A summary of the Wesley's poltergeisty "Epworth Ghost" in Lincolnshire

Mr Herbert Richards writes:--

The recent loud rappings heard in a house at Townshend, near Marazion, and known as the Townshend ghost, prompts me to send to The Cornishman an account of two or three strange events which appeared to be almost supernatural and very difficult to be explained.

[...] The Epworth Ghost.
While John Wesley was at school, disturbances occurred in his father's house at Epworth, so unaccountable, that every person by whom they were witnessed, believed them to be supernatural. At the latter end of the year 1715 a maid-servant was terrified of hearing at the dining-room door several dismal groans as of a person at the point of death. The family gave little heed to her story, and endeavoured to laugh her out of her tears; but shortly afterwards they began to hear strange knockings, usually three or four at a time, in different parts of the house. Every person heard these noises except Mr. Wesley himself, and as such sounds were not audible by the person to whom they foretold evil tidings, they refrained from telling him, lest he should suppose that it betokened his own death. At length the disturbances became so frequent that none of the family durst be alone, and Mrs. Wesley thought it better to tell her husband. Moreover, she was minded he should speak to it.

The noises were now various, loud rumblings above stairs and below; a clatter among a number of bottles, and footsteps as of a man going up and down stairs at all hours of the night; sounds like dancing in an empty room, the door of which was locked, and gobbling like a turkey-cock; a knocking about the beds at night.

Mrs Wesley first thought that the noises were occasioned by rats within doors, and mischievous persons without, or that some of her daughters sat up late and made a noise; and a hint that their lovers might have something to do with the mystery, made the young ladies hope that she might soon be convinced that there was more in the matter than she was disposed to believe. On the next night, therefore, about midnight, there were nine loud knocks, which seemed to be in the next room, with a pause at every third knock. Mr. Wesley rose and went to see if he could find the cause, but could perceive nothing. Still he thought it might be some person out of doors, and relied upon a stout dog to rid them of the nuisance. But the dog, which barked furiously at the first disturbance, was ever afterwards cowed by it, and seemed to be more terrified than any of the children. It came whining to his master, as if to seek protection. The manservant took the dog at night into his room as a companion and guard. As soon as the latch began to jar the dog crept into bed and howled, so much so as to alarm the whole house.

The fears of the family for Mr. Wesley's life were removed as soon as he had heard the noises. They apprehended that one of the sons had met with a violent death. Mr. Wesley, therefore, one night, after several deep groans had been heard, asked "it" to speak and tell him why it troubled the house. Upon this, three loud knockings were made. He then asked "it" if it were Samuel, his son, bidding it, if it were, to knock again, but to their great comfort there was no further knocking that night, and when they heard that Samuel was well, the goblin became more of a matter of amusement than of alarm. Emelia gave it the name of Old Jeffery, said to have been the name of a suicide at Epworth (The knockings at Townshend were said to be made by an old lady who died in the house long ago).

A horn was blown loudly in Mr. Wesley's house for half-a-day in order to drive away the goblin. From that day he came by day as well as night, and was louder than ever, and he never entered Mr Wesley's study till the owner called him a deaf and dumb devil, and bade him come to him in his study and cease to disturb innocent children. If it had anything to say, Jeffery took him at his word, and Mr. Wesley was thrice pushed by it with considerable force. the door was once violently pushed against Emelia when there was no person on the outside. The latches were often lifted, the windows clattered, before Jeffery entered a room, and the iron and brass jarred exceedingly, and it was observed that the wind rose after the noises. Mr. Wesley's trencher danced one day upon the table, and the handle of the hand[-] was one day turned round with great violence. Even the cat was very terrified at these noises, and whenever Mr. Wesley attempted to pray for the King and the Prince of Wales, the family prayers were disturbed by "Jeffery.

An excerpt from The Cornishman, 19th April, 1934.