Sampford Ghost


For some time past the house of Mr. CHAVE, of Sampford, in Devonshire, has had, according to current report, some "Supernatural Visitings". The following is the testimony of the Rev. C. Cotton, under the solemn sanction of an oath, dated August 18, 1810.

"And first I depose solemnly, that after an attendance of six nights (not successive), at Mr. Chave's house, in the village of Sampford, and with a mind perfectly unprejudiced, after the most minute investigation, and closest inspection of all the premises, I am utterly unable to account for any of the phenomena I have there seen and heard, and labour at this moment under no small perplexity, arising from a determination [got?] lightly to admit of supernatural interference, and an impossibility of hitherto tracing these effects to any human cause. I farther depose, that on my visits to Mr. Chave's house, at Sampford, I never had other motives, direct or indirect, avowed or concealed, but an earnest, and I presume not a culpable wish to trace these phenomena, to the true and legitimate cause. Also, that I have in every instance, found the people of the house most willing and ready to contribute every thing in their power, and to co-operate with me in the detection of the cause of these unaccountable sights, and violent blows and sounds.

Also, that I am so deeply convinced of the difficulty of proving these effects to be human, that I stand engaged to forfeit a very considerable sum to the poor of the parish, whenever this business now going on at Sampford shall be made appear to have been produced by any human art or ingenuity, collectively or individually exerted. Also, that I have in the presence of many gentlemen, repeatedly sworn[..] to the effect, namely - that they were not only utterly [?] of the cause of those circumstances which [?] us, but also of the causes of many other times equally unaccountable, which we ourselves did not hear nor see, but to the truth of which they also swore; no less [?] to their perfect ignorance of the means by which they were produced.

Also, that I have affixed a seal with a crest to every door, cavity, &c. in the house, [?ing] which any communication could be carried on; that this seal was applied to each end of sundry pieces of paper, in such a manner that the slightest attempt to open such doors, or to pass [??] must have broken these papers, in which case my [...] have prevented their being replaced without [..]; that none of these papers were deranged or broken, and also that the phenomena that night were as unaccountable as ever. Also, that I have examined several women, quite unconnected with the family of Mr. Chave; but who, some from compassion, have slept in this house; that many of them [..ed] the facts on oath, that all of them wished to be so examined, if required; and lastly, that they all agreed without one exception in this particular:-
"that their night's rest was invariably destroyed by violent blows from some invisible hand - by an unaccountable and rapid drawing and withdrawing of the curtains - by a suffocating and almost inexpressible weight and by a repetition of sounds, so loud, as at times to shake the whole room. Also, that there are more than twenty people of credibility, quite unconnected with the owner, or the present tenants of this house in question, who have related to me the most astonishing circumstances they have seen and heard on these premises; all of which they are ready to substantiate, if called upon, on oath.

Also, that it appears that this plot, if it be a plot, hath been carried on for many months; that it must be in the hands of more than 50 people, all of whom are ready to perjure themselves, though not one of them could possibly gain any thing by it; that the present owner is losing the value of his house, the tenant the customers of his shop, whom fear now prevents from visiting it after sunset, and that the domestics are losing their rest; and all these evils are with most exemplary patience submitted to, without any object but the keeping of a ridiculous secret, which, although so many are privy to it, and many more interested in discovering, hath not yet been divulged, although such a disclosure would be attended with circumstances highly advantageous and gratifying to any person who could be induced to discover it."

The above was sworn before Mr. B.Wood, a Master in Chancery; and the names of Mr. John Govett, and Mr. Betty, surgeons; Mr. Pulling, merchant; and Mr. Quick, innholder, all of Tiverton; of Mr. Merson, surgeon; and John Cowling, Esq. of Sampford; and Mr. Chave, of Mere, are selected from a crowd of witnesses to substantiate facts, which they declare are to them perfectly inexplicable, and for which they are utterly incapable to account.

The Morning Post, Monday August 27th, 1810.

Sampford Peverell by Magnus Manske