An Account Of A Remarkable Apparition
( Originally Published Late 1800's )
The following very singular story comes well authenticated :
On Saturday, June 22, 1728, John Daniel, a lad of about fourteen years of age, appeared, about twelve o'clock at noon, in the school of Beminster, between three weeks and a month after his burial.
The school of Beminster is kept in a gallery of the parish church, to which there is a distant entrance from the churchyard. The key of it is every Saturday delivered to the clerk of the parish by some one or other of the schoolboys. On Saturday, June 22, the master had, as usual, dismissed his lads. Twelve of them tarried in the church-yard to play at ball. After a short space, four of them returned into the school to search for old pens, and in the church they heard a noise like the sounding of a brass pan, on which they immediately ran to their playfellows and told them of it ; and on their concluding that some one was concealed in order to frighten them, they all went into the school to make a discovery who it was, but on search found none. As they were returning to their sport, on the stairs that lead into the churchyard, they heard in the school a second noise, as of a man going in great boots. Terrified at that, they ran round the church, and when at the belfry or west door they heard a third noise, like a minister preaching, which was succeeded by another of a congregation singing psalms ; both the last continued but a short time. Being again at their play, in a little time one of the lads went into the school for" his book, where he saw lying on one of the benches, about six feet from him, a coffin. Surprised at this, he runs to his playfellows and tells them what he had seen ; on which they all thronged to the school-door, where five of the twelve saw the apparition of John Daniel, sitting at some distance from the coffin, farther in the school. All of them saw the coffin ; the conjecture why all did not see the apparition is, because the door was so narrow they could not all approach it together. The first who knew it to be the apparition of the deceased was his half-brother, who on seeing it cried out, " There sits our John, with just such a coat on as I have "—in the lifetime of the deceased they usually were clothed alike—" with a pen in his hand, aid a book before him, and a coffin by him ; I'll throw a stone at him." He was dissuaded from it, but did it, and doing it, said, " Take it," on which the apparition immediately disappeared, and left the church in a thick darkness for two or three minutes.
On examination before Colonel Broadrep, all the boys, being between nine and twelve years of age, agreed in the relation and all the circumstances, even to the hinges of the coffin; and the description of the coffin agreed to that wherein the deceased was buried.
One of the lads that saw the apparition was full twelve years old, and of that age a sober, sedate boy, who came to the school after the deceased had left it, about a fortnight before he died, ill of the stone, and in his lifetime had never seen him. He, on examination, gave an exact description of the person of the deceased, and took notice of one thing in the apparition which escaped the others, viz., a white cloth or rag which was bound round one of its hands. The woman who laid out the corpse in order to its interment deposed, on oath, that she took such a white cloth from the hand, it being put on it a week or four days before his death, his hand being lame.
The body was found in the fields at some distance, about a furlong beyond the mother's house, in an obscure place, taken up, and buried without a coroner, on the mother's saying the lad in his lifetime was subject to fits; but upon the apparition it was dug up, and the jury that sat on it brought in their verdict "Strangled." They were induced to do so on the oath of two women of good repute, who deposed that two days after the corpse was found they saw it, and discovered round its gullet a black list; and likewise of the joiner who put it into the coffin, for the shroud not being orderly put on the corpse, but cut in two pieces, one laid under and the other over it, gave him an opportunity of observing it. A chirurgeon was on the spot with the jury, but could not positively affirm that there was any dislocation of the neck.