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Article Source: Spring-heeled Jack on Wikipedia
Spring-heeled Jack
Springheeledjack
Detail from the cover of issue 2 of the 1904 Aldine Spring Heeled Jack Library.
Vital statistics
First reported 1837
Last reported 1904
Other names None
Similar creatures {{{similar creatures}}}
Countries Flag of the United Kingdom United Kingdom
Regions Suburban London, the Midlands, Scotland
Domains Urban
Paranormal Classifications
Class Class I Apparition (Possible)
Class I Phantom (Possible)
Class V Demon (Possible)
Level of being Physical
Validity
Status Possible
Spring-heeled Jack is an entity in English folklore of the Victorian era. The first claimed sighting of Spring-heeled Jack was in 1837. Later sightings were reported all over Great Britain and were especially prevalent in suburban London, the Midlands and Scotland.

There are many theories about the nature and identity of Spring-heeled Jack. This urban legend was very popular in its time, due to the tales of his bizarre appearance and ability to make extraordinary leaps, to the point that he became the topic of several works of fiction.

Spring-heeled Jack was described by people who claimed to have seen him as having a terrifying and frightful appearance, with diabolical physiognomy, clawed hands, and eyes that "resembled red balls of fire". One report claimed that, beneath a black cloak, he wore a helmet and a tight-fitting white garment like an oilskin. Many stories also mention a "Devil-like" aspect. Others said he was tall and thin, with the appearance of a gentleman. Several reports mention that he could breathe out blue and white flames and that he wore sharp metallic claws at his fingertips. At least two people claimed that he was able to speak comprehensible English.

HistoryEdit

PrecedentsEdit

In the early 19th century, there were reports of ghosts that stalked the streets of London. These human-like figures were described as pale; it was believed that they stalked and preyed on lone pedestrians. The stories told of these figures formed part of a distinct ghost tradition in London which, some writers have argued, formed the foundation of the later legend of Spring-heeled Jack.

The most important of these early entities was the Hammersmith Ghost, which in 1803 and 1804 was reported in Hammersmith on the western fringes of London; it would later reappear in 1824. Another apparition, the Southampton ghost, was also reported as assaulting individuals in the night. This particular spirit bore many of the characteristics of Spring-heeled Jack, and was reported as jumping over houses and being over 10 ft (3.0 m) tall.

Early reportsEdit

Springjack

Illustration of Spring-heeled Jack, from the serial Spring-heel'd Jack: The Terror of London.

The first alleged sightings of Spring-heeled Jack were made in London in 1837 and the last reported sighting is said in most of the secondary literature to have been made in Liverpool in 1904.

According to much later accounts, in October 1837, a girl by the name of Mary Stevens was walking to Lavender Hill, where she was working as a servant, after visiting her parents in Battersea. On her way through Clapham Common, a strange figure leapt at her from a dark alley. After immobilising her with a tight grip of his arms, he began to kiss her face, while ripping her clothes and touching her flesh with his claws, which were, according to her deposition, "cold and clammy as those of a corpse". In panic, the girl screamed, making the attacker quickly flee from the scene. The commotion brought several residents who immediately launched a search for the aggressor, who could not be found.

The next day, the leaping character is said to have chosen a very different victim near Mary Stevens' home, inaugurating a method that would reappear in later reports: he jumped in the way of a passing carriage, causing the coachman to lose control, crash, and severely injure himself. Several witnesses claimed that he escaped by jumping over a 9 ft (2.7 m) high wall while babbling with a high-pitched, ringing laughter.

Gradually, the news of the strange character spread, and soon the press and the public gave him the name "Spring-heeled Jack".

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