Sunday, November 30, 2014

A Blacksmith’s Ghost

Solomon Fenner lived in the village of Laceby in Lincolnshire England in 1710.

Fenner had briefly served in King William and Queen Mary’s army when he returned to his home to work as the village blacksmith--a trade he had apprenticed in as a youth.

He was not wealthy, but he made a comfortable living. He was known in Laceby as a pious man who attended church each Sunday. He gave what he could to the parish poor.

Solomon unmarried and in his 30s became enamored with a young woman, Rebecca Petitt who lived in the neighboring market town of Caistor.

Rebecca was widely admired for her long red hair and lovely green eyes. Her beauty plus the fact she was witty had guaranteed she had plenty of suitors. Rebecca’s father William Petitt had rejected all offers of marriage for he had plans to make a more advantageous match.

Petitt was a greedy man who owned several shops in Caistor. His goal was to accept a son-in-law who would also benefit him financially.


Solomon Fenner showed up at the Petitt’s doorstep one Sunday afternoon to ask William for his daughter’s hand in marriage.

William not only rejected his offer, he had his servants throw Fenner out onto the street.

Over the next week, Solomon usually a calm man let this rejection fester. Bitterness overtook him, and he snapped.

He knew Petitt’s habit every Saturday was to visit a friend in Cabourne a hamlet that lay between Caistor and Laceby. Petitt would return home late at night after an afternoon of gambling and drinking.

The next Saturday Solomon seeing “red” lay in wait in the shadows. When Solomon spotted Petitt staggering down the Lincolnshire road, he leaped out and bludgeoned him to death with his hammer.

Solomon calmed down and looked down at his bloodied hands, he realized it was too late.

He ran to a nearby farmhouse and woke the inhabitants. He tearfully confessed what he had done. They detained him and sent for the authorities in Caistor.

They discovered Petitt’s bloody and battered body and knew Solomon Fenner was telling the truth.

Hanged and
The night before Solomon was hanged, he expressed fear for his immortal soul. His body was gibbeted on a hill that overlooked Cabourne--and the scene of the crime.

Since a legend states that Solomon Fenner has not found rest.

According to Lincolnshire folklore, the ghost of Solomon Fenner approaches travelers who walk between Cabourne and Caistor late at night.

He is described as tall and robust as he steps out of the shadows wearing dirty clothes and carrying a bloodstained hammer in his hand. His eyes are red from weeping.

What his ghost does next remind one of The Rime of the Ancient Mariner   for his spirit then confronts these travelers.

He reassures them that they have nothing to fear for he will not harm them. He then tells them the story of his crime. He reminds them that all life is sacred.

It seems his punishment for taking a human life is to spend eternity telling others his crime.

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