hand, sings as follows:--

    Here come I,
    Little David Doubt;
    If you don't give me money,
    I'll sweep you all out.
    Money I want,
    Money I crave;
    If you don't give me money,
    I'll sweep you all to the grave.


In an old painted window at Betley, Staffordshire, exhibiting in twelve
diamond-octagon panes, the mummers and morris-dancers of May-day, the
centre pane below the May-pole represents the old hobby-horse, supposed
to have once been the King of the May, though now a mere buffoon. The
hobby (of this window) is a spirited horse of pasteboard, in which the
master dances and displays tricks of legerdemain, &c. In the horse's
mouth is stuck a ladle, ornamented with a ribbon; its use being to
receive the spectators' pecuniary donations. In Lancashire the old
custom seems to have so far changed, that it is the head of a dead horse
that is carried about at Christmas, as described amongst the Easter
customs. "Old Ball" bites everybody it can lay hold of, and holds its
victims till they buy their release with a few pence.


The Rev. W. Thornber[180] describes the Christmas gambols and customs in
the Fylde nearly a century ago, as having been kept up with great
spirit. The midnight carols of the church-singers[181]--the penny laid
on the hob by the fireside, the prize of him who came first to the outer
door, to "let Christmas in,"--the regular round of visits--the treat of
mince pies[182]--in turn engrossed their attention. Each farm-house and
hut possessed a pack of cards, which were obtained as an alms from the
rich, if poverty forbade the purchase. Night after night of Christmas
was consumed in poring over these dirty and obscured cards. Nor were the
youngsters excluded from a share in the amusements of this festal
season. Early, long before dawn, on Christmas morning, young voices
echoed through streets and lanes, in the words of the old song--

      Get up old wives,
      And bake your pies,
    'Tis Christmas-day in the morning;
      The bells shall ring,
      The birds shall sing,
    Tis Christmas-day in the morning.

Many an evening was beguiled with snap-dragon, bobbing for apples,
jack-stone, blind-man's buff, forfeits, hot cockles, hunting the
slipper, hide lose my supper, London Bridge, turning the trencher, and
other games now little played. Fortune-telling by cards, &c., must not
be omitted. In the bright frost and moonshine, out-door sports were
eagerly pursued, guns were in great request, to shoot the shore-birds,
and many found pleasure in "watching the fleet;" others played at
foot-ball in the lanes or streets; or engaged in the games of
prison-bars, tee-touch-wood, thread-my-needle, horse-shoe, leap-frog,
black-thorn, cad, bandy, honey-pot, hop-scotch, hammer and block, bang
about and shedding copies. Cymbling for larks[183] was a very common
pastime; now it is scarcely known by name, and few have retained any of
the implements or instruments requisite to practise the art. Tradesmen
presented their customers with the Yule-loaf,[184] or two mould candles
for the church, or some other Christmas-box. The churches and
house-windows were decked with evergreens; a superstition derived
probably from the Druids, who decked their temples and houses with
evergreens in December, that the Sylvan Spirits might avoid the chilly
frosts and storms of winter, by settling in their branches. For some
weeks before Christmas, a band of young men called "Mutes," roused at
early morn the slumbering to their devotions, or to activity in their
domestic duties. The beggar at the door, craving an _awmas_ [? alms] or
_saumas_ [soul-mass] cake, reminded the inmates that charity should be a
characteristic of the season. The Eve of Christmas Day was named "Flesh
Day," from the country people flocking to Poulton to buy beef, &c.,
sufficient to supply the needs of the coming year. On the morning of
Christmas Day the usual breakfast was of black puddings, with jannock,


At Wycoller Hall, the family usually kept open house the twelve days at
Christmas. The entertainment was [in] a large hall of curious ashlar
work, [on] a long table, plenty of _frumenty_, like new milk, in a
morning, made of husked wheat boiled, roasted beef, with a fat goose and
a pudding, with plenty of good beer for dinner. A round-about
fire-place, surrounded with stone benches, where the young folks sat and
cracked nuts, and diverted themselves; and in this manner the sons and
daughters got matching, without going much from home.[185]


"Carol" is supposed to be derived from _cantare_ to sing, and _rola_, an
interjection of joy. Amongst our Christmas customs that of carol-singing
prevails over a great part of Lancashire. It is the old custom of
celebrating with song the birth of the Saviour, even as the angels are
said to have sung "Glory to God in the highest," &c., at this great
event. Almost every European nation has its carols. Our earliest
Christian forefathers had theirs; one or two Anglo-Norman carols have
been preserved, and some of every century from the thirteenth to the
eighteenth. Numerous books containing carols have been printed (one by
Wynkin de Worde), and it would occupy too much space to insert even the
most popular of these carols here. A verse of one common to Lancashire
and Yorkshire must suffice:--

    God rest you all, merry gentlemen,
      Let nothing you dismay;
    Remember Christ our Saviour
      Was born on Christmas-day.

The town or the village waitts go about after midnight, waking many a
sleeper with their homely music, which sounds all the sweeter for being
heard in the stilly night. Various items of payment to the Manchester
waitts occur in the Church Leet Books of that manor. A dance tune called
"The Warrington Waitts" occurs in a printed Tune-Book of 1732. Hand-bell
ringing, a favourite Lancashire diversion, is much practised about


[143] Hermentrude, in _Notes and Queries_, 3rd ser., vol. ii. p. 484.

[144] Prestoniensis, in _Notes and Queries_, 2nd ser., vol. ii. p. 326.

[145] Hampson's _Medii Ævi Kalendarium_, vol. i. p. 98.

[146] Prestoniensis, in _Notes and Queries_, 2nd series, vol. iii. p.

[147] Halliwell's _Archaic and Provincial Dictionary_.

[148] Pasquil's _Palinodia_.

[149] _Ploughman's Feasting Days_, stanza 3.

[150] _Pictorial History of Lancashire._

[151] See Rev. W. Thornber's _History of Blackpool_.

[152] See also, under BELLS, the Pancake Bell.

[153] _Notes and Queries_, 2nd ser., V.

[154] For the Simnel cakes of Shrewsbury, &c., see _Book of Days_, I.

[155] Baines's _History of Lancashire_.

[156] _History of Manchester_, II. 265.

[157] Baines's _History of Lancashire_.

[158] H. T. Riley, in _Notes and Queries_, 2nd ser., ii. 320.

[159] _Pictorial History of Lancashire._

[160] Hone's _Every-Day Book_, ii. 450; Brand's _Popular Antiquities,

[161] _Pictorial History of Lancashire._

[162] Baines's _History of Lancashire_.

[163] _Pictorial History of Lancashire._

[164] _History of Blackpool_, p. 92.

[165] _Browis_ or _brewis_ is broth or pottage; _frumenty_, is hulled
wheat boiled in milk, and flavoured with cinnamon, sugar, allspice; and
_jannocks_, oaten bread in large, coarse loaves; _throdkins_, a cake
made of oatmeal and bacon.

[166] Rev. W. Thornber's _History of Blackpool_.

[167] Hone's _Every-Day Book_, ii. 597.

[168] For the words of these songs, see Harland's _Ballads and Songs of
Lancashire_, p. 116; and for words and music, Chambers's _Book of Days_,
i. 546.

[169] A. B., Liverpool, in _Notes and Queries_, v. 581.

[170] Baines's _History of Lancashire_.

[171] These boughs, says Mr. Thornber, in his _History of Blackpool_,
were emblematical of the character of the maiden thus conspicuously
distinguished; an elder-bough for a scold, one of ash for a swearer, &c.

[172] _Pictorial History of Lancashire._

[173] Dugdale's _Monast. Anglic._, vol. vi. p. 906.

[174] _Farington Papers_, p. 128.

[175] _Gent. Mag._, vol. liii., for July, 1783, p. 578.

[176] M. F., in _Notes and Queries_, 3rd series, ii. 397.

[177] Aquinas, in _Notes and Queries_, 3rd series, v., April 2., 1864.

[178] Ed. _Notes and Queries_.

[179] Wellbank, in _Notes and Queries_, 2nd series, viii. 242.

[180] See _History of Blackpool_.

[181] Here is the specimen of one sung from house to house during

    We're nather cum to yare hase to beg nor to borrow,
    But we're cum to yare hase to drive away o sorrow;
    A suop o' drink, as yau may think, for we're varra droy,
    We'll tell yau what we're cum for--a piece o' Christmas poye.

[182] The mince-pie, made of a compound of Eastern productions,
represented the offerings of the wise men who came from far to worship
the Saviour, bringing spices. Its old English coffin-shape was in
imitation of the manger in which the infant Jesus was laid.

[183] We have not been able to find any account of this mode of catching
larks, at least, under the name here given.

[184] The baker formerly gave his customers a baby of paste; and in my
own recollection a cake, decorated with the head of a lamb, named "the
Ewe loaf," was the Christmas present of bakers at Poulton. On Christmas
Eve the houses were illuminated with candles of an enormous size.--W. T.

[185] From a family MS. of the Cunliffes, quoted in Baines's
_Lancashire_, iii. 244.


In many instances of particular Church Festivals, and of popular
celebrations, we have already enumerated various viands appropriated to
special occasions, as the turkey to New Year's Day; the pancake to
Shrove-Tuesday; the simnel, carlins, bragot, and fig-pie to Mid-Lent
Sunday; the goose to Michaelmas; frumenty, mince-pies, &c., to
Christmas. A few remain, however, for notice here:--Eccles cakes,
Ormskirk gingerbread, Everton toffy, and other sweet cakes have "all
seasons for their own." The two rival shops in Eccles, on opposite sides
of Church-street, the one called "The genuine Eccles cake shop, from
over the way," and the other "The real Eccles cake shop, never removed,"
so much puzzle the stranger and visitor, that purchases are often made
at both in order to secure the real, genuine, original article.


Formerly the bread eaten by the labouring classes in the parish of
Rochdale and others in the east of Lancashire was oat-cake, which was
also pretty generally in use in the west of Yorkshire. A regiment of
soldiers raised in these two adjoining districts at the beginning of the
last war took the name of the "Havercake Lads," assuming as their badge
an oat cake [oats are called havers], which was placed (for the purpose
of attracting recruits) on the point of the recruiting sergeant's sword.
Oat bread is still eaten in various manufacturing and hilly districts of
Lancashire, but not nearly so generally as half a century ago.[186]


Both these are said to have been introduced by the Flemish immigrant
weavers about the year 1567. Their sabots, however, were made entirely
of wood, lined with a little lamb's skin, to protect the top of the
foot; while the _clogs_ of the present day have strong leather tops
[often brass clasps] and thick wooden soles. The kind of bread
introduced by the Flemings into Bolton and other manufacturing districts
of Lancashire was made of oatmeal in the form of a loaf, and called
_jannock_; but the gradual change in manners and improvement in social
condition have almost banished this food, and wheaten-bread and
oat-cakes have almost altogether taken its place.

In the _Shepherd's Play_, performed at Chester in 1577, in honour of the
visit to that city of the Earl of Derby, the third Shepherd says:--

    And brave ale of Halton I have,
      And what meat I had to my hire;
    A pudding may no man deprave,
      And a _jannock_ of Lancaster-shire.

Jannock is now used in Leigh more commonly than in most other parts of
Lancashire. Warrington ale was no less celebrated than Halton ale, and a
song in praise of the former is printed in Harland's _Lancashire


In West Houghton, at the annual feast or wakes, there is a singular
local custom of making large flat pasties of pork, which are eaten in
great quantities on the Wakes Sunday, with a liberal accompaniment of
ale; and people resort to the village from all places for miles round,
on this Sunday, just as they rush into Bury on Mid-Lent or Mothering
Sunday to eat simnels and drink bragot ale.


[186] Baines's _Lancashire_.

[187] P. 199.


Many of the customs attending child-bearing, churching, and christening
are not peculiar to Lancashire, but common nearly all over England. The
term "the lady in the straw," merely meant the lady confined to her bed,
as all beds were anciently stuffed with straw. It was formerly the
custom in Lancashire, as elsewhere, for the husband against the birth of
the child to provide a large cheese and a cake. These were called "the
groaning" cheese and cake; and throughout the north of England the first
cut of the sick wife's cheese, or groaning cheese, is taken and laid
under the pillows of young women to cause them to dream of their lovers.
Amongst customs now obsolete was the giving a large entertainment at the
churching. Now it is usually given at the christening.


In a note on an entry of _Nicholls's Assheton's Journal_, Dr. Whitaker
and its Editor, the Rev. Canon Raines, say that the custom of making
presents to women in childbed, is yet called "prēsĕnting" in
Craven. It is now quite obsolete in South Lancashire, although it
continued to be observed to the middle of the eighteenth century. In a
MS. journal of 1706 is an entry "John Leigh brought my wife a
groaning-cake: gave him 6_d._" Other entries in the same journal show
that money gifts ranged from 1_s._ 6_d._ to 5_s._ (the last being to the
minister's wife); besides smaller gifts to maids and midwives, and
bottles of wine, syrup of ginger, and other creature comforts to the
person confined.


In some parts of North Lancashire it is customary to have a tea-drinking
after the recovery from childbirth. All the neighbours and friends are
invited--sometimes many more than can be comfortably accommodated--and
both tea and rum are plentifully distributed. After tea, each visitor
pays a shilling towards the expense of the birth feast; and the evening
is spent in the usual gossip.


An attendant was making a bed occupied by the mother of a child born a
few days previously. When she attempted to turn it over, to give it a
better shaking, the nurse energetically interfered, peremptorily
forbidding her doing so till a month after the confinement, on the
ground that it was decidedly unlucky; and said that she never allowed it
to be done till then, on any account whatever.[188]


The _Morning Herald_ of the 18th June, 1860, notices a case of attempted
infanticide near Liverpool. The wretched mother, having gained access to
a gentleman's grounds, laid her child on the ground and covered it with
sods. The child was happily discovered and its life saved. The mother
was apprehended and charged with having attempted to murder her child.
She confessed that she was guilty, and added ["the tender mercies of the
wicked are cruel"] that she had previously succeeded in getting the
child baptized, as she believed it could not otherwise have died. This
is a strange bit of folk-lore.[189]


It is a custom in some parts of Lancashire, as well as in Yorkshire,
Northumberland, and other counties, that when an infant first goes out
of the house, in the arms of the mother or the nurse, in some cases the
first family visited, in others every neighbour receiving the call,
presents to or for the infant an egg, some salt, some bread, and in some
cases a small piece of money. These gifts are to ensure, as the gossips
avow, that the child shall never want bread, meat, or salt to it, or
money, throughout life. The old custom of sponsors giving the child
twelve tea-spoons, called "Apostle Spoons," is now obsolete. The gift of
a coral with bells, is supposed to have had its origin in a very ancient
superstition. Coral, according to Pliny, was deemed an amulet against
fascination; and it was thought to preserve and fasten the teeth. The
coral-bells (especially if blest by the priest) would scare away evil
spirits from the child.


There is even yet in some parts of Lancashire a strong dread of the
fairies or witches coming secretly and exchanging their own ill-favoured
imps, for the newly born infant; and various charms are used to prevent
the child from being thus stolen away.


[188] A. B., Liverpool, in _Notes and Queries_, vi. 432.

[189] W. S. Simpson, in _Notes and Queries_, 2nd series, x. p. 184.



The common custom of breaking a piece of silver or gold (if it be
crooked, so much the luckier) between lovers of the humbler classes,
especially when the man is going to a distance, is believed to have had
its origin in a sort of betrothal or promise of marriage, much practised
amongst the ancient Danes, called _Hand-festing_, which is mentioned by
Ray in his Collection or Glossary of Northumbrian Words. It means
hand-fastening or binding. In betrothal it was also the custom to change
rings, formed of two links or hoops, called gemmel rings, from
_gemelli_, twins.


An ancient custom at weddings of the poorer classes in Lancashire, and
in some parts of Cumberland, is thus described:--The Lord of the Manor,
in whose jurisdiction the marriage takes place, allowed the parties a
piece of ground for a house and garden. All their friends assembled on
the wedding-day, and the bridegroom having provided a dinner and drink,
they set to work and constructed a dwelling for the young couple, of
clay and wood, what is called post and petrel, or wattle and daub. Many
of these "clay biggins" still remain in the Fylde district and the
northern parts of Lancashire. The relatives of the pair supplied the
most necessary part of the furniture, and thus they were enabled to
"start fair" in the world.[190]


On the occasion of a marriage, a christening, or a churching, each guest
either sent or presented some offering of money or food; thus providing
a sufficient stock of provisions for the entertainment without much, if
any, cost to the host. The preliminaries before marriage, the addresses
paid by the swain to his sweetheart after the day's labour was done,
were styled "the sitting-up," the night being the time allotted to
courtship, by the kitchen fire, after the other members of the family
had retired to rest. This "sitting-up" was regularly observed every
Saturday night if the lover was faithful; if otherwise, the price of the
"lant" (?) of the forsaken fair was transmitted by her to the rival
preferred by her inconstant swain. On the wedding-day, when a bride and
her "groom" left the house to have the marriage rites solemnized, some
relative or servant threw at or after the smiling pair a "shuffle"
(_Pantoufle_, an old shoe or slipper)--a custom in its origin said to be
Jewish--as a preventive of future unhappiness, an omen of good-luck and
prosperity. At the church-door an idle crowd was always ready for the
"perry,"--that is, to contest for the dole of scattered half-pence, or
if disappointed, to deprive the bride of her shawl or shoes, till some
largess was bestowed. The day was spent in the company of a merry party
of friends, who, after the ceremony of "throwing the stocking" over the
bed of the wedded pair was performed, retired to their homes.[191]


On the lower declivity of Warton Crag, in the parish of Warton (which
abuts on Morecambe Bay and the Westmorland border), commanding a
beautiful and extended prospect of the bay, a seat called "The Bride's
Chair" was resorted to on the day of marriage by the brides of the
village; and in this seat they were enthroned with due solemnity by
their friends; but the origin and the object of the custom, which has
now fallen in disuse, are unknown. Not far from Warton Crag are three
rocking-stones placed in a line, about forty feet asunder, the largest
stone lying in the middle. A cave is also mentioned by Lucas, named "The
Fairy Hole," where dwarf spirits called Elves or Fairies, were wont to


An ancient custom prevails at Burnley Grammar School, by which all
persons married at St. Peter's Church in that town are fined by the
boys. As soon as a wedding is fixed the parish clerk informs the boys,
and on the day appointed they depute two of their number to wait upon
the groomsman and demand a fee. There is no fixed sum named; but enough
is got to purchase books and maintain a tolerable library for the use of
the pupils. Former pupils always pay a liberal fine.


"Th'owd Church," as the collegiate church of Manchester was provincially
designated before it attained the dignity of a cathedral, was known and
celebrated far and wide over the extensive parish. Its altar has
witnessed the joining together of thousands of happy [and unhappy]
couples. The fees here being less than those demanded at other churches,
which had to pay tribute to it, it was of course the most popular
sanctuary in the whole parish for the solemnization of matrimony. At the
expiration of Lent (during which the marriage fees are doubled) crowds
of candidates for nuptial honours present themselves; indeed so numerous
are they that the ceremony is performed by wholesale on Easter Monday. A
chaplain of facetious memory [the Rev. Joshua Brookes] is said to have
on one of these occasions accidentally united the wrong parties. When
the occurrence was represented to him, his ready reply was, "Pair as you
go out; you're all married; pair as you go out." This verbal certificate
appeared to give general satisfaction, and each bridegroom soon found
his right bride. Sir George Head, in his _Home Tour through the
Manufacturing Districts, in the summer of 1835_, thus describes what he
saw of these wholesale Monday marriages:--"I attended the Old Church at
Manchester one Monday morning, in order to witness the solemnization of
several marriages, which I had reason to suppose were then and there to
take place. I had heard on the preceding Sunday the banns proclaimed as
follows:--'For the first time of asking, 65; for the second time, 72;
for the third time, 60. Total, 197.' Having been informed that it would
be expedient to be on the spot at eight in the morning I repaired
thither at that hour. Operations, however, did not commence before ten.
The latter is the usual time of proceeding to business, although in
cases of persons married by licence 8 o'clock is the hour. When all was
ready and the church doors opened, the clergyman and clerk betook
themselves to the vestry; and the people who were about to be married,
and their friends, seated themselves in the body of the church opposite
the communion table, on benches which were placed there for the purpose.
Not less than fifty persons were assembled, among whom I took my seat
quietly, without being noticed. A party who had arrived in a narrow _vis
à vis_ fly, most exclusively paraded in the meantime up and down (as if
unwilling to identify themselves with the humbler candidates of
matrimony) in another part of the church. The people at first took their
seats in solemn silence, each one inquisitively surveying his neighbour;
but as the clergyman and clerk were some time in preparation, the men
first began to whisper one to another and the women to titter, till by
degrees they all threw off their reserve, and made audible remarks on
the new comers. There was little _mauvaise honte_ among the women, but
of the men, poor fellows! some were seriously abashed; while among the
hymeneal throng there seemed to prevail a sentiment that obtains pretty
generally among their betters, namely, inclination to put shy people out
of conceit with themselves. Thus, at the advance of a sheepish-looking
bridegroom, he was immediately assailed on all sides with 'Come in, man;
what art thou afraid of? Nobody 'll hurt thee!' And then a general laugh
went round in a repressed tone, but quite sufficient to confound and
subdue the new comer. Presently a sudden buzz broke out, 'The
clergyman's coming;' and all was perfectly silent. About twelve couples
were to be married; the rest were friends and attendants. The former
were called upon to arrange themselves all together around the altar.
The clerk was an adept in his business, and performed the duties of his
office in a mode admirably calculated to set the people at their ease
and direct the proceedings. In appointing them to their proper places,
he addressed each in an intonation of voice perfectly soft and soothing,
and which carried with it more of encouragement as he made use of no
appellative but the Christian name of the person spoken to. Thus he
proceeded:--'Daniel and Phœbe; this way, Daniel, take off your
gloves, Daniel. William and Anne; no, Anne; here, Anne; t'other side,
William. John and Mary; here, John; oh! John.' And then addressing them
all together, 'Now, all of you give your hats to some person to hold.'
Although the marriage service appeared to me (adds Sir George) to be
generally addressed to the whole party, the clergyman was scrupulously
exact in obtaining the accurate responses from each individual."

       *       *       *       *       *

Many wedding customs, as the bridesmaids and best men, the wedding-ring,
the nuptial kiss in the church, the bouquet borne in the hand of the
bride, &c., the scattering of flowers in her path, the throwing of an
old shoe after her for luck, the giving gloves, &c., are of ancient
origin, and are the relics of Anglo-Saxon or Danish usages.


[190] Hampson's _Medii Ævi Kalend._ i. 289.

[191] See Rev. W. Thornber's _History of Blackpool_.

[192] Baines's _History of Lancashire_.



Persons are said to "die hardly," as the phrase is, meaning to be
unable to expire, when there are pigeons' feathers in the bed. Some will
not allow dying persons to lie on a feather-bed, because they hold that
it very much increases their pain and suffering, and actually retards
their departure. On the other hand, there is a superstitious feeling
that it is a great misfortune, nay, even a _judgment_, not to die in a


By a statute of 30 Car. II., stat. I, cap. 3 (1678), entitled "An act
for the lessening the importation of linen from beyond the seas, and the
encouragement of the woollen and paper manufactures of the kingdom," it
is enacted that the curate of every parish shall keep a register, to be
provided at the charge of the parish, wherein to enter all burials and
affidavits of persons being buried in woollen; the affidavit to be taken
by any justice of the peace, mayor, or such like chief officer, in the
parish where the body was interred; and if there be no officer, then by
any curate within the city where the corpse was buried (except him in
whose parish the corpse was buried), who must administer the oath and
set his hand gratis. No affidavit to be necessary for a person dying of
the plague. It imposes a fine of £5 for every infringement; one half to
go to the informer, and the other half to the poor of the parish. This
act was repealed by the 54 Geo. III. cap. 108 (1814). In the parish of
Prestwich, the first entry in the book provided for such purposes was in
August, 1678; and there is no entry later than 1681, which appears also
to be the limit of the act's observance in the adjacent parish of
Radcliffe; where the entries immediately follow the record of the burial
itself in the registers, and not in a separate book as at Prestwich.
Under the year 1679, is the following entry in the parish register of

"An orphan of Ralph Mather's, of Radcliffe, was buried the 9th day of
April, and certified to be wound up in woollen only, under the hand of
Mr. William Hulme."

In the churchwardens' accounts of Prestwich, for the year 1681, is the
following item of receipt:--

"Received a fine of James Crompton, for burying his son, and not
bringing in an affidavit, according to the act for burying in woollen,
£2 10_s._"[193]


In Lancashire, the funeral was formerly celebrated with great profusion
in meats and drinks, to which was added in those of the richer sort,
what was called a penny dole, or promiscuous distribution of that sum,
anciently delivered in silver to the poor. The effect of this custom,
says Lucas (as quoted by Dr. Whitaker[194]) was such, that he had seen
many "who would rather go seven or eight miles to a penny dole, than
earn sixpence in the same time by laudable industry." This custom of
distributing a small money alms or dole at funerals still existed in
parts of Lancashire within the last fifty years. One sexagenarian
informant told the writer that, when a lad, he went to the funeral of a
Mr. D., in the hamlet of Swinton, parish of Eccles, and there was what
he called "a _dow_, gi'en to every lad and every wench [boy or girl] as
went, far and near,--a penny a-piece; and them as carrit a choilt
[carried a child] had tuppence." Usually at country funerals, after the
interment, the relations first, and next their attendants, threw into
the grave sprigs of bay, rosemary, or other odoriferous evergreens,
which had been previously distributed amongst them. In some cases, a
messenger went round the neighbourhood, "bidding" parties to the
funeral, and at each house where he gave the invitation, he left a sprig
of rosemary, &c. After the rites at the grave, the company adjourned to
a neighbouring public-house, where they were severally presented with a
cake and ale, which was called an _arval_. This word seems to have
greatly puzzled Dr. Whitaker. It is the Sueo-Gothic _arföl_, which is a
compound of _arf_, inheritance, and _öl_, ale,--expressive of a feast
given by the heir, at the funeral, on succeeding to the estate. The
feast and its name were imparted to us by the Danes, whose _arfwöl_ is
described by Olaus Wormius as a solemn banquet, celebrated by kings and
nobles, in honour of deceased relations, whom they are succeeding.


The most singular mode of conducting funerals prevails at this place. A
full meal of bread and cheese and ale is provided at the funeral house;
and, after the corpse is interred the parish clerk proclaims, at the
grave-side, that the company must repair to some appointed public-house.
Arrived there, they sit down by fours together, and each four is served
with two quarts of ale.[195] One half of this is paid for by the
conductor of the funeral, and the other half by the company. While they
are drinking the ale, the waiter goes round with cakes, serving out one
to each guest, which he is expected to carry home.[196]


A singular practice, which was growing obsolete in the time of Lucas
(says Dr. Whitaker) once prevailed in the parish of Warton; which was,
that most householders were furnished with a kind of family pall, or
finely wrought coverlet, to be laid over the bier when the corpse was
carried to church. Amongst other funeral customs at Warton, were the
great feasting and drinking; the funeral dole, distributed to the poor;
the casting of odoriferous herbs into the grave; and the cake and
_arval_-ale, already described, pp. 270, 271, _suprâ_.[197]


When the last offices of respect to a departed friend or neighbour were
to be rendered, a whole district, called "their side" of the country,
was "bidden" or invited to assist in carrying the remains to their
narrow home. At a stated hour the crowd assembled, not to mourn with
widowed wife or weeping children, but to consume ale and tobacco, and to
talk over their farms or trade till all was in readiness to depart for
the completion of the obsequies. A particular order was observed. From
the door of his former home, and into, and out of, the church, the
corpse was carried on the shoulders of four of his relatives--his
nearest kinsman, the chief mourner, walking in front with the clergyman.
At the close of the ceremony, after the sprigs of box or rosemary had
been deposited on the coffin, each person also adding a sprinkling of
dust, the rough voice of the parish clerk was heard grating harshly in
that solemn moment, inviting the "bidden" to show further their respect
to the deceased by partaking of a dinner provided at the village inn.
How the day terminated may be supposed, and indeed was a matter of sad
notoriety. Indeed, it was not very unusual to see those who were to
convey the dead to the sepulchre, tottering from intoxication under
their sad burden. The best features of these old-time funerals were that
doles in money were distributed to the aged and the very young; the poor
were fed, and sometimes warm cloaks or other useful articles of attire
were given, to be worn in memory of the departed.[198] Fifty-five years
ago, says Mr. Thornber, writing in 1837, the more respectable portion of
the inhabitants of Poulton were buried by candle-light--a custom long
observed by some of the oldest families in the town. It was regarded as
a sacred duty to expose a lighted candle in the window of every house as
the corpse passed through the streets towards the church for interment;
and he was poor indeed who did not pay this tribute of respect to the
dead. So late as 1813 this church was strewed with rushes.


A daughter of William Balderstone, of Balderstone, in her widowhood,
makes a will of which the following is the commencement:--"Seventh day
of January, 1497. I, Dame Jane Pilkington, widow, make and ordain this
my last will and testament: First, I bequeath my bodye to be buried in
y^e Nunnes Quire of Monketon, in my habit, holding my hand upon my
breast, with my ring upon my finger, having taken in my resolves the
mantel and the ring," &c.[199]


In _Nicholas Assheton's Journal_, he mentions that the corpse of a Mrs.
Starkie was carried to church by four relatives; there was a sermon, and
afterwards dinner, forty messes being provided for. On this, Dr.
Whitaker remarks:--"An ancient usage. The nearest relations always took
up the corpse at the door; and once more, if the distance was
considerable, at the church gates. By forty messes, I suppose are to be
understood so many dishes of meat." The editor (the Rev. Canon Raines)
adds:--"This custom, which appears to be quite patriarchal, is still
prevalent in some of the country parishes in South Lancashire. The
custom of preaching funeral sermons on the day of the burial is now
exploded, although so recently as 1776 the vicar of one of the largest
parishes in Lancashire (Rev. John White, B.A., of Blackburn), objected
to the building of a church in his parish unless he had 'some
compensation made for the funeral sermons to be preached in it.'[200] I
should rather understand the forty messes to be dinners provided for
forty persons, although funerals in Lancashire at this period were
conducted on a scale of prodigality scarcely to be conceived." [_The
House and Farm Accounts of the Shuttleworths_ give examples of three
burial customs--that of a dole to the poor; at one place 40_s._ 7_d._,
at another 57_s._ 4_d._, at a third 47_s._ 8_d._ (?) a penny to each
person; that of payment to the clergyman for a funeral sermon, in one
case 5_s._; and that of providing dinners for the mourners, chiefly for
those from a distance, in one case twenty-four messes of meat cost
58_s._ 8_d._; in another instance seventy dined at 6_d._ the mess or
meal, seventy-six and sixty-five at 5_d._; in all 211 persons attending
one funeral.--EDS.]


Previously to the formation of cemeteries, and the employment of
omnibus-hearses, it was customary to invite large numbers to attend
funerals. Guests were invited by _dozens_; and as each entered the house
where the deceased lay, he was met at the door by a female attendant
habited in black, and wearing a white apron, who offered him spiced
liquor from a silver tankard. In the house each person was presented
with a bun and a slice of currant bread. When the time for closing up
the coffin arrived, each took his last look at the corpse and presented
a shilling, or more, to the nearest relative of the deceased; who always
sat at the head of the coffin for this purpose. In the neighbourhoods of
Little Hulton, Peel Yate, Walkden Moor, &c., it was till of late years
the custom for two persons to be nominated as "bidders" of guests to a
funeral. These went to the various houses of the persons to be invited,
and presented to each a sprig of rosemary; which the guest wore or
carried in the hand at the funeral. This inviting or "bidding" was
usually called "lating" or "lathing;" from the A.-S. verb _Lathian_, to
invite, bid, or send for.


As churches are built to stand about East and West, the greatest spaces
in the churchyard are the North and South sides of the church.
Throughout Lancashire and the North of England there is a universal
superstition that the south side of the church is the holiest or most
consecrated ground, and it may be observed that that side of the
graveyard is generally crowded with grave-stones, or green hillocks of
turf, while the north side has but few. This is an old superstition,
which held that the north side of the church was really unhallowed
ground, fit only to be the last resting place of still-born infants and
suicides. Then almost all graves are ranged east and west; and in a rare
tract of the Marprelate series, called "_Martin's Month's Mind_" (1589)
it is stated that "he would not be laid east and west (for he ever went
against the hair), but north and south: I think because 'Ab aquilone
omne malum' (from the north comes all evil), and the south wind ever
brings corruption with it." The celebrated antiquary Thomas Hearne, left
orders for his grave to be made straight by a compass, due east and
west. Sir Thomas Browne[201] observes that "the Persians were buried
lying north and south; the Megarians and Phœnicians placed their
heads to the east; the Athenians, some think, towards the west, which
Christians still retain; and Bede will have it to be the posture of our
Saviour." One "Article of Inquiry" in a visitation of the Bishop of Ely
in 1662, was--"When graves are digged, are they made six feet deep (at
the least), and east and west?"


[193] Rev. John Booker, Prestwich, in _Notes and Queries_, v. 543.

[194] _Richmondshire_, ii. 298.

[195] In many instances, in social feasts, four persons were regarded as
a "mess."

[196] The Rev. Mr. Hodgson's _Description of Westmorland_.

[197] Baines's _History of Lancashire_.

[198] Rev. W. Thornber's _History of Blackpool_.

[199] Dr. Whitaker's _Whalley_, addenda.

[200] _Lancashire MSS.--Letters._

[201] In his _Urn Burial_.


This subject would require extensive notice, if the materials requisite
for its elucidation were more numerous and accessible. All prescriptive
customs of manors have existed beyond what is termed "legal
memory"--_i.e._, from the reign of Richard I. (1189-1199). Many others,
relating to the military and other free tenures of the chief tenants of
manors, and to the socage and inferior or servile tenures, with the
boons of the cottagers, &c., and the various services attached to these
different tenures, would make a very curious piece of history of customs
and usages; but these are usually recorded only in private grants,
charters, and other deeds, or in copy-rolls and other records of manors,
not generally accessible. The following are some examples:--


In the early ages of our history, the honour of knighthood, with the
military services to which it was incident under the feudal system, was
often forced upon the subject. In the year 1278, a writ to the Sheriff
of Lancashire commanded him to distrain upon all persons seised of land
of the value of £20 yearly, whether held of the King _in capite_, or of
any other lords who ought to be knights and were not; and all such were
ordered forthwith to take out their patent of knighthood. Fourteen years
after this, a writ was issued, wherein the qualification was raised to
double the amount; and a writ, dated 6th February, 1292, was issued to
the Sheriff of Lancashire (with others), proclaiming that all persons
holding lands in fee, or of inheritance, of the value of £40 per annum,
must take the order of knighthood before Christmas in that year. The
crown might relax or vary these services: hence a writ to the Sheriff of
Lancashire recites "that the commonalty of England, having performed
good services against the Welsh, the king excuses persons not holding
lands of the value of £100 yearly from taking the order of knighthood;"
but all holding above that amount, and not taking the order before the
Nativity of the Virgin (Sept. 8), were to be distrained upon.
Subsequently, injunctions were addressed to the Sheriff, commanding him
to make extents of the lands of those refusing to take the order of
knighthood, and to hold them for the king until further orders. Another
writ to the Sheriff of Lancashire, of 6th April, 1305, directs him to
proclaim that all who should become knights, and are not, must repair to
London before the following Whit Sunday to receive that distinction, if
properly qualified.[202]


On the marriage of the Princess Alianora (sister of Edward III.) with
the Earl of Guelders, an order was issued to the abbot of Furness, and
to the priors of Burscough, Up-Holland, and Hornby, as well as to the
abbot of Whalley, and to the priors of Cartmell and Coningshead,
requesting them to levy the subsidy on their respective houses, towards
the _Maritagium_, an impost of early times, which ceased with the feudal
system.[203] This order the priests were slow to obey, in consequence of
which another letter was issued by the king from Pontefract, reminding
them of their neglect, and ordering them to communicate their intention
to the proper authority. No further documents appear on the subject; and
it may be presumed that this second application produced the desired


The following are entries in the "Testa de Nevill," a book supposed to
have been compiled towards the close of the reign of Edward II. or the
beginning of that of Edward III., and consequently to exhibit the
services and tenures existing about the beginning of the 12th
century:--Thomas and Alicia de Gersingham, by keeping the king's
[John's] hawks in Lonsdale, till they became strong, when they were to
be committed to the Sheriff of Lancashire. Luke Pierpoint, by keeping an
aëry; Adam de Hemelesdale, by constabulary at Crosby. Quenilda de
Kirkdale, by conducting royal treasure. Richard Fitz Ralph, by
constabulary at Singleton. John de Oxeclive, by being carpenter at
Lancaster Castle. Adam Fitz Gilmighel, by being the king's carpenter.
Roger the carpenter, by being carpenter in Lancaster Castle. Ralph Barun
or Babrun, by being mason in Lancaster Castle. Walter, son of Walter
Smith, by forging iron instruments. Roger Gernet, by being chief
forester. William Gernet, by the service of meeting the king on the
borders of the city, with his horse and white rod, and conducting him
into and out of the city. William and Benedict de Gersingham, by the
sergeantry of keeping the king's aëries of hawks. Gilbert Fitz Orm, by
paying yearly 3_d._ or some spurs to Benedict Gernet, the heir of Roger
de Heton, in thanage. Roger de Leycester, by paying 8_s._ and two arrows
yearly. A great number of persons in thanage: others in drengage. John
de Thoroldesholme, by larderery; Roger de Skerton, by provostry. Roger
Fitz John, by making irons for the king's ploughs. Others, by gardenry,
and by masonry, or the service of finding pot-herbs and leeks for
Lancaster castle, smith's work, and carpentry; the burgesses of
Lancaster, by free-burgage and by royal charter. Peter de Mundevill, by
service of one brachet [a sort of hound] of one colour. The prior of
Wingal, by he knows not what service. Lady Hillaria Trussebut, by no
service, and she knows not by what warrant. Henry de Waleton, by being
head sergeant or bailiff of the Hundred of Derbyshire [_i.e._, West
Derby]. Galfridus Balistarius [Geoffrey Balistur] by presenting two
cross-bows to the king. William Fitz William, by presenting one brachet,
one _velosa_ [? a piece of velvet] and two _lintheamina_ [pieces of
linen cloth]. Roger Fitz Vivian holds the sergeantry of Heysham, by
blowing the horn before the king at his entrance into and exit from the
city of Lancaster. Thomas Gernet, in Heysham, by sounding the horn on
meeting the king on his arrival in those parts. William Gresle, by
presenting a bow without string, a quiver, 12 arrows, and a _buzon_ [?
possibly a quiver or arrow-case]. William Fitz Waukelin, by presenting
one soar-hawk. Hervi Gorge, by presenting one plough, one _linthola_
[piece of linen cloth], one _velosa_ [piece of velvet], and one
_auricular_ [? a veil for the confessional]. Roger and Hugh de
Auberville, by keeping one hawk. Several religious houses held in pure
and free and perpetual alms, or what the Normans styled
"Frank-almoigne." A large number of persons held by donation, in
consideration of yearly rents, and some of these were nominal, as "a
pepper-corn, if demanded," "a clove," "a red rose on St. John the
Baptist's Day" (24th June), "a pair of white gloves or a peny," a
"Manchester knife," &c.

SMITHELLS.--The mesne manor of Smithells in Sharples, near Bolton, is
dependent upon the superior manor of Sharples, the lord of which claims
from the owner of Smithells a pair of gilt spurs annually; and, by a
very singular and inconvenient custom, the unlimited use of the cellars
at Smithells Hall for a week in every year.[205]

It does not appear, however, that the lord of Smithells was bound to the
quantity or to the quality of the liquors with which his cellars were at
that time to be stored. This feudal claim seems now nearly abandoned, as
it has not been enforced within the present century.[206]


The customs' dues of this manor appear to have been originally ordained
by Brother William Geryn, cellarer of the Abbey of Cokersand, in 1326,
and were confirmed by John the Abbot in 1st Richard III. (1483-4). The
confirmation is in the English of the period; and among other curious
ordinances, contains the following regulation as to the price, &c., of
ale (the spelling is modernised):--"There shall no brewer let no tenant
for to have ale for their silver out of their house, and such [may] have
four gallons within their house, so that they bring a vessel with them.
Ye shall not sell a gallon of ale above a halfpenny when ye may buy a
quarter of good oats for 2_d._ Ye shall give ale-founders [manorial
officers also called ale-tasters] a founding-gallon, or else a taste of
each vessel, and your charge, on pain [penalty] of grievous


KIRKBY IRELETH.--In this manor the widow is entitled during her
widowhood to the moiety of the estate whereof her husband died seised;
but forfeits her right thereto upon re-marriage or breach of chastity.
Every tenant, upon being admitted to a tenement, pays to the lord of the
manor 20 years' quit-rent for a fine. Every entire tenement was formerly
obliged to keep one horse and harness, for the king's service, on the
borders or elsewhere. These were called "summer [? sumpter] nags," of
which 30 were kept in Kirkby. The tenant was also to furnish a boon
plough and a boon-harrow, that is, a day's ploughing and harrowing; and
no one is to let his land for any time exceeding 7 years, without
licence. Tenements in this manor are forfeited to the lord by treason or
felony. A tenant convicted of wilful perjury forfeits to the lord 20
years' rent, and for petty larceny, 10 years' rent.

PENNINGTON.--Pennington is the smallest parish in the county, and
contains fewer streams than any other parish in North Lonsdale. Some
feudal customs, obsolete in most places, are still observed in the manor
of Pennington. A tenant on admission pays a fine of 16 years' quit-rent.
On the death of the lord and on every change of the lord by descent, the
tenant pays a further fine of 6 years' quit-rent; and a running-fine,
town-term, or _gressom_, is payable every 7th year. The heir, where
there is a widow, pays a heriot. Every tenant must plant two trees of
the same kind for every one that he fells. Formerly every tenant was
obliged to carry a horse-load once a year to Manchester and half a
horse-load to Lancaster. In 1318 a dispute between the Pennington family
and the Abbot of Furness, as to boon services, was thus decided:--"That
the manor of Pennington was held by the service of 30_s._, and of
finding yearly, for one day in autumn, a man and woman, sufficient to
mow at the Grange of Lindale, for every house with a court-yard except
Sir William de Pennington's capital messuage; the convent to find the
daily refreshment of each mower while employed, according to ancient
custom; and Sir William granting that all the tenants of the manor, who
had or might have ploughs, should plough half an acre of the Abbot's
Grange at Lindale."[208]

MUCHLAND.--Immediately after the Conquest Aldingham was granted to
Michael Flandrensis or le Fleming, and his land was called Michael's
land, to distinguish it from that of the abbey of Furness; spelled often
Mychel-land and Mychelande, till it got corrupted into Muchland. In the
manor of Muchland, the tenant on being admitted to his tenement pays to
the lord of the manor two years' rent over and above the usual annual
rent. Every tenant paying 40_s._ rent was formerly obliged to find a
horse and harness for the King's service, on the borders or elsewhere.
Every tenant who paid 20_s._ a year rent, was to furnish a man harnessed
for the King's service. Every old tenant paid a _gressom_ of one year's
rent on the death of the lord, and every new tenant pays two years' rent
to the next heir. The widow has one-third of the tenement during her
chaste widowhood. If a tenement is not presented within a year and a day
after the death of the tenant, or if it be sold, set, or let without
paying the fine, or _gressom_, for a year and a day, then the lord, if
there be not good distress upon the grounds, may seize such tenement
into his hands as a forfeiture, &c.

LOWICK.--Here the customs are much the same as in Kirkby Ireleth, except
as to forfeitures. The running _gressom_, or town term, is a year's rent
every seventh year, paid to the lord. There are four house-lookers
annually appointed for reviewing and assigning timber for necessary

NEVIL HALL.--The admittance fine is two years' rent, over and above the
accustomed yearly rent. The heriot, on the change of lord, is half a
year's rent. The running _gressom_, or town-term, is half a year's rent
every seventh year. Every tenant paying 20_s._ rent was formerly to keep
a horse harnessed in readiness for the King's service. The widow in this
manor, if the first wife, to have half the tenement; but if she be a
latter wife, then only one-third the tenement. A tenant may, whenever he
pleases, give his tenement to any of his sons; and in default of sons to
any of his daughters, as he thinks fit. A tenant may let, or mortgage,
any tenement or part of it for a year, without a licence; and may sell
his whole tenant-right, or any part of it, with licence from the lord.
The rents mentioned above are old and immutable rents.[209]

MUCH-URSWICK.--These customs include a fine of 20_d._ to the lord of the
manor on every change of tenancy, or on the death of the lord; except
one large house, which paying 4_s._ rent, paid a fine of five times the
lord's rent, or 5_d._ on the death of the lord, or a change of tenancy.
The tenant's widow had half the estate during chaste widowhood. The
tenants were obliged to carry a single horse-load, anciently fish, once
a year to Mowbreck Hall, near Kirkham; but this service was commuted for
a small rent called carriage rent. Tenements in this manor, on treason
or felony by the tenant are forfeited to the lord. A tenant convicted of
wilful perjury, forfeits to the lord twenty years' rent, and for petty
larceny, ten years' rent.[210]

THE ROYAL MANOR OF WARTON.--These customs are similar in many respects
to those of the duchy manors in Furness. In the reign of Elizabeth a
commission of survey, and a jury of twenty-four, from the neighbouring
manors, made a return of the customs, which were confirmed by the Court
of Exchequer. These manorial bye-laws are applicable to customary
tenants, and relate to the subjects of heirships, performance of suit
and service, the powers of the steward, the enrolling of tenants, the
payment of rents, amounts of fines, &c. A fine of two years' rent is to
be imposed on changes of tenantry; all tenants paying above 20_s._ rent
were required to maintain a horse and man with armour, tenants paying
under 20_s._ being commanded to serve in person: these services to be
strictly and fully executed in cases of need. Each tenant is directed to
repair his own homestead. In case of the death of a married tenant,
one-half of the tenement is assigned to the widow, to be held during her
chaste widowhood, and the other half to the heir or heirs. The crime of
fornication to be punished with forfeiture. Tenants not to set, let, or
mortgage for above three years without licence; not to encroach on the
common without permission. The manor court to have jurisdiction in cases
of tithe and tenant right; the tenants to be at liberty to take ash
wood. The tenants are not to be abated in their rents for any loss they
may suffer in their several proportions of turbary, marsh and common.
These manorial regulations are now but seldom enforced, and the Court
Baron of Warton assembles only on rare occasions, not uncommonly after
intervals of years.[211]

privileges comprised free warren, subject to a fine of 10_l._ on
encroachments on the King's forests; right of market and fair at
Arkholme and at Hornby; court of view of frank-pledge; sheriff's turn;
free court of all pleas; assize of bread; soc, sac, tol, and them;
infangetheof and utfangetheof; hamsocn; leyrwite; murder; acquittance of
shires and hundreds, lestage [or lastage], aids of sheriffs and their
bailiffs, and amercements; wardships, and works and enclosures of
castles, parks, and bridges; and of passage, frontage, stallage, toll,
paiage, and money given for murder; and right to pontage, stallage,
hidage, and pickage. All these feudal customs were confirmed in the 12th
Charles I. (1636) to Henry Parker, Lord Morley and Monteagle.[212]

A number of the above terms require explanation. "Money given for
murder," implied the fines levied on a district in which a murder had
been committed, and the criminal not discovered; "the privilege of
murder" was the power to levy such fines; thus the town or hundred which
suffered an Englishman, who had killed a Dane there to escape, was to be
amerced sixty-six marks [44_l._] to the King. _Hamsocn_, is the
privilege or liberty of a man's own house, its violation is burglary.
_Leyr_ or _lecher wite_, is the privilege of punishing adultery and
fornication. Passage is a toll for passing over water, as at a ford or
ferry; pontage is bridge toll; stallage, a toll for stalls in a market;
paiage or pavage, is a paving toll. _Sac_, the right of a lord to hold
pleas in his court, in causes of trespass among his tenants; _soc_, the
right to administer justice and execute laws; _toll_, the right to levy
tolls on tenants; _them_, the right to hear, restrain, and judge bondmen
and villeins, with their children, goods and chattels, &c.
_Infangetheof_, the lord's privilege to judge any thief taken within his
fee. _Outfangtheof_, the right of the lord to call men dwelling within
his manor, and taken for felony outside his fee, to judgment in the
lord's own court.


Among the customs of the Manor of Ashton-under-Lyne, as described by the
late Dr. Hibbert-Ware, was the making of so-called "presents" by the
tenants-at-will to the lord of the manor, for the sake of partaking in
the annual feast at the great hall. In the rental of Sir John de
Assheton, made in November 1422, these presents are claimed as an
obligatory service from the tenants-at-will, in the following
terms:--"That they shall give their presents at Yole [Christmas]; every
present to such a value as is written and set in the rental; and the
lord shall feed all his said tenants, and their wifes, upon Yole-day at
the dinner, if they like for to come; but the said tenants and their
wifes, though it be for their ease not to come, they shall send neither
man nor woman in their name,--but if [unless] they be their son or their
daughter dwelling with them,--unto the dinner; for the lord is not
bounden to feed them all, only the good man and the good wife." In some
manor-houses of Lancashire, once dedicated to these annual scenes of
festivity, may be observed an elevation of the floor [or _daïs_] at the
extremity of the great hall, or, in the place of it, a gallery which
stretches along one side of the room [many halls have both _daïs_ and
gallery] to accommodate the lord and his family, so that they might not
be annoyed by the coarse rustic freedoms which the tenants would be too
apt to take during the hours of their conviviality. In a hall, then, of
this kind in the manor-house at Assheton, we may imagine the large Yule
fire to be kindled; while in a gallery or raised floor Sir John of
Assheton, his lady, and family, together with his kinsmen, Elland of
Brighouse, and Sir John the Byron, are feasting apart, yet attentive to
the frolics or old songs of the company below. It was on these occasions
that peg-tankards were used, and horns that bore the names of the Saxons
and Danes, whom the Normans had ousted out of their possessions. Of the
description of ale that flowed merrily on these occasions we know
little; but there can be no doubt that it was like King Henry the
Eighth's ale, which contained neither hops nor brimstone. We may
suppose, then, that on annual festivals like these, the wooden bowl or
horn would pass freely through the hands of Sir John of Assheton's
tenants-at-will; among whom were such personages as Hobbe Adamson, Hobbe
of the Leghes, William the arrow-smith, Roger the baxter, Roger le
smith, Jack the spencer, Jack the hind, Elyn Wilkyn daughter, Elyn the
rose, and the widows Mergot of Staley, Peryn's wife, and Nan of the
Windy Bank,--all clad in their best hoods, and brown woollen jackets and
petticoats. The ancient musical instruments used in Lancashire were a
kind of fiddle, not of the present form, and a stringed instrument
called the virginals. The provincial songs of that period, few of which
were less than half-an-hour in length, rehearsed the deeds of Launcelot
du Lake, and his conquest of the giant Tarquin, at the castle of
Manchester; Ranulph of Chester, and his wars in the Holy Land; or the
warlike feats and amorous prowess of the renowned Cheshire hero, Roger
de Calverley. In order to preserve, as much as possible, the degree of
decorum that was necessary at such meetings, there was firstly
introduced a diminutive pair of stone stocks, of about eighteen inches
in length, for confining within them the fingers of the unruly. This
instrument was entrusted to the general prefect of manorial festivities
named the King of Misrule, whose office it was to punish all who
exceeded his royal notions of decency. Accordingly such a character
appears among the list of Sir John of Assheton's tenants, under the name
of Hobbe the king. From these entertainments being supported by the
contributions of the tenants, they were derisively called _Drink-leans_.
[_Læn_, A.-S. a loan, a gift, a reward; _Læne_, adj., lean, slender,


In the rental of Sir John Assheton, knight, of his Manor of
Ashton-under-Lyne, A.D. 1422, it is stated that two of his sons, Rauf of
Assheton, and Robyn of Assheton, by grants to them, "have the sour carr
guld rode and stane rynges for the term of their lives." This donation
(says Dr. Hibbert-Ware) evidently alludes to the privilege of
_Guld-riding_, a custom that in Scotland at least is of great antiquity,
having been intended to prevent lands from being over-run with the
weeds, which, from their yellow colour, were named _gools_ or _gulds_,
_i.e._, the corn-marigold, or _Chrysanthemum Segetum_ of Linn. Boethius
(lib. 10) mentions a law of king Kenneth (probably rather of Alexander
II.) to prevent the growth of _manaleta_ or _guld_, and to impose a fine
of oxen on proof of its infraction. The Rev. J. P. Bannerman, in a
statistical account of the parish of Cargill, in Perthshire, states that
with a view of extirpating this weed, "after allowing a reasonable time
for procuring clean seed from other grounds, an act of the Baron Court
was passed, enforcing an old Act of Parliament to the same effect,
imposing a fine of 3_s._ 4_d._, or a wether sheep, on the tenants for
every stock of _gool_ that should be found growing in their corn at a
particular day; and certain persons styled _gool-riders_ were appointed
to ride through the fields, search for _gool_, and carry the law into
execution when they discovered it. Though the fine of a wether sheep is
now commuted and reduced to a penny, the practice of _gool-riding_ is
still kept up, and the fine rigidly exacted." To this origin Dr.
Hibbert-Ware attributes the custom peculiar to Ashton-under-Lyne of
"Riding the Black Lad." He states that in the days of Sir John of
Assheton (A.D. 1422) a large portion of low wet land in the vicinity of
Assheton was named the Sour Carr (carr being synonymous with the Scotch
word _carse_, and the well-known term _sour_ implying an impoverished
state of the carr). It had been over-run with corn-marigolds or
carr-gulds, which were so destructive to the corn that the lord of the
manor enforced some rigorous measures for their extirpation, similar to
the carr-guld riding in Perthshire. Ralph of Assheton, Sir John's son by
a second marriage, and Robin, his brother, were on a certain day in the
spring [Easter-Monday] invested with the power of riding over the lands
of the carr, named the _Carr Guld Rode_, of levying fines for all
_carr-gulds_ that were found among the corn, and, until the penalties
were paid, of punishing transgressors by putting them into the [finger]
_stocks_ or _stone rings_, or by incarceration. Ralph Assheton, by his
alliance with a rich heiress, became the lord of the neighbouring manor
of Middleton, and soon afterwards received the honour of knighthood;
being at the same time entrusted with the office of Vice-Constable of
the kingdom; and it is added, of Lieutenant of the Tower. Invested with
such authorities, he committed violent excesses in this part of the
kingdom. Retaining for life the privilege granted him in Ashton of
Guld-riding, he, on a certain day in spring, made his appearance in the
manor, clad in black armour (whence his name of the Black Lad or Black
Boy) mounted on a charger, and attended with a numerous train of his own
followers, in order to levy the penalty arising from the neglect of
clearing the land from carr-gulds. The interference of so powerful a
knight belonging to another township could not but be regarded by the
tenants of Assheton as the tyrannical intrusion of a stranger; and as
Sir Ralph, sanctioned by the political power given him by Henry VI.,
exercised his privilege with the utmost severity, the name of the Black
Lad is still regarded with sentiments of horror. Tradition has, indeed,
perpetuated the prayer that was fervently ejaculated for a deliverance
from his tyranny:--

    Sweet Jesu! for thy mercy's sake,
      And for thy bitter passion,
    Save us from the axe of the Tower,
      And from Sir Ralph of Ashton.

Upon the death of the Black Knight, Sir John's heir and successor
abolished the usage for ever, reserving for the estate a small sum of
money for the purpose of perpetuating, in an annual ceremony, the
dreaded annual visits of the Black Boy. This is still kept up. An effigy
is made of a man in armour; and since Sir Ralph was the son of a second
marriage (which, for this reason, had been esteemed by the heir of Sir
John as an unfortunate match) the image is deridingly emblazoned with
some emblem of the occupation of the first couple that are linked
together in the course of the year. [Mr. Edwin Butterworth says with the
initials of their names.] The Black Boy is then fixed on horseback, and,
after being led in procession round the town, is dismounted, made to
supply the place of a shooting-butt, and, all fire-arms being in
requisition for the occasion, he is put to an ignominious death. [The
origin of Riding the Black Lad, here suggested, is exceedingly
ingenious; but it seems questionable whether any real data for it are
given in the single passage cited from the rental of 1422. "The Sour
Carr Guld Rode and the Stane Ringes" taken as they stand, may mean the
Guld-ruyding, or ridding, as a piece of land cleared of stumps, &c., was
called; _ex. gr._ Hunt-royd, Orme-rod, Blake-rod, &c. The Stone Rings
may be a piece of land so-called. There is no mention of the power to
levy penalties, nor even of any official riding, but only the
_rode_,--not road, as it has been interpreted, but ridded land, perhaps
cleared from gulds and weeds, no less than from stubs, stumps, and

Mr. Roby, from the above materials, has written a tale of Sir Ralph's
cruel seizure of a widow's only cow, as the heriot due to him as lord of
the manor, on the death of her husband. Her half-witted son is said to
have told Sir Ralph that on his death his master the devil would claim a
heriot, and that Sir Ralph himself would be given up. On this Sir Ralph
took fright, and sent back the heriot cow to the poor widow. Another
tradition exists as to the origin of the custom of "Riding the Black
Lad," which Mr. Roby thinks may have been fabricated merely to throw off
the odium attached to the name of Sir Ralph. In the reign of Edward III.
one Thomas Assheton fought under Queen Philippa in the battle of
Neville's Cross. Riding through the ranks of the enemy, he bore away the
royal standard from the Scotch king's tent, who himself was afterwards
taken prisoner. King Edward, on his return from France, conferred on
Thomas the honour of knighthood, with the title of "Sir Thomas Assheton
of Assheton-under-Lyne." To commemorate this singular display of valour,
Sir Thomas instituted the custom of "Riding the Black Knight or Lad" at
Assheton, on Easter-Monday; leaving 10_s._ yearly to support it,
together with his own suit of black velvet, and a coat of mail. Which of
these accounts of the origin of the custom is correct, there is now no
evidence to determine.


In the manor of Ashton-under-Lyne, every tenant-at-will was thus
commanded:--"He that plough has, shall plough two days. He that half
plough has, shall plough a day, whenever the lord be liever [more
willing], in wheet-seeding, or in lenton-seeding; and every tenant
harrow a day with their harrow, in seeding time, when they bin charged.
And they should cart, every tenant ten cartful of turve from Doneam Moss
to Assheton, and shere four days in harvest, and cart a day corn." This
service, so profitable to the lord, was familiarly called boon-work.
Hence an old adage still retained in the North of England, when a man is
supposed to be working for nothing, that "he has been served like a


One of the services of Sir John Assheton's tenants-at-will, in the manor
of Ashton-under-Lyne, in the fifteenth century, as appears by his rental
of 1422, was that "they should pay a principal at their death, to wit,
the best beast they have." This was evidently a heriot. As of a military
vassal, or tenant by knight-service, his horse was the heriot due to his
lord at death; so the custom became extended to that class of dependents
who were retained in the lord's employ to perform the busier services of
the manor. As their property consisted of cattle, or of implements of
husbandry, the heriot due to the lord was the best beast, cow, or horse,
of which the tenant might die possessed. This condition being fulfilled,
every further claim upon the goods of the deceased was remitted. At
times this expressive relic of ancient military subjection was found
exceedingly galling. In the manor of Assheton there are many traditional
stories still remaining on the subject of such principals or heriots. A
tenant's boy, on the death of his father, was driving an only cow to the
manor-house of the adjoining demesnes of Dukinfield. He was met by the
lord of the place, with whose person and rank he was unacquainted, who
questioned him whither he was taking his beast. "I am driving it as far
as Dukinfield for the heriot," replied the boy. "My father is dead--we
are many children--and we have no cow but this. Don't you think the
devil will take Sir Robert for a heriot, when he dies?" The lad was
fortunately addressing a humane landlord. "Take the cow back to thy
mother; I know Sir Robert,--I am going to Dukinfield myself, and will
make up the matter with him."[216]


The lands of the Denton estates of the Hollands were held in 1780 by
seventeen tenants, subject to a rent of 294_l._ 6_s._ 8_d._ The entire
property was held by lease of lives, and this rental was exclusive of
fines paid on the renewal of leases. By the terms of their respective
leases the tenants were also pledged to the payment of certain
rent-boons, consisting of a dog and a cock, or (at the landlord's
option) of their equivalent in money--for the dog 10_s._, for the cock
1_s._; the landlord thus providing for his amusement in hunting and
cock-fighting in a manner least onerous to himself.[217]


Until within these few years a relic of Saxon polity more ancient than
the Domesday Survey existed in the Constablewick of Garstang, which
continued to our own days, the _freo borh_, _friborg_, or Saxon manor,
in a very perfect state. The free-burgh consisted of 11 townships,
surrounding the original lordship to which all but one were subject. The
reason for establishing this institution is stated in a Saxon law. The
_Wita_, or counsellors, having considered the impunity with which
trespasses against neighbours were committed, appointed over every ten
friborgs, justiciaries whom they denominated _tien heofod_ or "head of
ten." These (says Dr. Keuerden) handled smaller causes between townsmen
and neighbours, and according to the degree of the trespass, awarded
satisfaction; made agreements respecting pastures, meadows and
corn-lands, and reconciled differences among neighbours. The
constablewick of Garstang comprised the township of Garstang and ten
other townships, all of which are styled hamlets in the books of the
court, and were divided into three portions. Two constables were
annually elected for this district, and were alternately taken from each
third portion of the constablewick. The jury were nominated in a similar
manner. The jury were accustomed to adjourn from the court to an
eminence called Constable hillock, adjoining the river Wyre, where they
made choice of the constables by inscribing their names upon slips of
wood. These officers were empowered to collect the county-rates, and
serve for all the hamlets. The court was held annually, by direction of
a steward of the Duke of Hamilton, the superior lord of the wick, till
1816, when it fell into neglect, and its powers are now exercised in
such of the townships only as are the property of the Duke. The
adjournment of the court to the hillock is obviously the remnant of a
custom far more ancient than the institution of the friborg itself.[218]


This was a kind of occasional property tax, levied by order of the
monarch in emergencies, and throughout the kingdom. In the charter
granted by Randle, Earl of Chester, to the burgesses of Stafford, about
A.D. 1231, is a clause reserving to him and his heirs reasonable
tallage, when the King makes or takes tallage of his burgesses
throughout England. A precisely similar clause is found in Thomas
Greslet's charter to his burgesses of Mamecestre in 1301. In the 11th
Henry III. (1226-27) a still earlier talliage was made in Lancashire,
which enables us to measure the relative importance of the principal
towns in the county early in the thirteenth century. The impost was
assessed by Master Alexander de Dorsete and Simon de Hal; and the
payments were for the towns of Lancaster thirteen marks (£8 13_s._
4_d._); Liverpool, eleven marks, 7_s._ 8_d._ (£7 14_s._ 4_d._); West
Derby, seven marks, 7_s._ 8_d._ (£5 1_s._); Preston, fifteen marks,
6_d._ (£10 0_s._ 6_d._). The tenants in thanage paid ten marks (£6
13_s._ 4_d._) to have respite, that they might not be talliaged. Baines
deems it remarkable that Manchester, Stafford, and Wigan were not
included; but in these old manors it was the lord of the manor who had
the right to levy talliage within his manor. In 1332 a tallage of
one-fifteenth was levied by Edward III., to enable him to carry on the
war against Scotland.[219]


The following is a literal copy of a small hand-bill in possession of
the writer, which appears to have been printed for distribution among
the farmers and the parishioners generally, with the purpose of
supplying information as to the various payments to be made to the
vicar, or at all events to the parish church:--

    An EXTRACT out of the _Parliament Survey_,
    Taken the 10th of _January_ 1620.

    The Parish of _Rochdale_ is divided into four Divisions, viz.
    _Hundersfield_, _Spotland_, _Castleton_, and _Butterworth_. There is
    also belonging to the Rectory of _Rochdale_, the Parish Chapel of
    _Saddleworth_, in the County of _York_; and certain Parcels of Glebe
    Lands, lying in _Saddleworth_.

    ⁂ There is no Tythe Hay paid within the Parish, but a Penny a
    Year every one payeth that holdeth any Lands within the Parish.

    No Tythe paid for Eggs, Apples, Hemp, or Flax.

    The Manner of receiving the _Easter-Role_ and Mortuarys are
    thus--each Horse payeth a Penny; for every married Man or Widow at
    the Offering, a Penny; every Plough a Penny; every Swarm of Bees a
    Penny; every Cow one Penny; and every Colt, and every Calf, one

    For Mortuarys--Every one buried in the Chancel payeth 6_s._ 8_d._
    every one that dieth worth twenty Nobles, in moveable Goods, over
    and above his Debts, payeth 3_s._ 4_d._ if worth 30_l._ payeth
    6_s._ 8_d._ if worth 40_l._ or upwards, 10_s._--Stat. 21. Hen. 8.
    Chap. 6.

    N.B. That House or Smoke, and Garden, hath been substituted in the
    Room of Horse and Plough.

    In Closes where there are more than ten Stacks of Corn (or even
    tens) in one Close, _the odd Stacks shall not be tythed_; the
    Land-Owner setting up the Corn in Stacks, may be a good
    Consideration for the same; because of Common Right the Tytheman is
    to take the Corn Tythe in the Sheaf, but when the same is stacked,
    as is customary in many places, the Tytheman may not break any odd
    Stack, for he cannot tythe both by the Stack and Sheaf. And this
    was the Opinion of Serjeants _Poole_ and _Kenyan_, and of Lawyer

    No Complaint concerning any small Tythes, &c. shall be determined
    by Justices of Peace, unless the Complaint be made within two Years
    after the same Tythes, &c. become due. Stat. 7. and 8. William 3.
    Chap. 6.


In the olden times almost every great agricultural operation had its
peculiar festivities; now almost everywhere obsolete. The harvest home,
its procession and feast, still linger the last of these rural
celebrations, but shorn of much of its old ceremonial and jollity.
"Shutting of marling" had also its gala-day. Then a "lord" and a "lady"
presided at the feast; having been previously drawn out of the marl-pit
by a strong team of horses, gaily decorated with ribbons, mounted by
their drivers, who were trimmed out in their best. The procession
paraded through the village lanes and streets, some of its members
shaking tin boxes, and soliciting contributions from the bystanders. The
money collected was expended in good cheer at the feast. Again,
"Cob-seeding" was a time when mirth and good-nature prevailed. Like the
"bee" of our American cousins, it was an occasion when all helped every
one else in turn,--collecting, threshing, winnowing the crop on the
field; "housing" the seed ready prepared for the market; and when all
the work of the day was finished, partaking of a substantial supper, and
closing the evening with many a merry dance on the barn's clay


Among the ancient customs of Dalton, is the practice of hiring reapers
on Sundays in time of harvest. Endeavours have been made to abolish it;
but by the statute of 27 Henry VI. cap. 5, for suppressing
Sabbath-breaking, four Sundays in harvest time are excepted from the
prohibition against holding markets and fairs on holydays, and the
people of Dalton have construed it to the hiring of such servants. Till
of late years there was at Dalton an annual festival called "The Dalton
Hunt," in which the gentlemen of the district partook of the sports of
the field by day, and joined the ladies in the ball-room at night. A
suite of rooms was erected in the town, and handsomely fitted-up for
this annual jubilee, which existed as early as the year 1703, as appears
from the columns of the _London Gazette_, in which it is styled "the
Dalton Route," and the pen of an elegant contributor to the _Tatler_ has
imparted to it additional celebrity. To the regret of the beaux and
belles of the neighbourhood the "route" was discontinued in 1789, and
has never since been revived.[221]


One custom, in letting the great sheep-farms in the higher parts of
Bowland, deserves to be mentioned, as I do not know that it prevails
anywhere else. It is this: That the flock, often consisting of 2000
sheep, or more, is the property of the lord, and delivered to the tenant
by a schedule, subject to the condition of delivering up an equal number
of the same quality at the expiration of the term. Thus the tenant is
merely usufructuary of his own stock. The practice was familiar to the
Roman law, and seems to have arisen from the difficulty of procuring
tenants who were able to stock farms of such extent.[222]


The old charters and deeds of Manchester, Warrington, and other
Lancashire towns, contain various words now obsolete, and amongst others
the words _namare_ and _namium_, which it is not easy to render
accurately. The first may be translated to seize in pledge, to arrest,
to distrain; the second is a pledge, or a distress, what is seized by
distraint. In connexion with the substantive _namium_, the following
anecdote of the great Sir Thomas More may be told, as illustrative of
the obscurity of some of these ancient law terms. It is said that Sir
Thomas, when travelling, arrived at Padua just as a boasting Professor
had placarded the walls of that University with a challenge to all the
world to dispute with him on any subject or in any art, and that Sir
Thomas accepted the challenge, and proposed for his subject this


which, it is almost needless to add, proved such a stumbling-block to
the challenger, who did not know even the very terms of the question,
that he surrendered at discretion, and acknowledged himself

Perhaps the best way to English the puzzling question, would be to
render it thus:--"Whether plough-cattle, taken in illegal distress, are
irrepleviable?" But several of the words are susceptible of two
meanings. Thus _averia_ means goods, as well as cattle; _caruca_, a
cart, as well as a plough; _namium_, a pledge, as well as a distress. It
is not to be wondered at that the continental Professor found himself
unable even to comprehend the terms of this perplexing question.


Amongst the Tower records are three royal charters bearing date
respectively 3 Edward II., 15 Edward II., and 12 Edward III. (1309-10,
1321-2, 1338), and granting, for the purpose of effecting repairs in the
bridges and pavements, certain temporary customs on articles brought
into Warrington for sale. In the two first of these charters, a custom
of one farthing is imposed on every 100 faggots and every 1000 turves;
and of one halfpenny on every cart-load of wood or wind-blown timber.
The last of the charters imposes a custom of one penny on every 1000
faggots, one farthing on every 10,000 turves, one penny on every
ship-load of turves, and one halfpenny weekly on every cart-load of wood
and coals [_carbonum_, ? charcoal]. Amongst other articles, a custom was
imposed on salt, on bacon, on cheese (probably from Cheshire), on
butter, on lampreys, on salmon, on pelts of sheep, goats, stags, hinds,
deer, does, hares, rabbits, foxes, cats, and squirrels; on cloths in the
entire piece; on grice work (_i.e._, fur of the skins of blue weasels);
on Cordovan leather, on oil in flasks (_lagenas olei_); on hemp, on
linen webs; on Aylesbury webs and linen; on canvas, Irish cloths,
Galways and worsteds; on silks, diapered with gold (_de Samite_) and
tissue; on silks within gold; on sendal [or _cendal_, a kind of silk];
on cloth of baudekin [silk cloth, interwoven with threads of gold]; on
gads of maple, and on Aberdeen gads; on every tun of wine (_et
cinerum_--the ashes of burnt wine lees); on honey; on wool in sacks; on
tin, brass, copper, iron, and lead; on alum, copperas, argil, and
verdigris; on onions and garlic; and on stock-fish, salt mullet,
herrings, and sea-fish, amongst a number of other articles.[224]


[202] Baines's _Lancashire_.

[203] Claus., 7 Edward III., 1333, p. 1, m. 23.

[204] Baines's _Lancashire_.

[205] Dr. Whitaker's _Whalley_.

[206] Baines's _History of Lancashire_.

[207] Baines's _History of Lancashire_.

[208] Baines's _Lancashire_.

[209] West's _History of Furness_.

[210] Baines's _History of Lancashire_.

[211] Baines's _History of Lancashire_.

[212] Baines's _Lancashire_.

[213] _Illustration of the Customs of a Manor in the North of England._

[214] Dr. Hibbert-Ware's _Illustration of the Customs of a Manor in the
North of England_.

[215] Dr. Hibbert-Ware's _Illustration of the Customs of a Manor in the
North of England_.

[216] _Illustration of the Customs of a Manor in the North of England_,
by Dr. Hibbert-Ware.

[217] Rev. J. Booker's _Chapel of Denton_.

[218] Baines's _Lancashire_.

[219] Baines's _Lancashire_.

[220] Rev. W. Thornber's _History of Blackpool_.

[221] Baines's _Lancashire_.

[222] Dr. Whitaker's _Whalley_.

[223] Mr. Beamont's _Warrington in the Thirteenth Century_.

[224] Mr. W. Beamont, in _Warrington in 1465_.


 Agricultural and Farm Celebrations in the Fylde, 298

 Alchemists, 23;
   two Lancashire, 30

 Alchemy, 23

 Ale, price of, 281;
   of Halton, 259;
   Warrington, 259;
   Cockerham, 281

 Ale Founders, 281

 All-Souls Night, 49

 " Day, 251

 Apostle Spoons, 262

 Arrowsmith, Father, his execution and the dead hand, 158-163

 Arval, cake and ale, 270-272

 Ascension Day, or Holy Thursday, 249

 Ash-Wednesday, 221

 Ashton, (Sir Thomas), of Ashton, 30

 Ashton-under-Lyne, manorial customs of, 286, 289, 292, 293;
   the Lord's Yule Feast at, 286;
   Riding the Black Lad at, 289

 Assheton (Sir John de), 287

 " (Sir Ralph de), 290-292

 Astrologers, Lancashire, 33

 Astrology, 33

 Auld Wife Hakes, 216

 Averia (cattle, goods), 300, 301

 Aylesbury webs and linen, 302

 Baal Worship, 3-45

 Bacon, Customs' dues on, 301

 Ball, or "Old Ball," 234, 235

 Baptismal Customs, 260

 Barguest, bar- or barn-ghaist, 91

 Barnacle Geese, 116-121

 Bel, Belus, or Baal, 45

 Belisama, the River Ribble, 4

 Bells, church, 41, 42;
   passing and funeral, 41, 42;
   pancake, 44;
   curfew, 44;
   submarine, 44;
   verses, 42

 Beltane or Beltein fires, 3, 45, 47, 48

 Betrothing and bridal customs, 263

 Bible, for direction, divination, and dreams, 20

 Bible and key, 103

 Bidding to funerals, 274

 Birth and baptismal customs, 260

 Black Lad, at Ashton, 289

 Bleeding, charms to stop, 77

 Boggart, or bogle, 16;
   the name, 49;
   the flitting, 58

 Boggart Hole Clough, 50

 Boggarts, ghosts, and haunted places, 49;
   various, 58;
   in old halls, 51;
   in the nineteenth century, 61

 Bones of St. Lawrence at Chorley, 157

 Booker (John), of Manchester, astrologer, 34-38

 _Books of Fate_, 145

 Boon rents at Denton, 294

 Boon shearing at Ashton, 292, 293

 Bothe (Thomas del) his will, 241

 Bowland, letting sheep, &c., 300

 Bragot-Sunday, 225, 258

 Bridal bouquet, 268;
   flowers, _ib._

 Bride's chair at Warton, 265

 Brindle Church, footprint at, 134

 Bromley (Sir Edward), judge, 189

 Brownies or _lares_, 16

 Bryn Hall, the Gerards, and the dead man's hand, 158-163

 Bungerley stepping-stones, 90

 Burial by candle light, 273;
   of a widow in vows, _ib._

 Burnley, the church, 89;
   a witch near, 209;
   wedding customs at, 265

 Burying in woollen, 269

 Cards, 140

 Carlins, 258

 Carnaval, 217

 Carols, Christmas, 257

 Carr Gulds, 290

 Cartmel Church, Legend of, 137

 Cattle Diseases, Charms for, 79

 Celebrations, Farm and Agricultural, in the Fylde, 298

 Changelings, 263

 Charles I., King, 200, 240

 Charm, a, in cypher, 63

 Charms and spells, 62;
   against evil beings, _ib._;
   against sickness, wounds, &c., 74;
   crow, lady-bird, 70-71;
   to get drink, 72-74;
   against danger by night, 74;
   wounds, 74;
   toothache, 75;
   rheumatism and cramp, 75;
   ague, 80;
   nettle stings, _ib._;
   jaundice, _ib._;
   to get sleep, _ib._

 "Chattox, Old," a witch, 186-189

 Child, unbaptized, cannot die, 262

 Childbed presents, 260

 Childbirth, tea-drinking, 261

 " turning the bed after, 261

 Children, gifts to, 262

 Christianizing of pagan gods and festivals, 14

 Christmas, 252;
   mumming at, 253;
   carols, 254;
   games, 255;
   mutes, 256

 Christmas at Wycoller Hall, 256

 " Carols, 254;
   rhymes, 253

 Christmas customs in the Fylde, 254;
   games there, 255

 Christmas-day, old and new, 20;
   breakfast in the Fylde, 256

 Christmas Eve, creatures worshipping, 253;
   called "Flesh-day," 256

 " Evergreens, &c., 256

 Christmas Frumenty, 252, 256

 Christmas hobby-horse, 254

 Christmas or Yule Feast, at Ashton-under-Lyne, 286

 Church Festivals, 212, _et seq._

 Churches and Churchyards, north and south sides of, 275

 Cinderella and her slipper, 5

 Clayton Hall Boggart, 52

 Clegg Hall Boggart, 52

 Cleworth, Demoniacs in 1594, 92

 Clock-house Boggart, 52

 Cob-seeding, 298

 Cock-penny, at Clitheroe, 220

 Cock-throwing and Cock-fighting, 218;
   about Blackburn, 220;
   at Burnley, _ib._

 Cockerham Manor, 281;
   ale in, _ib._

 Cokersand Abbey, 281;
   abbot of, _ib._

 Collop Monday, 217

 Constablewick, a Saxon, 295

 Corals with bells, 262

 Corpse, carrying the, 272, 274

 Courting and Wedding Customs in the Fylde, 264

 Cousell and Clarke, conjurors, 86

 Cramp Rings, 75

 Creed and Little Creed, at Eccles, 114

 Cross-buns on Good Friday, 226

 Crow Charm, 70

 Curfew Bell, 44

 Customs of Manors, 276;
   in Furness, 281;
   Ashton, 286, 289

 Customs' dues at Warrington, 301

 "Cuthbert, Old mother," and her daughters, 177

 Dalton-in-Furness, funerals at, 271;
   manor, 299;
   hunt and rout, _ib._

 Dalton-in-Furness, hiring reapers on Sunday, 299

 Danish Traditions, &c., 4, 5

 Darrell's (Rev. John) _Narrative_, &c. 93, 96;
   his punishment, 97

 Dead and Dying, the, 7

 " man's hand, 158, 163

 " raising the, 128

 Deasil, or Widersinnis, 151

 Death tick or Death watch, 152

 Dee (Dr. John), 25

 " charged with Witchcraft, 178

 Deities and demi-gods, 12

 "Demdike, Old," a witch, 186;
   "Young Demdike," _ib._

 Demon and Goblin Superstitions, 88

 Demon Pig, 89

 Demoniacal possession in 1594, 92;
   in 1686, 98

 Demoniacs, 87;
   dispossessing a, 92;
   at Morzine, 88

 Demonology, 86

 Denton Rent-boons, 294

 Derby (Edward 3rd) Earl of, charged with keeping a Conjuror, 129

 Device, Elizabeth and Alizon, witches, 186, 189

 Devil, the 16;
   his names, 84-86;
   a card-player, 81;
   raised, 17, 81;
   exorcised, 17, 81

 Devil, at Burnley, 83

 " and the Tailor of Chatburn, 82;
   and the Dun horse, _ib._;
   and the schoolmaster at Cockerham, 83

 Devil, sacrifices to, 82;
   appearances of, _ib._

 "Devils of Morzine," (demoniacs) 88

 Dispossession of Devils, 93-98

 Divination, ancient, 7;
   Lancashire, _ib._

 " 102;
   at marriages, 103;
   by Bible and key, _ib._;
   Lancashire form of, 104;
   by the dying, _ib._;
   second-sight, 105;
   spirits of the dying and dead, _ib._;
   by lots, 106

 Doles at Weddings, 264;
   at funerals, 270;
   at Swinton, _ib._

 Downham, King and Queen at, 248

 Dreams, 6, 19, 140, 145-149

 Drink-leans, 288

 Druidical Rock basins, 106-110

 Dugdale, the Surey demoniac, 98

 Dukinfield (Sir Robert), and the heriot, 294

 Dying, Death-bed, and Funeral Customs, 268

 Dying hardly, 268

 Easter, _Eostre_, 8, 226, 227

 " Customs, 227-237;
   Fylde, 236

 " Day, 227

 " Eggs, 227, 228

 " Monday, 233, 237

 " "Lifting or heaving," 233;
   game of the ring, 234;
   Sports, 231

 Easter sports at the Manchester Free Grammar School, 231

 Eating and Drinking Customs, 258

 Eccles, ignorance in, 113-115

 Eccles cakes, 258

 Edward I., King, 27;
   his gift for "lifting," 233

 Edward III., King, 28;
   his letter for alms, 133

 Edward IV., King, 32

 Edward VI., King, 34

 Eggs, Pace, Pasche, or Easter, 217, 228;
   in Blackburn, 228, 229;
   in East Lancashire, 231;
   bought for Easter, 229;
   papal prayer, blessing eggs, 229

 "Elias, the Prophet," a fanatic, 138

 Elizabeth, Queen, 35

 Ellen's (St.) Well, in Brindle, 172

 Elves and Fairies, 110-113

 Everton toffy, 258

 Evil Eye, the, 69

 Ewe Loaf, the, 256

 Exorcism of demons by godly ministers, 95, 98-101

 Fag-pie (or Fig-pie) Sunday, 226, 258

 Fairies, 53;
   and Elves, 106-110

 Fairy, a, on Mellor Moor, 111

 " Hole, at Warton, 265

 " Queen, 16

 " Tales, Lancashire, 112, 113

 Familiar Spirit, Transfer of a, 210

 _Famous History of Witches_, 176

 Feeorin (fairies), 53

 Fern Seed, 10

 Festivals, Church and Season, 212

 Finger Stocks of Stone, 288

 Flemings' Wooden Shoes and Oaten Bread, 259

 "Flesh-Day" (Christmas Eve), 256

 Folk-Lore, Eastern, 2-6;
   Greek and Roman, 5, 6;
   Scandinavian, 4, 5;
   various, 113;
   of Eccles and neighbourhood, 113

 Footprints at Brindle Church, 134;
   at Smithells Hall, 135

 Fortune-Telling, 121-126;
   Story of, 122;
   "Owd Rollison," 123

 Frumenty, 262, 256, 258

 Funeral Biddings, 274;
   gifts, 275;
   bay, rosemary, &c., 270, 272, 275

 Funeral Customs, 268;
   in East Lancashire, 273;
   at Dalton-in-Furness, 271;
   at Warton, 271;
   Fylde, 272

 Funeral Doles, 270;
   at Swinton, _ib._;
   various, 274

 Funeral Sermons, 274;
   dinners and drinkings, 272

 Furness, Manorial Customs, 281, 285

 Fylde, The (in Lancashire), _passim_.

 " Easter Customs in, 236, 242, 243

 " Farm and Agricultural Celebrations in, 298

 " Harvest Home, 298;
   "shutting of marling," _ib._;
   cob-seeding, _ib._

 Gabriel Ratchets, 89, 167

 "Gang-Days," or Rogation Days, 248

 Garstang, a Saxon Constablewick, 295

 Geese, hatched from sea-shells, 116

 Gemmel Rings, 263

 Gerard (Sir Thomas), 131

 " (Sir John), 162

 Gerards of Bryn, 158-162

 Gifts to Infants, 262

 Gloucester (Eleanor), Duchess of, and Witchcraft, 174

 Gloves, Wedding, 268

 Goblin, Gobelinus, Kobold, Khobalus, &c., 16

 Goblin Builders, 89

 " Superstitions, 88

 Good Friday, 226;
   viands, 226, 237

 "Goose-Intentos," 250

 Graves, Situation and Direction of, 275

 Greek Traditions and Superstitions, 5, 6, 13;
   Mythology, 13

 Grendels, The, 17

 Grislehurst Boggart, 61

 Groaning Cheese and Cake, 260

 Guld-Riding, 289

 Gunpowder Plot, 251

 Guy Fawkes, 251

 Hackensall Hall Boggart, 59

 Hæver or Hiver, 149

 Hakes, Auld Wife, 216

 Hallowe'en, 3

 Halton Ale, 259

 Hand-bell Ringing, 258

 Hand-festing, 263

 Hartlay (John), a Conjuror, 93-96

 Harvest Home, 298

 Havercake Lads, 258

 Helen's (St.) Well in Brindle, 172;
   near Sefton, 173

 Henry IV., King, 20

 Henry VI., King, 28, 29, 31;
   miracles at his tomb, 132

 Henry VII., King, his embassy to Pope Julius II., 132

 Henry VIII., King, 87;
   his ale, 287

 Heriot or Principal, at Ashton-under-Lyne, 292, 293;
   story of, 294

 "Hobbe, the King," at Ashton, 288

 Hobby-horse at Christmas, 254

 Hornby, Honour and Manor of, 285

 " Park Mistress and Margaret Brackin, 59

 Horwich Moor, 48

 Hothershall Hall, 5

 House Boggarts, 56

 Household bewitched, 184

 Hunchback, story of the, 5

 Huntingdon's, Earl of, letter, 130

 Hydrocephalus in Cattle, to cure, 79

 Ignagning, 236

 Imps, or Changelings, 263

 Ince Hall, 52

 Ince Manor House, 52

 " Oatmeal Charity at, 249

 Indo-European origin of superstitions, 2

 Infants, gifts to, 262

 Invocation at bedtime, 68, 69

 Jack and the Bean-Stalk, 5

 Jack the Giant-Killer, 5

 James I., King, his _Dæmonologie_, 185

 Jannocks, 259

 Johnson's (Margaret), confession, 198

 Jolly Lads, 236

 Jourdain (Margery), witch of Eye, 174

 Kelly (Edward), the Seer, 25, 126

 Killing a witch, 208

 King and Queen at Downham, 248

 King of the May, 254

 " of Misrule, 288

 King's Evil, touching for, 77

 Kirkby Ireleth, Manor of, 281

 Knighthood, honour of, 277;
   compulsory in 1278, 1292, and 1305, _ib._

 Knives, &c., 18;
   Manchester, 280

 Labouring Goblins, 56

 Lady in the straw, 260

 Lady-bird charm, 70, 71

 Lancashire musical instruments, 288

 " Witches, verses on, 179

 Lancaster (Thomas), Earl of, a saint, 133, 134

 Lating or Leeting Witches, 210

 Law Terms, mediæval Latin, 300

 Lawrence, St., his bones at Chorley, 157

 Leadbetter (Charles), a Lancashire astrologer, 40

 Legend of Cartmel Church, 137

 Lent, 221

 Local customs and usages at various seasons, 212, _et seq._

 Lord's Day conjuration, 67

 Lostock May-pole, 243

 Lots, casting or drawing, 106

 Lowick, Manor of, 283

 Lubber Fiend, 59, 89

 Magic and Magicians, 126

 Magpies, 143-145

 Malkin Tower, in Pendle Forest, 186, 189, 204, 211

 Manchester knife, a, 289

 " Church, weddings at, 265

 Manorial franchises, &c., 285

 Manors, customs of, 276;
   in Furness, 281;
   Ashton-under-Lyne, 286, 289;
   Smithells, 280;
   Cockerham, 281;
   Kirkby Ireleth, _ib._;
   Pennington, 282;
   Muchland, _ib._;
   Lowick, 283;
   Nevill Hall, _ib._;
   Much Urswick, 284;
   Warton, _ib._;
   Hornby, 285;
   Ashton-under-Lyne, 286, 289

 Maritagium, custom of, 278

 Marsh (Geo.), the martyr, 135-137

 Martins, "shifting of," 143

 Mary Queen of Scots, 131

 May-day Eve, 46, 47, 239

 " Customs, 238-246;
   in Spotland, 242;
   in Manchester, 245

 May-day Games, decay of, 241;
   at Burnley (1579), 244

 May-Poles, 240-243;
   Parliamentary ordinance against, 241

 May King and Queen, 246

 " Songs, 239

 Mermaid of Marton Mere, 90

 "Messes" at dinners, &c., 271, 274

 Michaelmas Day, 250;
   goose, _ib._, 258

 Mid-Lent Sunday, or Mothering Sunday, 222, 225

 Mince Pies, 255, 258

 Miracles, or Miraculous Stories, 131

 " of a dead Duke of Lancaster (King Henry VI.), 132-134

 Miraculous cures by a dead man's hand, 158-163

 Miraculous footprints in Brindle Church, 134;
   in Smithells Hall, 135

 "Mischief Night," 239

 Mistletoe, 252

 Money gift at funerals, 275

 Moon, the, 70;
   omens from, 149;
   names for autumn moons, 250

 More (Sir Thomas), Story of, 300

 "Mothering Sunday," 222, 225

 Mountain Ash, 72

 Muchland, Manor of, 282

 Much-Urswick, Manor of, 284

 Mutes at Christmas, 256

 Mythology of Greece and Rome, 13;
   Oriental, _ib._;
   Northern, _ib._

 Naiades, Nixies, Nisses, 16

 Nails, cutting, 68

 Nevill Hall, Manor of, 283

 New Year's-Day, weather omens, 151;
   Festival, 214;
   and Old Christmas-Day, 212

 New-Year's turkey, 258

 " Eve, fire on, 214

 New-Year's Luck, 214;
   first caller, 215;
   gifts and wishes, 216

 Nicholas, St., 85

 "Nick, Old" (the devil), 84-86

 Night-mare, 89

 Northumbrian Superstitions, 9

 November 1, All Souls' Day, 251

 November 5, Gunpowder Plot, 251

 Numbers, odd, 4;
   "3" and "7," _ib._

 Nutter (Alice), a wealthy witch, 193

 Oat Cake, 258;
   Jannocks, 259

 Oatmeal charity at Ince, 249

 "Old Nick" (the devil), 84-86

 "Old Scrat," or Skrat, 90

 Omens and Predications, 138, 139

 Omens, Dreams, Withershins, Cards, Teacups, &c., 140

 Omens--Cats, 141;
   Dogs, Lambs, Birds, 142;
   Swallows, Magpies, _ib._
   Deasil, or Widersinnis, 151;
   weather for New Year's-Day, 151;
   Death tick, or watch, 152

 Ormskirk gingerbread, 258

 Pace or Pasche-egging, 128;
   in Blackburn, _ib._;
   East Lanc., 231

 Pagan gods, festivals and temples, changed into Christian saints,
        feasts and churches, 14

 Pancake Bell, 44;
   Tuesday, 218

 Passing Bell, 44

 Paternoster, White, &c., at Eccles, 115

 Peel of Fouldrey and Tree-Geese, 116

 Peggy's Well, Legend of, 171

 Pendle, Forest and Hill of, 202, 204

 Pendleton and Pendlebury, May-pole and games, 240, 241

 Pentecost, 16th Sunday after, 250

 Pentecost (See Whitsuntide).

 Persons bewitched, sixteen, 192

 Philosopher's Mercury, 23

 " Stone, 23

 Pigeons' Feathers in beds, 268

 Pilkington (Dame Jane), 273

 Pimpernel, 71

 Pork Pasties, 260

 Prayer and Blessing on Eggs, 229

 Prayer in Verse against Sir Ralph Ashton, 291

 Predications (see Omens).

 Presents to Women in Childbed, 260

 " to Infants, 262

 Prestwich, Burying in Woollen at, 269

 Principal or heriot at Ashton, 293

 Prophet Elias, a fanatic, 138

 Queen of the May, 246

 Radcliffe, Burying in Woollen, 269

 Radcliffe Tower, 51

 Raising the Dead, 128;
   the Devil, 17, 81

 Rent-boons at Denton, 294

 Rents, Nominal, 280

 Rheumatism, charms to cure, 75

 Riding the Black Lad at Ashton, 289

 Rings, betrothal or gemmel, 263;
   Wedding, 268

 Robins and Wrens, 142

 Robinson, Edmund, 195, 201

 Rochdale Church, 89

 " Tithe, Easter Dues, &c., 297

 Rogation Days or Gang Days, 248

 Rolleston, Mr., 131

 "Rollison, Owd," 123-125

 Roman Traditions and Superstitions, 5, 6, 18;
   Mythology, 13

 Saint Cuthbert's Beads, 15

 " John's Eve, 8, 46, 47

 " Vitus's Dance, 87

 Samlesbury Witches, 194

 "Scrat, Old" (or Skrat), 90

 Second-sight in Lancashire, 105

 Services and Tenures, peculiar, 278

 Sheep and Farms in Bowland, 300

 Shoes, Old, for luck, 264, 268

 Shrew Tree in Carnforth, 79

 Shrovetide, 217;
   Tuesday, 218;
   Pancakes, _ib._, 258;
   Sports, 219;
   customs in the Fylde, 221

 Sickness, charms to cure, 74

 Simnel Cakes, 223;
   at Bury, 224, 258

 Sitting-up Courtship, 264

 Skriker, 91

 Smithells Hall, 51;
   Marsh the Martyr, 135

 Smithells, Manor of, custom, 280

 Sneezing, 6, 68

 Songs, Lancashire, about 1422, 288

 Sparrows, 142

 Spell, description of a, 177

 Spirits of the dying and dead, 105

 Spitting on money, &c., 69, 70

 Stocks for the fingers, 283

 Superstitions in Manchester in the 16th century, 168

 Superstitions of Pendle Forest, 164;
   of East Lancashire, 165

 Superstitions, popular, 153-157;
   Nineteenth Century, 164

 Superstitious beliefs, and practices, 1;
   fears and cruelties, 167

 Superstitious fear of Witchcraft, 182

 Talliage or Tallage, 296;
   of Lancashire towns, &c., _ib._

 Teacups, Omens from, 140

 Teanlay, or All Souls' Night, 49

 Tenants of Ashton-under-Lyne, 288

 Tenures and Services, peculiar, 278

 Thackergate Boggart, 52

 Throwing the Stocking, 264

 Toothache, charms to cure, 75

 Touching for King's Evil, 77

 Towneley, ghost and tradition, 57

 Trash or Skriker, 91

 Tree Barnacles, or Tree Geese, 116

 Turning Bed after Childbirth, 261

 Unbaptized Child, cannot die, 262

 Urswick Much, Manor of, 284

 Utley, hanged for witchcraft, 195

 Vervain, to cure wounds, a rhyming charm, 76, 115;
   against blasts, 115

 Victor Penny, 219

 Vitus's (St.), Dance, 87

 Waddow Hall, 171

 Waitts, the, 257;
   of Manchester, 257;
   of Warrington, 258

 Walton-le-Dale, raising the dead, 128

 Warcock Hill, 17

 Warrington Ale, 259

 Warton, Royal Manor of, 284;
   wedding customs at, 265

 Warts, cures for, 78;
   caused by washing in egg-water, 121

 Water Sprites, 89

 Weather Omens, 141-145, 149-152

 Wedding Customs, 263;
   in the Fylde, 264;
   at Warton, 265;
   at Burnley, 265;
   various, 268

 Weddings at Manchester Church, 265

 Well at Wavertree, 169

 Well, Peggy's, 170;
   Legend of, 171

 Well, St. Helen's, in Brindle, 172;
   near Sefton, 173

 Wells and Springs, dedicated to saints, 169

 West Houghton Wakes, 260

 Whitsuntide, 246;
   Fair, 246;
   16th Sunday after, 250

 Whitsuntide Ales, 246

 " Tuesday, 248

 " week, 247

 Whooping Cough, 10

 Wicken or Wiggen Tree (the mountain ash), 72

 Widersinnis, or Deasil, 151;
   Withershins, 140, 151

 Widow, Burial of a, 273

 Widows, manorial customs, 281-285

 Wilder Lads, 48

 Will-o'-th'-Wisp, 53

 Winwick Church, 89

 Wise Men and Cunning Women, 121

 Wizards, 87;
   Swimming a, _ib._

 Wooden Shoes and Oaten Bread, 259

 Woollen, burying in, 269

 Wounds, to cure, 74;
   Vervain, 76

 Wycoller Hall, Christmas at, 256

 Yule Loaf, 256

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Lancashire Folk-lore - Illustrative of the Superstitious Beliefs and Practices, - Local Customs and Usages of the People of the County - Palatine" ***

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