Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Chased into Hell by the Devil

May 15, 1687, three British naval commanders docked their ships under the Mediterranean volcano Stromboli off the coast of Sicily.

The Captains went ashore for a hunting expedition.  Several junior officers and crew members accompanied them to the volcanic island.

At 3:14 in the afternoon, the assembled hunters saw two strange men race past them and down the beach.  The man in front was dressed in gray, and the figure pursuing him was in all black.

Captain Barnaby, on observing the figures, exclaimed:

"Lord bless me, but the first man looks like my next door neighbor, Old Booty the London brewer.  But I don't know the other one behind."

The figure in black chased Old Booty directly into the "burning mountain."  They disappeared inside and there followed what the witnesses described as a "terrible noise."

Captain Barnaby asked a Mr. Spink and other junior officers to recored the details of the incident in their log books.

The British vessels eventually returned to Gravesend, England on October 6th of that year, and Captain Barnaby's wife was there to meet him at the docks.

In the course of conversation, Mrs. Barnaby stated:

"My dear, I have got some news to tell you.  Old Booty is dead."

The Captain replied:

"Yes, I know.  We all saw him run into hell."

Captain Barnaby relayed the story of the strange pursuit to his wife, who proceed to tell one of her friends.  The woman in turn took the story to Old Booty's widow.

Mrs. Booty was so outraged that she launched a lawsuit against the Captain, seeking damages for slander.

The case went to trial with Booty's widow seeking one thousand pounds in damages.  Mr. Spink and twenty other officers all swore in court that they had witnessed the strange pursuit as Old Booty was run into hell, just as reported by Captain Barnaby.

The log books were also examined, and they all agreed on the details, within two minutes, of Booty's death in England.

The clothes that the old brewer was wearing when he died were also brought into the courtroom, and again, the officers all testified that they matched the clothing worn by the man on the beach in Stromboli.

The charges against Captain Barnaby were dismissed and the trial documents were entered into the Westminster records.

The judge hearing the case reported:

"Lord grant I may never see the sight you have seen.  One, two or three men may be mistaken, but 20 or 30 cannot."

This story was reported in a couple of different publications in the 1970s, including Fate Magazine.  There's no record as to whether anyone has taken the time to research Westminster records to verify the proceedings in court documents from the period.

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