MOSES PITT'S LETTER RESPECTING ANNE JEFFERIES.
"AN account of Anne Jefferies, now living in the county of Cornwall, who was fed for six months by a small sort of airy people, called fairies; and of the strange and wonderful cures she performed with salves and medicines she received from them, for which she never took one penny of her patients.
- In a letter from Moses Pitt to the Right Reverend Father in God, Dr. Edward Fowler, Lord Bishop of Gloucester."
Anne Jefferies, who was afterwards married to one William Warren, was born in the parish of St Teath in December 1626, "and she is still living, 1696, being now in the 70th year of her age." From the published narrative, we learn that Mr Humphrey Martin was requested by Mr Moses Pitt to see and examine Anne in 1693. Mr Martin writes, "As for Anne Jefferies, I have been with her the greater part of one day, and did react to her all that you wrote to me; but site would not own anything of it, as concerning the fairies, neither of any of the cures that she did. She answered, that if her own father were now alive, she would not discover to him those things which did happen then to her. I asked her the reason why she would not do it; she replied, that if she should discover it to you, that you would make books or ballads of it; and she said, that she would not have her name spread about the country in books or ballads of such things, if she might have five hundred pounds for it."
Mr Pitt's correspondent goes on to say that Anne was so frightened by the visitors she had in the arbour "that she fell into a kind of convulsion fit. But when we found her in this condition we brought her into the house and put her to bed, and took great care of her. As soon as she recovered out of her fit, she cried out, 'They are just gone out of the window--they are just gone out of the window. Do you not see them?'" Anne recovered, and "as soon as she recovered a little strength, she constantly went to church." "She took mighty delight in devotion, and in hearing the Word of God read and preached, although she herself could not read."
Anne eventually tells some portions of her story, and cures numerous diseases amongst the people, by the powers site had derived from the fairy world. "People of all distempers, sicknesses, sores, and ages, came not only so far off as the Land's End, but also from London, and were cured by her. Site took no moneys of them, nor any reward that ever I knew or heard of, yet had she moneys at all times sufficient to supply her wants. She neither made nor bought any medicines or salves that ever I saw or heard of, yet wanted them not as she had occasion. She forsook eating our victuals, and was fed by these fairies from that harvest time to the next Christmas day; upon which day she came to our table and said, because it was that day, she would eat some roast beef with us, the which she did--I myself being then at the table."
The fairies constantly attended upon Anne, and they appear to have vied with each other to win her favour. They feel her, as we have been already told ; and the writer says that on one occasion site "gave me a piece of her bread, which I did eat, and I think it was the most delicious bread that ever I did eat, either before or since." Anne could render herself invisible at will. The fairies would come and dance with her in the orchard. She had a silver cup, given at her wish by the fairies to Mary Martyn, when she was about four years of age.
At last, "one John Tregeagle, Esq., who was steward to John Earl of Radnor, being a justice of peace in Cornwall, sent his warrant for Anne, and sent her to Bodmin jail, and there kept her a long time." The fairies had previously given her notice that she would be apprehended.
"She asked them if she should hide herself. They answered no; she should fear nothing, but go with the constable. So she went with the constable to the justice, and he sent her to Bodmin jail, and ordered the prison keeper that she should be kept without victuals, and she was so kept, and yet she lived, and that without complaining. But poor Anne lay in jail for a considerable time after; and also Justice Tregeagle, who was her great prosecutor, kept her in his house some time as a prisoner, and that without victuals."
We have a curious example of the fairies quoting Scripture. I am not aware of another instance of this. Anne, when seated with the family was called three times. "Of all these three calls of the fairies, none heard them but Anne. After she had been in her chamber some time, she came to us again, with a Bible in her hand, and tells us that when she came to the fairies, they said to her, 'What ! has there been some magistrates and ministers' with you, and dissuaded you from coming any more to us, saying, we are evil spirits, and that it was all a delusion of the devil? Pray, desire them to read that place of Scripture, in the First Epistle of St. John, chap. iv. ver. I, "Dearly beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits, whether they are of God;" and this place of Scripture was turned down so in the said Bible. I told your lordship before, Anne could not read."
Anne was at length liberated from confinement. She lived in service near Padstow, and in process of time married William Warren.
How honestly and simply does Moses conclude his story!
"And now, my lord, if your lordship expects that I should give you an account when, and upon what occasion, these fairies forsook our Anne, I must tell your lordship I am ignorant of that. She herself can best tell, if she would be prevailed upon to do so; and the history of it, and the rest of the passages of her life, would be very acceptable and useful to the most curious and inquisitive part of mankind." [a]
[a] "An Historical Survey of the County of Cornwall." C. S. Gilbert 1817.