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Dreams of Murder June 29, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern , trackback

murder and dreams

Telepathy is a curious concept and not the least curious part of this most curious ability is the inability to properly document it. However, in the annals of telepathy (so-called or imaginary, factual and always elusive) some of the most interesting cases have involved dreams and murder: ‘murder will out’ in a bouquet of pink clouds.  Here are three interesting cases.

In the year 1698 the Rev. Mr. Smythies, curate of St. Giles, Cripplegate, published an account of the robbery and murder of a parishioner, Mr. Stockden, by three men, on the night of December 23, 1695, and of the discovery of the culprits by several dreams of Mrs. Greenwood, Mr. Stockden’s neighbour. The main points are these:—In the first dream Mr. Stockden showed Mrs. Greenwood a house in Thames-street, telling her that one of the men was there. Thither she went the nest mornmg, accompanied by a female neighbour, and learned that Maynard lodged there, but was then out. In the second dream Mr. Stockden represented Maynard’s face to her, with a mole on the side of the nose (he being unknown to Mrs. Greenwood), and also tells her that a wire-drawer must take him into custody. Sach a person, an intimate of Maynard’s, is found, and ultimately Maynard is apprehended. In the third dream Mr. Stockden appeared with a countenance apparently displeased, and carried her to a house in Old-street where she had never been, and told her that one of the men lodged there. There, as before, she repaired with her friend, and found that Marsh often came there. He had absconded, and was ultimately taken in another place. In the fourth dream Mr. Stockden carried her over the bridge, up the Borough, and into a yard, where she saw Bevil, the third man, and his wife (whom she had never seen before). Upon her relating this dream, it was thought that it was one of the prisonyards; and she accordingly went tothe Marshalsea, accompanied by Mr. Stockden’s housekeeper, who had been gagged on the night of the murder. Mrs. Greenwood there recognised the man and woman whom she had seen in her dream. The man, although not recognised at first by the housekeeper, being without his periwig, was identified by her when he had it on. The three men were executed, and Mr Stockden once more appeared in a dream to Mrs. Greenwood, and said to her, ‘Elizabeth, I thank thee; the God of heaven reward thee for what thou hast done.’ After this, we are informed that she was ‘freed from these frights, which had caused much alteration in her countenance.’

There is a good principal that says never trust anything from the century of the Civil War. But the nineteenth century is another matter. Here is a cute one that adds the ocean to the traditional formula.

Upon February 8th, 1840, Edmund Norway, the chief officer of the ship Orient, at that time near St. Helena, dreamed a dream between the hours of 10 p.m. and 4 a.m. in which he saw his brother Nevell, a Cornish gentleman, murdered by two men. His brother was seen to be mounted. One of the assailants caught the horse’s bridle and snapped a pistol twice, but no report was heard. He and his comrade then struck him several blows, and dragged him to the side of the road, where they left him. The road appeared to be a familiar one in Cornwall, but the house, which should have been on the right, came out upon the left in the visual picture. The dream was recorded in writing at the time, and was told to the other officers of the ship.  The murder had actually occurred, and the assassins, two brothers named Lightfoot, were executed on April 13th of that year, at Bodmin. In his confession the elder brother said: ‘I went to Bodmin on February 8th and met my brother … my brother knocked Mr. Norway down. He snapped a pistol at him twice, but it did not go off. He then knocked him down with the pistol. It was on the road to Wade-bridge’ (the road which had been seen in the dream). ‘We left the body in the water on the left side of the road coming to Wadebridge. My brother drew the body across the road to the watering.’ The evidence made it clear that the murder was committed between the hours of ten and eleven at night. As St. Helena is, roughly, in the same longitude as England, the time of the dream might exactly correspond with that of the crime.

In The Times, 2 March, 1863, appeared the following story.

During the past five weeks a mystery has hung over the fate of Mr. John Brough, of Boltby, in the North Riding, who suddenly disappeared, and had not since been heard of. A few nights ago a neighbour dreamt that the body of Brough was in a certain quarry about three miles distant. The dream was mentioned to many, but treated as an absurdity. The dreamer, however, could not rid his mind of the impression, and resolved to take his dog and set off to the place to satisfy himself. He was, on arrival, attracted to a lonely part by the loud barking of the dog, and there found the body of Brough, much decomposed, and with his throat cut, the head being nearly severed. Deceased had apparently pulled off his coat, and, having rolled up his sleeves, had cut his throat with a newly- sharpened knife. He is believed to have been insane, and a jury has returned a verdict to that effect

Beach has two other remarkable cases, supposedly documented, one involving Parliament, and one involving the Scottish Highlands. Any other dreaming murder cases, perhaps from outside the UK? drbeachcombing AT yahoo DOT com

30 June 2013: Chris from Haunted Ohio Books has excelled herself here: On dreams of murder. Of course there is the Perceval case and the Red Barn/Maria Marten murder (where there is some doubt about the “dreams” claimed by Marten’s step-mother, which led to the discovery of the remains, as there can sometimes be in cases where one wonders if the dream is just a cover for real knowledge.)  In the US, probably the most famous “murder dream” isn’t exactly a dream, but a waking vision. It is the story of the Greenbrier Ghost, where a young woman appeared to her mother four times, telling her she had been murdered by her  husband. (A book on the case is The Man Who Wanted Seven Wives, Katie Letcher Lyle.) And here are three other US examples: A recent writer narrates the following significant dream, relative to the Dr. Parkman murder, and which, in all its unpleasant details, was dreamed twice over: Dr. Webster, Professor of Chemistry in Harvard College, was convicted of the murder of his acquaintance—we can hardly say his friend— Dr. Parkman. A lady, well known in the literary world, and then residing in London, had, some years previously, paid  a long visit to the United States, during which she became intimately acquainted with Dr. Webster and his family, who showed her much kindness and attention. After her return to England, she continued to correspond with the family; and one day, in the early autumn of 1848, a gentleman related to Dr. Parkman called upon her with an introduction from Professor Webster. On that night she went to bed at her usual hour, but soon experienced a horrible dream. She fancied that she was being urged by Dr. Webster to assist him in concealing aset of human bones in a wooden box; and she distinctly recollected that there was a thigh-bone which, after failing to break it in pieces, they vainly attempted to insert, but it was too long. While they were trying to hide the box—as she fancied, under her bed—she woke in a state of terror and cold perspiration. She instantly struck a light, and tried to dispel the recollection of her horrible vision by reading. After a lapse of two hours, during which she had determinedly fixed her attention on the book, she put out the light, and soon fell asleep. The same dream again occurred; after which she did not dare—although a woman of singular moral and physical courage — to attempt to sleep any more that night. Early on the following morning she called upon the writer, and told him of her fearful experiences of the past night. Nothing more at the time was thought of these dreams; but shortly afterwards the news reached England that Dr. Parkman was missing; that the last time he was seen alive he was entering the college gates; and that the janitor was suspected of having murdered him. On the writer mentioning this to the lady, she at once exclaimed, “Oh, my dreams! Dr. Webster must be the murderer!” The next mail but one brought the news that the true murderer had been detected; and that, at the very time when the lady’s dreams occurred, Dr. Webster must have been actually struggling to get the bones—the flesh having been previously burned—into a wooden box such as she had seen; and that, after attempting in vain to break the thigh-bones, he had hidden them elsewhere. Cincinnati [OH] Enquirer 22 February 1875: p. 2 DREAMED Three Nights That a Child Had Been Murdered The Body Found in a Well Columbus, Ohio. February 15. That a murder had been committed has been developed through a dream, and Mrs. Oldham, near Reynoldsburg, this county, is the dreamer. For three successive nights she claims she dreamed that the dead body of a child was buried in an old abandoned well on a farm owned by James Ross, of this city. Each night she dreamed that the body of the child had been wrapped in an old piece of muslin, weighted down and thrown into the well. She told her husband of the dream, he related it to others and soon it was the topic of the neighborhood. A party was formed, the well searched and the body found, with the neck broken and every indication of murder. Coroner Birmingham was called and examined the body, but is not able to come to any definite conclusion. The usual tests applied to the lungs of the dead little one showed that it had lived and breathed before death cut short its career at the outset. The case is shrouded in mystery and will be placed in the hands of the Columbus police tomorrow. Cincinnati [OH] Enquirer 27 October 1889: p. 20  DREAMED OF THE MURDER Bellefontaine, Ohio, August 19. One night early this summer Mrs. Frances Ayres, wife of the Milan Ayres, engineer at the city water works pumping station, dreamed that Mr. and Mrs. Detrick had been murdered, and in a manner almost identical to that in which they were killed. [their skulls were crushed with an ax. Murder was apparently the motive.] John Harmon, of Degraff, says he was the adopted son of Mr. and Mrs. Detrick, and will endeavor to prove his claim and secure one fourth of the estate. The children of the murdered couple say they never learned of his adoption. Cincinnati [OH] Enquirer 20 August 1897: p. 1 Thanks Chris!!!