Weird People - Impostors , Eccentrics & Hoaxes
The weird and unusual people described in this section are
a varied collection of known impostors, hoaxers, and strange eccentrics.
What then is their connection with the generally 'paranormal' or
'supernatural' characters discussed on the rest of this site? On the
surface, very little, but when examined more closely, some of the events
in the lives of these odd people bear a startling resemblance to
characters described in other, more traditionally 'paranormal'
For example, the seemingly straightforward Princess
Caraboo hoax reveals that Mary Willcocks, before she became 'Princess
Caraboo', had lost her job as a servant because the beds in the house were
unaccountably catching fire, a type of phenomena known from many poltergeist cases , including that of Carole Compton, the Scottish nanny, included here in the
Poltergeist Girls section. Also in the
Princess Caraboo story we meet the mysterious
(or apparently Portuguese) gentleman who corroborated Mary Willcock's
invented story of her origins as fact, and was never heard from again.
The weird case of Bella
in the Wych-Elm where, admittedly, its witchcraft and black magic
connections are more apparent than real, nevertheless provides us with
almost the ultimate character for this site. A mysterious woman, murdered
by an unknown person for an unknown reason. The paranormal aspects of the Henry
More Smith case are more obvious. The cases of Bamfylde
Moore-Carew, so-called 'King of the gypsies' and Sarah
Wilson, another royal impostor, are more plainly of imposture and
imagination, though what they achieved and how they managed to achieve it
is in fact stranger than some of the obviously 'paranormal' cases in this
Finally, I make no apologies for including here a
character that could have found a place in a sections on this site -
Paget Wade. An eccentric collector of odd machines and unusual
craftwork, suspected by some of dabbling in the occult, and whose Cotswold
Manor House was (and perhaps still is) undoubtedly haunted.
There is, however, another equally important side to these impostors and
hoaxes. Their stories should serve to illustrate the dangers of taking the psychic abilities' or phenomena associated with mysterious people uncritically at
face value. Though most of the characters here are known to have lied, at
the very least about their identities, they were believed by the majority
to be exactly who or what they claimed to be, on the whole because people wanted
to believe in what they did, who they were, or what they had to say. They
were in a sense providing people with what they needed at a particular
time, in a particular place. This is in fact the real danger in dealing
with the unexplained and the mysterious, so many have the desire to
believe in the unbelievable that objective
judgment and criticism is crippled from the outset.
Perhaps these denizens of the dark side of the
street should act then as signposts or danger signs, their importance
lying in the guidance they give through the tangled and
undergrowth of the unknown.
by Brian Haughton. All Rights Reserved.
on Mysterious People