A Tale for Halloween

Published: 06/10/2023 By Allan Fuller

Spring Healed Jack  

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, but he 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 cackling 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"