Monday, October 24, 2005

The Tyrone Ghost Story (Part 2)

Real particulars of the preceding story dictated to me by Lady E. Butler and Miss Ponsonby (the ladies of Llangollen), who had frequently heard them from many of Lady Beresford's and of Mr. Gorges' descendants, with some of whom they are intimately connected and related.

Miss Hamilton, a rich and beautiful heiress, was early married to Sir Martin Beresford: it was supposed that both before and after her marriage she had been too intimately connected with Lord Tyrone. Some time after her marriage, in the year 1704, it was agreed that Lord Tyrone, Sir Martin and Lady Beresford, should pass one Christmas at Colonel Gorges' house, called Kilbrew, in the county of Meath.

One night, after the family were all retired. Lady Beresford was surprised to see the door of her chamber open, and Lord Tyrone walked in, dressed in his robe de chamber. She exclaimed ' Good God, what brings you here at this time
of night?'

He walked up to the bedside and replied, ' I left Corraughmore with an intention of coming here. I was taken ill on the road, and have just expired. I am come to you for the ring which I gave you.'

Lady Beresford, horror-struck, pushed Sir Martin to wake him. ‘He cannot wake while I am here,' said Lord Tyrone; ' He will die; you will marry the gentleman of this house: you will die in childbed of your second son, but you shall see me again; give me the ring.'

Lady Beresford, extremely agitated, could not immediately get it off her finger; he seized her hand, and the ring appeared to her to roll off upon the floor. The next morning Lady Beresford tried to persuade herself that the whole of this scene was the effect of imagination, but on her wrist she found the mark of Lord Tyrone's hand; each finger left a black mark as if it had been burnt. On a desk which stood near the bed, and on which Lord Tyrone had leant, the same trace of five fingers was found.

That on Lady Beresford's wrist never was effaced, and to her dying day she wore a black ribbon bracelet to conceal it. The ring was likewise missing; nor could it after the most diligent search be ever found, though every board of the floor was taken up the next day.

In the course of time Sir Martin died, and Lady Beresford did marry Colonel Gorges. By Sir Martin she had one son, born in 1694; by Colonel Gorges, three daughters, one of whom married Lord Howth, and another Lord Desart. After these she had a son.

Colonel Gorges, fearing that his birth might prey upon her mind, still strongly affected with the recollection of the vision, persuaded her that her child was
a girl. She was got so well after her confinement, that the carriage was ordered for her to take the air.

Meanwhile, she unfortunately enquired of a housemaid who came into the room, how her child was; the maid replied, ' He is very well.' 'He!’ said Lady B,' it is then a son,' and she burst into tears. Her husband and friend at length succeeded in persuading her that, after having been. so long brought to bed, all danger must be over, and she proceeded to take the air as she had intended,

As she was going down stairs, she exclaimed, 'There is Lord Tyrone; I see him on the landing place!' She fainted, was carried to her bed, and died a few days after.

Some years after, in 1717, her son. Sir M. Beresford, married Lady C. de la Poer, the daughter and heiress of Lord Tyrone, and was the grandfather of the present Lord Waterford.

Editor’s note
It is amusing to compare these two versions, each professing to rest on the same quality of information, and with equal pretensions to the title of ' real particulars.' The internal evidence, however, is in favour of that furnished by the ladies of Llangollen. The story is not mentioned by Dr. Ferrier, Dr. Hibbert, or Sir Walter Scott. Mrs. Crow ('Nightside of Nature') merely alludes to it as well known and well authenticated.

According to Lodge's 'Irish Peerage' (confirmed by Burke), Sir Tristram (not Sir Martin) Beresford, third baronet, born 1669, married, 1687, Nicola Sophia, youngest daughter and coheir of Hugh Hamilton, Baron of Glenawly; and by her (who remarried with Lieut.-General Eichard Gorges, of Kilbrew, county of Meath) had issue one son, Sir Marcus, created Earl of Tyrone in 1746, having in 1717 married the Lady Catherine Poer, daughter and heir to James Earl of Tyrone, who died in 1704. Sir Tristram died in 1701, three years before Lord Tyrone.

I am indebted to my friend, Mr. F. Pollock, for the following extract from a letter to himself:—
'I first heard the story of the Beresford ghost from Mr. Cumberland. He told it finely. I was about twelve years old at the time . . . (this would be sixty years ago). Long afterwards I met with the ghost in print, in a magazine which my father took in regularly. A discussion on tales of mystery produced a letter from one of the Beresford family, containing an account of the real circumstances of the story. The lady of the velvet bracelet, when about to be married for the second time, really had a dream warning her of the unhappiness likely to result from the contemplated union. It was well known to all the family of the intended bride that she had been subject to a disorder which had left a deep scar on her wrist — long before the visitation of the burning spirit; and she had covered this scar with a velvet bracelet most carefully ever since it had been formed.'


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Natalie,

You have a small typo. You probably mean 1779 in the citation of the title of the book in the margins, not 1970.


2:58 PM  
Blogger purpleelephant said...

That's really interesting. I wonder if anyone reading this has any other accounts of humans being injured by a ghost's touch?

9:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The account contradicts other accounts, which all set the story in Gillhall, Co.Down.

5:17 PM  
Anonymous Philippe BRIER said...

I have just read this amazing story in a book released in 2005 in France (at XO Editions), which compiles several other strange stories. The author, Michel de Grèce, is a writer who happens to be a member of the royal family of Greece. The book itself has been published under the name "Le Ruban noir de lady Beresford" (ie Lady Beresford's Black Ribbon").

But there is another big British mystery that has almost never been dealt with although it is worthy of a novel, quite reminiscent of Jack The Ripper's story and its (real) hero was a bisexual, handsome, sporty, witty and brilliant writer (whose play "Similia" was a popular success in 19th century London), a fascinating man who at the same time was... a serial-killer!

The French writer Louis Powell in his own "strange stories" compilation book (now out of stock) once narrated the story of this man, but as it seems there is no book, essay, article to be found about him, even in England, his homeland, and a country that has always been keen on criminal stories. How strange ! The biggest mystery wrapped around this man is perhaps this total blackout? The name of this mysterious criminal is HARRY WHITECLIFFE.

If you have heard something about him, please let me know !


12:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

'Le Ruban Noir de Lady Beresford' confuses almost every aspect of the story as given by the Beresford family in their own record, compiled from a careful assessment of many accounts by the First Primate of Ireland.

9:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


If you have heard something about him, please let me know !


John Kennedy Melling of London has researched this Whitecliffe fellow and found out that most of the details published by French journalists was mistaken. The man's real name was Blum and he was an Australian. If you want more info, I can put you in touch with JKM. The story is told in one of Colin Wilson's anthologies of crime.


10:04 PM  

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