Project Gutenberg Australia
a treasure-trove of literature
treasure found hidden with no evidence of ownership

Title:      The Epworth Phenomena (1917)
Author:     Dudley Wright (1868-1949)
* A Project Gutenberg of Australia eBook *
eBook No.:  0301311.txt
Language:   English
Date first posted:          October 2003
Date most recently updated: October 2003

Project Gutenberg of Australia eBooks are created from printed editions
which are in the public domain in Australia, unless a copyright notice
is included. We do NOT keep any eBooks in compliance with a particular
paper edition.

Copyright laws are changing all over the world. Be sure to check the
copyright laws for your country before downloading or redistributing this

This eBook is made available at no cost and with almost no restrictions
whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms
of the Project Gutenberg of Australia License which may be viewed online at

To contact Project Gutenberg of Australia go to


A Project Gutenberg of Australia eBook

Title:      The Epworth Phenomena (1917)
Author:     Dudley Wright (1868-1949)

The Epworth Phenomena (1917)

To which are appended certain Psychic Experiences
recorded by John Wesley in the pages of his journal

[Wesley if the founder of Methodism]

Collated by
Dudley Wright [1868-1949]


Introduction, by J. Arthur Hill
Forward by Dudley Wright
The Epworth Phenomena
Letters concerning some supernatural disturbances at the Rev.
    Samuel Wesley's house at Epworth, in Lincolnshire
The Rev. Samuel Wesley's Journal or Diary, transcribed by
    John Wesley, August 27th, 1726.
Summary of Phenomena
Mrs. Samuel Wesley's statement to her son John
Emily Wesley's account to her brother John
Molly Wesley's account to her brother John
Susannah Wesley's account to her brother John
Nancy Wesley's account to her brother John
The account of the Rev. Mr. Hoole, Vicar of Haxey
The account of Robin Brown, manservant to John Wesley
Narrative drawn up by John Wesley and published by him in the
    Arminian Magazine
Excerpts from the Journal of the Rev. John Wesley--
A Gruesome Apparition
A Curse-and its Result
Dreams of Drowning
A Miraculous Conversion
A Clairvoyant Vision of Murder
A Mysterious Obsession
A Strange Disorder
A Case of Possession
Strange Apparitions to a Young Girl
A Sexton's Weird Experience
Psychic Experiences of Elizabeth Hobson
A Case of Obsession (?)
A Dream of Buried Treasure
Two Remarkable Dreams
Double Obsession
Three Apparition
Miraculous Cure of Blindness
Life saved through a Dream
Preaching under Spirit Compulsion
Remarkable Panic
An Angel Visitant


It is fairly certain that Galileo never said, "It moves, for all that,"
and that Wellington never said, "Up, Guards, and at 'em!" And one
humorous writer has proved that Napoleon never existed, so perhaps
Waterloo was never fought, and no enemy there for the Guards to be up and
at. History, in short, is an uncertain affair. It depends on fallible
human testimony; and though most of us are agreed on the principal
points, even these cannot be coercively proved, and from them there
spreads a region of ever-increasing dimness, where many things are lost,
all outlines are indistinct, and illusions and false perspectives abound.
Who was the Man in the Iron Mask? Was William Rufus murdered, or killed
accidentally? Did Branwell Bronte make love to his employer's wife? Did
D. D. Home really float out of one window and in at another? We do not
know. How then shall we expect to know exactly what happened in the
parental home of John Wesley two hundred years ago, or the exact details
of ghost stories and the like that were told him on his travels? No
certainty is attainable. Each must judge for himself-or must suspend
judgment-and the verdict will depend partly on the evidence, partly on
our knowledge or ignorance of similar cases, and partly on our emotional
bias if we have any. Anyhow, as John Wesley quaintly says, no great harm
will be done "provided those who believe and those who disbelieve . . .
have but patience with each other."

As for myself, I do not feel that I have any emotional bias about the
Epworth haunting. I do not care whether it was due to a spirit, or to
"animal magnetism," or to Mr. Podmore's naughty little girl (in this case
Miss Hetty Wesley, aged nineteen), or to rats, or water pipes, or some
undiscovered joker. If it could be proved that one of these was the real
cause, whichever it were it would not conflict with any belief or
disbelief of mine. I believe in the existence of all the causes
mentioned, and would accept any one of them as the culprit, on sufficient
evidence. But I do want sufficient evidence, and it seems to me that the
more sceptical writers on these things have often shown a curious
credulity, and even what seems like wilful blindness.

Mr. Podmore, for example, after a very careful and correct and necessary
analysis of the records-for it is all-important to note the dates of the
various documents, and whether the experience was first-hand or
not-practically dismisses the case because Hetty Wesley had the "singular
wit of trembling in a sound sleep," and because no letter of hers about
the phenomena is extant, while her sisters wrote rather fully.* True, Mr.
Podmore admits that this is no ground for an accusation, but he uses it
as sufficient ground for a strong insinuation. Presumably the trembling
was due to suppressed laughter at the puzzledom of her parents and
sisters, who were sometimes kept up nearly all night, and had broken
sleep for two months; or to the muscular effort involved in pulling a
string which somehow made distant raps. But, even granting some
possibility, but not probability, in this, we are no nearer an
explanation of the invisible something which thrice pushed Mr. Wesley, or
of the crashings among bottles downstairs (which were found to be
unbroken) while all the children were in bed upstairs, or of several
other phenomena occurring at Considerable distances from this supposedly
naughty and extremely clever "little girl." In spite of my suspicious
temperament, I confess that I cannot believe that Hetty Wesley was the
most likely cause of all the happenings. As Emily Wesley said, the thing
went on long enough to "try all ways of discovering any trick," and in
the face of such testimony by such excellent witnesses it would seem
better to suspend judgment altogether than to insinuate charges based on
little more than the sceptic's own emotional craving for some
naturalistic explanation, be it what it may.

* Modern Spiritualism, vol. i. pp. 37, 38.

Then as to rats, which Mrs. Wesley at first invoked as cause, even having
a horn blown to scare them away -after which the noises became worse, for
the agency evidently objected to the rat theory. And with reason! Mr.
Andrew Lang, following Mrs. Wesley in attributing remarkable powers to
the rat tribe, refers to Tennyson's The Ring as "a ghost story based on a
legend told by Mr. Lowell about a house near which he had once lived, one
of those houses vexed by

'A footstep, a low throbbing in the walls,
A noise of falling weights that never fell,
Weird whispers, bells that rang without a hand,
Door-handles turn'd when none was at the door,
And bolted doors that open'd of themselves.'

"These phenomena were doubtless caused by rats and water pipes, but they
do not destroy the pity or the passion of the tale." *

* Alfred Tennyson, p. 201.

Mr. Lang was a novelist and compiler of fairy-tales, and consequently may
have been able to visualise a rat or a water pipe opening a bolted door,
and so forth. Mrs. Wesley, being gifted with less imagination, could not,
and accordingly had to give up the, rat theory, not without reluctance.
Exactly what theory she did accept is not clear, but it was apparently a
supernormal one of some sort.

Most of the other observers were similarly cautious, and were also gifted
with the saving grace of humour.

We need not place much reliance on the man-servant who saw something like
a rabbit, or on the maid who heard blood-curdling groans, for these are
of the witchcraft and orthodox ghost-story type respectively. But for the
most part the Wesleys themselves heard the kind of thing that is borne
out by later investigation, rather than the "orthodox" kind of thing; and
in spite of the general upset and loss of sleep, they were able to treat
"Old Jeffery" with a very wholesome levity, Mr. Wesley remarking that the
narrative "would make a glorious penny book for Jack Dunton," but that he
had no wish for publicity in the matter. Emily also jokes about it; while
son Samuel, with an eye to the business side, inquires whether they have
dug at the spot where money seemed to be poured out. Altogether a
sensible and far from mystical-minded or credulous household.

The kind and quality of the evidence may be briefly indicated as

1. Accounts were written out very soon after the disturbances by four
eye-witnesses, viz. Mr. and Mrs. Wesley and their daughters Susannah and
Emilia. Mrs. Wesley's first letter to Samuel is dated January 12, 1717,
while the noises (which had begun in December) were still occasionally
heard. Susannah wrote letters on January 24 and March 27, Emilia also
writing evidently about this time, though the letter is undated, and the
same applies to old Mr. Wesley's account.

As will be seen, these accounts support each other on the main points,
and are nowhere inconsistent with each other.

2. Later reports were written in 1726 by Mrs. Wesley, Susannah, Emilia,
Molly and Nancy, and Robin Brown. As might be expected, there are slight
variations from the earlier narratives, but the variations are
surprisingly small and non-essential. Comparison of these earlier and
later accounts is sufficient to assure us that the people concerned were
not of very imaginative temperament, or they would have embroidered their
recollections more. And of course even when they do refer to something
which was not mentioned in the earlier accounts, we cannot be sure that
the new detail is a trick of the creative faculty-a hallucination of
memory-for it might have been overlooked and omitted in the first
instance. The authors of those early documents did not write them with
the anticipation that they would be subjected to the analysis of an
S.P.R. They were writing to son and brother at a time when correspondence
was a slow and tedious and rather uncommon task, and we cannot assume
that the letters described everything that happened. In fact it is clear
that they did not. But the point is that in essentials the later accounts
give quite satisfactory corroboration of the earlier ones.

3. Second-hand contemporary accounts, as when Emily Wesley says that
Hetty heard something like a man trailing a loose nightgown coming down
the stairs behind her. This kind of evidence, though Possibly true, must
be regarded as much weaker than (1) and (2), being one remove further
away from actual experience.

The Wesley family at home Consisted of the parents and seven daughters
(two being young children, Patty and Keziah), with a man-servant and
maid. Mr. Podmore dwelt on the fact that of the Wesley adults Hetty is
the only one who has left no written record, though the phenomena tended
to happen more particularly in her vicinity. But it is rather absurd to
regard this as a suspicious fact. The narratives were written mostly as
letters to the brothers Samuel and John, and there is nothing surprising
in one member of the household being a bad correspondent. I know one
member of a family of two who never writes to-day what can be put off
till to-morrow. And it is likely that Hetty Wesley, aged nineteen, if she
wrote any letters at all, would find more appreciative correspondents
than her own brothers.

The witnesses being numerous and-as even Mr. Podmore admits-sober-minded,
and quick to write their accounts almost contemporaneously with the
experiences, we are not justified in any hasty assumption of undiscovered
trickery, and we naturally ask, "Do these things occur at other times and
places?" If they do, and trickery is still undiscovered, the Wesley
evidence Will seem stronger, the antecedent improbability being lessened.
And this is what we do find. Without insisting on the Cock Lane (London)
ghost of 1762,* or the Stockwell disturbances of 1772, described in Mrs.
Crowe's Night Side of Nature, or the bell-ringing at Bealings, Suffolk,
at the residence of Major Moor, F.R.S., who described them and was
convinced of supernormal agency-without dwelling on these and many others
that could be mentioned, we may come down to more recent times and more
stringent methods, and still find the things happening, and happening

* Cock Lane and Common Sense by Andrew Lang.

There was a case at Worksop in 1883. Tables moved, candles Were Upset,
knives, forks, and crockery were thrown about, damage to the extent of 9
being done, footsteps were heard, bottles jumped four feet into the air,
basins rose slowly and sailed up and down with a "wobbling" motion, and
so forth. The Society for Psychical Research heard of these doings, and
Mr. Podmore visited the scene of action. Apparently the phenomena had
then ceased, but Mr. Podmore interviewed eleven eye-witnesses, and it is
amusing to note how even the champion sceptic was nonplussed.* The
witnesses were impressive in their intelligence and apparent honesty, and
there had not been much time for exaggeration by tricks of memory, for
Mr. Podmore'e visit was on April 7, and the phenomena had begun early in
March. Six of the seven, principal eye-witnesses were interrogated
separately, and the minor discrepancies in their accounts were no greater
than would be expected in descriptions by different people of any
ordinary event. At first Mr. Podmore was inclined to suspect the owner of
the house; but this became untenable, when it was proved that he was not
always present when the phenomena occurred. Moreover, there seemed no
reason why he should smash his own crockery to the value of 9. Later,
Mr. Podmore finds his usual naughty little girl, Eliza Rose, daughter of
an imbecile mother, and thinks that she may have done it somehow, though
not one of the, eye-witnesses would allow that either the girl or the
owner of the house could have been the cause, or that any normal
explanation would suffice. Mr. Podmore admits that this case "is one of
the most difficult to harmonise with any explanation by ordinary material
causes. The concordant testimony of so many honest and fairly intelligent
persons certainly produced, as will have been seen from my report, a
strong impression on my mind at the time."  Later on he made an attempt
to discount his own report, on the general ground of the fallibility of
human testimony, but most readers will probably agree that the first-hand
statements and the report Written at the time are more weighty than the
discounting effort of thirteen years later.

* Proceedings S.P.R., vol xii. pp. 46-58.

These alleged and well-attested Worksop events of 1893 are far more
extraordinary than anything in the Wesley case, and the evidence is far
stronger. They occurred recently; an S.P.R. expert was at once available;
eleven eye-witnesses were cross-examined .by him, and their statements
written out, within a few weeks of the occurrences. Yet this expert could
not explain them. If we are forced to belief in a supernormal cause, or
even to suspense of judgment, in this case, we have no justification for
rejecting the testimony in the much more limited Wesley case.

But in addition to these Poltergeist accounts, of which more may be found
in the volume of Proceedings just cited, we have the numerous cases of
raps in experimental seances, from the tiny percussive or crackling
sounds heard by Sir William Crookes and Dr Joseph Maxwell, to the
thunderous knockings and other noises at the sittings with Stainton
Moses, and, still better, with Miss Goligher of Belfast. These latter
experiments, still continuing under the able direction of a doctor of
science who is also a practical engineer, seem to establish beyond
reasonable doubt a species of phenomena analogous to those of the Wesley
haunt.* If a heavy table with Sir William Barrett sitting on it can be
lifted up in the air by invisible means, there is no difficulty in
believing that the Worksop basins and other similarly light articles
really did behave in the same surprising way; or that old Mr. Wesley's
trencher did dance as stated, or that he really was three times pushed by
something that he could not see (as happened also to a clergyman known to
me), or that Emily Wesley experienced similar things with doors and
latches. So with the knockings, which Dr Crawford obtains at will, under
excellent conditions. The Wesley raps were no more extraordinary, as
described, than those at the Belfast circle; rather less so, in fact.**
As to the other noises, the crashing among the bottles, which, however,
were not broken, is rather specially interesting to me, for a friend of
mine has frequently heard the same sort of thing in his own house; a
sound as if all the crockery in the house were smashed all at once, yet
nothing is found broken. I am compelled to believe in my friend's
experience, and in its supernormality and probable objectivity-actual
atmospheric vibration-because others hear it also. This friend has also
"watched" footsteps descending the stairs in broad daylight, the sounds
changing when they reached the bottom, where there was linoleum instead
of carpet. There was no naughty little girl in the house, but my friend
seems to have a mediumistic wife. He himself is a vigorous materialist,
and will have none of the spirit hypothesis. The things happen, he
agrees, but he, doesn't know why, and he wishes they wouldn't.

* The Reality of Psychic Phenomena, by W. J. Crawford, D.Sc.
** Also less extraordinary than the raps and movement of untouched
objects described in Sir William Barrett's book On the Threshold of the

But this, admittedly, is unsatisfactory. We are naturally cause-seekers,
and must have some sort of provisional theory, though we must be
open-mindedly ready to modify it or to replace it with a better if new
facts require. My own idea is that some of these physical phenomena may
be caused by the action of subliminal will, though the method is entirely
beyond me. I have hopes that Dr Crawford may solve the, scientific
problem, for he has already made great strides towards a solution in his
theory of rod and cantilever composed of some kind of modified matter.
But in some cases I am compelled to go beyond the subliminal will of the
living people concerned. I am acquainted with two ladies who were once
kept awake nearly all night by violent and inexplicable knockings, heard
also by another lady whom they fetched; and one of them was so upset that
she developed brain fever. It was afterwards found that the brother of
the two in whose room the noises occurred had died some miles away, as
the result of an accident, twenty minutes before the disturbance began.*
The one who was ill afterwards was the man's favourite sister. We cannot
believe that he would consciously alarm her thus, yet the coincidence of
time and the normal inexplicability suggest that he was at least somehow
concerned. Consequently the most reasonable thing to suppose is that he
was thinking of his sisters, and thereby causing physical manifestations
in their world without knowing it, somewhat as an apparition may often be
best regarded as an objectified "dream of the dead"; for, though
representing him, its aimlessness suggests that he is not all there.

* New Evidence in Psychical Research (Rider), pp. 120-122.

Moreover, these disturbances often seem probably connected with a sudden
and violent death. In a case known to me, occurring only last, year, the
rappings began soon after a man had been killed on a railway near; they
continued off and on for a month or two, and I think they have now
ceased. In this ease it was knockings also, plainly showing intelligence,
but of limited degree. The occupants of the house arranged a code, one
knock for No, three for Yes, etc., and also tried with the alphabet; they
received distinct orders to leave the house temporarily, for no reason
given; they did not do so-though very much in doubt what to do-and
nothing happened. It seems likely that the dead man, thrown suddenly out
of the body, was still occupied with the old locality, and still
producing effects there, in the half-conscious and dreamy state which
follows death and precedes the waking to full consciousness of the next
world, this waking and withdrawal from the material plane coinciding with
the cessation of the noises.

There seems to be no definite history of any sudden or violent death at
Epworth just before the Wesley outbreak, but in view of what we know in
other cases, we may not unreasonably surmise something of the sort. The
family called the ghost "Old Jeffery," and the Vicar of Maxey referred to
one Ferries, who had died in the house, but there seems to be no
tradition of violent or unexpected death-for it appears to be the
unexpectedness rather than the violence that favours the production of
these phenomena, otherwise there would be more of them in war time.
Certainly the Wesley incidents had human characteristics, for the ghost
was a Jacobite, knocking loudly and fiercely at the mention of King
George; it knocked angrily when charged with being only rats, and it made
a planing sound which perhaps suggested a former occupation. But the
Wesleys do not seem to have tried repeating the alphabet and asking for a
knock at the desired letter, or they might have obtained something
coherent. The ghost understood, as when Mr. Wesley rebuked it for
disturbing his children, and challenged it to come to his study and make
noises there, which it did. But its powers of manifestation were limited,
and we must sympathise With its inarticulateness. Perhaps the family
might have got rid of their unwelcome visitor sooner if they had devised
a code and helped the ghost to say what it wanted to say.

However, this is only surmise. In the Epworth case, at least, we cannot
go much farther than the remarks of Emily and her brother Samuel, that
"some being besides those we see" was probably concerned, that as to
interpretations "wit might find many but wisdom none," and that "the end
of spirits' actions is yet more hidden than that of men, and even this
latter puzzles the most subtle politicians."

No doubt this haunting of his parental home made a great and lasting
impression on John Wesley, for his interest in psychical things continued
throughout life. Wherever he went he seems to have been on the lookout
for "cases"-as we now inhumanly style, them-not merely with a romantic or
literary interest, but with a real scientific aim. He would travel
considerable distances to hear first-hand accounts of apparitions and the
like, or to see a cataleptic subject, and he was wont to ask "abundance
of questions," as all good psychical researchers do. In fact, John would
have made an excellent member of the S.P.R., and it is rather surprising
to find in an earnestly religious man of that day so much critical
instinct. True, he repeats a very tall story about a curse, and shows the
expected attitude towards Satan, also holding strongly that belief in the
Bible (and therefore Protestant Christianity) stands or falls with belief
in Witchcraft. But he has a keenly questioning eye for detail, asking
whether a water-dropping apparition of a drowned man really dropped water
or only produced the sensation in the percipient upon whom it dropped;
also whether "spirit-music" "was a real modulation of the air." Evidently
he was trying hard to find out exactly how much objectivity there was in
the phenomena.

In several cases his narratives are in line with modern findings, as in
the case of the clairvoyant scryer, who used a looking-glass and
apparently described a murder accurately. But the scryer was a young boy,
and therefore perhaps naughty, like. Mr. Podmore's little girls, so we
cannot accept him entirely at his own valuation. Indeed Wesley himself,
while not dismissing the story, shows a Wisely non-committal attitude.
But there are cases of crystal - gazing on record which are equally
extraordinary, and the account may be true enough. I know of some
unpublished cases which are even more extraordinary, two of the scryers
(personally known to me, and far from being "mediums") seeing the same
thing at the same time in the crystal. Collective hallucination, perhaps.
But the thing seen was true. I do not understand this, and am hardly
prepared to say that I believe it; though in any ordinary matter I should
accept the word of these two men without hesitation. But, as John Wesley
says, "What is it which I do comprehend, even of the things which I see
daily? Truly not

"'The smallest grain of sand nor spire of grass,"'

and incomprehensibility therefore is no logical ground for disbelief.
Psychologically, it is; for we must know the modus, or, in other words,
must link up the new facts with others already accepted. And this is now
coming about, through the work of many investigators. Myers said that in
Consequence, of the corroborations of psychical research, everyone a
century hence will believe in the Resurrection of Christ; whereas,
without those corroborations, a century hence no one would have believed
it. It may be that something of the sort way be true with regard to many
now only half-believed historical narratives of the kind presented in
this volume.




Most if not all of Wesley's biographers agree that what has come
generally to be known as "The Epworth Case" is one of the best
authenticated and related instances of supernormal happenings in the
history of psychical research. Even Mr. Frank Podmore admits that "this
is at once the most fully authenticated case in the literature of the
subject and the most instructive for those that read with understanding";
and in Dr Fitchett's opinion "the evidence, if it were given in a court
of law, and in a trial for murder, would suffice to hang any man."

Although in Professor Winchester's opinion the family were naturally
somewhat too ready to ascribe the happenings to supernatural agency, yet
he admits that it is difficult to explain the phenomena attested by so
many trustworthy persons, and extending over so long a period, by the
hypothesis of pure hallucination or by trickery. There seems to be only
one defect in the evidence-the absence of any direct testimony from Miss
Hetty Wesley, who seemingly played such a prominent part in the
manifestations. In Letter XII Miss Susannah Wesley distinctly states that
her "sisters Emilia and Hetty write so particularly about it." A lengthy
letter from Emilia (Letter XI) immediately precedes this communication,
but there is no letter in the whole series from Hetty. It does not seem
probable that so careful and methodical a man as John Wesley would have
mislaid any communication from this sister, or, if he had done so, have
failed to draw attention to the fact. There, however, the omission must
remain without explanation.

The Epworth incident had, undoubtedly, a great influence upon John
Wesley, and may have been, as Canon Overton believes, "to some extent
answerable for a marked feature of Wesley's character-his love of the
marvellous, and his intense belief in the reality of apparitions and of
witchcraft." It may have stimulated this love of the marvellous, which
seems to be shared in a greater or lesser degree by the whole of the
human family, but it did not engender it, for, as a casual observation of
the document will prove, it was already implanted. And although Coleridge
discovered in the Wesley family "an angry and damnatory predetermination"
to believe in the ghost-certainly an erroneous judgment-yet it cannot be
claimed for Wesley that he was more credulous, or even as credulous, as
Samuel Johnson, who would make an appointment to meet a ghost in the
crypt of St Sepulchre's Church. We have it on record that Dr Johnson was
angry Hwith John Wesley for not following up the scent of a ghost story
with proper spirit and perseverance. Coleridge's contention that "the
noises were purely subjective, and partook of the nature of a contagious
nervous disease," may perhaps be described as ultra-Podmorean, and is, in
Dr Fitchett's opinion, "an explanation which respect for a great name
need not prevent any one from calling childish."

John Wesley, however, cannot be claimed as a scientific investigator or
observer. His attitude frequently borders on the credulous, and his
method of examination would certainly not have come up to the modern
standard of a psychical researcher. Throughout his life he was invariably
willing to give a ready ear and easy assent to any tale related to him
concerning abnormal happenings, and he always sought the explanation for
any mysterious phenomenon in the region of the Unknown. From the letters
of his father and mother it will be readily seen that both believed in
the active interference of spiritual beings in mundane matters, and all
seemed to fear that the Epworth phenomena portended some evil that was
likely to fall upon the father, seeing that he alone had not been
disturbed by the ghost. When, later, the rector was also visited by the
apparition, the family thought that the eldest son would be the victim.

John Wesley held many views which to-day would scarcely attract notice,
but which in his time were regarded as peculiar. He believed in what is
known as "the intermediate state," in the probability of a persistence of
the life of animals after death, that as they had suffered in the reign
of pain and death which it was believed man's sin had called into
existence, so they should also share in the results of man's redemption.
He believed in witchcraft, which was then a common belief, but which
to-day would be regarded by the majority of people as a superstition.
Five witches were executed at Northampton as recently as 1712, and one in
Scotland in 1722. He also seems to have been ready to give credence to
certain superstitious beliefs and omens. For instance, in the Journal for
October 26, 1786, we read:-

"About two in the morning a dog began howling under our window in a most
uncommon manner. We could not stop him by any means. Just then William B.

Wesley throughout his life held to the opinion that madness was caused
frequently by demoniacal possession, and that he and those of his
followers or disciples who maintained like faith with him could cast out
devils and heal diseases, and he was fully persuaded that the paroxysms
to which his hearers sometimes gave way were relieved by his prayers. He
believed equally in the ministry of good angels and in the ability of
both good and bad angels to communicate with mortals. "Certainly," he
said, "it is as easy for a spirit to speak to our heart as for a man to
speak to our ears." He not only attributed illnesses, diseases, and
nightmares to diabolic agency, but also storms and earthquakes.

In the opinion of Canon Overton, Charles was a keener judge of character
than John, and far less easily imposed upon. "He regarded with grave
suspicion the physical convulsions which resulted from his brother's
preaching, and when similar phenomena began to accompany his own, he took
remarkably efficacious measures for testing their reality, and for
putting a stop to them when he thought them unreal."

The account of phenomena occurring at Epworth Rectory is taken almost
entirely from Southey's Life of Wesley, as this contains the fullest
report, together with the whole of the published letters sent by members
of the Wesley family. The accounts of the other phenomena are taken from
the "Everyman" edition of The Journal of the Rev. John Wesley, A.M., in
four volumes, published by J. M. Dent & Co.



While John Wesley was at school certain disturbances occurred in his
father's house so unaccountable, that every person by whom they were
witnessed believed them to be supernatural. At the latter end of the year
1715 the maid-servant was terrified by hearing at the dining-room door
several dismal groans, as of a person at the point of death. The family
gave little heed to her story, and endeavoured to laugh her out of her
fears; but a few nights afterwards they began to hear strange knockings,
usually three or four at a time, in different parts of the house: every
person heard the noises except Mr. Wesley himself; and as, according to
vulgar opinion, such sounds were not audible by the individual to whom
they foreboded evil, they refrained from telling him, lest he should
suppose that it betokened his own death, as they indeed all apprehended.
At length, however, the disturbance became so great and so frequent that
few or none of the family durst be alone, and Mrs. Wesley thought it
better to inform her husband, for it was not possible that the matter
could long be concealed from him; and, moreover, as she says, she was
minded he should speak of it. The noises were now various as well as
strange, loud rumblings above stairs or below; a clatter among a number
of bottles, as if they had all at once been dashed to pieces; footsteps
as of a man going up and downstairs at all hours of the night; sounds
like that of dancing in an empty room, the door of which was locked;
gobbling like a turkey-cock; but most frequently a knocking about the
beds at night and in different parts of the house. Mrs. Wesley would at
first have persuaded the children and servants that it was occasioned by
rats within doors and mischievous persons without, and her husband had
recourse to the same ready solution; or some of his daughters, he
supposed, sat up late and made a noise; and a hint that their lovers
might have something to do with the mystery made the young ladies
heartily hope he might soon be convinced that there was more in the
matter than he was disposed to believe. In this they were not
disappointed, for on the next night, a little after midnight, he was
awakened by nine loud and distinct knocks, which seemed to be in the next
room, with a pause at every third stroke.

He rose and went to see if he could discover the cause, but could
perceive nothing; still he thought it might be some person out of doors,
and relied upon a stout mastiff to rid them of this nuisance. But the
dog, which upon the first disturbance had barked violently, was ever
afterwards cowed by it, and, seeming more terrified than any of the
children, came whining himself to his master and mistress, as if to seek
protection in a human presence. And when the man-servant, Robin Brown,
took the mastiff at night into his room, to be at once a guard and a
companion, as soon as the latch began to jar as usual the dog crept into
bed and barked and howled so as to alarm the house.

"The fears of the family for Mr. Wesley's life being removed as soon as
he had heard the mysterious noises, they began to apprehend that one of
the sons had met with a violent death, and more particularly Samuel, the
eldest. The father, therefore, one night, after several deep groans had
been heard, adjured it to speak, if it had power, and tell him why it
troubled the house; and upon this, three distinct knockings were made. He
then questioned if it were Samuel his son; bidding it, if it were, and
could not speak, to knock again. But to their great comfort there was no
further knocking that night; and when they heard that Samuel and the two
boys were safe and well, the visitations of the goblin became rather a
matter of curiosity and amusement than alarm. Emilia gave it the name of
Old Jeffery, and by this name it was now known as a harmless, though by
no means agreeable, inmate of the parsonage. Jeffery was not a malicious
goblin, but he was easily offended. Before Mrs. Wesley was satisfied that
there was something supernatural in the noises, she recollected that one
of her neighbours had frightened the rats from his dwelling by blowing a
born there; the horn, therefore, was borrowed, and blown stoutly about
the house for half a day, greatly against the judgment of one of the
sisters, who maintained that if it was anything supernatural, it would
certainly be very angry and more troublesome. Her opinion was verified by
the event: Jeffery had never till then begun his operations during the
day: from that time he came by day as well as by night, and was louder
than before. And he never entered Mr. Wesley's study till the owner one
day rebuked him sharply, called him a deaf and dumb devil, and bade him
cease to disturb the innocent children, and come to him in his study if
he had anything to say. This was a sort of defiance, and Jeffery,
therefore, took him at his word. No other person in the family ever felt
the goblin, but Mr. Wesley was thrice pushed by it with considerable

"So he himself relates, and his evidence is clear and distinct. He says
also, that once or twice, when he spoke to it, he heard two or three
feeble squeaks, a little louder than the chirping of a bird, but not like
the noise of rats. What is said of an actual appearance is not so well
confirmed. Mrs. Wesley thought she saw something run from under the bed,
and thought it most like a badger, but she could not well say of what
shape; and the man saw something like a white rabbit, which came from
behind the oven, with its ears flat upon the neck, and its little scut
standing straight up. A shadow may possibly explain the first of these
appearances; the other may be imputed to that proneness which ignorant
persons so commonly evince to exaggerate in all uncommon cases. These
circumstances, therefore, though apparently silly in themselves, in no
degree invalidate the other parts of the story, which rest upon the
concurrent testimony of many intelligent witnesses. The door was once
violently pushed against Emilia, when there was no person on the outside;
the latches were frequently lifted up; the windows clattered always
before Jeffery entered a room, and whatever iron or brass was there, rung
and jarred exceedingly. It was observed also that the wind commonly rose
after any of his noises, and increased with it, and whistled loudly round
the house. Mr. Wesley's trencher (for it was before our potteries had
pushed their ware into every village throughout the kingdom) danced one
day upon the table, to his no small amazement; and the handle of Robin's
handmill, at another time, was turned round with great swiftness;
unluckily he had just done grinding; nothing vexed him, he said, but that
the mill was empty; if there had been corn in it, Jeffery might have
ground his heart out before he would have disturbed him. It was plainly a
Jacobite goblin, and seldom suffered Mr. Wesley to pray for the King and
the Prince of Wales without disturbing the family prayers. Mr. Wesley was
sore upon this subject, and became angry, and therefore repeated the
prayer. But when Samuel was informed of this his remark was, 'As to the
devil's being an enemy to King George, were I the king myself I should
rather Old Nick should be my enemy than my friend.' The children were the
only persons who were distressed by these visitations; the manner in
which they were affected is remarkable: when the noises began, they
appeared to be frightened in their sleep, a sweat came over them, and
they panted and trembled till the disturbance was so loud as to waken
them. Before it ceased the family had become quite accustomed to it, and
were tired with hearing or speaking of it. 'Send me some news,' said one
of the sisters to her brother Samuel, 'for we are secluded from the sight
or hearing of any versal thing except Jeffery.'

"An author who in this age relates such a story, and treats it as not
utterly incredible and absurd, must expect to be ridiculed; but the
testimony upon which it rests is far too strong to be set aside because
of the strangeness of the relation. The letters which passed at the time
between Samuel Wesley and the family at Epworth, the journal which Mr.
Wesley kept of these remarkable transactions, and the evidence concerning
them which John afterwards collected, fell into the hands of Dr
Priestley, and were published by him as being 'perhaps the best
authenticated and best told story of the kind that is anywhere extant.'
He observes in favour of the story 'that all the parties seem to have
been sufficiently void of fear, and also free from credulity, except the
general belief that such things were supernatural.' But, he argues, that
where no good end was to be answered, we may safely conclude that no
miracle was wrought; and he supposes, as the most probable solution, that
it was a trick of the servants, assisted by some of the neighbours, for
the sake of amusing themselves and puzzling the family. In reply to this
it may safely be asserted that many of the circumstances cannot be
explained by any such supposition, nor by any legerdemain, nor by
ventriloquism, nor by any secret acoustics. The former argument would be
valid if the term miracle were applicable to the case; but by miracle Dr
Priestley evidently intends a manifestation of Divine Power, and in the
present instance no such manifestation is supposed, any more than in the
appearance of a departed spirit. Such things may be preternatural and yet
not miraculous; they may be not in the ordinary course of nature, and yet
imply no alteration of its laws. And with regard to the good end which
they may be supposed to answer, it would be sufficient if sometimes one
of those unhappy persons who, looking through the dim glass of
infidelity, see nothing beyond this life and the narrow sphere of mortal
existence, should, from the well-established truth of one such story
(trifling and objectless as it might otherwise appear), be led to a
conclusion that there are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt
of in their philosophy."




January 12, 1716-17.

Dear Sam,-This evening we were agreeably surprised with your pacquet,
which brought the welcome news of your being alive, after we had been in
the greatest panic imaginable, almost a month, thinking either you was
dead, or one of your brothers by some misfortune been killed.

The reason of our fears is as follows. On the first of December our maid
heard, at the door of the dining-room, several dismal groans, like a
person in extremes, at the point of death. We gave little heed to her
relation, and endeavoured to laugh her out of her fears. Some nights (two
or three) after, several of the family heard a strange knocking in divers
places, usually three or four knocks at a time, and then stayed a little.
This continued every night for a fortnight; sometimes it was in the
garret, but most commonly in the nursery, or green chamber. We all heard
it but your father, and I was not willing he should be informed of it,
lest he should fancy it was against his own death, which, indeed, we all
apprehended. But when it began to be troublesome, both day and night,
that few or none of the family durst be alone, I resolved to tell him of
it, being minded he should speak to it. At first he would not believe but
somebody did it to alarm us; but the night after, as soon as he was in
bed, it knocked loudly nine times, just by his bedside. He rose, and went
to see if he could find out what it was, but could see nothing.
Afterwards he heard it as the rest.

One night it made such a noise in the room over our heads, as if several
people were walking, then run up and down stairs, and was so outrageous
that we thought the children would be frighted, so your father and I rose
and went down in the dark to light a candle. Just as we came to the
bottom of the broad stairs, having hold of each other, on my side there
seemed as if somebody had emptied a bag of money at my feet; and on his,
as if all the bottles under the stairs (which were many) had been dashed
in a thousand pieces. We passed through the hall into the kitchen, and
got the candle and went to see the children, whom we found asleep.

The next night your father would get Mr. Hoole to be at our house, and we
all sat together till one or two o'clock in the morning, and heard the
knocking as usual. Sometimes it would make a noise like the winding up of
a jack, at other times, as that night Mr. Hoole was with us, like a
carpenter planing deals; but most commonly it knocked thrice and stopped,
and then thrice again, and so many hours together. We persuaded your
father to speak and try if any voice would be heard. One night about six
o'clock he went into the nursery in the dark, and at first heard several
deep groans, then knocking. He adjured it to speak if it had power and
tell him why it troubled his house, but no voice was heard, but it
knocked thrice aloud. Then be questioned if it were Sammy, and bid it, if
it were and could not speak, knock again, but it knocked no more that
night, which made us hope it was not against your death.

Thus it continued till the 26th of December, when it loudly knocked (as
your father used to do at the gate) in the nursery and departed. We have
various conjectures what this may mean. For my own part, I fear nothing
now you are safe at London hitherto, and I hope God will still preserve
you. Though sometimes I am inclined to think my brother is dead. Let me
know your thoughts on it.
S. W.


January 30, Saturday.

Honoured Sir,-My mother tells me a very strange story of disturbances in
your house. I wish I could have some more particulars from you. I would
thank Mr. Hoole if he would favour me with a letter concerning it. Not
that I want to be confirmed myself in the belief of it, but for any other
person's satisfaction. My mother sent to me to know my thoughts of it,
and I cannot think at all of any interpretation. Wit, I fancy, might find
many, but wisdom none.-Your dutiful and loving son, S. Wesley.


Dean's Yard, Westminster,

January 19,1716-17, Saturday.

Dear Mother,-Those who are so wise as not to believe any supernatural
occurrences, though ever so well attested, could find a hundred questions
to ask about those strange noises you wrote me an account of; but for my
part, I know not what question to put, which, if answered, would confirm
me more in the belief of what you tell me. Two or three I have heard from
others. Was there never a now maid, or man, in the house that might play
tricks? Was there nobody above in the garrets when the walking was there?
Did all the family hear it together when they were in one room, or at one
time? Did it seem to be at all in the same place, at the same time? Could
not cats, or rats, or dogs be the sprights? Was the whole family asleep
when my father and you went downstairs? Such doubts as these being
replied to, though they could not, as God himself assures us, convince
them who believe not Moses and the prophets, yet would strengthen such as
do believe. As to my particular opinion concerning the events foreboded
by these noises, I cannot, I must confess, form any. I think since it was
not permitted to speak, all guesses must be in vain. The end of spirits'
actions is yet more hidden than that of men, and even this latter puzzles
the most subtle politicians. That we may be struck so as to prepare
seriously for any ill may, it is possible, be one design of Providence.
It is surely our duty and wisdom to do so.

Dear mother, I beg your blessing on your dutiful and affectionate son,
S. Wesley.

I expect a particular account from every one.


January 25 or 27, 1716-17.

Dear Sam,-Though I am not one of those that will believe nothing
supernatural, but am rather inclined to think there would be frequent
intercourse between good spirits and us did not our deep lapse into
sensuality prevent it, yet I was a great while ere I could credit
anything of what the children and servants reported concerning the noises
they heard in several parts of our house. Nay, after I had heard them
myself, I was willing to persuade myself and them that it was only rats
or weasels that disturbed us; and having been formerly troubled with
rats, which were frightened away by sounding a horn, I caused a born to
be procured, and made them blow it all over the house. But from that
night they began to blow the noises were more loud and distinct, both day
and night, than before, and that night we rose and went down I was
entirely convinced that it was beyond the power of any human creature to
make such strange and various noises.

As to your questions, I will answer them particularly, but withal, I
desire my answers may satisfy none but yourself, for I would not have the
matter imparted to any. We had both man and maid now last Martinmas, yet
I do not believe either of them occasioned the disturbance, both for the
reason above mentioned and because they were more affrighted than anybody
else. Besides, we have often heard the noises when they were in the room
by us; and the maid particularly was in such a panic, that she was almost
incapable of all business, nor durst ever go from one room to another, or
stay by herself a minute after it began to be dark.

The man, Robert Brown, whom you well know, was most visited by it lying
in the garret, and has been often frighted down bare-foot and almost
naked, not daring to stay alone to put on his clothes, nor do I think if
he had power he would be guilty of such villainy. When the walking was
heard in the garret Robert was in bed in the next room, in a sleep so
sound, that he never heard your father and me walk up and down, though we
walked not softly, I am sure. All the family has heard it together, in
the same room, at the same time, particularly at family prayers. It
always seemed to all present in the same place at the same time, though
often before any could say it was here, it would remove to another place.

All the family, as well as Robin, were asleep when your father and I went
downstairs, nor id they wake in the nursery when we held the candle close
by them, only we observed that Hetty trembled exceedingly in her sleep,
as she always did before the noise awaked her. It commonly was nearer her
than the rest, which she took notice of, and was much frightened, because
she thought it had a particular spite at her: I could multiply particular
instances, but I forbear. I believe your father will write to you about
it shortly. Whatever may be the design of Providence in permitting these
things, I cannot say. "Secret things belong to God"; but I entirely agree
with you, that it is our wisdom and duty to prepare seriously for all
S. Wesley .


Dear Brother,-About the first of December a most terrible and astonishing
noise was heard by a maid-servant as at the dining-room door, which
caused the upstarting of her hair, and made her ears prick forth at an
unusual rate. She said it was like the groans of one expiring. These so
frightened her, that for a great while she durst not go out of one room
into another, after it began to be dark, without company. But, to lay
aside jesting, which should not be done in serious matters, I assure you
that from the first to the last of a lunar month the groans, squeaks,
tinglings, and knockings were frightful enough.

Though it is needless for me to send you any account of what we all
heard, my father himself having a larger account of the matter than I am
able to give, which he designs, to send you, yet, in compliance with your
desire, I will tell you as briefly as I can what I heard of it. The first
night I ever heard it my sister Nancy and I were set in the dining-room.
We heard something rush on the outside of the doors that opened into the
garden, then three loud knocks, immediately after other three, and in
half a minute the same number over our heads. We enquired whether
.anybody had been in the garden, or in the room above us, but there was
nobody. Soon after my sister Molly and I were up after all the family
were abed, except my sister Nancy, about some business. We heard three
bouncing thumps under our feet, which soon made us throw away our work
and tumble into bed. Afterwards the tingling of the latch and
warming-pan, and so it took its leave that night.

Soon after the above mentioned we heard a noise as if a great piece of
sounding metal was thrown down on the outside of our chamber. We, lying
in the quietest part of the house, heard less than the rest for a pretty
while, but the latter end of the night that Mr. Hoole sat up on I lay in
the nursery, where it was very violent. I then heard frequent knocks over
and under the room where I lay, and at the children's bed head, which was
made of boards. It seemed to rap against it very hard and loud, so that
the bed shook under them. I heard something walk by my bedside, like a
man in a long nightgown. The knocks were so loud, that Mr. Hoole came out
of their chamber to us. It still continued. My father spoke, but nothing
answered. It ended that night with my father's particular knock very

It is now pretty quiet, only at our repeating the prayers for the king
and prince, when it usually begins, especially when my father says, "Our
most gracious Sovereign Lord," etc. This my father is angry at, and
designs to say THREE instead of TWO for the royal family. We all heard
the same noise, and at the same time, and as coming from the same place.
To conclude this, it now makes its personal appearance; but of this more
hereafter. Do not say one word of this to our folks, nor give the least
hint.-I am, your sincere friend and affectionate sister,
Susannah Wesley.


Dear Sister Suky,-Your telling me spirit has made its personal
appearance, without saying how, or to whom, or when, or how long, has
excited my curiosity very much. I long mightily for a farther account of
every circumstance by your next letter. Do not keep me any longer in the
dark. Why need you write the less because my father is to send me the
whole story. Has the disturbance continued since the 28th of December? I
understand my father did not hear it at all but a fortnight after the
rest. What did he say remarkable to any of you when he did hear it? As to
the devil being an enemy to King George, were I the king myself I should
rather Old Nick should be my enemy than my friend. I do not like the
noise of the nightgown sweeping along the ground, nor its knocking like
my father. Write when you receive this, though nobody else should, to
your loving brother.


February 12.

Dear Mother,-You say you could multiply particular instances of the
spirit's noises, but I want to know whether nothing was ever seen by any.
For though it is hard to conceive, nay, morally impossible, that the
hearing of so many people could be deceived, yet the truth will be still
more manifest and undeniable if it is grounded on the testimony of two
senses. Has it never at all disturbed you since the 28th of December? Did
no circumstance give no light into the design of the whole?-Your obedient
and loving son,

S. Wesley.

Have you dug in the place where the money seemed poured at your feet?


February 12.

Honoured Sir,-I have not yet received any answer to the letter I wrote
some time ago, and my mother in her last seems to say that as yet I know
but a very small part of the whole story of strange noises in our house.
I shall be exceeding glad to have the entire account from you. Whatever
may be the main design of such wonders I cannot think they were ever
meant to be kept secret. If they bode anything remarkable to our family,
I am sure I am a party concerned.-Your dutiful son, S. Wesley.


Dear Sister Emmy,-I wish you would let me have a letter from you about
the spirit, as indeed from every one of my sisters. I cannot think any of
you very superstitious, unless you are much changed since I saw you. My
sister Hetty, I find, was more particularly troubled. Let me know all.
Did anything appear to her?-I am your affectionate brother,

S. Wesley.


Dear Sam,-As for the noises, etc., in our family, I thank God we are now
all quiet. There were some surprising circumstances in that affair. Your
mother has not written you a third part of it. When I see you here, you
shall see the whole account which I wrote down. It would make a glorious
penny book for Jack Dunton, but while I live, I am not ambitious for
anything of that nature. I think that's all, but blessings, from your
loving father,

Sam Wesley.

The following letter I received at the same time, though it has no date:-


Dear Brother,-I thank you for your last, and shall give you what
satisfaction is in my power concerning what has happened in our family. I
am so far from being superstitious that I was too much inclined to
infidelity, so that I heartily rejoice at having such an opportunity of
convincing myself past doubt or scruple of the existence of some beings
beside those we see. A whole month was sufficient to convince anybody of
the reality of the thing, and to try all ways of discovering any trick,
had it been possible for any such to have been used. I shall only tell
you what I myself heard, And leave the rest to others.

My sisters in the paper chamber had heard noises and told me of them, but
I did not much believe, till one night, about a week after the first
groans were heard, which was the beginning, just after the clock had
struck ten I went downstairs to lock the doors, which I always do. Scarce
had I got up the best stairs when I heard the noise like a person
throwing down a vast coal in the middle of the fore kitchen, and all the
splinters seemed to fly about from it. I was not much frighted, but went
to my sister Suky, and we together went all over the low rooms, but there
was nothing out of order.

Our dog was fast asleep, and our only cat in the other end of the house.
No sooner was I got upstairs, and undressing for bed, but I heard a noise
among many bottles that stand under the best stairs, just like the
throwing of a great stone among them, which had broke them all to pieces.
This made me hasten to bed; but my sister Hetty, who sits always to wait
on my father going to bed, was still sitting on the lowest step on the
garret stairs, the door being shut at her back, when soon after there
came down the stairs behind her something like a man, in a loose
nightgown trailing after him, which made her fly rather than run to me in
the nursery.

All this time we never told our father of it, but soon after we did. He
smiled and gave no answer, but was more careful than usual, from that
time, to see us in bed, imagining it to be some of us young women, that
sat up late and made a noise. His incredulity, and especially his
imputing it to us, or our lovers, made me, I own, desirous of its
continuance till he was convinced. As for my mother, she firmly believed
it to be rats, and sent for a horn to blow them away. I laughed to think
how wisely they were employed, who were striving half a day to fright
away Jeffery, for that name I gave it, with a horn.

But whatever it was, I perceived it could be made angry. For from that
time it was so outrageous, there was no quiet for us after ten at night.
I heard frequently, between ten and eleven, something like the quick
winding up of a jack at the corner of the room by my bed's head, just
like the running of the wheels and the creaking of the iron-work. This
was the common signal of its coming. Then it would knock on the floor
three times, then at my sister's bed head, in the same room, almost
always three together, and then stay. The sound was hollow and loud, so
as none of us could ever imitate.

It would answer to my mother if she stamped on the floor and bid it. It
would knock when I was putting the children to bed, just under me where I
sat. One time little Kesy, pretending to scare Patty as I was undressing
them, stamped with her foot on the floor, and immediately it answered
with three knocks, just in the same place. It was more loud and fierce if
anyone said it was rats or anything natural.

I could tell you abundance more of it, but the rest will write, and
therefore it would be needless. I was not much frighted at first, and
very little at last; but it was never near me, except two or three times,
and never followed me, as it did my sister Hetty. I have been with her
when it has knocked under her, and when she has removed has followed, and
still kept just under her feet, which was enough to terrify a stouter

If you would know my opinion of the reason of this, I shall briefly tell
you. I believe it to be witchcraft, for these reasons. About a year since
there was a disturbance at a town near us that was undoubtedly witches,
and if so near, why may they not reach us? Then my father had for several
Sundays before its coming preached warmly against those that are called
cunning men, which our people are given to; and it had a particular spite
at my father.

Besides something was thrice Seen. The first time by me that was
discernible. The same creature was sat by the dining-room fire one
evening; when our man went into the room, it run by him, through the hall
under the stairs. He followed with a candle and searched, but it was
departed. The last time he saw it in the kitchen like a white rabbit,
which seems likely to be some witch; and I do so really believe it to be
one, that I would venture to fire a pistol at it if I saw it long enough.
It has been heard by me and others since December. I have filled up all
my room, and have only time to tell you I am your loving sister,

Emilia Wesley.


Dear Brother Wesley,-I should farther satisfy you concerning the
disturbances, but it is needless, because my sisters Emilia and Hetty
write so particularly about it. One thing I believe you do not know-that
is, last Sunday, to my father's no small amazement, his trencher danced
upon the table a pretty while, without anybody's stirring the table. When
lo! an adventurous wretch took it up, and spoiled the sport, for it
remained still ever after. How glad should I be to talk with you about
it. Send me some news, for we are secluded from the sight, or hearing, of
any versal thing except Jeffery.

Susannah Wesley.


I cannot imagine how you should be so curious about our unwelcome guest.
For my part I am quite tired with hearing or speaking of it; but if you
come among us, you will find enough to satisfy all your scruples, and
perhaps may hear or see it yourself.

S. Wesley.


Tell my brother the spright was with us last night, and heard by many of
our family, especially by our maid and myself. She sat up with drink, and
it came just at one o'clock and opened the dining-room door. After some
time it shut again. She saw as well as heard it both shut and open; then
it began to knock as usual. But I dare write no longer, lest I should
hear it.

Emilia Wesley.

1726, AND FROM HIM BY ME, FEBRUARY 7, 1730-1


From the 1st of December my children and servants heard many strange
noises, groans, knockings, etc., in every story and most of the rooms of
my house, but I hearing nothing of it myself-they would not tell me for
some time, because, according to the vulgar opinion, if it boded any ill
to me I could not hear it. When it increased, and the family could not
easily conceal it, they told me of it.

My daughters, Susannah and Ann, were below stairs in the dining-room, and
heard first at the doors, then over their heads, and the night after a
knocking under their feet, though nobody was in the chambers or below
them. The like they and my servants heard in both the kitchens, at the
door against the partition, and over them. The maid-servant heard groans
as of a dying man.

My daughter Emilia coming downstairs to draw up the clock and lock the
doors at ten o'clock at night, as usual, heard under the staircase a
sound among some bottles there, as if they had been all dashed to pieces;
but when she looked, all was safe.

Something, like the steps of a man, was heard going up and downstairs at
all hours of the night, and vast rumblings below stairs and in the
garrets. My man, who lay in the garret, heard someone come slaring
through the garret to his chamber, rattling by his side as if against his
shoes, though he had none there; at other times walking up and
downstairs, when all the house were in bed, and gobbling like a
turkey-cock. Noises were heard in the nursery and all the other chambers;
knocking first at the feet of the bed and behind it; and a sound like
that of dancing in a matted chamber, next the nursery, when the door was
locked and nobody in it.

My wife would have persuaded them it was rats within doors, and some
unlucky people knocking without; till at last we heard several loud
knocks in our own chamber, on my side of the bed; but till, I think, the
21st at night I heard nothing of it. That night I was waked a little
before one by nine distinct very loud knocks, which seemed to be in the
next room to ours, with a sort of pause at every third stroke. I thought
it might be somebody without the house, and having got a stout mastiff,
hoped he would soon rid me of it.

The next night I heard six knocks, but not so loud as the former. I know
not whether it was in the morning after Sunday, the 23rd, when about
seven my daughter Emily called her mother into the nursery, and told her
she might now hear the noises there. She went in, and heard it at the
bedsteads, and then under the beds, then at the head of it. She knocked,
and it answered her. She looked under the bed and thought something ran
from thence, but could not well tell of what shape, but thought it most
like a badger.

The next night but one we were awaked about one by the noises, which were
so violent it was in vain to think of sleep while they continued. I rose,
but my wife would rise with me. We went into every chamber and
downstairs; and generally as we went into one room, we heard it in that
behind us, though all the family bad been in bed several hours. When we
were going downstairs, and at the bottom of them, we heard, as Emily had
done before, a clashing among the bottles, as if they had been broke all
to pieces, and another sound distinct from it, as if a piece of money bad
been thrown before us. The same, three of my daughters heard at another

We went through the hall into the kitchen, when our mastiff came whining
to us, as he did always after the first night of its coming; for then he
barked violently at it, but was silent afterwards, and seemed more afraid
than any of the children. We still heard it rattle and thunder in every
room above or behind us, locked as well as open, except my study, where
as yet it never came. After two we went to bed, and were pretty quiet the
rest of the night.

Wednesday night, December 26, after or a little before ten, my daughter
Emilia heard the signal of its beginning to play, with which she was
perfectly acquainted; it was like the strong winding up of a jack. She
called us, and I went into the nursery, where it used to be most violent.
The rest of the children were asleep. It began with knocking in the
kitchen underneath, then seemed to be at the bed's feet, then under the
bed, and last at the head of it. I went downstairs, and knocked with my
stick against the joists of the kitchen. It answered me as often and as
loud as I knocked; but then  I knocked, as I usually do, at my door,
1-23456-7, but this puzzled it, and it did not answer, or not in the same
method, though the children heard it do the same twice or thrice after.

I went upstairs and found it still knocking hard, though with some
respite, sometimes under the bed, sometimes at the bed's head. I observed
my children that they were frightened in their sleep, and trembled very
much till it waked them. I stayed there alone, bid them go to sleep, and
sat at the bed's head by them, when the noise began again. I asked what
it was, and why it disturbed innocent children, and did not come to me in
my study if it had anything to say to me. Soon after it gave one knock on
the outside of the house. All the rest were within, and knocked off for
that night.

I went out of doors, sometimes alone, at others with company, and walked
round the house, but could see or hear nothing. Several nights the latch
of our lodging chamber would be lifted up very often when all were in
bed. One night, when the noise was great in the kitchen, and on a deal
partition, and the door in the yard, the latch whereof was often lifted
up, my daughter Emilia went and held it fast on the inside, but it was
still lifted up, and the door pushed violently against her, though
nothing was to be seen on the outside.

When we were at prayers and came to the prayer for King George and the
prince it would make a great noise over our heads constantly, whence some
of the family called it a Jacobite. I have been thrice pushed by an
invisible power, once against the corner of my desk in the study, a
second time against the door of the matted chamber, a third time against
the right side of the frame of my study door as I was going in.

I followed the noise into almost every room in the house, both by day and
by night, with lights and without, and have sat alone for some time, and
when I heard the noise, spoke to it to tell me what it was, but never
heard any articulate voice, and only once or twice two or three feeble
squeaks, a little louder than the chirping of a bird, but not like the
noise of rats, which I have often heard.

I had designed on Friday, December the 28th, to make a visit to a friend,
Mr. Downs, at Normandy, and stay some days with him, but the noises were
so boisterous on Thursday night, that I did not care to leave my family.
So I went to Mr. Hoole of Haxey, and desired his company on Friday night.
He came, and it began after ten, a little later than ordinary. The
younger children were gone to bed, the rest of the family and My Hoole
were together in the matted chamber. I sent the servants down to fetch in
some fuel, went with them, and staid in the kitchen till they came in.
When they were gone I heard loud noises against the doors and partition,
and at length the usual signal, though somewhat after the time. I had
never heard it before, but knew it by the description my daughter had
given me. It was much like the turning of a windmill when the wind
changes. When the servants returned I went up to the company, who had
heard the other noises below, but not the signal. We heard all the
knockings as usual from one chamber to another, but at its going off,
like the rubbing of a beast against the wall, but from that time till
January the 24th we were quiet.

Having received a letter from Samuel the day before relating to it, I
read what I had written of it to my family, and this day at morning
prayer the family heard the usual knocks at the prayer for the king. At
night they were more distinct, both in the prayer for the king and that
for the prince, and one very loud knock at the AMEN was heard by my wife
and most of my children at the inside of my bed. I heard nothing myself.
After nine, Robert Brown, sitting alone by the fire in the back kitchen,
saw something come out of the copper-hole like a rabbit, but less, and
turned round five times very swiftly. Its ears lay flat upon its neck,
and its little scut stood straight up. He ran after it with the tongs in
his hands, but when he could find nothing he was frighted, and went to
the maid in the parlour.

On Friday, the 25th, having prayers at church, I shortened as usual those
in the family at morning, omitting the confession, absolution, and
prayers for the king and prince. I observed when this is done there is no
knocking. I therefore used them one morning for a trial; at the name of
King George it began to knock, and did the same when I prayed for the
prince. Two knocks I heard, but took no notice after prayers, till after
all who were in the room, ten persons besides me, spoke of it, and said
they heard it. No noise at all at the rest of the prayers.

Sunday, January 27.-Two soft strokes at the morning prayers for King
George above stairs.


Friday, December 21.-Knocking I heard first, I think, this night; to
which disturbances, I hope, God will in His good time put an end.

Sunday, December 23.-Not much disturbed with the noises that are now
grown customary to me.

Wednesday, December 26. -Sat up to hear noises. Strange! spoke to it,
knocked off.

Friday 28.-The noises very boisterous and disturbing this night.

Saturday 29.-Not frighted with the continued disturbances of my family.

Tuesday, January 1, 1717. -My family have had no disturbance since I


The first time my mother ever heard any unusual noise at Epworth was long
before the disturbance of Old Jeffrey. My brother, lately come from
London, had one evening a sharp quarrel with my sister Suky, at which
time my mother happened to be above in her own chamber, the door and
windows rung and jarred very loud; and presently several distinct
strokes, three by three, were struck. From that night it never failed to
give notice in much the same manner against any signal misfortune or
illness of any belonging to the family.



1. Presently after any noise was heard the wind commonly rose, and
whistled very loud round the house, and increased with it.

2. The signal was given, which my father likens to the turning round of a
windmill when the wind changes; Mr. Hoole (Rector of Haxey), to the
planing of deal boards; my sister, to the swift winding up of a jack. It
commonly began at the corner of the top of the nursery.

3. Before it came into any room the latches were frequently lifted up,
the windows clattered, and whatever iron or brass was about the chamber
rung and jarred exceedingly.

4. When it was in any room, let them make what noise they would, as they
sometimes did on purpose, its dead, hollow note would be closely heard
above them all.

5. It constantly knocked while the prayers for the king and prince were
repeating, and was plainly heard by all in the room but my father, and
sometimes by him, as were also the thundering knocks at the AMEN.

6. The sound very often seemed in the air in the middle of a room, nor
could they ever make any such themselves by any contrivance.

7. Though it seemed to rattle down the pewter, to clap the doors, draw
the curtains, kick the man's shoes up and down, etc., yet it never moved
anything except the latches, otherwise than making it tremble; unless
once, when it threw open the nursery door.

8. The mastiff, though he barked violently at it the first day he came,
yet whenever it came after that, nay, sometimes before the family
perceived it, he ran whining, or quite silent, to shelter himself behind
some of the company.

9. It never came by day till my mother ordered the horn to be blown.

10. After that time scarce any one would go from one room into another
but the latch of the room they went to was lifted up before they touched

11. It never came once into my father's study till he talked to it
sharply, called it "deaf and dumb devil", and bid it cease to disturb the
innocent children, and come to him in his study if it had anything to say
to him.

12. From the time of my mother desiring it not to disturb her from five
to six, it was never heard in her chamber from five till she came
downstairs, nor at any other time when she was employed in devotion.

13. Whether our clock went right or wrong, it always came as near as
could be guessed when by the night it wanted a quarter of ten.



August 27, 1726.

About ten days after Nanny Marshall had heard unusual groans at the
dining-room door, Emily came and told me that the servants and children
had been several times frighted with strange groans and knockings about
the house. I answered that the rats John Maw had frighted from his house
by blowing a horn there were come into ours, and ordered that one should
be sent for. Molly was much displeased at it, and said, if it was
anything supernatural, it certainly would be very angry and more
troublesome. However, the horn was blown in the garrets; 'and the effect
was, that whereas before the noises were always in the night, from this
time they were heard at all hours, day and night.

Soon after, about seven in the morning, Emily came and desired me to go
into the nursery, where I should be convinced they were not startled at
nothing. On my coming thither I heard a knocking at the feet, and quickly
after at the head of the bed. I desired if it was a spirit it would
answer me, and knocking several times with my foot on the ground with
several pauses, it repeated under the sole of my feet exactly the same
number of strokes, with the very same intervals. Kezzy, then six or seven
years old, said, let it answer me too if it can, and stamping, the same
sounds were returned that she made, many times, successively.

Upon my looking under the bed something ran out pretty much like a
badger, and seemed to run directly underneath Emily's petticoats, who sat
opposite to me on the other side. I went out, and one or two nights
afterwards, when we were just got to bed, I heard nine strokes, three by
three, on the other side of the bed, as if one had struck violently on a
chest with a large stick. Mr. Wesley leapt up, called Hetty, who alone
was up in the house, and searched every room in the house, but to no
purpose. It continued from this time to knock and groan frequently at all
hours, day and night; only I earnestly desired it might not disturb me
between five and six in the evening, and there never was any noise in my
room after during that time.

At other times I have often heard it over my mantel tree, and once,
coming up after dinner, a cradle seemed to be strongly rocked in my
chamber. When I went in the sound seemed to be in the nursery. When I was
in the nursery it seemed to be in my chamber again. One night Mr. W. and
I were waked by some one running down the garret stairs, then down the
broad stairs, then up the narrow ones, then up the garret stairs, then
down again, and so the same round. The rooms trembled as it passed along,
and the doors shook exceedingly, so that the clattering of the latches
was very loud.

Mr. W. proposing to rise, I rose with him, and went down the broad
stairs, hand in hand, to light a candle. Near the foot of them a large
pot of money seemed to be poured out at my waist, and to run jingling
down my nightgown to my feet. Presently after we heard the noise as of a
vast stone thrown among several dozen of bottles which lay under the
stairs, but upon our looking no hurt was done. In the hall the mastiff
met us, crying, and striving to get between us. We returned up into the
nursery, where the noise was very great. The children were all asleep,
but panting, trembling, and sweating extremely.

Shortly after, on Mr. Wesley's invitation, Mr. Hoole staid a night with
us. As we were all sitting round the fire in the matted chamber, he asked
whether that gentle knocking was it. I told him yes, and it continued the
sound, which was much lower than usual. This was observable whilst we
were talking loud in the same room; the noise, seemingly lower than any
of our voices, was distinctly heard above them all. These were the most
remarkable passages I remember, except such as were common to all the


About a fortnight after the time when, as I was told, the noises were
heard, I went from my mother's room, who had just gone to bed, to the
best chamber to fetch my sister Suky's candle. When I was there the
windows and doors began to jar and ring exceedingly, and presently after
I heard a sound in the kitchen, as if a vast stone coal had been thrown
down and mashed to pieces. I went down thither with my candle, and found
nothing more than usual; but as I was going by the screen, something
began knocking on the other side, just even with my head. When I looked
on the inside, the knocking was on the outside of it; but as soon as I
could get round, it was at the inside again. I followed it to and fro
several times, till at last, finding it to no purpose, and turning about
to go away, before I was out of the room the latch of the back kitchen
door was lifted up many times. I opened the door and looked out, but
could see nobody. I tried to shut the door, but it was thrust against me,
and I could feel the latch, which I held in my hand, moving upwards at
the same time. I looked out again, but finding it was labour lost,
clapped the door to and locked it. Immediately the latch was moved
strongly up and down, but I left it, and went up the worst stairs, from
whence I heard as if a great stone had been thrown among the bottles,
which lay under the best stairs. However, I went to bed.

From this time I heard it every night for two or three weeks. It
continued a month in its full majesty night and day. Then it intermitted
a fortnight or more, and when it began again it knocked only on nights,
and grew less and less troublesome, till at last it went quite away.
Towards the latter end it used to knock on the outside of the house, and
seemed farther and farther off, till it ceased to be heard at all.


August 27.

I have always thought it was in November, the rest of our family think it
was the 1st of December 1716, when Nanny Marshall, who had a bowl of
butter in her hand, ran to me and two or three more of my sisters in the
dining-room, and told us she had heard several groans in the hall as of a
dying man. We thought it was Mr. Turpine, who had the stone, and used
sometimes to come and see us. About a fortnight after, when my sister
Suky and I were going to bed, she told us how she was frightened in the
dining-room the day before by a noise, first at the folding-door, and
then overhead. I was reading at the table, and had scarce told her I
believed nothing of it, when several knocks were given just under my
feet. We both made haste into bed, and just as we laid down the
warming-pan by the bedside jarred and rung, as did the latch of the door,
which was lifted slowly up and down; presently a great chain seemed to
fall on the outside of the door (we were in the best chamber), the door
latch hinges, the warming-pan, and windows jarred, and the house shook
from top to bottom.

A few days after, between five and six in the evening, I wag by myself in
the dining-room. The door seemed to open, though it was still shut, and
somebody walked in, a nightgown trailing upon the ground (nothing
appearing), and seemed to go leisurely round me. I started up and ran
upstairs to my mother's chamber, and told the story to her and my sister
Emily. A few nights after my father ordered me to light him to his study.
Just as he had unlocked it the latch was lifted up for him. The same
(after we blew the horn) was often done to me, as well by day as by
night. Of many other things all the family as well as me were witnesses.

My father went into the nursery from the matted chamber, where we were,
by himself in the dark. It knocked very loud on the press bed head. He
adjured it to tell him why it came, but it seemed to take no notice; at
which he was very angry, spoke sharply, called it "deaf and dumb devil,"
and repeated his adjuration. My sisters were terribly afraid it would
speak. When he had done, it knocked his knock on the bed's head so
exceedingly violently, as if it would break it to shivers, and from that
time we heard nothing till near a month after.


I believed nothing of it till about a fortnight after the first noises,
then one night I sat up on purpose to hear it. While I was working in the
best chamber, and earnestly desiring to hear it, a knocking began just
under my feet. As I knew the room below me was locked I was frighted, and
leaped into bed with all my clothes on. I afterwards heard, as it were, a
great chain fall, and after some time the usual noises at all hours of
the day and night. One night, hearing it was most violent in the nursery,
I resolved to be there. Late at night several strong knocks were given on
the two lowest steps of the garret stairs, which were close to the
nursery door. The latch of the door then jarred, and seemed to be swiftly
moved to and fro, and presently began knocking about a yard within the
room on the floor. It then came gradually to sister Hetty's bed, who
trembled strongly in her sleep. It beat very loud three strokes at a time
on the bed's head. My father came and adjured it to speak, but it knocked
on for some time, and then removed to the room over, where it knocked my
father's knock on the ground, as if it would beat the house down. I had
no mind to stay longer, but got up and went to sister Em and my mother,
who were in her room, from whence we heard the noises again from the
nursery. I proposed playing a game of cards, but we had scarce begun when
a knocking began under our feet. We left off playing, and it removed back
again into the nursery, where it continued till towards morning.


September 10.

The first noise my sister Nancy heard was in the best chamber with my
sister Molly and my sister Suky; soon after my father had ordered her to
blow a horn in the garrets, where it was knocking violently. She was
terribly afraid, being obliged to go in the dark, and kneeling down on
the stairs desired that, as she acted not to please herself, it might
have no power over her. As soon as she came into the room the noise
ceased, nor did it begin again till near ten; but then, and for a good
while, it made much greater and more frequent noises than it had done
before. When she afterwards came into the chamber in the day-time it
commonly walked after her from room to room. It followed her from one
side of the bed to the other and back again, as often as she went back,
and whatever she did which made any sort of noise, the same thing seemed
just to be done behind her.

When five or six were set in the nursery together a cradle would seem to
be strongly rocked in the room over, though no cradle had ever been
there. One night she was sitting on the press bed playing at cards with
some of my sisters, when my sisters Molly, Hetty, Patty, and Kezzy were
in the room, and Robert Brown. The bed on which my sister Nancy sat was
lifted up with her on it. She leaped down and said, "Surely Old Jeffery
would not run away with her." However, they persuaded her to sit down
again, which she had scarce done when it was again lifted up several
times successively a considerable height, upon which she left her seat
and would not be prevailed upon to sit there any more.

Whenever they began to mention Mr. S. it presently began to knock, and
continued to do so till they changed the discourse. All the time my
sister Suky was writing her last letter to him it made a very great noise
all round the room, and the night after she set out for London it knocked
till morning with scarce any intermission.

Mr. Hoole read prayers once, but it knocked as usual at the prayers for
the king and prince. The knockings at these prayers were only towards the
beginning of the disturbance, for a week or thereabouts.


* Vicar of Haxey.

September 16.

As soon as I came to Hepworth, Mr. Wesley telling me he sent for me to
conjure, I knew not what he meant, till some of your sisters told me what
had happened, and that I was sent for to sit up. I expected every hour to
hear something extraordinary, but to no purpose. At supper too, and at
prayers, all was silent, contrary to custom; but soon after one of the
maids, who went up to sheet a bed, brought down the alarm that Jeffery
was come above stairs. We all went up, and as we were standing round the
fire in the east chamber something began knocking just on the other side
of the wall, on the chimney-piece, as with a key. Presently the knocking
was under our feet. Mr. Wesley and I went down, he with a great deal of
hope, and I with fear. As soon as we were in the kitchen the sound was
above us, in the room we had left. We returned up the narrow stairs, and
heard, at the broad stairs head, some one slaring with their feet (all
the family being now in bed beside us) and then trailing, as it were, and
rustling with a silk nightgown. Quickly it was in the nursery, at the
bed's head, knocking as it had done at first, three by three. Mr. Wesley
spoke to it, and said he believed it was the devil, and soon after it
knocked at the window, and changed its sound into one like the planing of
boards. From thence it went on the outward south side of the house,
sounding fainter and fainter, till it was heard no more.

I was at no other time than this during the noises at Epworth, and do not
now remember any more circumstances than these.

Epworth, September 1.

My sister Kezzy says she remembers nothing else, but that it knocked my
father's knock, ready to beat the house down in the nursery one night.


The first time Robin Brown, my father's man, heard it, was when he was
fetching down some corn from the garrets. Something knocked on a door
just by him, which made him run away downstairs. From that time it used
frequently to visit him in bed, walking up the garret stairs, and in the
garrets, like a man in jack-boots, with a nightgown trailing after him,
then lifting up his latch and making it jar, and making presently a noise
in his room like the gobbling of a turkey-cock, then stumbling over his
boots or shoes by the bedside. He was resolved once to be too hard for
it, and so took a large mastiff we had just got to bed with him, and left
his shoes and boots below stairs; but he might as well have spared his
labour, for it was exactly the same thing whether any were there or no.
The same sound was heard as if there had been forty pairs. The dog indeed
was no great comfort to him, for as soon as the latch began to jar he
crept into bed, made such a howling and barking together, in spite of all
the man could do, that he alarmed most of the family.

Soon after, being grinding corn in the garrets, and happening to stop a
little, the handle of the mill was turned round with great swiftness. He
said nothing vexed him but that the mill was empty. If corn had been in
it, Old Jeffery might have ground his heart out for him; he would never
have disturbed him.

One night, being ill, he was leaning his head upon the back kitchen
chimney (the jam he called it) with the tongs in his hands, when from
behind the oven's top, which lay by the fire, something came out like a
white rabbit. It turned round before him several times, and then ran to
the same place again. He was frighted, started up, and ran with the tongs
into the parlour (dining-room).

Epworth, August 31.

Betty Massy one day came to me in the parlour and asked me if I had heard
Old Jeffery, for she said she thought there was no such thing.

When we had talked a little about it, I knocked three times with a reel I
had in my hand against the dining-room ceiling, and the same were
presently repeated. She desired me to knock so again, which I did, but
they were answered with three more so violently as shook the house,
though no one was in the chamber over us. She prayed me to knock no more
for fear it should come in to us.

Epworth, August 31, 1726.

John and Kitty Maw, who lived over against us, listened several nights in
the time of the disturbance, but could never hear anything.


When I was very young I heard several letters read, wrote to my elder
brother by my father, giving an account of strange disturbances, which
were in his house at Epworth, in Lincolnshire.

When I went down thither, in the year 1720, I carefully enquired into the
particulars. I spoke to each of the persons who were then in the house,
and took down what each could testify of his or her knowledge. The sum of
which was this:-

On December 2, 1716, while Robert Brown, my father's servant, was sitting
with one of the maids a little before ten at night in the dining-room,
which opened into the garden, they both heard knocking at the door.
Robert rose and opened it, but could see nobody. Quickly it knocked again
and groaned. "It is Mr. Turpine," said Robert. "He has the stone, and
uses to groan so." We opened the door again twice or thrice, the knocking
being twice or thrice repeated. But still seeing nothing, and being a
little startled, they rose and went to bed. When Robert came to the top
of the garret stairs he saw a hand-mill, which was at a little distance,
whirled about very swiftly. When he related all this he said, "Nought
vexed me but that it was empty. I thought if it had been full of malt be
might have ground out his heart for me." When he was in bed he heard, as
it were, the gobbling of a turkey-cook close to the bedside; and soon
after the sound of one stumbling over his shoes and boots, but there were
none there; he had left them below. The next day he and the maid related
these things to the other maid, who laughed heartily and said, "What a
couple of fools are you! I defy anything to fright me." After churning in
the evening she put the butter in the tray, and had no sooner carried it
into the dairy than she heard a knocking on the shelf where several
puncheons of milk stood, first above the shelf, then below; she took the
candle and searched both above and below; but being able to find nothing,
threw down butter, tray, and all, and ran away for life. The next
evening, between five and six o'clock, my sister Molly, then about twenty
years of age, sitting in the dining-room reading, heard as it were the
door that led into the hall open and a person walking in, that seemed to
have on a silk nightgown, rustling and trailing along. It seemed to walk
round her, then to the door, then round again; but she could see nothing.
She thought, "It signifies nothing to run away; for whatever it is, it
can run faster than me." Presently a knocking began under the table. She
took the candle and looked, but could find nothing. Then the iron
casement began to clatter and the lid of a warming-pan. Next the latch of
the door moved up and down without ceasing. She started up, leaped into
her bed without undressing, pulled the bed-clothes over her head, and
never ventured to look up till next morning. A night or two after, my
sister Hetty, a year younger than my sister Molly, was waiting as usual,
between nine and ten, to take away my father's candle, when she heard
someone coming down the garret stairs, walking slowly by her, then going
down the best stairs, then up the back stairs, and up the garret stairs.
And at every step it seemed the house shook from top to bottom. Just then
my father knocked. She went in, took his candle, and got to bed as fast
as possible. She told this to my eldest sister in the morning, who told
her, "You know, I believe none of these things. Pray let me take away the
candle to-night and I will find out the trick." She accordingly took my
sister Hetty's place, and had no sooner taken away the candle than she
heard a noise below. She hastened downstairs to the hall where the noise
was. But it was then in the kitchen. She ran into the kitchen, where it
was drumming on the inside of the screen. When she went round it was
drumming on the outside, and so always on the side opposite to her. Then
she heard a knocking at the back kitchen door. She ran to it, unlocked it
softly, and when the knocking was repeated, suddenly opened it; but
nothing was to be seen. As soon as she had shut it the knocking began
again; she opened it again, but could see nothing; when she went to shut
the door it was violently thrust against her; she let it fly open, but
nothing appeared. She went again to shut it, and it was again thrust
against her but she set her knee and her shoulder to the door, forced it
to, and turned the key. Then the knocking began again; but she let it go
on, and went up to bed. However, from that time she was thoroughly
convinced that there was no imposture in the affair.

The next morning my sister, telling my mother what had happened, she
said, "If I hear anything myself, I shall know how to judge." Soon after
she begged her to come into the nursery. She did, and heard in the corner
of the room, as it were, the violent rocking of a cradle, but no cradle
bad been there for some years. She was convinced it was preternatural,
and earnestly prayed it might not disturb her in her own chamber at the
hours of retirement; and it never did. She now thought it was proper to
tell my father. But he was extremely angry, and said, "Suky, I am ashamed
of you; these boys and girls frighten one another, but you are a woman of
sense and should know better. Let me hear of it no more." At six in the
evening he had family prayers as usual. When he began the prayer for the
king, a knocking began all round the room, and a thundering knock
attended the "Amen." The same was heard from this time every morning and
evening while the prayer for the king was repeated. As both my father and
mother are now at rest and incapable of being pained thereby, I think it
my duty to furnish the serious reader with a key to this circumstance.

The year before King William died my father observed my mother did not
say "Amen" to the prayer for the king. She said she could not, for she
did not believe the Prince of Orange was king. He vowed he would never
cohabit with her till she did. He then took his horse and rode away, nor
did she hear anything of him for a twelvemonth. He then came back and
lived with her as before. But I fear his vow was not forgotten before

Being informed that Mr. Hoole, the vicar of Haxey (an eminently pious and
sensible man), could give me some further information, I walked over to
him. He said, "Robert Brown came over to me and told me your father
desired my company. When I came he gave me an account of all AM had
happened, particularly the knocking during family prayer. But that
evening (to my great satisfaction) we had no knocking at all. But between
nine and ten a servant came in and said, 'Old Ferries is coming' (that
was the name of one that died in the house), 'for I hear the signal.'
This they informed us was heard every night about a quarter before ten.
It was toward the top of the house on the outside, at the north-east
corner, resembling the loud creaking of a saw, or rather that of a
windmill when the body of it is turned about in order to shift the sails
to the wind. We then heard a knocking over our heads, and Mr. Wesley,
catching up a candle, said, 'Come, sir, you shall now hear for yourself.'
We went upstairs, he with much hope, and I (to say the truth) with much
fear. When we came into the nursery it was knocking in the next room;
when we were there it was knocking in the nursery. And there it continued
to knock, though we came in, particularly at the head of the bed (which
was of wood) in which Miss Hetty and two of her younger sisters lay. Mr.
Wesley, observing that they were much affected, though asleep, sweating
and trembling exceedingly, was very angry, and, pulling out a pistol, was
going to fire at the place from whence the sound came. But I catched him
by the arm and said, 'Sir, you are convinced this is something
preternatural. If so, you cannot hurt it, but you give it power to hurt
you.' He then went close to the place and said sternly, 'Thou deaf and
dumb devil, why dost thou frighten these children that cannot answer for
themselves? Come to me to my study that am a man!' Instantly it knocked
his knock (the particular knock which he always used at the gate) as if
it would shiver the board in pieces, and we heard nothing more that
night." Till this time my father had never heard the least disturbance in
his study. But the next evening, as he attempted to go into this study
(of which none had any key but himself), when he opened the door it was
thrust back with such violence as had like to have thrown him down.
However, he thrust the door open and went in. Presently there was
knocking, first on one side, then on the other, and after a time in the
next room, wherein my sister Nancy was. He went into that room, and (the
noise continuing) adjured it to speak; but in vain. He then said, "These
spirits love darkness; put out the candle, and perhaps it will speak."
She did so, and he repeated his adjuration; but still there was only
knocking, and no articulate sound. Upon this he said, "Nancy, two
Christians are an overmatch for the devil. Go all of you downstairs; it
may be when I am alone he will have courage to speak." When she was gone
a thought came in and he said, "If thou art the spirit of my son Samuel,
I pray, knock three knocks and no more." Immediately all was silence, and
there was no more knocking at all that night. I asked my sister Nancy
(then about fifteen years old) whether she was not afraid when my father
used that adjuration? She answered she was sadly afraid it would speak
when she put out the candle; but she was not at all afraid in the
daytime, when it walked after her, as she swept the chambers, as it
constantly did, and seemed to sweep after her. Only she thought it might
have done it for her, and saved her the trouble. By this time all my
sisters were so accustomed to these noises that they gave them little
disturbance. A gentle tapping at their bed head usually began between
nine and ten at night. They then commonly said to each other, "Jeffery is
coming, it is time to go to sleep." And if they heard a noise in the day
and said to my youngest sister, "Hark, Kezzy, Jeffery is knocking above,"
she would run upstairs, and pursue it from room to room, saying she
desired no better diversion.

A few nights after, my father and mother were just gone to bed, and the
candle was not taken away, when they heard three blows, and a second, and
a third three, as it were with a large oaken staff, struck upon a chest
which stood by the bedside. My father immediately arose, put on his
nightgown, and hearing great noises below, took the candle and went down;
my mother walked by his side. As they went down the broad stairs they
heard as if a vessel full of silver was poured upon my mother's breast
and ran jingling down to her feet. Quickly after there was a sound, as if
a large iron ball was thrown among many bottles under the stairs; but
nothing was hurt. Soon after, our large mastiff dog came and ran to
shelter himself between them. While the disturbances continued he used to
bark and leap, and snap on one side and the other, and that frequently
before any person in the room heard any noise at all. But after two or
three days he used to tremble and creep away before the noise began. And
by this the family knew it was at hand, nor did the observation ever
fail. A little before my father and mother came into the hall it seemed
as if a very large coal was violently thrown upon the floor and dashed
all to pieces, but nothing was seen. My father then cried out, "Suky, do
you not hear? All the pewter is thrown about the kitchen." But when they
looked all the pewter was in its place. Then there was a loud knocking at
the back door. My father opened it, but saw nothing. It was then at the
front door. He opened that, but it was still lost labour. After opening
first the one and then the other several times he turned and went up to
bed. But the noises were so violent all over the house that he could not
sleep till four in the morning.

Several gentlemen and clergymen now earnestly advised my father to quit
the house. But he constantly answered, "No, let the devil flee from me; I
will never flee from the devil." But he wrote to my eldest brother at
London to come down. He was preparing to do so when another letter came,
informing him that the disturbances were over, after they had continued
(the latter part of the time day and night) from the 2nd of December to
the end of January.



June 3, 1756. (Vol. ii. p. 335.)

Quotation from a letter which Mr. Wesley received from a clergyman with
whom he had been a day or two previously, part of which ran as follows:-

I had the following account from the gentlewoman herself, a person of
piety and veracity. She is now the wife of Mr. J. B., silversmith in

"About thirty years ago I was addressed, by way of marriage, by Mr.
Richard Mercier, then a volunteer in the army. The young gentleman was
quartered at the time in Charleville, where my father lived, who approved
of his addresses, and directed me to look upon him as my future husband.
When the regiment left the town he promised to return in two months and
marry me. From Charleville he went to Dublin, thence to his father's, and
thence to England, where his father, having bought him his cornetcy of
horse, he purchased many ornaments for the wedding, and, returning to
Ireland, let us know that he would be at our house in Charleville in a
few days. On this the family was busied to prepare for his reception and
the ensuing marriage, when one night my sister Molly and I, being asleep
in our bed, I was awakened by the sudden opening of the side curtain,
and, starting up, saw Mr. Mercier standing up by the bedside. He was
wrapped up in a loose sheet, and had a napkin, folded like a nightcap, on
his head. He looked at me very earnestly, and lifting up the napkin,
which had shaded his face, showed me the left side of his head, all
bloody and covered with his brains; the room meantime was quite light. My
terror was excessive; it was still increased by his stooping over the bed
and embracing me in his arms. My cries alarmed the whole family, who
came, crowding into the room. Upon their entrance he gently withdrew his
arms, and ascended, as it were, through the ceiling. I continued for some
time in strong fits. When I could speak I told them what I had seen. One
of them, a day or two after, going to the postmaster for letters, found
him reading the newspapers, in which was an account that Cornet Mercier,
going into Christ Church belfry in Dublin, just after the bells had been
ringing, and standing under the bells, one of them, which was turned
bottom upwards, suddenly turned again, struck one side of his head, and
killed him on the spot. On further enquiry we found he was struck on the
left side of the head.



July 19, 1757. (Vol. ii. p. 385.)

Before I left Newcastle I heard a strange relation which I know not what
to think of. I then desired T. Lee, who was going to that place, to
enquire particularly concerning it; he did so, and in consequence of that
enquiry wrote me the following account:-

R. J. lived about twelve miles from Newcastle.

His son sometime since married without his consent; at this time he was
so enraged that he wished his 'right arm might burn off if ever he gave
or left him sixpence.'

"However, in March last, being taken ill, he made his will, and left him
all his estate; the same evening he died. On Thursday, the 10th, his
widow, laying her hand on his back, found it warm. In the evening, those
who were with him went into the next room to take a little refreshment;
as they were eating they observed a disagreeable smell, but could find
nothing in the room to cause it. Returning into the room where the corpse
lay, they found it full of smoke; removing the sheet which covered the
corpse they saw (to their no small amazement) that the body was burnt,
that the entrails were bare, and might be seen through the ribs. His
right arm was nearly burnt off, his head so burnt that the brains
appeared, and a smoke came out of the crown of his head like the steam of
boiling water. When they cast water upon his body it hissed just as if
cast on red-hot iron;  yet the sheet which was upon him was not singed,
but that under him, with the pillow, bier and pillow, and the plank on
which he lay, were all burned, and looked as black as charcoal.

"They hastened to put what was left of him in the coffin, leaving some to
watch by it; but after it was nailed up, a noise, of burning and
crackling was heard therein. None was permitted to look into it till it
was carried to Abchester Churchyard. It was buried near the steeple. As
soon as it was brought to the grave the steeple was observed to shake.
The people hastened away, and it was well they did, for presently part of
the steeple fell, so that had they stayed two minutes longer they must
have been crushed to pieces. AH these circumstances were related to me
and my wife by those who were eye and ear witnesses."


July 24, 1757. (Vol. ii. p. 386.)

As we rode over Haxey-Car towards Misterton, one was relating a
surprising thing that happened lately. A woman of Stock with told her
sister who lived with her, "I do not think to go to market to-day, for I
dreamed that I was drowned in riding across one of the drains on
Haxey-Car "; but she was soon laughed out of it, and went. She rode over
the Car with many other market folks, and in crossing one of the drains,
where the water was scarce a yard deep, slipped off her horse; several
looked on, but none once thought of pulling her out till she was past


July 28, 1757. (Vol. ii. p. 387.)

I received a strange account from Edward Bennett's eldest daughter.

"On Tuesday, the 12th of this month, I told my husband in the morning, 'I
desire you will not go into the water to-day, at least not into the deep
water on the far side of the town, for I dreamed I saw you there out of
your depth, and only your head came up just above the water.' He promised
me he would not, and went to work. Soon after four in the afternoon,
being at John Hanson's, his partner's, house, she was on a sudden
extremely sick, so that for some minutes she seemed just ready to expire;
then she was well in a moment. Just at that time John Hanson, who was an
excellent swimmer, persuaded her husband to go into the water on the far
side of the town. He objected, the water was deep, and he could not swim,
and being much importuned to go in, stood some time after he was
undressed, and then, kneeling down, prayed with an earnest and loud
voice. When he rose from his knees John, who was swimming, called him
again, and, treading the water, said, 'See, it is only breast high.' He
stepped in and sank. A man who was near, cutting fern, and had observed
him for some time, ran to the bank and saw his head come up just above
the water. The second  or third time he rose he clasped his hands and
cried aloud, 'Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!

Immediately he sank and rose no more.

"One might naturally inquire, 'What became of John Hanson?' As soon as he
saw his partner sink he swam from him to the other side, put on his
clothes, and went straight home."


June 14, 1758. (Vol. ii. p. 416.)

After preaching in the evening I talked with Kath. Shea of Athlone
concerning a strange account which I had heard; there are many now living
who attest, on their personal knowledge, most of the particulars of it.
She said:-

"When I was ten years old the preaching began at Athlone. I liked and
often heard it, though my parents were zealous Papists, till they removed
into the country. I then grew as zealous as them, and was diligent in
reading the Popish prayers till I was about thirteen, when, taking the
Mass-book one day to read my prayers, I could not see one word. I
continued blind, just able to discern light from darkness, but not to
read or do any work; till, after three months, casting my eye on a New
Testament, I could read clearly. I said to myself, 'I won't read this
Protestant book, I will read my own book.' Accordingly I opened the
Mass-book, but could not see one word: it appeared all dark and black. I
made the trial thrice over, holding the Mass-book in one hand and the
Testament in the other. I could not see anything in the Mass-book, but
could read the Testament as well as ever. On this I threw away the
Mass-book, fully resolved to meddle with it no more.

"Afterwards my parents returned to Athlone. Then I heard the preaching at
all opportunities. For this they beat me many times, and at last turned
me out of doors. Yet after this my father brought me to the priest, who
disputed with me very warmly. At length my father said, 'I think the girl
is in the right,' and he opposed me no more to the day of his death."


July 24, 1761. (Vol. iii. p. 69.)

About one I preached at Bramley, where Jonas Rushford, about fourteen
years old, gave me the following relation:-

"About this time last year I was desired by two of our neighbours to go
with them to Mr. Crowther's at Skipton, who would not speak to them about
a man that had been missing about twenty days, but bid them bring a boy
twelve or thirteen years old. When we came in he stood reading a book. He
put me into a bed with a looking-glass in my hand, and covered me all
over. Then he asked me whom I had a mind to see. And I said 'My mother.'
I presently saw her with a lock of wool in her hand, standing just in the
place and the clothes she was in, as she told me afterwards. Then he bid
me look again for the man that was missing, who was one of our
neighbours. And I looked and saw him riding towards Idle, but he was very
drunk; and he stopped at the alehouse and drank two pints more, and he
pulled out a guinea to change. Two men stood by, a big man and a little
man; and they went on before him, and got two hedge-stakes; and when he
came up on Windel Common at the top of the hill, they pulled him off his
horse, killed him, and threw him into a coal pit. And I saw it all as
plain as though I was close to them, and if I saw the men I should know
them again.

"We went back to Bradford that night, and the next day I went with our
neighbours and showed them the spot where he was killed and the pit he
was thrown into, and a man went down and brought him up. And it was as I
had told them, his handkerchief was tied about his mouth and fastened
behind his neck."

Is it improbable only or flatly impossible, when all the circumstances
are considered, that this should all be pure fiction? They that can
believe this may believe a man's getting into a bottle.



October 1, 1763. (Vol. iii. p. 149.)

I now received a very strange account from a man of sense as well as

"I asked M. S. many questions before she would give me any answer. At
length, after much persuasion, she said, 'On old Michaelmas Day was three
years, I was sitting by myself at my father's with a Bible before me, and
one whom I took to be my uncle came into the room and sat down by me. He
talked to me some time, till, not liking his discourse, I looked more
carefully at him; he was dressed like my uncle, but I observed one of his
feet was just like that of an ox. Then I was much frighted, and he began
torturing me sadly, and told me he would torture me ten times more if I
would not swear to kill my father, which at last I did. He said he would
come again on that day four years, between half-past two and three

"'I have several times since strove to write this down, but when I did,
the use of my hand was taken from me; I strove to speak it, but whenever
I did, my speech was taken from me; and I am afraid I shall be tormented
a deal more for what I have spoken now.'

"Presently she fell into such a fit as was dreadful to look upon; one
would have thought she would be torn to pieces. Several persons could
scarce hold her; till, after a time, she sank down as dead.

"From that Michaelmas day she was continually tormented with the thought
of killing her father, as likewise of killing herself, which she often
attempted, but was as often hindered. Once she attempted to cut her own
throat; once to throw herself into Rosamond's Pond; several times to
strangle herself, which, once or twice, was, with much difficulty,

"Her brother, fearing lest she should at last succeed in her attempt, and
finding her fits come more frequently, got a strait-waistcoat made for
her, such as they use at Bedlam. It was made of strong ticking, with two
straps on the shoulders to fasten her down to the bed, one across her
breast, another across her middle, and another across her knees; one
likewise was buckled on each leg, and fastened to the side of the bed.
The arms of the waistcoat drew over her fingers and fastened like a
purse. In a few minutes after she was thus secured, her brother coming to
the bed found she was gone. After some time he found she was up the
chimney, so high up that he could scarce touch her feet. When Mary Loftus
called her she came down, having her hands as fast as ever.

"The night after I fastened her arms to her body with new straps over and
above the rest. She looked at me and laughed, then gave her hands a
slight turn and all the fastenings were off.

"In the morning Mr. Spark came. On our telling him this he said, 'But I
will take upon me to fasten her so that she shall not get loose.'
Accordingly he sent for some girth-web, with which he fastened her arms
to her sides, first above her elbows round her body, then below her
elbows; then he put it round each wrist, and braced them down to each
side of the bedstead. After this she was quiet a night and a day, then
all this was off like the rest.

"After this we did not tie her down any more, only watched over her night
and day. I asked the physician that attended her whether it was a natural
disorder? He said, 'Partly natural, partly diabolical.' We then judged
there was no remedy but prayer, which was made for her or with her
continually, though while any were praying with her she was tormented
more than ever.

"The Friday before Michaelmas day last Mr. W. came to see her. He asked,
'Do you know me?' She said, 'No, you all appear to me like blackamoors.'
'But do you not know my voice?' 'No, I know no one's voice except Molly
L.' 'Do you pray God to help you?' 'No, I cannot pray, God will never
help me; I belong to the devil, and he will have me; he will take me body
and soul on Monday.' 'Would you have me pray for you?' 'No, indeed, for
when people pray he torments me worse than ever.' In her fits she was at
first convulsed all over, seeming in an agony of pain, and screaming
terribly; then she began cursing, swearing, and blaspheming in the most
horrid manner; then she burst into vehement fits of laughter; then sunk
down as dead. All this time she was quite senseless; then she fetched a
deep sigh, and recovered her sense and understanding, but was so weak
that she could not speak to be heard unless you put your ear almost close
to her mouth.

"When Mr. W. began praying she began screaming, so that a mob quickly
gathered about the house; however, he prayed on till the convulsions and
screaming ceased, and she came to her senses much sooner than usual. What
most surprised us was, that she continued in her senses, and soon after
began to pray herself.

"On Sunday evening Mr. W. came again, asked her many questions, pressed
her to call upon God for power to believe, and then prayed with her. She
then began to pray again, and continued in her senses longer than she had
done for a month before, but still insisted that the devil 'would come
the next day between two and three and take her away.'

"She begged me to sit up with her that night, which I willingly did.
About four in the morning she burst out into a flood of tears, crying,
'What shall I do? What shall I do? I cannot stand this' day; this day I
shall be lost.' I went to prayer with her, and exhorted her to pray for
faith, and her agony ceased.

"About half an hour after ten, ten of us came together, as we had agreed
the day before. I said, 'Is there any among you who does not believe that
God is able and willing to deliver this soul?' They answered with one
voice, 'We believe He both can and will deliver her this day.' I then
fastened her down to the bed on both sides, and set two on each side to
hold her if need were. We began laying her case before the Lord and
claiming His promise on her behalf. Immediately Satan raged vehemently.
He caused her to roar in an uncommon manner, then to shriek, so that it
went through our heads, then to bark like a dog. Then her face was
distorted to an amazing degree, her mouth being drawn from ear to ear,
and her eyes turned opposite ways, and starting as if they would start
out of her head. Presently her throat was so convulsed, that she appeared
to be quite strangled; then the convulsions were in her bowels, and her
body swelled as if ready to burst. At other times she was stiff from head
to foot as an iron bar, being at the same time wholly deprived of her
senses and motion, not even breathing at all. Soon after her body was so
writhed, one would have thought all her bones must be dislocated.

"We continued in prayer, one after another, till about twelve o'clock.
One then said, 'I must go, I can stay no longer.' Another and another
said the same, till we were upon the point of breaking up. I said, 'What
is this? Will you all give place to the devil? Are you still ignorant of
Satan's devices? Shall we leave this poor soul in his hands? 'Presently
the cloud vanished away. We all saw the snare, and resolved to wrestle
with God till we had the petition we asked of Him. We began singing a
hymn, and quickly found His Spirit was in the midst of us; but the more
earnestly we prayed, the more violently the enemy raged. It was with
great difficulty that four of us could hold her down; frequently we
thought she would have been torn out of our arms. By her looks and
motions we judged she saw him in a visible shape. She laid fast hold on
Molly L. and me with inexpressible eagerness, and soon burst into a flood
of tears, crying, 'Lord, save, or I perish. I will believe; Lord, give me
power to believe; help my unbelief.' Afterwards she lay quiet for about
fifteen minutes. I then asked, 'Do you now believe Christ will save you,
and have you the desire to pray to Him?' She answered, 'I have a little
desire, but I want power to believe.' We bid her keep asking for the
power and looking unto Jesus. I then gave out a hymn, and she earnestly
sang with us these words:-

'O Sun of Righteousness arise,
With healing in Thy wing!
To my diseas'd, my fainting soul,
Life and salvation bring.'

I now looked at my watch, and told her 'It is half an hour past two; that
is the time when the devil said he would come for you.' But, blessed be
to God, instead of a tormentor, he sent a Comforter. Jesus appeared to
her soul and rebuked the enemy, though still some fear remained; but at
three it was all gone, and she mightily rejoiced in the God of her
salvation. It was a glorious sight. Her fierce countenance was changed,
and she looked innocent as a child. And we all partook of the blessing,
for Jesus filled our souls with a love which no tongue can express. We
then offered up our joint praises to God for His unspeakable mercies, and
left her full of faith and love and joy in God her Saviour."



June 1, 1764. (Vol. iii. p. 181.)

I rode to Brethin, where Mr. Blair received me in the most friendly
manner. In the afternoon I preached on the side of a hill near the town,
where we soon forgot the cold....

About seven Mr. B. was occasionally mentioning what had occurred in the
next parish. I thought it worth a farther enquiry, and therefore ordered
our horses to be brought immediately. Mr. B. guided us to Mr. Ogilvie's
house, the minister of the parish, who informed us "that a strange
disorder had appeared in his parish between thirty and forty years ago,
but that nothing of the kind had been known there since till some time in
September last. A boy was then taken ill, and so continues still. In the
end of January or beginning of February many other children were taken,
chiefly girls and a few grown persons. They began with an involuntary
shaking of their hands and feet. Then their lips are convulsed, next
their tongue, which seems to cleave to the roof of the mouth, then the
eyes are set staring terribly, and the whole face variously distorted;
presently they start up and jump ten, fifteen, or twenty times together
straight upward, two, three, or more feet from the ground. Then they
start forward and run with amazing swiftness two, three, or five hundred
yards. Frequently they run up like a cat to the top of a house and jump
on the ridge of it, as on the ground; but wherever they are, they never
fall or miss their footing at all. After they have run and jumped for
some time they drop down as dead. When they come to themselves, they
usually tell when and where they shall be taken again; frequently how
often, and where they shall jump, and to what places they shall run."

I asked, "Are any of them near?" He said,

Yes, at those houses." We walked thither without delay. One of them was
four years and a half old, the other about eighteen. The child, we found,
had had three or four fits that day, running and jumping like the rest,
and, in particular, leaping many times from a high table to the ground
without the least hurt. The young woman was the only person of them all
who used to keep her senses during the fit. In answer to many questions
she said, "I first feel a pain in my left foot, then in my head; then my
hands and feet shake, and I cannot speak; and quickly I begin to jump or
run." While we were talking she cried out, "O! I have a pain in my foot;
it is in my hand; it is here at the bending of my arm. O! my head, my
head!" Immediately her arms were stretched out and were as an iron bar; I
could not bend one of her fingers; and her body was bent backward, the
lower part remaining quite erect, while her back formed exactly half a
circle, her head hanging even with her hips. I was going to catch her,
but one said, "Sir, you may let her alone, for they never fall." But I
defy all mankind to account for her not falling when the trunk of her
body hung in that manner.

In many instances this case goes far beyond the famous one mentioned by
Boerhaave, particularly in that, their telling before, when and how they
shall be taken again. Whoever can account for this upon natural
principles has my free leave; I cannot. I therefore believe if this be in
part a natural distemper, there is something preternatural too. Yet,
supposing this, I can easily conceive Satan will so disguise his part
therein that we cannot precisely determine which part of the disorder is
natural and which preternatural.


June 16,1765. (Vol. iii. p. 228.)

To-day I received from Prudence Nixon herself the strange account of her
late husband. In November last, on a Sunday evening, he was uncommonly
fervent in prayer, and found such a desire as he never had before "to
depart and to be with Christ." In the night she awaked and found him
quite stiff, and without sense or motion. Supposing him to be either
dying or dead, she broke out into vehement agony of prayer, and cried for
half an hour together, "Lord Jesus, give me George! Take him not away!"
Soon after he opened his eyes and said earnestly, "You had better have
let me go." Presently he was raving mad, and began to curse and blaspheme
in the most horrid manner. This he continued to do for several days,
appearing to be under the full power of an unclean spirit. At the latter
end of the week she cried out, "Lord, I am willing! I am willing he
should go to Thee." Quickly his understanding returned, and he again
rejoiced with joy unspeakable. He tenderly thanked her for giving him up
to God, kissed her, lay down, and died.


July 29, 1766. (Vol. iii. p. 263.)

I preached at Colne, and here I found one whom I had sent for several
years ago. She lives two miles from Colne, and is of an unblamable
behaviour. Her name is Ann A.; she is now in the twenty-sixth year of her
age. The account she gives is as follows:-

"I cannot now remember the particulars which I told Mr. Grimshaw from
time to time; but I well remember that from the time I was about four
years old, after I was in bed, I used to see several persons walking up
and down the room; they all used to come very near the bed, and look upon
me, but say nothing. Some of them looked very sad, and some looked very
cheerful; some seemed pleased, others very angry; and these frayed me
sore, especially a man and a woman of our own parish, who seemed
fighting, and died soon after. None of them spake to me but a lad about
sixteen, who a week before died of the smallpox. I said to him, 'You are
dead! How did you get out of the other place? He said, 'Easily enough.' I
said, 'Nay, I think if I was there I should not get out so easily.' He
looked exceedingly angry. I was frighted and began to pray, and he
vanished away. If it was ever so dark, when any of them appeared it was
light all round them. This continued till I was sixteen or seventeen; but
it frightened me more and more, and I was troubled, because people talked
about me, and many told me I was a witch. This made me cry earnestly to
God to take it away from me. In a week or two it was all at an end, and I
have seen nothing since."


August 1, 1767. (Vol. iii. p. 298.)

Before I left Glasgow I heard so strange an account that I desired to
hear it from the person himself. He was a sexton, yet for many years had
little troubled himself about religion. I set down his words, and leave
every man to form his own judgment upon them.

"Sixteen weeks ago, I was walking an hour before sunset behind the high
kirk, and looking on one side I saw one close to me, who looked in my
face and asked me how I did. I answered, 'Pretty well.' He said, 'You
have had many troubles. But how have you improved them?

He then told me all that ever I did, yea, and the thoughts that had been
in my heart, adding, 'Be ready for my second coming'; and he was gone I
knew not how. I trembled all over, and had no strength in me, but sunk
down to the ground. From that time I groaned continually under the load
of sin, till at the Lord's Supper it was all taken away."



May 25, 1768. (Vol iii. p. 329.)

[As Professor Winchester says of this particular entry, "Wesley adds a
very odd series of comments, queries, and inferences of his own as to the
behaviour of ghosts, which would hardly satisfy the requirements of
strict scientific investigation.

This and the two following days, being at Sunderland, I took clown from
one who had feared God from her infancy one of the strangest accounts I
ever read, and yet I can find no pretence to disbelieve it. The
well-known character of the person excludes all suspicion of fraud, and
the nature of the circumstances themselves excludes the possibility of a

It is true, there are several of them which I do not comprehend; but this
is with me a very slender objection; for what is it which I do
comprehend, even of the things I see daily? Truly not

"The smallest grain of sand or spire of glass."

I know not how the one grows or how the particles of the other cohere
together. What pretence have I then to deny well-attested facts because I
cannot comprehend them?

It is true, likewise, that the English in general, and, indeed, most of
the men of learning in Europe, have given up all accounts of witches and
apparitions as mere old wives' fables. I am sorry for it, and I willingly
take this opportunity of entering my solemn protest against this violent
compliment which so many that believe the Bible pay to those who do not
believe it. I owe them no such service. I take knowledge these are at the
bottom of the outcry which has been raised, and with such insolence
spread throughout the nation, in direct opposition, not only to the Bible
but to the suffrage of the wisest and best of men in all ages and
nations. They well know (whether Christians know it or not) that the
giving up of witchcraft is, in effect, giving up the, Bible; and they
know, on the other hand, that if but one account of the intercourse of
men with separate spirits be admitted, their whole castle in the air
(Deism, Atheism, Materialism) falls to the ground. I know no reason
therefore why we should suffer even this weapon to be wrested out of our
hands. Indeed, there are numerous arguments besides which abundantly
confute their vain imaginations, but we need not be hooted out of one;
neither reason nor religion requires this.

One of the capital objections to all these accounts, which I have known
urged over and over, is this: "Did you ever see an apparition yourself?"
No. Nor did I ever see a murder, yet I believe there is such a thing,
yea, and that in one place or another murder is committed every day.
Therefore I cannot, as a reasonable man, deny the fact, although I never
saw it, and perhaps never may. The testimony of unexceptionable witnesses
fully convinces me both of the one and the other.

But to set this aside, it has been confidently alleged that many of these
have seen their error, and have been clearly convinced that the supposed
preternatural operation was the mere contrivance of artful men. The
famous instance of this, which has been spread far and wide, was the
drumming in Mr. Mompesson's house at Tedworth; who, it was said,
acknowledged "it was all a trick, and that he had found out the whole
contrivance." Not so. My oldest brother, then at Christ Church, Oxon,
enquired of Mr. Mompesson, his fellow collegian, "Whether his father had
acknowledged this or not?" He answered, "The resort of gentlemen to my
father's house was so great, he could not bear the expense. He therefore
took no pains to confute the report that he had found out the cheat,
although he and I and all the family knew the account which was published
to be punctually true."

This premised, I proceed to as remarkable a narrative as any that has
fallen under my notice. The reader may believe it if he pleases, or may
disbelieve it without any offence to me. Meantime, let him not be
offended if I believe it till I see better reason to the contrary. I have
added a few short remarks which may make some passages a little more

1. Elizabeth Robson was born in Sunderland in the year 1744. Her father
dying when she was three or four years old, her uncle, Thomas Rea, a
pious man, brought her up as his own daughter. She was serious from a
child, and grew up in the fear of God. Yet she had deep and sharp
convictions of sin till she was about sixteen years of age, when she
found peace with God, and from that time the whole tenor of her behaviour
was suitable to her profession.

On Wednesday, May 25, 1768, and the three following days, I talked with
her at large; but it was with great difficulty I prevailed on her to
speak. The substance of what she said was as follows:-

"2. From my childhood, when any of our neighbours died, whether men,
women or children, I used to see them either just when they died or a
little before. And I was not frightened at all, it was so common. Indeed,
many times I did not then know they were dead. I saw many of them by day,
many by night. Those that came when it was dark brought light with them.
I observed little children and many grown persons had a bright, glorious
light round them; but many had a gloomy, dismal light, and a dusky cloud
over them.

"3. When I told my uncle this, he did not seem to be at all surprised at
it.* But at several times he said, 'Be not afraid, only take care to fear
and serve God. As long as he is on your side, none will be able to hurt
you.' At other times he said (dropping a word now and then, but seldom
answering me any questionings about it), 'Evil spirits very seldom appear
but between eleven at night and two in the morning; but after they have
appeared to a person a year, they frequently come in the daytime.
Whatever spirits, good or bad, come in the day, they come at sunrise, at
noon, or at sunset.'**

* It appears highly probable that he himself was experimentally
acquainted with these things.
** How strange is this! But how little do we know concerning the laws of
the invisible world.

"4. When I was between twelve and thirteen my uncle had a lodger who was
a very wicked man. One night I was sitting in my chamber, about half an
hour after ten, having by accident put out my candle, when he came in all
over on a flame. I cried out, 'William, why do you come in so to fright
me?' He said nothing, but went away. I went after him into his room, but
found he was fast asleep in bed. A day or two after he fell ill, and
within the week died in raging despair.

"5. I was between fourteen and fifteen when I went very early one morning
to fetch up the kine. I had two fields to cross into a low ground, which
was said to be haunted. Many persons had been frighted there, and I had
myself often seen men and women (so many at times, that they are out of
count) go just by me and vanish away. This morning, as I came toward it,
I heard a confused noise as of many people quarrelling. But I did not
mind it, and went on till I came near the gate. I then saw on the other
side a young man dressed in purple, who said, 'It is too early;
 go back from whence you came. The Lord be with you and bless you.' And
presently he was gone.

"6. When I was about sixteen my uncle fell ill, and grew worse and worse
for three months. One day, having been sent out on an errand, I was
coming home through a lane, when I saw him in the field coming swiftly
towards me. I ran to meet him, but he was gone. When I came home I found
him calling for me. As soon as I came to his bedside he clasped his arms
round my neck, and, bursting into tears, earnestly exhorted me to
continue in the ways of God, kept his hold till he sunk down and died,
and even then they could hardly unclasp his fingers. I would fain have
died with him, and wished to be buried with him, dead or alive.

"7. From that time I was crying from morning to night and praying that I
might see him. I grew weaker and weaker, till one morning, about one
o'clock, as I was lying, crying as usual, I heard some noise, and rising
up, saw him come to the bedside. He looked much displeased, shook his
head at me, and in a minute or two went away.

"8. About a week after I took my bed and grew worse and worse, till in
six or seven days my life was despaired of. Then, about eleven at night,
my uncle came in, looked well pleased, and sat down on the bedside. He
came every night after at the same time and stayed till cock-crowing. I
was exceeding glad, and kept my eyes fixed upon him all the time he
stayed. If I wanted drink or anything, though I did not speak or stir,*
he fetched it, and sat it on the chair by the bedside. Indeed I could not
speak; ** many times I strove, but could not move my tongue. Every
morning when he went away he waved his hand to me, and I heard delightful
music, as if many persons were singing together.

* So it is plain he know her thoughts. But this is widely distant from
knowing the hearts of all men.
** Such an impression, even though she felt no fear, did the presence of
a superior nature make upon her. his hat; but he went swiftly by me, and
I saw the wall on the other side of the lane part as he went through, and
then immediately close after him. At ten the next morning he died.

"9. In about six weeks I grew better. I was then musing one night whether
I did well in desiring he might come, and I was praying that God would do
His own will, when he came in and stood by the bedside. But he was not in
his usual dress; he had on a white robe, which reached down to his feet.
He looked quite well pleased. About one there stood by him a person in
white, taller than him, and exceeding beautiful. He came with the singing
as of many voices, and continued till near cook-crowing. Then my uncle
smiled, and waved his hand toward me twice or thrice. They went away with
inexpressibly sweet music, and I saw him no more.

"10. In a year after this a young man courted me, and in some months we
agreed to be married. But he purposed to take another voyage first, and
one evening went aboard his ship. About eleven o'clock, going out to look
for my mother, I saw him standing at his mother's door with his hands in
his pockets and his hat pulled over his eyes. I went to him and reached
my hand to put up

"11. A few days after, John Simpson, one of our neighbours, a man that
utterly feared God, and one with whom I was particularly acquainted, went
to sea as usual. He sailed on a Tuesday. The Friday following, between
eleven and twelve o'clock, I heard one walking in my room, and every step
sounded as if he was stepping in water. He then came to the bedside in
his sea, jacket, all wet, and stretched his hand over me. Three drops of
water fell on my breast,* and felt as cold as ice. I strove to wake his
wife, who lay with me; but I could not, any more than if she was dead.
Afterward I heard he was cast away that night. In less than a minute he
went away, but he came to me every night for six or seven nights
following between eleven and two. Before he came and when he went away I
always heard sweet music.** Afterwards he came both day and night; every
night about twelve with the music at his coming and going, and every day
at sunrise, noon, and sunset. He came whatever company I was in-at
church, in the preaching house, at my class-and was always just before
me, changing his posture as I changed mine. When I sat, he sat; when I
kneeled, he kneeled; when I stood, he stood likewise. I would fain have
spoke to him, but I could not. When I tried, my heart sunk within me.
Meantime it affected me more and more, so that I lost both my stomach, my
colour, and my strength. This continued ten weeks, while I pined away not
daring to tell anyone. At last he came four or five nights without any
music, and looked exceeding sad. On the fifth night he drew the curtains
of the bed violently to and fro, still looking wistfully at me, and as
one quite distressed. This he did two nights. On the third I lay down
about eleven on the side of the bed. I quickly saw him walking up and
down the room.

* Was this real? or did he only raise such a sensation in her?
** Was this a real modulation of the air? Was it designed to show that he
was happy, and to encourage her to speak?

Being resolved to speak to him, but unwilling any should hear, I rose and
went up into the garret. When I opened the door I saw him walking towards
me and shrunk back, on which he stopped and stood at a distance. I said,
'In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, what is your business
with me?' He answered, 'Betsy, God forgive you for keeping me so long
from my rest.* Have you forgotten what you promised me before I went to
sea-to look to my children if I was drowned? You must stand to your word,
or I cannot rest.' I said, 'I wish I was dead.' He said, 'Say not so; you
have more to go through before then, and yet if you knew as much as I do,
you would not care how soon you died. You may bring the children on in
their learning while they live; they have but a short time.'**

* Who can account for this?
** By what means could he know this?

I said, 'I will take all the care I can.' He added, 'Your brother has
wrote for you to come to Jamaica, but if you go it will hurt your soul.
You have also thoughts of altering your condition,* but if you marry him
you think of, it will draw you from God, and you will neither be happy
here nor hereafter. Keep close to God, and go on in the way wherein you
have been brought up.' I asked, 'How do you spend your time?' He
answered, 'In songs of praise. But of this you will know more by-and-by;
for where I am, you will surely be. I have lost much happiness by coming
to you ** and I should not have stayed so long without using other means
to make you speak, but the Lord would not suffer me to fright you. Have
you anything more to say? It draws near two, and after that I cannot
stay. I shall only come to you twice more before the death of my two
children. God bless you.' Immediately I heard such singing as if a
thousand voices joined together. He then went downstairs, and I followed
him to the first landing. He smiled, and I said, 'I desire you will come
back.' He stood still till I came to him. I asked him one or two
questions, which he immediately answered, but added, 'I wish you had not
called me back, for now I must take something from you.'*** He paused a
little and said, 'I think you can best part with the hearing of your left
ear.' He laid his hand upon it, and in an instant it was as deaf as a
stone, and it was several years before I recovered the least hearing of
it. The cock crowed as he went out of the door, and then the music
ceased. The elder of his children died at about three years and a half,
the younger before he was five years old. He appeared before the death of
each, but without speaking; after that I saw him no more.

* So he likewise knew her thoughts.
** I do not understand this.
***Another instance like this we shall see by-and-by, but the reason of
it we cannot so much as conjecture.

"12. A little before Michaelmas 1763 my brother George, who was a good
young man, went to sea. The day after Michaelmas day, about midnight, I
saw him standing by my bedside surrounded with a glorious light, and
looking earnestly at me. He was wet all over. That night the ship in
which he sailed split upon a rock and all the crew were drowned.

"13. On April 9,1767, about midnight I was lying awake, and I saw my
brother John* standing by my bedside. Just at that time he died in

"14. By his death I became entitled to a house in Sunderland, which was
left us by my grandfather, John Hobson, an exceeding wicked man, who was
drowned fourteen years ago. I employed an attorney to recover it from my
aunts, who kept possession of it; but finding more difficulty than I
expected, in the beginning of December I gave it up. Three or four nights
afterwards, as I rose from prayer a little before eleven, I saw him
standing at a small distance. I cried out, 'Lord bless me! what brings
you here?' He answered, 'You have given up the house Mr. Parker advised
you so to do; ** but if you do, I shall have no rest.***

* So a spirit finds no difficulty in travelling three or four thousand
miles in a moment.
** How often are spirits present when we do not think of it?
*** Why not? What had he to do with the things under the sun?

Indeed, Mr. Dunn,* whom you have employed, will do nothing for you. Go to
Durham; employ an attorney there, and it will be recovered.** His voice
was loud and so hollow and deep, that every word went through me.*** His,
lips did not move at all (nor his eyes), but the sound seemed to rise out
of the floor. When he had done speaking he turned about and walked out of
the room.****

* How did he know Mr. Dann's thoughts?
** Was he sure of this? Or did he only conjecture?
*** What a picture! Far beyond her invention!
**** That he might not frighten her by vanishing away.

"15. In January, as I was sitting on the bedside a quarter before twelve,
he came in, stood before me, looked earnestly at me, then walked up and
down, and stood and looked again. This he did for half an hour, and thus
he came every other night* for about three weeks. All this time he seemed
angry,** and sometimes his look was quite horrid and furious. One night I
was sitting up in bed crying, when he came and began to pull off the
clothes. I strove to touch his hand but could not, on which he shrank
back and smiled.***

* Surely God saw this was as much as she could bear.
** At her not speaking. But why could he not speak first? Is this
contrary to the law of the invisible world?
*** Poor ghost! Did this divert thee for a moment from attending to the
worm that never dieth?

"16. The next night but one, about twelve, I was again sitting up, and
crying, when he came and stood at the bedside. As I was looking for a
handkerchief he walked to the table, took one up,* brought and dropped it
upon the bed. After this he came three or four nights and pulled the
clothes off, throwing them on the other side of the bed.

* So he saw her thought! But did he not pity her too?

"17. Two nights after, he came as I was sitting on the bedside, and after
walking to and fro, snatched the handkerchief from my neck. I fell into a
swoon. When I came to myself he was standing just before me. Presently he
came close to me, dropped it on the bed, and went away.

"18. Having had a long illness the year before, having taken much cold by
his frequent pulling off the clothes, and being worn out by these
appearances, I was now mostly confined to my bed. The next night, soon
after eleven, he came again. I asked, 'In God's name, why do you torment
me thus? You know it is impossible for me to go to Durham now. But I have
a fear that you are not happy, and beg to know whether you are or not?'
He answered after a little pause, 'That is a bold question for you to
ask. So far as you knew me to do amiss in my lifetime, do you take care
to do better.' I said, 'It is a shocking affair to live and die after
that manner.' He replied, 'It is no time for reflections now; what is
done cannot be undone.' I said, 'It must be a great happiness to die in
the Lord.' He said, 'Hold your tongue.'* Hold your tongue. At your peril
never mention such a word before me again!' I was frightened, and strove
to lift up my heart to God. He gave a shriek, and sunk down at three
times, with a loud groan at each time. Just as he disappeared there was a
large flash of fire, and I fainted away.

* This seems to have been peculiarly intolerable to him. The thought of
what he had lost.

"19. Three days after I went to Durham, and put the affair in Mr. Hugill
the attorney's hands. The next night, about one, he came in, but on my
taking up the Bible went away. A month after he came about eleven. I
said, Lord bless me, what has brought you here again? He said, 'Mr.
Hugill* I has done nothing but wrote one letter; you must write or go to
Durham again; it may be decided in a few days.'

* So he had observed him narrowly, though unseen.

I asked, 'Why do you not go to my aunts, who keep me out of it?' He
answered, 'I have no power to go to them, and they cannot bear it. If I
could I would go to them, were it only to warn them,* for I doubt where I
am I shall get too many to bear me company.' He added, 'Take care,**
there is mischief laid in Peggy's hands***; she will strive to meet you
coming from your class. I do not speak to hinder you from going to it,
but that you may be cautious. Let someone go with you and come back with
you, though whether you will escape or no I cannot tell.'

* Is not this like the concern of Dives for his five brethren? Luke xvi.
** Here at least he shows some remains of real affection.
*** Her aunt.

I said, 'She can do no more than God will let her.' He answered, 'We have
all too little to do with Him; mention that word no more. As soon as this
is decided, meet me at Boyldon Hill* between twelve and one at night.' I
said, 'That is a lone place for a woman to go to at that time of night. I
am willing to meet you in the Ballast Hills or in the churchyard.' He
said, 'That will not do; but what are you afraid of?' I answered, 'I am
not afraid of you,** but of rude men.' He said, 'I will set you safe,
both thither and back again.' I asked, 'May I not bring a minister with
me?' He replied, 'Are you thereabouts? I will not be seen by any but you.
You have plagued me sore enough already; if you bring any with you, take
what follows.'

* About half a mile from the town.
** No! Not though she know him to be a damned spirit.

"20. From this time he appeared every night between eleven and two. If I
put out the fire and candle in hopes that I should not see him, it did
not avail; for as soon as he came all the room was light, but with a
dismal light, like that of flaming brimstone; but whenever I took up the
Bible, or kneeled down, yea, or prayed in my heart, he was gone.

"21. On Thursday, May 12th, he came about eleven as I was sitting by the
fire. I asked, 'In God's name, what do you want?' He said, 'You must
either go or write to Durham. I cannot stay from you till this is
decided, * and I cannot stay where I am.** When he went away I fell into
a violent passion of crying, seeing no end of my trouble. In this agony I
continued till after one, and then fell into a fit. About two I came to
myself, and saw, standing at the bedside, one in a white robe, which
reached down to his feet. I cried, 'In the name of the Father, Son, and
Holy Ghost.' He said, 'The Lord is with you, I am come to comfort you.
What cause have you to complain and murmur thus? Why do you mourn thus
for your friends? Pray for them, and leave them to God. Arise and pray.'
I said, 'I can pray none.' He said, 'But God will help you; only keep
close to God; you are backward likewise in praying with others, and
afraid to receive the Lord's Supper. Break through that backwardness and
that fear. The Lord bless you and be ever with you!' As he went away I
heard many voices singing Hallelujah, with such melody as I never heard
before. All my trouble was gone, and I wanted nothing but to fly away
with them.

* Why not? Who can tell?
** And where canst thou stay with any comfort? Dost thou not carry with
thee thy own hell?

"22. Saturday, 28th. About twelve my grandfather stood at the bedside. I
said, 'In God's name, what do you want?' He said, 'You do not make an end
of this thing; get it decided as soon as possible. My coming is as uneasy
to myself as it can be to you.' Before he came there was a strong smell
of burning, and the room was full of smoke, which got into my eyes, and
almost blinded me for some time after.

"23. Wednesday, June 21st. About sunset I was coming upstairs at Mrs.
Knot's, and I saw him coming towards me out of the opposite room. He went
close by me on the staircase. Before I saw him I smelled a strong smell
of burning, and so did Miss Hosmer. It got into my throat and almost
stifled me. I sat down and fainted away.

"24. On Friday, July 3rd, I was sitting at dinner, when I thought I heard
someone come along the passage. I looked about and saw my aunt, Margaret
Scot, of Newcastle, standing at my back.

On Saturday I had a letter informing me that she died on that day."

Thus far Elizabeth Hobson.

On Sunday, July 10th, I received the following letter from a friend to
whom I had recommended her:-

Sunderland, July 6, 1768.

"I wrote you word before that Elizabeth Hobson was put into possession of
the house. The same night her old visitant, who had not troubled her for
some time, came again and said, 'You must meet me at Boyldon Hill on
Thursday night a little before twelve. You will see many appearances* who
will call you to come to them, but do not stir, neither give them any
answer. A quarter after twelve I shall come and call you, but still do
not answer nor stir.' She said, 'It is a hardship upon me for you to
desire me to meet you there. Why cannot you take your leave now?' He
answered, 'It is for your good that I desire it. I can take my leave of
you now; but if I do, I must take something from you, which you would not
like to part with.' She said, 'May not a few friends come with me?' He
said, 'They may, but they must not be present when I come.'

* How strange is this! Who can account for it?

"That night twelve of us met at Mr. Davison's* and spent some time in
prayer. God was with us of a truth. Then six of us went with her to the
place, leaving the rest to pray for us. We came thither a little before
twelve, and then stood at a small distance from her. It being a flue
night, we kept her in our sight and spent the time in prayer. She stood
there till a few minutes after one. When we saw her move, we went to meet
her. She said, 'Thank God, it is all over and done. I found everything as
he told me. I saw many appearances who called me to them, but I did not
answer or stir. Then he came and called me at a distance, but I took no
notice. Soon after he came up to me and said, "You are come well
fortified." He then gave her the reasons why he required her to meet him
at that place, and why he could take his leave there and not in the
house, without taking something from her. But withal he charged her to
tell this to no one, adding if you disclose this to any creature, I shall
be under a necessity of troubling you as long as you live. If you do not,
I shall never trouble you, nor see you any more, either in time or
eternity.' He then bade her farewell, waved his hand and disappeared."

* About a quarter of a mile from the hill.



July 1, 1770. (Vol. iii. p. 411.)

At Halifax I had an opportunity of enquiring thoroughly into a very
extraordinary case. On January 26, 1760, a young woman of two-and-twenty
felt in the evening an uncommon coldness at her feet. Presently after she
was seized with convulsions. The disorder from that time attended her
more or less every day, in spite of all the medicines which were
administered by the most skilful physicians. One of her fits began a
little before we went in. At first she fell back in her chair seemingly
senseless and wrought, like one strangled in her breast and throat. In
two or three minutes she sprang up, turned round many times, then dropped
down and began beating her head against the stone floor. Quickly she
started up, leaped right upwards many times, then ran to and fro, with a
hundred odd gesticulations. She beat herself on the head, tore her hair,
and attempted to run into the fire. Being put into a chair, she spoke a
good deal, but not articulately. She was convulsed again from head to
foot, and afterwards said wildly, "Where am I? Who are these? I want my
father. I will go to my father." In about an hour she came to her senses.

I should have imagined the physicians would have supposed all this to be
counterfeit, but it seems one and all thought that could not be, as she
could have no motive to feign, since she gained nothing thereby, living
upon the fruit of her own and her father's labour. And many of the
circumstances could not be accounted for upon that supposition. Such were
her tears, her foaming at the mouth, her tearing her hair, striking
herself, and beating her head against the stones; her strong convulsions
and, what none can well conceive unless he saw it, the change of her
countenance, which was horrid and dreadful, yea, diabolical, as long as
the fits were upon her, but was remarkably pretty and agreeable as soon
as she came to herself.

When old Dr A. was asked what her disorder was, he answered, "It is what
formerly they would have called being bewitched." And why should they not
call it so now? Because the infidels have hooted witchcraft out of the
world, and the complaisant Christians, in large numbers, have joined with
them in the cry. I do not so much wonder at this, that many of these
should herein talk like infidels; but I have sometimes been inclined to
wonder at the pert, saucy, indecent manner wherein some of those trample
upon men far wiser than themselves; at their speaking so dogmatically
against what not only the whole world, heathen and Christian, believed in
all past ages, but thousands, learned as well as unlearned, firmly
believe at this day. I instance in Dr Smollett and Mr. Guthrie, whose
manner of speaking concerning witchcraft must be extremely offensive to
every sensible man who cannot give up his Bible.


October 31, 1772. (Vol. iii. p. 490.)

A young man of good sense and an unblamable character gave me a strange
account of what, he said, had happened to himself and three other persons
in the same house. As I knew they all feared God, I thought the matter
deserved a further examination, so in the afternoon I talked largely with
the___m all. The sum of their account was this:-

"Near two years ago Martin S. and William J. saw in a dream, two or three
times repeated to each of them, a person who told them there was a large
treasure bid in such a spot, three miles from Norwich, consisting of
money and plate, buried in a chest between six and eight feet deep. They
did not much regard this, till each of them, when they were broad awake,
saw an elderly man and woman standing by their bedside, who told them the
same thing, and bade them go and dig it up between eight and twelve at
night. Soon after they went, but, being afraid, took a third man with
them. They began digging at eight, and after they had dug six feet, saw
the top of a coffer or chest, but presently it sunk down into the earth,
and there appeared over the place a large globe of bright fire, which,
after some time, rose higher and higher, till it was quite out of sight.
Not long after the man and woman appeared again and said, 'You spoiled
all by bringing that man with you.' From this time both they and Sarah
and Mary J., who lives in the same house with them, have heard several
times in a week delightful music for a quarter of an hour at a time. They
often hear it before those persons appear, often when they do not

They asked me "whether they were good or bad spirits?" But I could not
resolve them.


November 17, 1772. (Vol. iii. p. 491.)

One was relating a remarkable story, which I thought worthy to be
remembered. Two years ago a gentleman of large fortune in Kent dreamed
that he was walking through the churchyard, and saw a new monument with
the following inscription:-

"Here lies the body of Samuel Savage, Esq., who departed this life on
September - 1772, aged --."

He told his friends in the morning and was much affected, but the
impression soon wore off. But on that day he did depart, and a stone was
erected with that very inscription.

A gentleman present added a relation equally surprising, which he
received from the person's own mouth:-

Mrs B., when about fourteen years of age, being at a boarding school a
mile or two from her father's, dreamed she was on the top of a church
steeple, when a man came up and threw her down to the roof of the church.
Yet she seemed not much hurt, till he came to her again and threw her to
the bottom. She thought she looked hard at him, and said, 'Now you have
hurt me sadly, but I shall hurt you worse,' and waked. A week after she
was to go to her father's. She set out early in the morning. At the
entrance to a little wood she stopped, and doubted whether she should not
go round instead of through it; but, knowing no reason, she went straight
through till she came to the other side. Just as she was going over the
stile a man pulled her back by the hair. She immediately knew it was the
same man she had seen in her dream. She fell on her knees and begged him,
'For God's sake, do not hurt me any more.' He put his hands round her
neck, and squeezed her so that she instantly lost her senses; he then
stripped her, carried her a little way, and threw her into a ditch.

"Meantime her father's servant, coming to the school and hearing she was
gone without him, walked back. Coming to the stile he heard several
groans, and looking about, raw many drops of blood. He traced them to the
ditch whence the groans came. He lifted her up, not knowing her at all,
as her face was covered with blood, carried her to a neighbouring house,
and, running to the village, quickly brought a surgeon. She was just
alive, but her throat was much hurt, so that she could not speak at all.

"Just then a young man of the village was missing. Search being made, he
was apprehended in an alehouse two miles off. He had all her clothes with
him in a bag, which, he said, he found. It was three months before she
was able to go abroad. He was arraigned at the assizes. She knew him
perfectly, and swore to the man. He was condemned, and soon after


August 24, 1778. (Vol. iv. p. 137.)

In the way to Medras Mr. Furz gave me a strange relation, which was
afterwards confirmed by eye and ear witnesses. "In July 1748 Martin
Hoskins of Sithney, being in a violent passion, was struck raving mad,
and obliged to be chained down to the floor. Charles S. went to see him.
He cried out, 'Who art thou? Hast thou faith? No! Thou art afraid.'
Charles felt an inexpressible shock, and was raving mad himself. He
continued so for several days, till some agreed to keep a day of fasting
and prayer. His lunacy then ended as suddenly as it began; but what was
peculiarly remarkable was, while he was ill, Martin was quite well; as
soon as he was well, Martin was as ill as ever."


October 8, 1778. (ol. iv. p. 140.)

One of our friends, whom I have known several years, Mrs. Sarah M., and
on whose veracity I could depend, was mentioning some uncommon
circumstances. I desired her to relate them at large, which she readily
did as follows:-

"Six or seven years ago a servant of my husband's died of the. smallpox.
A few days after, as I was walking into the town, I met him in his common
everyday clothes running towards me; in about a minute he disappeared.

"Mr. Heth, a surgeon and apothecary, died in March 1756. On the 14th of
April following I was walking with two other women in the High Street
about daybreak, and we all three saw him, dressed, as he usually was, in
a scarlet surtout, a bushy wig, and a very small bat. He was standing and
leaning against a post, with his chin resting on his hands. As we came
towards him (for we were not frightened at all) he walked towards us and
went by us. We looked steadily after him, and saw him till he turned into
the market-house.

"Not long after this Mr. S. died. Ten or twelve days after, as I was
walking near his house, about eleven o'clock, on a bright, sunshiny day,
I saw him standing at his chamber-window and looking full upon me, but it
was with the most horrid countenance that I ever saw. As I walked on I
could not keep my eyes off him till he withdrew from the window, though I
was so terrified with his ghastly look, that I was ready to drop down."


April 12, 1784. (Vol. iv. p. 277.)

Here (Oldham) a young woman of unblamable character (otherwise I should
not have given her any credit) gave me a remarkable account. She said, "I
had totally lost the sight of my right eye, when I dreamed one night that
our Saviour appeared to me, that I fell at His feet, and He laid His hand
upon my right eye. Immediately I waked, and from that moment have seen as
well with that eye as with the other."


April 19, 1784. (Vol. iv. p. 278.)

Among them (the congregation at Ambleside) were a gentleman and his wife,
who gave me a very remarkable relation. She said she had often heard her
mother relate, what an intimate acquaintance had told her, that her
husband was concerned in the Rebellion of 1745. He was tried at Carlisle
and found guilty. The evening before he was to die, sitting and musing in
her chair, she fell fast asleep. She dreamed one came to her and said,
"Go to such a part of the wall, and among the loose stones you will find
a key, which you must carry to your husband." She waked, but thinking it
a common dream, paid no attention to it. Presently she fell asleep again,
and dreamed the very same dream. She started up, put on her cloak and
hat, and went to that part of the wall, and among the loose stones found
a key. Having, with some difficulty, procured admission into the gaol,
she gave this to her husband. It opened the door of his cell as well as
the lock of the prison door. So at midnight he escaped for life."


December 1, 1786. (Vol. iv. p. 365.)

I heard of a young woman in that country (Long Stratton) who had uncommon
fits, and of one that had lately preached, but I did not know that it was
one and the same person. I found her in the very house to which I went,
and went and talked with her at large. I was surprised. Sarah Mallet,
twoor three-and-twenty years old, is of the same size that Jane Cooper
was, and is, I think, full as much devoted to God, and of as strong an
understanding, but she is not likely to live, having a species of
consumption, which I believe is never cured. Of the following relation
which she gave me there are numberless witnesses.

Some years since it was strongly impressed upon her that she ought to
call sinners to repentance. This impression she vehemently resisted,
believing herself quite unqualified both by her sin and her ignorance,
till it was suggested, "If you do not do it willingly, you shall do it
whether you will or no." She fell into a fit, and while utterly senseless
thought she was in the preaching house at Lowestoft, where she prayed and
preached for nearly an hour to an enormous congregation. She then opened
her eyes and recovered her senses. In a year or two she had eighteen of
these fits, in every one of which she imagined herself to be preaching in
one or another congregation. She then cried out, "Lord, I will obey Thee,
I will call sinners to repentance." She has done so occasionally from
that time, and her fits returned no more.


March 3, 1788. (Vol. iv. p. 419.)

About the middle of the discourse (at Bristol), while there was on every
side attention as night, a vehement noise arose, none could tell why, and
shot like lightning through the whole congregation. The terror and
confusion were inexpressible. You might have imagined it was a city taken
by storm. The people rushed upon each other with the utmost violence, the
benches were broken in pieces, and nine-tenths of the congregation
appeared to be struck with the same panic. In about six minutes the storm
ceased almost as suddenly as it rose. And all being calm, I went on
without the least interruption.

It was the strangest incident of the kind I ever remember, and believe
none can account for it without supposing some preternatural influence.
Satan fought lest his kingdom should be delivered up.


June 10, 1788. (Vol. iv. p. 435.)

Before I left Newcastle I was desired to read a strange account of a
young woman, late of Darlington. But I told the person who brought it I
can form no judgment till I talk with Margaret Barlow herself. This
morning she came to me, and again in the afternoon, and I asked her
abundance of questions. I was soon convinced that she was not only
sincere, but deep in grace, and therefore incapable of deceit. I was
convinced likewise that she had frequent intercourse with a spirit that
appeared in the form of an angel. I knew not how to judge of the rest.
Her account was: "For above a year I have seen this angel, whose face is
exceeding beautiful, her raiment (so she speaks) white as snow and
glistening like silver, her voice unspeakably soft and musical, she tells
me many things before they come to pass. She foretold I should be ill at
such a time, in such a manner, and well at such an hour, and it was so
exactly. She has said, 'Such a person shall die at such a time,' and he
did so. Above two months ago she told me your brother was dead (I did not
know you had a brother), and that he was in heaven, and some time since
she told me you will die in less than a year.* But what she has most
earnestly and frequently told me is that God will in a short time be
avenged of obstinate sinners, and will destroy them with fire from
heaven.** Whether this will be so or no I cannot tell, but when we were
alone there was a wonderful power in her words, and as the Indian said to
David Brainerd, 'they did good to my heart."'

* John Wesley died 1791.
** The French Revolution broke out in 1789. Possibly this may have been a
vague anticipation of this calamity.

It is above a year since this girl was first visited in this manner,
being then between fourteen and fifteen years old. But she was then quite
a womanish girl, and of unblamable behaviour.

Suppose that which appeared to her was really an angel, yet from the
face, the voice, and the apparel she might easily mistake him for a
female, and this mistake is of little consequence.

Much good has already resulted from this odd event, and is likely to
ensue, provided those who believe and those who disbelieve her report
have but patience with each other.


This site is full of FREE ebooks - Project Gutenberg Australia