To this day, Spring-Heeled Jack still hasn’t been identified.
Spring-Heeled Jack, Explained
[*] The first sighting of Spring-Heeled Jack occurred in 1837. After his original appearance, he popped up in Great Britain, especially in London suburbs, the Midland, and Scotland. The last reported sighting came from Liverpool in 1904, which means this creature lurked for sixty-seven years.
[*] Spring-Heeled Jack comes from English folklore and Victorian literature. In London, his name was associated with the Boogeyman, which was meant to scare children into behaving. Parents would claim Spring-Heeled Jack would leap up to peer into their bedroom windows at night.
[*] Spring-Heeled Jack is tall and thin. However, he has a disturbing physiognomy, clawed hands (which are as cold and clammy as a corpse), and red balls of fire for eyes. He wears a black cloak with a helmet and a tight-fitting white garment.
[*] Spring-Heeled Jack performs wicked pranks. He has scared women into dangerous fits, severely wounded some with the claws on his hands, and frightened some to their death.
[*] Spring-Heeled Jack is capable of making extremely high, superhuman leaps. He can jump over entire houses, walls, and buildings. This is how he makes his escape after attacking his victims.
[*] Spring-Heeled Jack can breathe out blue and white flames. He has phosphorus breath.
[*] One of the most famous reports of Spring-Heeled Jack was by Mary Stevens, a servant girl who was walking through Clapham Common alone late at night. She claims that the man jumped out from a dark alley, grabbed her with a tight grip, kissed her, and ripped off her clothes. She managed to escape, but when others tried to help her locate her attacker, no one could be found.
[*] The day after the incident with Mary Stevens, the man described was seen near her house. He jumped in the way of a carriage passing by and the driver careened off the road, severely hurting himself. Then the creature escaped by jumping over a nine-foot wall.
[*] The Times covered a story about Spring-Heeled Jack because two girls, Lucy Scales and Jane Alsop, were attacked. On February 19, 1838 Aslop answered the door to a man claiming to be a police officer. He asked her for a candle and when she retrieved one for him, he threw off his cloak to reveal a hideous form with clothing that resembled oilskin. Then he tore off her clothes with his claws, which she claimed were made of a metallic substance, and she ran for safety. He managed to tear at her neck and arms, but she was eventually saved by her sister, and the creature ran away before being caught.
[*] On February 28, 1838 an 18-year-old Scales was walking through Green Dragon Alley when she saw a person standing in the passageway carrying a bull’s eye lantern that looked similar to the one the police used. He spit blue flames into her face and she was seized with violent fits of hysteria that lasted for hours.
[*] Spring-Heeled Jack is capable of speaking English. He has a high-pitched, ringing laugh that he released after scaring his victims and running away.
[*] Spring-Heeled Jack has been compared to the devil. He has also been compared to ghosts because he is described as tall and pale.
[*] There are some accounts of Spring-Heeled Jack dressing in furs to appear like a bear. The most famous case is when he growled at a gardener, climbed the garden wall, and chased the gardener on all fours until he finally decided to leave.
[*] Thomas Millbank was arrested and tried at Lambeth Street court, because he claimed he was Spring-Heeled Jack. The only reason he was not convinced was because he admitted to not being able to spit fire, which Jane Aslop claimed her attacker was able to do.
[*] In July of 1847 a Spring-heeled Jack investigation in Teighnmouth, Devon led to a man named Captain Finch getting arrested. He was convicted of assaulting two women while wearing a skin coat which looked like a bullock’s hide, a skullcap, horns, and a mask.
[*] There was a rumor that the Marquess of Waterford was Spring-Heeled Jack because he had bad experiences with women and police officers. He was known to do anything for a bet and had acquired the nickname The Mad Marquis.
[*] The Lord Mayor accused a group of young aristocrats of being responsible for Spring-Heeled Jack after they made an irresponsible wager with a ‘companion’ to dress as a bear, a ghost, and the devil himself.
[*] Spring-Heeled Jack was written about in many newspapers, and then went on to appear as the subject for penny dreadfuls, plays, and Punch and Judy shows.
[*] The more Spring-Heeled Jack’s fame grew, the less frequently reports about him were made — until 1843 when a new wave of sightings swept the country. That is when attacks on carriage drivers became much more common.
[*] In the 1870s, the “Peckham Ghost” was reported by multiple witnesses. There was also a “Park Ghost” in Sheffield, both of which locals believed was actually Spring-Heeled Jack.
[*] One of the most notable Spring-Heeled Jack sightings came in August of 1877 from a group of soldiers in Aldershot’s barracks. A sentry noticed a strange figure in the darkness who ended up slapping him in the face. When a guard shot at the figure, there was no visible effect. Then the figure disappeared into the darkness with long leaps.
[*] After the Spring-Heeled Jack sighting at Aldershot, sentries were given ammunition and ordered to shoot the figure on sight if it ever appeared again. But it did not.
[*] In 1877 Spring-Heeled Jack appeared in Newport Arch in Lincoln, Lincolnshire, in a sheepskin. A mob chased him and shot at him with no effect. Then he escaped with his long leaps.
[*] No one has ever been caught and identified as Spring-Heeled Jack, leaving some people to believe he was just a man (with copycats following in his footsteps decades later). These people believe the details about his leaping and fire breathing are a result of gossip, superstition, and sensationalist news stories.
[*] However, others believe Spring-Heeled Jack was a paranormal creature. They consider him an extraterrestrial entity with a non-human appearance. They believe he has his superhuman jumping abilities from living on a high-gravity world.
[*] Others believe Spring-Heeled Jack was a demon summoned to this world from practitioners of the occult. They believe he was brought here to cause trouble.
[*] Spring-Heeled Jack is considered a phantom attacker, like the Mad Gasser of Mattoon. Phantom attackers appear to be human, but they have extraordinary abilities and are never caught by the police. Their attacks are commonly witnessed by several people but the creature’s existence can never be confirmed.