Spring Heeled Jack
by Ellen Castelow
Out of the night he came, a leaping, bounding superman who terrified the English nation for more than 60 years.
At first, tales of this devil-like figure who leaped from roof-top to roof-top was accepted as hysterical nonsense. But in January 1838 this strange creature received official recognition when a barmaid, Polly Adams, was attacked while walking across Blackheath in south London. Mary Stevens, a servant girl was terrified by what she saw on Barnes Common, and in Clapham churchyard a woman was assaulted!
Lucy Scales, a butchers daughter was attacked in Limehouse and Jane Alsop was almost strangled by a cloaked creature in her own home before her family managed to beat-off her attacker…at which point he leapt and soared off into the darkness.
Jane Alsop described her inhuman attacker to London magistrates…”He was wearing a kind of helmet and a tight fitting white costume like an oilskin and he vomited blue and white flames!”
The Lord Mayor of London, Sir John Cowan, received complaints from several parts of London describing a demonic creature with eyes like balls of fire and hands like icy claws, and able to bound from roof-top to roof-top with ease.
The police did not dismiss these stories and even the Duke of Wellington, although aged nearly 70 went out armed on horseback to hunt and kill the monster!
Who was this mysterious fiend who roamed London attacking women?
During the 1850’s and 60’s Spring-heeled Jack was also seen all over England, particularly in the Midlands.
The Army in 1870 set traps to catch him after scared sentries reported being terrified by a man who sprang on to the roof of their sentry box.
Also in 1870, angry townsfolk in Lincoln are reported to have shot at him in the street, but he just laughed and bounded away, leaping over fences, and even small buildings!
For a while, as no-one really had any idea who he was, suspicion rested on the eccentric young Marquis of Waterford, but he was never vicious, even though he was considered ‘wild’ by Victorian society, and been branded as the ‘Mad Marquis’.
Spring-heeled Jack was last seen in 1904 at Everton in Liverpool, bounding up and down the streets, leaping from cobbles to rooftops and back!
He vanished into the darkness when some brave souls tried to corner him and he has not been seen since that day to this!
The puzzle remains…who was Spring-heeled Jack?