Saturday, September 09, 2006


Richard Blakeborough

No doubt exists in the minds of many people now, that hedgehogs milk the cows. (1) It seems they creep up to them whilst they are resting, and draw milk from them. My old friend told me they always killed a hedgehog whenever they saw one, for that reason.

One Nancy Newgill, a Broughton witch, used to set hedgehogs to milk the cows of those she had a spite against, and it was commonly believed that at times she used to turn herself into one, and then 'neeabody's coos had onny chance'; anyway, there was one hedgehog that could run as fast as a hare, and never was 'catched, ner killed, ner nowt.'

This Nancy Newgill cast a spell on a certain Martha Brittain, from which she could obtain no ease, no matter what she took; so off to the wise man (2) Martha went. She was told to go to Stokesley and buy a new fire-shovel, upon which she had to chalk Nancy's name (3) ; then to make a cake - the ingredients need not be given - and, after closing her doors and window, the cake was to be baked upon the shovel resting on the fire. This was done at four o' clock in the afternoon (4).

Now, at the time the cake was being baked, Nancy Newgill was 'luking' weeds in a field a mile away, and standing quite close to her was my informant, Mrs. Peary.
Suddenly Nancy clapped her hand on her stomach crying out,
'Ah mun gan yam! Ah mun gan yam!'
She left the field and was ill for days after; but Martha Brittain began to mend straight away, and was as right as she could ever be.

(1) I met a man in the train the other day who said that he had often seen them sucking.

(2) Henry Wilson of Broughton, was a wise man of some repute after Wrighton's time.

(3) Something like Sadler and Clarke's method.

(4) The usual time was midnight; this case, so far as I know, is unique.