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  • The Bogle and the Gamekeeper January 28, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern , trackback


    Regular readers will know that Beach has a pronounced weakness for the collision of the supernatural and the legal system: be this in Africa, Ireland or Britain. Here is a lovely case from Scotland in 1889.

    Five miners were charged yesterday, Falkirk Sheriff Court, with poaching on the lands of Mr William Forbes of Culendar, at Greenrigg, on 10th October. An assistant gamekeeper named Liddell, in giving evidence, said there were six with three or four guns. One then bolted. Mr Wyllie (for the accused) asked the witness if he knew stubble field where the men were stopped.

    This is where things start to get strange. Readers might need to know that a bogle is a northern English and Scottish supernatural bogie (the creatures in the image are hobyahs, a close cousin).

    Witness: ‘Oh I know what you are after. There was a bogle in the field, and I thought it was a man.’ Sheriff: ‘Are you sure the bogle was not the sixth man?’ (Laughter.) Mr Wyllie: ‘Did you shout out to the bogle, ‘I know you! You need not run.’’ Witness: ‘Yes, I said that.’ (Laughter.)

    This is the classic gamekeeper warning: even if you get away now I can pick you up tomorrow, I’ve seen your face. The next bit is rather obscure: can anyone help, drbeachcombing At yahoo DOT com

    Mr Wyllie: ‘Did you run down in the direction of the bogie?’ Witness: ‘I went two yards and said, ‘There is no need to be hard; we’ve got plenty.’’ (Laughter.)

    Beach doesn’t understand ‘no need to be hard’.

    The Sheriff said this had no bearing on the case. Mr Wyllie: ‘If this man does not know a bogle from man, how can he tell poacher?’ Sheriff: ‘Are you shortsighted?’ Witness: ‘No.’ Procurator Fiscal: ‘Mr Wyllie wishes to provide some for the gallery, my lord.’ Mr Wyllie: ‘No, I don’t.’ The Procurator: ‘There is no charge against the bogles.’ (Laughter.) A fine was imposed £1 each, with 9s 6d expenses.

    The point is, then, that Wyllie, the defence lawyer, wanted to undermine the testimony of the gamekeeper. He evidently had some special local knowledge and knew that Wyllie had claimed to see something supernatural in the field. The judge though was having none of it. The alternative is that, for reasons best known to himself, the gamekeeper had decided that the sixth man was a bogle to protect friend or family.

    It is strange that gamekeepers don’t have more encounters with the supernatural given that they are about at night on their own. Here is the only other from our files.

    28 Jan 2016: Bruce T. ‘I grew up in the country, poachers and spotlighters are part of life. Just from reading the account it’s obvious the words “don’t be too hard, we’ve got enough” is in regards to purposely letting one poacher go to tell the rest of his friends what happened. He also let the guy know he knew who he was. Referring to him as a “bogle” in court, was, I suspect, a humorous and sly way to get away with a “no comment” in court. Who knows, the gamekeeper may have recognized the “bogle” as someone who’s family could use the extra meat? My guess is it was the gamekeeper’s way of letting the locals know he didn’t like to have to use the courts, but he would if they pushed him. In other words, he was showing himself to be a stern but fair man. He had to live with these people and was likely related to a few. If you’re too hard in dealing with them, your employers barns and outbuildings can mysteriously go up in flames and something can happen to you out walking the property.’