By Peter Marshall
Halloween 1636: sightings of the ghost of an previous girl start to be said within the small English coastal city of Minehead, and a royal fee is shipped to enquire. December 1640: a disgraced Protestant bishop is hanged within the Irish capital, Dublin, after being convicted of an 'unspeakable' crime. during this striking piece of old detective paintings, Peter Marshall units out to discover the exciting hyperlinks among those possible unconnected occasions. the result's a compelling story of darkish kinfolk secrets and techniques, of efforts to suppress them, and of the ways that they ultimately come to gentle. it's also the tale of a surprising seventeenth-century Church scandal which forged its shadow over faith and politics in Britain and eire for the simplest a part of 3 centuries, drawing in a number of renowned and not-so-well-known characters alongside the best way, together with Jonathan rapid, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and Walter Scott. a desirable tale in its personal correct, mom Leakey and the Bishop can be a glowing demonstration of ways the telling of reports is imperative to the best way we take into accout the previous, and will develop into a part of the material of background itself.
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Additional resources for Mother Leakey and the Bishop: A Ghost Story
One of them had apparently been signed by her daughter Joan’s husband, Mr Atherton, and the other by her own son William, whose widow in Barnstaple, Lordsnear, was currently in possession of the celebrated golden chain. As we have seen (p. 5 At Wrst glance, therefore, it looks as if Elizabeth was taking action to safeguard and shore up her young son’s legacy by calling in her mother-in-law’s debts, and staking a claim to a valuable family heirloom. The ghost, it seems, was playing a Xoat-on part in that most regular and mundane of family dramas in this or any other age, a disputed inheritance.
One of the most zealous of them was a man whose acquaintance we have made already, William Piers. Piers was nominated as bishop of Bath and Wells in November 1632, and soon instigated a campaign to suppress puritan lectureships across his diocese. As a former holder of the bishopric himself, Laud kept a close and benevolent eye on the process. Yet in the midst of these important matters, Bishop Piers’s 1637 report about the apparition at Minehead was studied carefully by William Laud. For reasons which only gradually became apparent to me, and which we will set to one side for the moment, the archbishop of Canterbury had 32 The World of the Leakeys lately developed a rather more than passing interest in the family of Susan Leakey.
From this point on, the Leakeys clearly began to talk. For by the end of 1636, the appearances of the old lady were no longer a purely domestic aVair, but had become a local cause ce´le`bre: all of Minehead was buzzing with rumour and report. One who heard the news that the ghost had ‘personally appeared unto diverse people’ was Elizabeth Langstone, a former servant of old Mrs Leakey. Whether out of aVection, or from some other motive, she wished that she might see her also. On Christmas Eve of that year, her wish was realized.