Monday, 28 September 2015

The Strasburgh Exorcism Hoax...

Today we journey to Strasburgh for a tale of devilish skullduggery that I dug up in the archives. On 11th November 1807, The Morning Chronicle told of a rather naughty group of cons conjuring up all manner of devils to relieve the citizens of Strasburgh of their money.

The Prince of Darkness: Dagol, 1775
The Prince of Darkness: Dagol, 1775
The clipping is below and here, in full, I present to you the sorry tale!

The Tribunal of Correctional Police at Strasburgh has lately had its attention engaged by a curious process.  
A number of thieves, about the commencement of last year, formed a plan to plunder the public by means of exorcisms, magic, incantations, &c. The country in the neighbourhood of Strasburgh was chosen as the theatre of their operations. One of them performed the part of the Exorcist, another the Devil, an every one of the gang appeared in some character suited to his talents. The man who performed the part of the Devil was covered with phosphorus, which blazed with greater brightness in proportion to the wealth which was promised to their deluded victim. The means pointed out for obtaining the promised wealth were generally exorcisms, which they said were contained in a book that formerly belonged to a Priest of Strasburgh, which only could be performed by a woman on the name of Marianne, who was to be found sometimes at the Cathedral, and sometimes at the Church of St. John. The dupes went immediately in search of this prophetess (who, it is hardly necessary to say, was one of the gang). She took care to make them believe that she was inspired, and told them the purpose for which they came to her. She promised to give them the book for seventy, thirty, and sometimes forty Louis d'ors, according to the wealth of the person applying. The rogues always contrived to escape before their dupes discovered the trick.

Whether the gang were ever apprehended was never reported, but their audacious scheme remains memorialised forever, thanks to the intrepid reporters of the Chronicle!