Sacred Texts  Sagas and Legends  English Folklore  Index  Previous  Next 


A FAMILY of the name of Spearman has lived in Cornwall for many ages, their native centre having been somewhere between Ludgvan and St Ives.

Years long ago, an unfortunate man, weary of life, destroyed himself; and the rude laws of a remote age, carrying out, as they thought, human punishments even after death, decreed that the body should be buried at the four cross-roads, and quicklime poured on the corpse.

Superstition stepped in, and somewhat changed the order of burial. To prevent the dead man from "walking," and becoming a terror to all his neighbours, the coffin was to be turned upside down, and a spear was to be driven through it and the body, so as to pin it to the ground.

It was with some difficulty that a man could be found to perform this task. At length, however, a blacksmith undertook it. He made the spear; and after the coffin was properly placed, he drove his spear-headed iron bar through it. From that day he was called "the spearman," and his descendants have never lost the name.

In making a new road not many years since, the coffin and spear were found, and removed. From that time several old men and women have declared that the self-murderer "walks the earth."

Next: The Suicide's Ghost