vol II date / index
St. Dominic, Confessor, founder of the friar preachers, A.D. 1221. St. Luanus, or Lugid, or Molua, of Ireland, A.D. 622.
Holinshed records, that in the year 1577, "on Sundaie the fourth of August, betweene the houres of nine and ten of the clocke in the forenone, whilest the minister was reading of the second lesson in the parish church of Bliborough, a towne in Suffolke, a strange and terrible tempest of lightening and thunder strake thorough the wall of the same church into the ground almost a yard deepe, draue downe all the people on that side aboue twentie persons, then renting the wall up to the veustre, cleft the doore, and returning to the steeple, rent the timber, brake the chimes, and fled towards Bongie, a towne six miles off. The people that were striken downe were found groueling more than halfe an houre after, whereof one man more than fortie yeares, and a boie of fifteene yeares, old were found starke dead; the other were scorched. The same or the like flash of lightening and cracks of thunder rent the parish church of Bongie, nine miles from Norwich, wroong in sunder the wiers and wheels of the clocks, slue two men which sat in the belfreie, when the other were at the procession or suffrages, and scorched an other which hardlie escaped."
This damage by lightning to the church of Bungay, in Suffolk, is most curiously narrated in an old tract, entitled "A straunge and terrible Wunder wrought very late in the parish Church of Bongay, a Town of no great distance from the citie of Norwich, namely the fourth of this August in y[e] yeere of our Lord, 1577, in a great tempest of violent raine, lightning, and thunder, the like whereof hath been seldome seene. With the appeerance of an horrible shaped thing, sensibly perceiued of the people then and there assembled. Drawen into a plain method, according to the written copye, by Abraham Fleming."
Mr. Rodd, bookseller, in Great Newport-street, Leicester-square, well known to collectors by his catalogues and collections of rare and curious works, has reprinted this tract, and says, on the authority of Newcourt's "Repertorium," vol i., p. 519, wherein he is corroborated by Antony Wood, in his "Athenæ Oxoniensis;" that of the narrator, Abraham Fleming, nothing more is known than that he was rector of St. Pancras, Soper-lane, from October, 1595, till 1607, in which year he died. "He was probably," says Mr. Rodd, "a schoolmaster, as his almost literal translation of 'Virgil's Pastorals' into English metre without rhime, and his edition of 'Withall's Dictionary,' were intended for the use of beginners in Latin. From his numerous writings and translations, "a list of which may be seen in Ames, Tanner, &c.,) he appears to have been an industrious author, and most probably subsisted on the labours of his pen."
In a monitory preface, well befitting the context, Abraham Fleming says, "The order of the thing as I receiued the same I have committed to paper, for the present viewe and perusing of those that are disposed. It is grounded uppon trueth, and therefore not only worthie the writing and publishing, but also the hearing and considering." He then proceeds to "reporte" his "straunge and wonderful spectacle," in these words:—
"Sunday, being the fourth of this August, in ye yeer of our Lord, 1577, to the amazing and singular astonishment of the present beholders, and absent hearers, at a certein towne called Bongay, not past tenne miles distant from the citie of Norwiche, there fell from heaven an exceeding great and terrible tempest, sodein and violent, between nine of the clock in the morning and tenne of the day aforesaid.
"This tempest took beginning with a rain, which fel with a wonderful force an with no lesse violence then abundance, which made the storme so much the more extream and terrible.
"This tempest was not simply of rain, but also of lightning and thunder, the flashing of the one whereof was so rare and vehement, and the roaring noise of the other so forceable and violent, that it made not only people perplexed in minde and at their wits end, but ministred such straunge and unaccustomed cause of feare to be co[n]ceived, that dumb creatures with ye horrour of that which fortuned, were exceedingly disquieted, and senselesse things void of all life and feeling, shook and trembled.
"There were assembled at the same season, to hear divine service and common prayer, according to order, in the parish church of the said towne of Bongay, the people thereabouts inhabiting, who were witnesses of the straungenes, the rarenesse and sodenesse of the storm, consisting of raine violently falling, fearful flashes of lightining, and terrible cracks of thu[n]der, which came with such unwonted force and power, that to the perceiving of the people, at the time and in the place aboue named, assembled, the church did as it were quake and stagger, which struck into the harts of thos that were present, such a sore and sodain feare, that they were in a manner robbed of their right wits.
"Immediately hereupo[n], there appeared in a most horrible similitude and likenesse to the congregation then and there present, a dog as they might discerne it, of a black colour; at the sight whereof, togither with the fearful flashes of fire which then were seene, moved such admiration in the mindes of the assemblie, that they thought doomes day was already come.
"This black dog, or the divel in such a linenesse (God hee knoweth al who worketh all,) runing all along down the body of the church with great swiftnesse, and incredible haste, among the people, in a visible fourm and shape, passed between two persons, as they were kneeling uppon their knees, and occupied in prayer as it seemed, wrung the necks of them bothe at one instant clene backward, in somuch that even at a mome[n]t where they kneeled, they stra[n]gely dyed.
"This is a wo[n]derful example of God's wrath, no doubt to terrifie us, that we might feare him for his iustice, or pulling back our footsteps from the pathes of sinne, to love him for his mercy.
"To our matter again. There was at ye same time another wonder wrought: for the same black dog, stil continuing and remaining in one and the self same shape, passing by an other man of the congregation in the church, gave him such a gripe on the back, that therwith all he was presently drawen togither and shrunk up, as it were a peece of lether scorched in a hot fire; or as the mouth of a purse or bag, drawen togither with a string. The man, albeit hee was in so straunge a taking, dyed not, but as it is thought is yet alive: whiche thing is mervelous in the eyes of men, and offereth much matter of amasing the minde.
"Moreouer, and beside this, the clark of the said church beeing occupied in cleansing of the gutter of the church, with a violent clap of thunder was smitten ddowne, and beside his fall had no further harme: unto whom beeing all amased this straunge shape, whereof we have before spoken, appeared, howbeit he escaped without daunger: which might peradventure seem to sound against trueth, and to be a thing incredible: but, let us leave thus or thus to iudge, and cry out with the prophet, O Domine, &c.—O Lord, how wonderful art thou in thy woorks.
"At the time that these things in this order happened, the rector, or curate of the church, beeing partaker of the people's perplexitie, seeing what was seen, and done, comforted the people, and exhorted them to prayer, whose counsell, in such extreme distresse they followed, and prayed to God as they were assembled togither.
"Now for the verifying of this report, (which to so[m]e wil seem absurd, although the sensiblenesse of the thing it self confirmeth it to be a trueth,) as testimonies and witnesses of the force which rested in this straunge shaped thing, there are remaining in the stones of the church, and likewise in the church dore which are mervelously r[et]ten and torne, ye marks as it were of his clawes or talans. Beside, that all the wires, the wheeles, and other things belonging to the clock, were wrung in sunder, and broken in peces.
"And (which I should haue tolde you in the beginning of this report, if I had regarded the observing of order,) at the time that this tempest lasted, and while these stormes endured, ye whole church was so darkened, yea with such a palpable darkensse, that one persone could not perceive another, neither yet might discern any light at all though it were lesser the[n] the least, but onely when ye great flashing fire and lightning appeared.
"These things are not lightly with silence to be over passed, but precisely and throughly to be considered.
"On the self same day, in like manner, into the parish church of another towne called Blibery, not above seve[n] miles distant from Bongay above said, the like thing entred, in the same shape and similitude, where placing himself uppon a maine balke or beam, whereon some ye Rood did stand, sodainly he gavie a swinge downe through ye church, and there also, as before, slew two men and a lad, and burned the hand of another person that was there among the rest of the company, of whom divers were blasted.
"This mischief thus wrought, he flew with wonderful force to no little feare of the assembly, out of the church in a hideous and hellish likenes."
For "a necessary prayer," and other particulars concerning this "straunge and terrible wunder," which was "Imprinted at London, by Frauncis Godly, dwelling at the West End of Paules," the curious reader may consult Mr. Rodd's verbatin reprint of the tract itself, which is a "rare" distortion of a thunder storm with lightning, well worthy to be possessed by collectors of the marvellous untruths with which Abraham Fleming's age abounded.
1825. This day at the Northumberland assizes, James Coates, aged twenty-two, and John Blakie, aged sixteen, were found guilty of robbing Thomas Hindmarch of his watch, on Sunday, the 20th of March last. It appeared that Hindmarch, who lived at Howden Panns near Shields, had been at Newcastle on Carling Sunday, a day so called, because it is the custom of the lower orders in the north of England to eat immense quantities of small peas, called carlings, fried in butter, pepper, and salt, on the second Sunday before Easter, and that on his way home about half-past ten at night his watch was snatched from him. The circumstance is noticed as an instance of the practice of keeping Care Sunday at the present time.
Blue Bells. Campanula rotundifolia.
Dedicated to St. Dominic.