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From: John Prior [john@prior11.freeserve.co.uk]
Subject:  Mother Pryor's Money

 Things have been fairly quiet on the List lately so thought you might appreciate this story from Essex, England.

I  came across it in a book in 'The King's England' series under Great Hallingbury, Essex.

An Odd story

Both tower and chancel of Great Hallingbury Church must have been familiar to old John Brand in Queen Elizabeth's reign, one of the queerest characters a village ever had.  So queer was his story that  it came to be written in the church archives, and there it is told how his troubles began one Christmas Eve, when an  angel of the devil appeared before him in a vision and showed him plainly where he could find Mother Pryor's money.  He found it, £7 18s; but that was not the end, for three months later the angel came and told him it were better to kill himself than to marry the widow he had in  mind.  Determined to take his advice, John Brand began on a Monday by taking a dagger, and was only saved by  his friends. On Wednesday he put a sack over his head and plunged headlong into John Pryor's pond, seven feet deep.  The next Sunday he "took rat's-bayne and drank it in a messe of potage at his dinner, which pained him so, and could not die. So he took a hay halter and hanged himself upon an oak beside his house, and lieth buried at Hangman's Oak."

  

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