Friday, October 16, 2015

Awful Judgment


By Jon Wyatt - I found this story in the online digitalised newspapers. It purports to be a declaration signed by three clergy at Belfast in 1839, confirming a supernatural phenomenon at Lurgan, County Armagh, Northern Ireland.

The story was fairly widely circulated at the time, for example, it appeared in the British newspapers Somerset County Gazette and the Liverpool Mail in April 1839, and the Australian newspaper Sydney Monitor in November 1839.

I searched for the people named in the story in the online Irish county records but couldn't confirm any of them; so I'm inclined to think it's really a social morality parable — but stranger things have happened and it being Ireland you never know.:


AWFUL JUDGMENT

A MAN CONDEMNED TO SLEEP, RESTING ON A SPADE, TO THE END OF TIME

A report has in general gone abroad among the people, that a man named Henry Farland, has, in consequence of his dishonesty, been struck into a sound sleep, in the middle of a field, near Lurgan, in November last [1838]; and still remains resting on the spade with which he was digging when the occurrence took place. The following is the account of this affair:

Some time last harvest, Farland was on his way to pay his rent (he occupied a small farm jointly with a woman named Harriet Guthrie) and called to know if she was ready. She had the money, but said that as she could not go, he might take it for her, so he took the widow's rent. He proceeded on his way and no more was heard of the matter for several days, when Mrs. Guthrie saw the agent approach her door, and ask for her rent; she said it was already paid; that she had given it to Henry Farland, and mentioned the day on which he paid his own. The agent said he had received no more money than Farland's own. “Well,” said she, “there is Harry in the field, and you can satisfy yourself regarding it.” “No,” said the gentleman, “I cannot leave my horse, but go to him, and tell him to give you the receipt.” She went and asked him what he had done with her money—he did not deny he had got the money, but said, coolly, where was your witness? She replied there was no one present but God and herself. “Your God, then, Madam,” said he, “was asleep at the time, and therefore could not see.” “Then,” said the poor widow, ” I suppose you have not paid the money; you cheated me, but you cannot cheat God.” So she left him. He was seen by a man, standing on his spade, and observed him to continue in that posture without moving; he was surprised.

On approaching, inquiry was made, but no answer. He attempted to awaken him, but could not. The man then gave the alarm, so the neighbours flocked round Farland, but no means could be found to waken him. At last they sent for the clergy, the church minister, the Presbyterian minister, and the priest successively to make him speak. The first two had no influence on him. When he spoke, he said, “I am to stand here until the day of judgment.” The people then thought to move him by force, but could not stir him. They got a saw to cut the spade on which he was leaning, that he might fall, but the first cut the saw broke into pieces. Then they got blankets to cover him from the cold, but they were blown away, so he it seems by fate, must bear all weather.

Rev. J. Bolland,
H. Kearns,
G. Megary, Parish Priest.

Belfast, 1839

Source: The Sydney Monitor and Commercial Advertiser, NSW, 1 November, 1839, p3

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