Here’s a roundup of 18th-century ghost stories that were shared amongst our ancestors. Stories of ghosts and the supernatural have excited and spooked humankind for centuries. Mysterious accounts of spirits, ghouls, ghosts, and creeps can be found as far back as Homer’s Odyssey and the Bible’s Old Testament alike.
The supernatural stories of today, like Slenderman, aren’t far off from the stuff that scared people like us many years ago.
Make sure to share your own stories and experiences in the comments! Now read on for a few haunted and historical tales from the 1700s.
12. The Cock Lane Ghost
This haunting attracted the London public’s attention in 1762. After a man’s wife died during childbirth, he later entered a relationship with her sister, Fanny. Knocking was heard throughout their Cock Lane residence over the years and long after they moved out; the story goes that his ex-wife’s ghost was the source. Many séances were held and a courtroom trial even took place as people failed to determine the source of the knocking.
11. A Phantom Raven
In the mid-1700s, villagers of West Drayton in England heard screams and knocking sounds coming from the town church. Residents also spotted a raven flying throughout the church and its vaults. When a group of men and boys were able to chase and smack down the raven, it hit the floor and immediately disappeared. The raven reportedly continued to fly around its usual spots.
10. The Headless Nun
The ghost of the Headless Nun was likely a French woman sent to Canada to join a convent in the 1700s. The woman’s life came to a tragic end when she was decapitated by unknown assailants. Her spirit wanders on a never-ending journey, looking for her missing head.
9. Black Dog
In 1751, a farmer turned down a beggar’s pleas for food; the woman said a sort of curse to him in reply. When the man and his cows fell ill, he came to believe that she was a witch. He and his neighbors chose their own course of action and mobbed the woman and her husband, forcing them into a pond where they drowned. A chimney sweeper involved in the killing was hanged and supposedly haunts the execution spot to this day. Witnesses describe his ghost as an immense black dog with eyes like balls of fire.
8. The Hinton Ampner Hauntings
Several families lived in England’s Hinton Ampner house over the years. William Henry Ricketts moved in with his family in the mid-18th century and soon experienced supernatural events. Doors and windows were slammed, footsteps were heard in the hallways, and more. Nobody was able to solve the mystery and a small skull was later discovered in a box underneath the first floor.
7. A Suffolk Sea Dragon
Off the coast of Suffolk in 1749, fishermen found a sea dragon caught in the net among their fish. It had the head of an alligator, wings, and hooves. They brought it to shore and beat it to death. When they opened the net, it flew into the air; one man was injured and died while another was able to capture it. The fisherman showed its carcass across their country.
6. A Spirited Rescue
In December 1783, John Thomas was walking at night when he fell into a deep pit. The 62-year-old drunkard remained stuck for a week until a neighbor noticed a figure perched near the pit. As the neighbor approached, the man vanished into thin air. It was then that the neighbor heard John’s voice from the pit and was able to save him.
5. Fairies And Changelings
Locals on the Isle of Man were very fearful of fairies. In the 1720s, London writer George Waldron was told a story by a woman whose baby suddenly floated upwards off her bed. The infant seemed to be lifted by an invisible force and disappeared. The woman and her husband later find a changeling lying on their bed with their baby’s clothes next to it.
4. Haunted By A Giant
In 1847, a Welshman shared a story with London magazine The Athenaeum that had taken place a century earlier. The Great Giant of Henllys was a massive man who terrorized his neighborhood. Everyone felt relief when he died, but he continued to haunt the area as a ghost. A group of clergymen exorcised his spirit with a ritual and the giant turned into a fly, which they disposed of in a lake.
3. Crossing Over
On a Scotland summer morning in 1745, a housekeeper told her employer that she’d just seen his daughter outside. He remarked that this was impossible, as she lived a thousand miles away in France. Surely enough, he went outside and saw his daughter, who jumped into a rivulet and vanished. Later, the man was visited by his son, who had seen the same thing on the same day; it turned out that the events took place at the moment she had died.
2. Demonic Torture
In January 1783, an Englishman named John Taylor was drinking with his friend and eventually collapsed. His friend, Thomas Pountney, rested him on a bed. John began to have violent convulsions lasting for two nights before he regained consciousness. He survived and said that he had fallen into a hole and was tortured by demons for over five years before an angel intervened and showed him the gates of Heaven.
1. Afterlife Stalker
John and Ann Lambert moved their family into a new house in 1753. The Winlington family was soon harassed by nonstop poltergeist activity. They moved to a new home and continued to see the apparitions and noises. When the Lambert children were attacked in bed, the family moved again. The violence continued and the family began seeing the previous occupant of their first home, Henry Cooke. Cooke died in 1752 and the family believed he stalked their family as a result.
It seems like 18th-century societies had the same penchant for sharing ghost stories as we do today. In the 1700s, though, most tales were just oral stories shared through conversation. In the Victorian era, these accounts only became more popular with the advent of 19th-century printing press capabilities. The written word allowed for every detail of these stories to be inked down and shared with generations to come.
If you liked this creepy roundup, make sure to share it with your friends and family—and don’t forget to check your closet before you go to sleep tonight.