A drunken parish clerk set it on foot out of revenge, the Methodists have adopted it, and the whole town of London think of nothing else
February 20, 2012 5:38 PM   Subscribe

250 years ago newspapers like The Derby Mercury featured breathless reports on the Cock Lane ghost. Fanny Lynes wouldn't rest until her husband was hanged for having poisoned her, and the story, supported by a Clergyman, led to crowds paying to visit the house. The street outside was sometimes impassable due to the large number of spectators present at the séances until the Lord Mayor of London had to intervene, and he duly appointed a commission to look into the matter. Notables such as Dr Johnson spent a fruitless night next to a coffin before it was revealed that the truth of the matter was more mundane.

At the next séance, when the spirit arrived, the blankets were pulled back, exposing the charade, and the ghost was never heard knocking again… Parsons, the Reverend Moore and the medium were sentenced to imprisonment.

The ghost was motivated by money lent at usurious rates rather than by revenge:

[The husband's second mistake] was to lend a substantial sum of money to Parsons, an incurable alcoholic who could not possibly pay him back. The atmosphere turned nasty when Kent started asking for repayment.

The original building no longer stands.
posted by ersatz (3 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
To paraphrase the bible: Take no usury or interest from him; but fear your ghost, that your dead wife may live with you.
posted by ersatz at 5:39 PM on February 20, 2012

The ghost was motivated by money lent at usurious rates rather than by revenge

Doesn't even seem to be usury at that point, Kent just wanted to have back the money he let Parsons borrow. Interest isn't mentioned at all - it's not like Parsons was retaliating to get a loan shark off his back. He was just a dick.
posted by FatherDagon at 11:10 AM on February 21, 2012

Wikipedia calls Kent a usurer. I doubt Parsons wanted to repay any of that money though.
posted by ersatz at 12:06 PM on February 21, 2012

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