The Haunting of Mr Young’s Yard

This snippet comes from a little pamphlet published anonymously in 1647, entitled Fearfull Apparitions: Or The Strangest VISIONS that ever hath been heard of. The author explains in his introduction that the account is of  ‘a Spirit that constantly every night haunts one Mr.Youngs yard in Lumbard-street, neare to the Golden Crosse, which hath played such prancks, and appeared in such severall and horrid shapes, that many Divines and other Learned men, who have come armed with a full resolution and with an intent to have spoken unto it or (at least) to have look’t upon it, in the very attempt thereof have fallen into a kind of distracted extasie, and were neither able to speak nor stand, to the great wonder and terrour of all that were eye witnesses thereof.’

Of all the Monsters and strange stories that this quick-witted Age ever discovered, here is one (and a true one) by them cannot be parallelled, it is no Feigned story, no Foraigne News, as from France, from Ireland, nor from the North, you need travell no farther than the upper end of Lumbard street, in one Mr.Youngs yard there hath been seen strange apparitions for the space of about a month. Every night, about two of the clock constantly there is a great clattering of Iron chaines and bolts, then presently is heard a great screeking and yelling & howling like a dogge, and other whiles whistling and playing on Musick, then presently there appeares a great tall man (or rather Devill) at least six yards in height, with long blacke shagged haire, his eyes as bigge as two ordinary pewter dishes flaming like fire, and out of his mouth there seemeth to fly fire which flashes into the windows of the house like lightening, he continues walking in this manner about the Yard and looking in at the windows for about the space of three houres every night.

There hath been very many Gentlemen of good quality, and many famous and eminent Divines to see this strange Apparition: Amongst the rest was one Divine lately spoake to it, the Spirit answered againe, but with such a horrid and dismall noise that the Divine was not able to understand what the Apparition said unto him; in answere to the question which he asked, the stander-by and those who were present with this Divine were likewise much amazed, insomuch that they knew not where they were, their haire standing upright on their heads which made them (and not without good cause) to wish themselves further off.  For by their Relation so hideous a Monster hath not any eyes beheld; For what cause this Spirit should so constantly frequent this place, it cannot yet bee conjectured, but it is thought that ere long the cause will be manifest, the Owner of the Yard where this Spirit walketh, is a very eminent man, and an Elder in the Parish where he liveth: This Gentleman (Mr.Young I meane) hath a Son who tooke to himselfe the courage to open a Casement which looked into the Yard where the Spirit walked, with an intent to have spoken to it, he had no sooner opened the Casement but (although it was a Casement of an upper roome two stories high) it was againe instantly shut too by this hideous Monster in a most terrible and fearfull manner, after these strange Apparitions, the Spirit always vanishes away (to the thinking of the beholders) into the ground, then immediately ensueth a noise like to claps of thunder and flashes of fire like lightening seeme to ascend out of the Earth, and after that a stinking mist and annoysome sulpherous Smoake.

Reader, If you doubt the verity of this Relation, you may easily be satisfied of the truth, the neighbours there-abouts can and will tell you more than is here set forth, for they are every night witnesses thereof, to their great feare, trouble and griefe.

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  • October 20, 2009 - 6:18 pm | Permalink

    I imagine it would vary depending on the reader. Some people would have dashed round to the Yard to see what was happening, some would have scoffed. But at this time, belief in the Devil was widespread, and even an eyebrow-raising sceptic might have felt a frisson of fear & dread.

  • October 20, 2009 - 6:06 pm | Permalink

    Would this have been read as a genuine bit of news, or seen as a little entertainment?

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