The Spring Heeled Jack Nuisance

In the first half of the 19th century all manner of ghostly activity was being reported across the country, and was causing terror and panic in several remote communities.

Perhaps the most famous of these was the case of the Hammersmith Ghost, although similar stories were reported in places a diverse as Wolstanton, in Staffordshire.

By 1838, both of these had been eclipsed by a new supernatural entity that had become universally known as “Spring Heeled Jack”, and, just like Jack the Ripper many years later, the sobriquet was son been allocated in the newspapers to any transgressor who might find themselves brought to justice by the authorities.

An illustration showing the Hammersmith ghost.
A Contemporary Illustration Of The Hammersmith Ghost.

THE SPRING-HEELED JACK NUISANCE

The Weekly Chronicle, in its edition of Sunday the 7th of October 1838, published details of one such case:-

William, Frederick, and Charles Robson, three fashionably attired young men, were charged under the following circumstances:-

Samuel Watts stated that he was in Park Road, Dalston between eleven and twelve o’clock on Saturday night, when be perceived the first named prisoner (who was nearly six feet high) stalking along in the garb of a female, with false curls, and all the little ornaments necessary to complete the metamorphosis.

He felt-the utmost astonishment and alarm at such a rencontre, and was about to beat a retreat, when the prisoner sprang upon him, and threw him into a pool by the road-side, where he lay roaring for help until the arrival of the police.

SERGEANT MILLICHAP’S EVIDENCE

Sergeant Millichap, N6, stated that he received information from some gentlemen residing in Park Road, that some strange appearance was haunting the lane, and that their bells had been rung, and sundry other pranks committed that had frightened the neighbourhood from its propriety.

The witness proceeded in pursuit, and in a short time came up to the elder prisoner, who, on seeing him, commenced a most unmerciful attack upon him, and gave him such a pummelling as he never had in his life before.

Two of his brother officers came up, and, at the call of his assailant, the other two prisoners and a third gentleman came to his aid, upon which a regular battle took place, which ended in the capture of the prisoners, who were conveyed to the station-house.

A TRAGIC CONCLUSION

Upon being called upon for their defence, the elder prisoner said that unfortunately the affair, which had emanated entirely in joke.

The affair, he said, would probably have a most tragical conclusion, as one of his brothers who came to his assistance had been so severely beaten about the head by a watchman’s rattle, that he had been thrown into a succession of violent fits all the preceding day.

His medical attendant had given it, as his opinion, that concussion of the brain would probably ensue.

His object in having assumed the female attire, was merely to surprise a party of friends at a house in the neighbourhood, and he had no idea that he had acted wrong in doing so.

FINES WERE ISSUED

Mr. Codd (after severely lecturing the prisoners on the folly and impropriety of their conduct,) fined the elder prisoner sixty shillings and his two brothers twenty shillings each.

The fines were immediately paid.