The famous Minehead ghost story, immortalised by Sir Walter Scott, seems to have attracted great attention at the time and was thought worthy of a government enquiry.
The account below is written in the spelling/grammer of the day :-
State Papers Domestic. Charles I. Vol.383, No.5: The Examinacion of the busines concerninge the reported Apparition at Minehead in the County of Somerset.
"This Examinate saith that her Mother in Law said (lyinge uppon her Death-bedd in her howse) she would come againe after her Death, To whome she replyed what will you be a Divell, Noe but I will come in the Divell's likenesse, And sayth that her Mother in Law made her will and left her husband some household stuffe which she had to the value of Twenty pounds, And a bond of Twenty poundes due from Dr.Atherton, And a bond of Twenty poundes due from William Leakey, of Barnstable deceased before her; And further she sayth that about six weekes after her Death there was a knocking and noyse in the chamber, and about the bedd, which went away like a Drove of Cattell; And further sayth, that about a Twelve-moneth after the said old Mother Leakeys Death, John Leakey, of the age of forteene yeares, Grandchild to old widdow Leakey, and livinge in the said Alexanders howse, dyed of a languishinge disease, And that in the tyme of his sicknesse, he coplyned that he could not be quiett for his Grandmother, but he did not tell her that he saw his Grandmother, And that when he dyed he cryed out that he saw the Divell, and that there was noe print of a hand to be seene aboute the throate of the child after his death, but somewhat black he was about the Neck (as some sayd that saw him). In all this tyme which was a yeare and Two Moneths she saw noe apparition, and further she sayth that the first tyme her mother appeared unto her was three weekes before Easter, and that going into her chamber to bedd with a booke in her hand she saw within her chamber sitting in a Chayre her mother in her full proporcion, and in her usuall apparell, and being much astonished she beheld it a quarter of an houre byt could not speake to it nor stirre, and at last it vanished away, with a mightie groane, which the mayd below in the kitchen hearinge came uppp and asked her mistress what she ayled, she said nothinge and would not tell her and she sayth that she slept very well that night, and that her husband came home an howre after, and came to bedd to her, and she turninge towards him, groaned, wheruppon he asked her what ayled her and she said nothinge and did not tell him because he was fearefull, and because it was his mother that appeared. About a day or two after, Mr.Heathfield, the Curate of Mineheade cominge to her howse, she told him she thought she had seen her Mother in law, and theruppon she asked him what it might be; he told her it was nothinge but her fansy, and that her head was troubled with her Crosses; Then she prayed him that he would put the case to some divines not naming any particular, and she sayth that Mr.Heathfield did not divulge this Apparition untill he had seen it himselfe. The second tyme she saw this Apparition was about Allhollowtide last at a store-howse of her husbands a furlonge from her howse about seaven of the clock in the morninge, but she sayth she did not see her face but only her back partes, whereuppon she presently locked the doore, and went home and looked in her Mothers Chest, and there found her cloathes, as she had laid them uppp, but she said nothinge to her husband of this. The third tyme she saw this apparition was as she sayth some six weekes before Christmas last (her husband then being at Waymouth) about nyne of the clock in the morninge, she being in a chamber making herselfe ready and hansome to goe abroade betweene the bedder feete and a cupbord, there being but only roome enough betweene the bedd and the wall for one to goe betweene that way, and having done, and turninge about to goe away saw her Mother in law, whereat although being much affrighted yet at last she spake to it sayinge, In the name of God doe me noe hurt, her Mother answered, I cannot, God is with thee, and the voyce was soe lowd that Eleanor her Maydservant heard it below, but the mayde did not heare the particular wordes; the apparitions eyes did not moove, and her mother standing still in the same place she asked her againe, In the name of God what would you have, is there any thinge left undone in your will that I can doe for you, her mother said goe to Lorels-neare (which is the name of her daughter in law dwelling at Barnstable in the county of Devon) and deliver her a bond, and aske her for a Chayne of gold, and give upp the bond and deliver the Chayne to Alexander. Then she asked her againe, In the name of God if there be anythinge els tell me that I may be quiett, and I will doe it, whereupon her mother said Goe to Joane Atherton, in Ireland, which is old Mrs. Leakies daughter, and tell her these and these thinges, bid her doe them, and doe you see them done; and then she said Good Mother tell me whether you be in heaven or in hell, whereat it gave a groane and vanished; and she sayth that it spake distinctly and in her Mothers usuall voyce when she was alive, and this was the first and the only tyme that ever the apparition spake unto her. Now the Mayde below hearinge a talke above asked he Mistress who it was above that talked with her. This Examinate replyed there was noe body and would not tell her, Now this
examinate being dmaunded what this message was she was to deliver to Joane Atherton her sister in law, answearethe she will not reveale it to any body but only unto the Kinge, and not unless he commaunde her soe to doe, and then she must and will tell his Magestie because he is a gracious Kinge. She further sayth that she faythfully promised the Apparition to deliver this message in Ireland, but sayth the apparition did not charge her in the meane time to conceale the same: She further sayth she will goe over into Ireland at the springe and performe the promise to her mother in law. She sayth she hath told her husband of all this conference whcich she had with the apparition, and being demaunded why she will not otherwise reveale that message, answered because it may be hurtfull to Joane Atherton and her husband and hers: and shedenyeth that ever she saw the apparition but only these three tymes. She further saith that her husband and she suspect all this to be witchcraft, because he hath had greate losses of late by sea, and that they suspect a woman to be the witch but she will not yet tell her name for feare she this Examinate should be troubled, and this is all that Elizabeth Leakey upon her examination would confesse unto us.
Mr Heathfield Clerke Curate of Mineheade being examined answereth that he knew old Mistress Leakey and was with her in the tyme of her sickness, and that she dyed about two yeares since, and that she was for ought he knew a protestant, for she came ordinarily and duely to church, and being asked about the Apparition sayth that Mrs Elizabeth Leakey told him that as she was going to her chamber in the night tyme to bedd with a condle in one hand and a booke in the other she saw the apparition of her mother in law sitting in a chayre in the chamber in her usuall apparrell, which she wore in her life tyme and bidding her goe into Cambridge-sheire and fetch home her grandchildren and soe vanished.
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