cover image: The Ingoldsby Legends / Illustrated by / Arthur Rackham

As no one else was present, he did precisely what nine young men out of ten so situated would have done; he walked up to the mantelpiece, established himself upon the rug, and subducting his coat-tails one under each arm, turned towards the fire that portion of the human frame which it is consi­dered equally indecorous to present to a friend or an enemy.

“Thomas Ingoldsby, Esq.” was the pen name of Richard Harris Barham (1788–1845). Most of the stories and poems gathered under the name “Ingoldsby Legends” were first published in various periodicals over the years 1831–1845. The main exception is the introductory passages that precede most titles in the First and Second Series. These were added for the book, and are generally absent from the Third Series, which was prepared after the author’s death.

First Series

Second Series

Third Series


The edition used as the basis for this ebook calls itself “Artists’ Edition”. This sounds fancy, but simply means that it used the same illustrations as the periodicals, espe­cially Bentley’s. Most are by George Cruikshank (1792–1878), but you will find a few by John Leech (1817–1864) or John Tenniel (1820–1914).

George Cruikshank signature   John Tenniel monogram   J. Leech signature

In this ebook the original illustrations are the ones with a page reference, part of the original caption. I have also restored a few that were omitted from the book, mainly in the Third Series; these will be identified in each story’s Notes and Corrections section.

To go with Cruikshank & Co. I have added illustrations from the 1907 Dent & Dutton edition illustrated by Arthur Rackham (1867–1939). The cover image at the top of this page is from the same source.

Arthur Rackham ’07 signature

Style and Content

Some of the Legends are funny; some are not. Some are so beyond-the-pale unfunny, one has to wonder about the target audience.

The author likes to split words across line breaks to facilitate rhymes:

Renown’d Father Dominic, famous for twisting dom-

estic and foreign necks all over Christendom;


And others (whose name should I try to repeat o-

ver, I’m well assured you would put in your veto),

or even

I wish I’d poor Fuseli’s pencil, who ne’er I bel-

ieve was exceeded in painting the terrible,

Or that of Sir Joshua

Reynolds, who was so a-

droit in depicting it—vide his piece

Descriptive of Cardinal Beaufort’s decease

How glad I am that this book did not have to contend with Distributed Proofreaders!

The Latin words will rhyme if you remember that “New Style” pronunciation is many decades in the future: “case, he / in pace”, “Evasit! / phrase it”, “Imprimis / the time is” and so on. From the rhymes, we also learn that “Huzza” is pronounced “Huzzay”. (I never knew this.) And, finally, the adjective “jimp” is a Northern dialectal word meaning slim, delicate, graceful and so on.

From Periodical to Book

The Ingoldsby Legends, by that name, were published as three volumes or “Series”: the First Series in early 1840, the Second in late 1842, and the Third—significantly shorter than the first two—in late 1847, after the author’s death. But as noted above, most pieces first appeared in assorted periodicals—especially Bentley’s Miscellany—under assorted umbrella titles. In rough chronological order:

“Family Poetry” Nos. I-VII were published in Blackwood’s Edinburgh Monthly at a leisurely pace over the years 1831-35. That includes two that don’t seem to have made it into the books: No. I in Vol. 29 no. 4 (April 1831) with no title beyond “Family Poetry No. I”, and No. IV, “The Country Seat”, in Vol. 34 No. 5 (November 1833).

“Family Stories” and “County Legends” were each published in Bentley’s within a fairly short span: “Family Stories” I-X from February 1837 to November 1838; “County Legends” Nos. I-IV from August 1840 to July 1841.

Overlapping the two came “Golden Legend” Nos. I-VII, published in Bentley’s from April 1838 to January 1843. At least, some of them were. I don’t know what became of Nos. IV and V, if in fact they ever existed; they don’t appear in the book, and I couldn’t find them in Bentley’s. In the periodical, No. III, from July 1839, was followed after a long gap by No. 6 (really) in December 1840; after a still longer gap came No. VII in January 1843.

Finally, a few selections from the Third Series first appeared in The New Monthly Magazine and Humorist between 1843 and 1845.


The text of this ebook is based on the single-volume 1848 Scribner edition, supple­mented by the Arthur Rackham illustrations described above. In addition to breaking it up into three parts, corresponding to its three “Series”, I have made two changes, or rather restorations.

First, since saving paper is not a concern, I have restored the verse formatting of the periodicals. In the book, short lines were printed two by two:

Hand in hand   The Murderers stand

By one, by two, by three!

where the periodicals typically had

Hand in hand

The Murderers stand

By one, by two, by three!

And, second, I have restored the original “double quotes”.

Typographical errors are marked with mouse-hover popups and are listed again at the end of each chapter. The word “invisible” means that the letter or punctuation mark is missing, but there is an appropriately sized blank space. Unless otherwise noted, typographical errors—especially missing quotation marks—were corrected from the appropriate periodical.


well-dressed skeleton admiring himself in a mirror




The Artists’ Edition


decoration: leaves




My dear Sir,

You wish me to collect into a single volume certain rambling extracts from our family memoranda, many of which have already appeared in the pages of your Miscellany. At the same time you tell me that doubts are entertained in certain quarters as to the authenticity of their details.

Now with respect to their genuineness, the old oak chest, in which the originals are deposited, is not more familiar to my eyes than it is to your own; and if its contents have any value at all, it consists in the strict veracity of the facts they record.

To convince the most incredulous, I can only add, that should business—pleasure is out of the question—ever call them into the neighbourhood of Folkestone, let them take the high road from Canterbury to Dover till they reach the eastern extremity of Barham Downs. Here a beautiful green lane diverging abruptly to the right will carry them through the Oxenden plantations and the unpretending village of Denton, to the foot of a very respectable hill,—as hills go in this part of Europe. On reaching its summit let them look straight before them,—and if, among the hanging woods which crown the opposite side of the valley, they cannot distinguish an antiquated Manor-house of Elizabethan architecture, with its gable ends, stone stanchions, and tortuous chimneys rising above the surrounding trees, why—the sooner they procure a pair of Dollond’s patent spectacles the better.


If, on the contrary, they can manage to descry it, and, proceeding some five or six furlongs through the avenue, will ring at the Lodge gate,—they cannot mistake the stone lion with the Ingoldsby escutcheon (Ermine, a saltire engrailed Gules) in his paws,—they will be received with a hearty old English welcome.

The papers in question having been written by different parties, and at various periods, I have thought it advisable to reduce the more ancient of them into a comparatively modern phraseology, and to make my collateral ancestor, Father John especially, “deliver himself like a man of this world;” Mr. Maguire, indeed, is the only Gentleman who, in his account of the late Coronation, retains his own rich vernacular.

As to arrangement, I shall adopt the sentiment expressed by the Constable of Bourbon four centuries ago, teste Shakspeare, one which seems to become more fashionable every day,

“The Devil take all order!!—I’ll to the throng!”

Believe me to be,

My dear Sir,
Yours, most indubitably and immeasurably,


Tappington Everard,
Jan. 20, 1840.

Notes and Corrections: Dedication

Each Series will have its own dedicatory essay. The one for the Second Series is dated December 1842; the third—published after the author’s death—November 1847.

a very respectable hill,—as hills go in this part of Europe
[Sounds like what Gilbert White would undoubtedly have called a towering peak.]

man dancing with three women in witches’ hats



My dear Sir,

I should have replied sooner to your letter, but that the last three days in January are, as you are aware, always dedicated, at the Hall, to an especial battue, and the old house is full of shooting-jackets, shot-belts, and “double Joes.” Even the women wear percussion caps, and your favourite (?) Rover, who, you may remember, examined the calves of your legs with such suspicious curiosity at Christmas, is as pheasant-mad as if he were a biped, instead of being a genuine four-legged scion of the Blenheim breed. I have managed, however, to avail myself of a lucid interval in the general hallucination (how the rain did come down on Monday!), and as you tell me the excellent friend whom you are in the habit of styling “a Generous and Enlightened Public” has emptied your shelves of the first edition, and “asks for more,” why, I agree with you, it would be a want of respect to that very respectable personification, when furnishing him with a further supply, not to endeavour, at least, to amend my faults, which are few, and your own, which are more numerous. I have, therefore, gone to work con amore, supplying occasionally on my own part a deficient note, or elucidatory stanza, and on yours knocking out, without remorse, your superfluous i’s, and now and then eviscerating your colon.

My duty to your illustrious friend thus performed, I have viii a crow to pluck with him.—Why will he persist—as you tell me he does persist—in calling me by all sorts of names but those to which I am entitled by birth and baptism—my “Sponsorial and Patronymic appellations,” as Dr. Pangloss has it?—Mrs. Malaprop complains, and with justice, of an “assault upon her parts of speech,” but to attack one’s very existence—to deny that one is a person in esse, and scarcely to admit that one may be a person in posse, is tenfold cruelty;—“it is pressing to death, whipping, and hanging!”—let me entreat all such likewise to remember, that as Shakspeare beautifully expresses himself elsewhere—I give his words as quoted by a very worthy Baronet in a neighbouring county, when protesting against a defamatory placard at a general election—

“Who steals my purse steals stuff!—

’Twas mine—’tisn’t his—nor nobody else’s!

But he who runs away with my Good Name,

Robs me of what does not do him any good,

And makes me deuced poor ! !”1

distant view of house behind iron gate and overhanging trees

In order utterly to squabash and demolish every gainsayer, I had thought, at one time, of asking my old and esteemed friend, Richard Lane, to crush them at once with his magic pencil, and to transmit my features to posterity, where all his works are sure to be “delivered according to the direction;” but somehow the noble-looking profiles which he has recently executed of the Kemble family put me a little out of conceit of my own, while the undisguised amusement which my “Mephistopheles Eyebrow,” as he termed it, afforded him, in the “full face,” induced me to lay aside the design. Besides, my dear Sir, since, as has well been observed, “there never was a married man yet who had not somebody remarkably like him walking about town,” it is a thousand to one but my lineaments might, after all, out of sheer perverseness, be ascribed to any body rather than to the real owner. I have therefore sent you, instead thereof, a fair sketch of Tappington, taken ix from the Folkestone road (I tore it last night out of Julia Simpkinson’s album); get Gilks to make a woodcut of it. And now, if any miscreant (I use the word only in its primary and “Pickwickian” sense of “Unbeliever,”) ventures to throw any further doubt upon the matter, why, as Jack Cade’s friend says in the play, “There are the chimneys in my father’s house, and the bricks are alive at this day to testify it!”

“Why very well then—we hope here be truths!”

Heaven be with you, my dear Sir!—I was getting a little excited; but you, who are mild as the milk that dews the soft whisker of the new-weaned kitten, will forgive me when, wiping away the nascent moisture from my brow, I “pull in,” and subscribe myself.

Yours quite as much as his own,


Tappington Everard,
Feb. 2, 1848.

1 A reading which seems most unaccountably to have escaped the researches of all modern Shakspearians, including the rival editors of the new and illustrated versions.

Notes and Corrections: Preface

skip to Contents

and your favourite (?) Rover
[I think this is the earliest I have seen “Rover” as a Generic Dog Name.]

I have, therefore, gone to work con amore
[“Con amore”, unlike “pro bono (publico)”, doesn’t necessarily mean the writer did it for free. It does mean he undertook the job volun­tarily, without requiring heavy persuasion.]

but somehow the noble-looking profiles which he has recently executed
text has somewhow

Feb. 2, 1848.
[The author died in 1845. But I’m sure it made sense in 1848.]



First Series.
The Spectre of Tappington 1
The Nurse’s Story—The Hand of Glory 23
Patty Morgan the Milkmaid’s Story—“Look at the Clock” 30
Grey Dolphin 38
The Ghost 55
The Cynotaph 64
Mrs. Botherby’s Story—The Leech of Folkestone 70
Legend of Hamilton Tighe 93
The Witches’ Frolic 97
Singular Passage in the Life of the Late Henry Harris, D.D. 112
The Jackdaw of Rheims 132
A Lay of St. Dunstan 136
A Lay of St. Gengulphus 147
The Lay of St. Odille 157
A Lay of St. Nicholas 164
The Lady Rohesia 172
The Tragedy 179
Mr. Barney Maguire’s Account of the Coronation 183
The “Monstre” Balloon 186
Hon. Mr. Sucklethumbkin’s Story—The Execution 190
Some Account of a New Play 194
Mr. Peters’s Story—The Bagman’s Dog 203
Appendix 220
xii Second Series.
The Black Mousquetaire 223
Sir Rupert the Fearless 244
The Merchant of Venice 254
The Auto-da-fé 267
The Ingoldsby Penance 286
Netley Abbey 300
Fragment 305
Nell Cook 307
Nursery Reminiscences 316
Aunt Fanny 318
Misadventures at Margate 326
The Smuggler’s Leap 331
Bloudie Jacke of Shrewsberrie 338
The Babes in the Wood 350
The Dead Drummer 356
A Row in an Omnibus (Box) 368
The Lay of St. Cuthbert 373
The Lay of St. Aloys 386
The Lay of the Old Woman Clothed in Grey 397
Raising the Devil 413
St. Medard 415
xii Third Series.
The Lord of Thoulouse 424
The Wedding-Day; or, the Buccaneer’s Curse 438
The Blasphemer’s Warning 453
The Brothers of Birchington 474
The Knight and the Lady 486
The House-Warming 496
The Forlorn One 510
Jerry Jarvis’s Wig 511
Unsophisticated Wishes 525
Hermann; or, the Broken Spear 527
Hints for an Historical Play 529
Marie Mignot 531
The Truants 533
The Poplar 537
My Letters 538
New-made Honour 541
The Confession 542
Song 542
Epigram 543
Epigram 544
Song 544
As I Lay a-Thynkyng 545

Notes and Corrections: Contents

Yes, the Third Series winds up with several duplicate titles. There will also be some apparent duplicates in the Illustrations. But that’s because the story titles are generally used as figure captions, even when there is more than one.

Appendix   220
[This makes it seem as if “Appendix” is a separate selection. It is simply the last part of “The Bagman’s Dog”.]

As I Lay a-Thynkyng   545
[In the main text it will always be spelled “a-thynkynge”.]



The Spectre of Tappington To face Title-page
The Hand of Glory To face page 26
The Grey Dolphin 50
The Ghost 62
The Cynotaph 68
The Legend of Hamilton Tighe 96
The Witches’ Frolic 108
The Jackdaw of Rheims 134
A Lay of St. Gengulphus 150
A Lay of St. Nicholas 170
The Tragedy 180
The Tragedy 182
The Monstre Balloon 188
The Black Mousquetaire 242
Sir Rupert the Fearless 248
Sir Rupert the Fearless 252
The Merchant of Venice 262
The Auto-da-Fé 280
The Ingoldsby Penance 296
Netley Abbey 302
xvi The Smuggler’s Leap 332
The Smuggler’s Leap 336
Bloudie Jacke 346
The Dead Drummer 358
The Lay of St. Cuthbert 380
The Confession 400
The Lay of St. Medard 418
The Lay of St. Medard 420
The Wedding-Day 448
The Wedding-Day 450
Roberte de Byrchyngton 476
The House-Warming 506

title page of 1907 Dent & Dutton edition

Rackham Illustrations

The Dent & Dutton edition came with its own list of illustrations, divided into three categories: full-color plates, images with background tint, and line drawings. Page references are retained for completeness; all illustrations have been put as close as practicable to the text they refer to. The original frontispiece has been moved to its natural place in the text. The Pentacle (page 142) was omitted because it is essentially the same as the earlier edition.

“Hey! up the chimney, lass! Hey after you!” (p. 108) Frontispiece
There’s an old woman dwells upon Tappington Moor 26
To Tappington mill-dam 30
One kick!—it was but one!—but such a one 46
If Orpheus first produced the waltz 62
The little man had seated himself in the centre of the circle upon the large skull 94
If any one lied,—or if any one swore 140
A flood of brown-stout he was up to his knees in 148
And the maids cried “Good gracious, how very tenacious!” 160
These stiles sadly bothered Odille 162
What, indeed, could she do? 164
Into the bottomless pit he fell slap 174
The Duchess shed tears large as marrow-fat peas 184
He bounced up and down 202
Tumble out of their beds in affright 302
Wandering about and “Boo-hoo”-ing 358
Or making their court to their Polls and their Sues 364
The horn . . . Was blown with a loud twenty-trumpeter power 382
Witches and warlocks, ghosts, goblins and ghouls 396
Made one grasshopper spring to the door—and was gone! 412
But found nothing at all, save some carp—which they fried 480
Sir Thomas, her Lord, was stout of limb 488
A grand pas de deux Performed in the very first style by these two 508
When a score of ewes had brought in a reasonable profit 526
Then there was a pretty to-do, heads flew one way—arms and legs another 52
And there were gossips sitting there, By one, by two, by three 106
Heedless of grammar they all cried, “That’s him” 136
Peep’d through the key-hole, and—what saw he there? 144
He rescued a maid from the Dey of Algiers 206
Poor Blogg went on bobbing and ducking 216
They’d such very odd heads and such very odd tails 250
They came floating about him like so many prawns 254
How you’d frown Should a ladle-full fall on your crown 346
His first thought was to throw it into the pig-stye 504
We carved her initials 539
As I lay a-thynkynge, he rode upon his way 546
Around, and around, and around they go vi
The fair Caroline 6
Whipped his long bony legs into them in a twinkling 13
Came close behind him, and with the flat side of the spade— 23
Hand in hand The murderers stand, By one, by two, by three! 25
The identical face of his poor defunct Wife! 37
“Gentlemen! Look at the Clock!!!” 39
He meditated a mighty draft 42
“Emmanuel Saddleton, truss up your points, and follow me!” 43
“Make much of your steed, Robert Shurland!” 54
He hated it like poison 61
Beckon’d the Cobbler with its wan right hand 65
Head-piece—The Cynotaph 68
A cow may yet be sometimes seen galloping like mad 74
Never was man more swiftly disrobed 92
Monogram 97
The Coachman thinks he is driving Old Nick 98
Head-piece—Singular passage in the Life of the late Henry Harris, D.D. 116
Head-piece—The Jackdaw of Rheims 136
That little Jackdaw hops off with the ring 137
They can’t find the ring! 139
A Pentacle 142
First the long beard from the chin they shear’d 153
Gaily the Lord Abbot smiled 171
In the pantry was the holy man discovered,—at his devotions 177
Whack 183
She did not mind death, but she could not stand pinching 187
The poor little page, too, himself got no quarter 189
Head-piece—Mr. Barney Maguire’s Account of the Coronation 191
Which made all the pious Church-Mission folks squall 199
A litter of five 211
He would then sally out in the streets for “a spree” 229
Grandville acted on it, and order’d his Tandem 245
Miss Una Von—something 257
She was borne off, but stuck, By the greatest good luck, In an oak-tree 259
They heard somebody crying, “Old Clo’!” 263
Tail-piece—The Auto-da-fe 289
Head-piece—The Ingoldsby Penance 291
Subjecting his back To thump and to thwack 299
He puts his thumb unto his nose, and he spreads his fingers out! 314
Throughout that Entry dark doth roam Nell Cook’s unquiet Sprite 316
He look’d askew, and did eschew both stool, and bench, and chair 318
Squibb’d my pantaloons and stockings 320
Gave me—several slaps behind 321
A Frill like a fan had by no means been banish’d 323
“Ads cuss it! I’ve spoiled myself now by that ’ere nasty gusset!” 325
’Twas in Margate last July, I walked upon the pier 331
It’s very odd that Sailor-men should wear those things so loose 333
A Custom-house officer close by his side 338
“Yield thee! now yield thee, thou Smuggler Bill!” 340
Till “Battle Field” swarms like a Fair 351
The two Misses Tickler of Clapham Rise! 357
Head-piece—The Dead Drummer 362
To roost all that night on the murderer’s gibbet 372
Tail-piece—The Lay of St. Cuthbert 390
Bid the bandy-legg’d sexton go run for the May’r! 398
An “Old Woman clothed in grey” 403
He enlarged so, his shape seem’d approaching a sphere 415
The “natives” he found on the Red-Sea shore 424
In the midst sits the doctor 435
The soapy-tail’d sow 445
The Squire 446
They dash’d up the hills, and they dash’d down the dales 462
Ledger in hand, straight “Auld Hornie” appears 482
Tail-piece—The Knight and the Lady 497
Sir Christopher Hatton he danced with grace 498