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Strange and Wonderfull Newes from Barnet, 1688

spooky churchyard 2Being an exact and true relation of an apparition which hath several times appeared to Henry Taylor, Parish Clerk of East Barnet in the County of Hertford.  Declaring the manner and shape in which it appeared, being first like an Humble Bee, afterwards in the shape of a Raven, and then in the likeness of one Thomas Hinde, Overseer for the poor of that Parish. With the several discourses that it had with the said Henry Taylor, concerning money detailed from the poor, and other matters full of wonder and admiration.


Attested by:

Henry Taylor, Clerk

Jeremy Warner and Robert Cranwey, Householders

Edward Oliver, Constable


London. Printed by P. L. 1668




spooky churchyardThat there are Apparitions or walking Spirits, I think there is no man that will deny, Histories of former Ages are very copious herein; nor wants there sundry examples of our modern times to envince the truth thereof which I could give you many late instances, attested by several persons of quality for confirmation thereof. But I shall not make too long a Prologue, nor tire your patience with an unnecessary Preludium, but briefly come to our intended matter.


On Wednesday 6th of this instant May one Henry Taylor, Parish Clerk of East Barnet in the County of Harford, having been abroad about some necessary occasions, as he was coming homewards the likeness of an Humble Bee appeared unto him, often buzzing about him with a humming noise, and growing bigger and bigger, till at last it came to the bigness of a Raven, into which shape with its magnitude, yet not so suddenly, but that the metamorphosis was very discernable to his sight; all the way as he went along this seeming Raven attended on him, fluttering about, and croaking forth a kind of hideous noise; when he came home and had entered into his Chamber (being a Batchelor, yet had lodgers in his house) the Raven which had attended him in his journey, was gotten in before him, (what lock or bolt can keep out a Spirit?) this amazed him more than the other, but not knowing himself, and resolved not to be daunted at whatever should happen; soon after this Raven grew bigger and bigger, and at last assumed the shape of one Thomas Hinde, a farmer overseer of the Poor of that parish who was about a month before that time deceased, dying something suddenly, who (as is supposed) had he had time would have revealed some monies kept back from the poor of the Town. This Spirit or apparition (call it which you please) having assumed a mans shape, spake thus unto Taylor, that he was the Spirit of such a man (naming Thomas Hinde aforesaid) that he could take no rest till he had discovered some parcels of maney belonging to the Poor of that Parish, which was by some of the parishoners unjustly detailed from them of which he then nominated three, one whereof he said had eight pounds which he had had in his hands above sixteen years being formerly given by an honourable person for the setting of the poor on work, to buy therewithall Flax, Hemp, Wool etc. whereof the poor to have received the benefit. Of the other two persons, one he said owed twenty shillings, the other five: and bid him to tell them thereof and that if they did not suddenly pai in the money to the uses to which it was due, he would then haunt them out, and trouble them more than he had troubled this Henry Taylor, and so with some other few words, he departed away from him at that time.


These words put Taylor into a wonderful amazement, what to do in this case he knew not; should I (thought he) not fulfill the Commands of this Spirit, he would (no doubt) continually haunt me, and put me to further trouble and vexation. If on the other side I do reveal it, I shall thereby gain ill will of those persons that are concerned in it, which may be to me a great detriment considering my employment; and no doubt but somewhen I come to speak of it will look upon it but as an idle enthusiasme or a dream of an idle brain.


Possest by these diversity of thoughts he went to bed, when having been awhile, and partaking of a slumbering sleep, this apparition appeared again with a Tobacco-pipe in his mouth, thumpt him on the arm which wakened him, and then entered again into parley, bid him to be mindful of what he had told him before, to wish him to pay in the Poors money, or he should be a continual trouble and vexation to them, bid him he should not desert his bed for whatsoever he saw, for he would do him no hurt, and that if he changed his lodging he would follow him withersoever he went.


That if he wanted money he would help him to what he pleased, and withall showed him a square purse with long strings which appeared to him as if full of money telling him he should have of it what he pleased, and that if his Brother Francis and he looked under such a cart at such a time, they should have as much money as they would desire; to which this Henry Taylor replyed, that for his part he desired none of his money, and wondered why this Ghost should haunt him more than any other, telling him it were more proper for him to go to his late wife, and to acquaint her with the business, and not to disturb him who was less concerned in it than some others, and should by the revealing thereof purchase to himself wither ill will of the parties or be accounted possest or lunatick for his pains.


Hereto the Spirit replyed that if they did not pay in the money then he would haunt them, and not cease till such time as the Poor had their right. He also then desired him to go to his wife and to certifie her that of a parcel of Hay which he had sold to such a Lord there was six loads of it delivered, she not knowing how much, but that one Francis Morris could justifie the same. Henry Taylor hereto answered, that it was better for him to acquaint his wife with it himself he being nothing concerned therein, to which the Spirit replyed, that his wife had trouble enough already he being taken away so suddenly.


Having uttered some other words to the like purpose he departed away, leaving this Henry Taylor much perplexed in mind, and so affrighted with such an uncouth apparition, that he durst not lye in his bed that night, but went and lay with one of his lodgers, where afterwards the Spirit appeared again, uttering the same matter concerning the money given to the poor, yet not withstanding several have been in presence when he thus spake, yet could not anyone could see him saving onely this Henry Taylor.


Since which time it hath appear’s to him 5 or 6 several times in the same shape and upon the same business as a foresaid, as was attested before this Relator, and the Printer hereof, together with Mr. Edward Oliver, Constable of Chipping Barnet living at the White Hart Inne, Mr Jeremy Warner and Robert Cranwey two householders of that Town, besides many other persons of Rank and quality to whom this Henry Taylor hath related it, and will if brought upon Oath attest the same.


To adde the more for confirmation of the truth of this Relation it is well known that the said Henry Taylor, the person to whom this apparition hath so often appeared, is a serious sober man, not given to drunkenness, swearing, or such like exorbitant vices, over which sort of persons the Devil hath too much liberty, but one of a good repute amongst his neighbours who are very sorry for this his disturbance by the said Spirit, and do heartily wish and pray that the cause might be taken away then the effect would cease: and indeed this were heartily to be wished not onely for to poors good, who are yet much endamaged by such unjust dealings, but also for the good and quiet of their Consciences who so wrongfully detain such moneys.