Spring Heeled Jack

"“This here is Satan,-we might say the devil, but that ain't right, and gennelfolks don't like such words. He is now commonly called 'Spring-heeled Jack;' or the 'Rossian Bear,' - that's since the war."
~Henry Mayhew, London Labour and the London Poor, p. 52

The tale of Spring Heeled Jack is a famous urban legend Spring Heeled Jack detail from an illustration circa 1890that is quite popular in England – where the story originated. However, many individuals in other regions of the world – such as the United States – have reported seeing and/or experiencing Spring Heeled Jack. The stories of this creature circulated heavily during the time period that is referred to as the “Victorian Era”. This time period was marked by the rule of Queen Victoria in the United Kingdom. It ran from the year of 1837 to the year of 1901 when the famous Queen passed away. While this period offered the individuals in Britain to experience prosperity, industrial growth, and higher levels of education, the famous urban legend of Spring Heeled Jack placed a sinister metaphorical cloud over the region.

In the year of 1837, the people of London were quite excited that Queen Victoria got the throne. The region known as the “United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland” was in desperate need of a ruler that would allow them to progress on many different levels. Her service to the area started just one month after her eighteenth birthday when her uncle, William IV, passed away. The people respected the King, but were quite excited to receive a young, intelligent woman to the throne. They needed a fresh personality on the throne. In later years, Queen Victoria was recognized as the most successful ruler of the region due to the amount of progress she inspired in science, politics, education, and other important areas. There was one situation, though, where she was unable to make progress and that was establishing the true identity of Spring Heeled Jack.

The famous urban legend of Spring Heeled Jack is believed to have occurred in London to a man that was returning home from Spring Heeled Jack jumping over a gatework. As the businessman approached a local cemetery on his walk home, he was suddenly startled. What he saw would be the beginning of many tales, superstitions, and would instill fear in many people for years to come. He claimed that an ominous creature leaped over the gates that protected the local cemetery and ended up on the path immediately in front of him. While the creature did him no harm, it frightened him very much. In describing what he saw, the businessman stated that the creature was unlike anything that he had ever seen. He was able to determine that it was male and that its eyes glowed in a sinister manner. He described it as being similar to the devil.

The next encounter that was reported was by a young lady named Mary Stevens. She was a servant that worked in the region of Lavender Hill. As she walked to this region to go to work, she passed an alley that was often dark. Upon passing this dark area, Spring Heeled Jack is said to have jumped out at her and grabbed her by the arm. Naturally, she was more terrified than she had ever been in her entire life. He kissed over her face and made an attempt to rip her clothes off of her. Finally, after coming out of her initial state of shock, she was able to scream as loud as she could in order to get help. Immediately, Spring Heeled Jack released her and jumped away. Immediately, many of the people that made an attempt to assist the screaming Mary started to hunt for the devilish creature. Unfortunately, they were unsuccessful in their endeavor.

The day following the attack on the young girl, there were reports of Spring Heeled Jack in the area of Clapham Common. A coachman wrecked as he drove his carriage. Despite the fact that the man who was driving the carriage was injured in a severe manner, he was able to tell the authorities about the mysterious creature that jumped in his path. Once this creature landed on the road that he was traveling, he lost complete control of the carriage that he was driving. Just a short time later, he crashed. This accident marked the true beginning of the story associated with this strange creature. Eventually, the press that covered events in London learned of the witness’s stories and started to publish accounts of the creature. It was at this time that the creature was officially referred to as the “Spring Heeled Jack” and individuals everywhere became interested in the stories associated with him.

There are several reasons why the creature was referred to as the “Spring Heeled Jack”. One of the most common characteristics associated with the character of this famous urban legend is that he had the capability to jump very high and very far – without hardly any effort whatsoever. The next reason is the actual description of the creature. Overall, it is described as being relatively demonic in nature. The hands of the creature are said to have claws on them and the eyes are said to glow in a very frightening nature. The story associated with this famous urban legend claims that the creature is tall and relatively thin. Many claim that he has a high pitched, evil laugh that seems to echo and others claim that he is able to speak in an understandable tone and he talks English.

While several individuals claimed that they have been Spring Heeled Jack as depicted by an anonymous artist in “Penny Dreadful”subjected to Spring Heeled Jack, there are two stories that really stand out above all of the rest. These stories surround attacks that were focused on girls that were in their teen years. The first girl was named Jane Alsop. The second teenage victim was identified as Lucy Scales. On the 19th day of February in the year of 1838, the teenager, Jane Alsop, opened the door of her home to an individual that claimed that he was with the local authorities. He provided her with the story that the monster Spring Hill Jack had been captured. She immediately ran back inside the home and brought back a candle for the alleged officer. Unfortunately, when she handed the light to the man, the situation took a turn for the worst.

The individual that took the candle immediately tore off the dark colored cloak that he was wearing. Jane could not believe her eyes. She felt as if she was literally staring all of the evil in the world right in the face. It was the Spring Heeled Jack himself. His eyes immediately starting emitting a strong, bright red glow and flames started coming from his mouth. The monster immediately grabbed her and violently started tearing at the nightgown that she had on. He dug his sharp claws into her skin and she shouted and screamed with all that she had. Finally, she was able to break away from the sinister being and started running. Unfortunately, when she reached the steps of her home, the monster regained control over her and began lashing as her appendages. Quickly, one of her female siblings stumbled upon the scene and assisted Jane and the creature fled from the scene.

Just a little over a week after this devastating attack, another teenager by the name of Lucy Scales was subjected to the wrath of the Spring Heeled Jack. She was an eighteen year old. She was walking innocently near the region known as “Green Dragon Alley” and was subjected to a flow of flames from a mysterious person alongside the path. The flame immediately affected her ability to see and caused an intense degree of pain. As a result, she was overtaken with unusual and exceptionally violent fits. This is just one of the many stories where the unusual subject of this famous urban legend simply seemed to want to spread malicious intent among innocent people. While many men in the region at the time were suspected and even tried as being this malicious character, no one was ever confirmed as the official demonic force behind this famous urban legend. Today, the validity of the story of Spring Heeled Jack continues to be one of the greatest unsolved mysteries of the world.

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