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Springheel Jack

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Springheeledjack
Mysterious FLYING HUMANOID of Victorian 
England.

Variant names: Leaping terror, Springald, 
Spring-heeled Jack, Suburban ghost.

Physical description: Tall. Thin. Glowing red 
eyes. Huge, pointed ears. Blue flames emanate 
from its mouth. Fingers are exceptionally sharp 
(“made of iron”). Wears a long cloak (or an oilskin 
or sheepskin) and a shining helmet.

Behavior: Seems to be able to leap or glide 
through the air with a paranormal ability. 
Laughs ringingly. Attacks people and rips their 
clothing and flesh.

Significant sightings: First noted in September 
1837 when attacks on three young women took 
place in Barnes Common, Middlesex, England. 
On October 11, 1837, seventeen-year-old Polly 
Adams was assaulted on Shooter’s Hill Road, 
London, by a bizarre, leaping figure. Next, 
eighteen-year-old Jane Alsop was attacked at her 
front door on February 18, 1838, by a man who 
claimed to be a policeman but who slashed at 
her clothing with metallic claws. The attacks 
continued through 1839 and reoccurred in 
London in 1843 and 1845 (resulting in 
Springheel Jack’s only murder, involving a thirteen- 
year-old prostitute named Maria Davis 
whom he threw into a sewer). Similar assaults 
were noted in Caistor-on-Sea, Norfolk, and 
Aldershot, Hampshire, in 1877. The final appearance 
of the creature took place in Everton, 
Bedford, in September 1904, when a figure like 
a giant bat was seen leaping from rooftop to 
rooftop.

Possible explanations: 
(1) In the 1830s, police theorized that a 
criminal was using springs concealed in his 
boot heels. Henry de la Poer Beresford, the 
marquis of Waterford (1811–1859), was 
considered a suspect. However, no known 
alloy is compressible and resilient enough to 
account for the reported leaps made by 
Springheel Jack. 
(2) Newspaper writers theorized that the 
attacks were made by a “ghost, a bear, or a 
devil” because a letter had been received 
claiming that a rich man had wagered he 
could visit London suburbs disguised as one 
of these creatures. 
(3) An unidentified flying object (UFO) 
entity, similar to other FLYING HUMANOIDS, 
suggested by J. Vyner. 
(4) An escaped Kangaroo (Family 
Macropodidae), though the absence of one 
of these animals from a Victorian zoo would 
surely have been reported. 
(5) A fictional story in which Springheel 
Jack is a nobleman who is cheated out of his 
inheritance and becomes a highwayman to 
steal from the unscrupulous rich first 
appeared in 1875 as a forty-eight-part serial 
by penny-dreadful writer Charlton Lea. 
This literary Springheel Jack was demonic; 
was dressed in a crimson suit; and had 
batlike wings, horns, talons, cloven hooves, 
and sulphurous breath. His leaps were 
accomplished by the use of steel rods and 
springs. Much of the legend seems to derive 
from this narrative, which was picked up by 
other sensational writers. 
(6) A series of hoaxes, perhaps including an 
original one by the marquis of Waterford 
himself, who apparently was something of a 
trickster. The story of a wraithlike 
Springheel Jack has been perpetuated in 
urban legend and adolescent pranks ever 
since.

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