The Abduction Of Ann Jefferies
From: Chris Aubeck <email@example.com>
Date: Mon, 15 Oct 2001 00:19:07 +0800
Fwd Date: Mon, 15 Oct 2001 05:59:01 -0400
Subject: The Abduction Of Ann Jefferies
Dear List members,
As I have been preparing an article about early claims of
abduction for a popular magazine over here, I thought I'd share
my summary of the Ann Jefferies 'case' with other List members,
before I translate it into Spanish.
The story itself is open to all kinds of interpretation, but I
am concerned that its real contents continue to be ignored and
their true value therefore lost. It is not exactly a typical
"modern-style" account of abduction, despite Jenny Randles'
incorrect statement that it concerns "several human-sized
creatures who seemed fascinated by reproduction" that Jefferies
"believed she…had a sexual rapport with" ("The Complete Book of
Aliens & Abductions," Piatkus, London 1999 p.13). As we will
see, the fairies certainly kissed her but I would hesitate
before equating this with sexual intercourse, at least without
reproducing the relevant quote in full for readers to draw their
Nevertheless, it does contain enough familiar-sounding features
to regard it as a forerunner of modern reports. It is
unfortunate that it is so often referred to without quoting from
the original text.
Ann Jefferies: Taken by the Fairies
One of the most celebrated encounters between a human being and
the fairies took place in Cornwall in 1645. Anne Jefferies, the
daughter of a poor labourer, was born in the parish of St. Teath
in December 1626. At the age of nineteen she went to live in a
wealthy family, that of the Pitts, as a servant. It is, in fact,
a letter from Moses Pitt to the Right Reverend Dr. Edward
Fowler, the Bishop of Gloucester, that contains the most
detailed account about Jefferies' experiences.
In the letter, dated May 1st 1696, he explains how one day
Jefferies had been knitting in an arbour in the garden when
something so shocking happened to her "that she fell into a kind
of Convulsion-fit." Soon afterwards members of the family found
her writhing on the ground and carried her indoors, where she
was taken to her bedroom and allowed to rest. When she regained
consciousness she startled everyone gathered at her bedside by
crying out, "They are all just gone out of the Window; do you
not see them?" This and similar outbursts were immediately
"attributed to her Distemper," her employers supposing she was
suffering a bout of feverish 'light-headedness.'
Anne Jefferies remained in an unstable condition for some time,
unable even to "so much as stand on her Feet." Gradually,
however, she managed to recover from her "sickness" and by the
following year was able to reassume her duties as a maid. Not
long after this she began to reveal that, although she had
recovered from her seizures, she had not exactly become her 'old
Pitt writes that the first indication that Jefferies had
acquired new skills came "one Afternoon, in the Harvest-time,"
when his mother slipped and broke her leg on the way back from
the mill, which was a quarter of a mile from the house. She "lay
[there] a considerable time in great Pain," he wrote, "till a
Neighbour coming by on Horseback, seeing my Mother in this
condition, lifted her up on his Horse, and carried her home." A
servant was told to saddle a horse and fetch Mr. Hob, the
surgeon, from a nearby town. While the servant was getting the
horse ready, Anne Jefferies came into the room and saw Mrs. Pitt
with her leg outstretched. She asked her to show her the wound,
which the woman did after some persuasion, and to rest the leg
on her lap. Stroking it with her hand, Anne asked whether the
woman was feeling any better.
"My Mother confess'd to her she did. Upon this she desired my
Mother to forbear sending for the Chyrurgeon, for she would, by
the Blessing of God, cure her Leg: and to satisfy my Mother of
the Truth of it, she again appeal'd to my Mother, whether she
did not find farther Ease upon her…which my Mother again
acknowledged she did. Upon this my Mother countermanded the
Messenger for the Chyrurgeon."
What surprised Mrs. Pitt the most was not the maid's newfound
healing powers but the fact that she seemed to know exactly when
and where her fall had happened. Yet how could she? Anne had
been sent to the orchards (for her own well-being, in case she
were to have another fit) while Mrs. Pitt was not at home to
keep an eye on her and nobody had had known anything until the
neighbour arrived on his horse. Moses writes that his mother
demanded an explanation.
"[Ann Jefferies] made answer, that half a dozen Persons told her
of it. That, reply'd my Mother, could not be, for there was none
came by at that time, but my Neighbour…that brought me home. Ann
answers again, that that was the Truth, and it was also true,
that half a dozen Persons told her so; for said she, you ! know
I went out of the House into the Gardens and Orchards very
unwillingly. And now I tell you the Truth of all Matters and
Things that have befallen me.
"You know that this my Sickness and Fits came very suddenly upon
me, which brought me very low and weak, and have made me very
simple. Now the Cause of my Sickness was this.
"I was one day knitting of Stockings in the Arbour in the
Gardens, and there came over the Garden-hedge of a sudden six
small People, all in green Clothes, which put me into such a
Fright and Consternation that was the Cause of this my great
Sickness; and they continue their Appearance to me, never less
that 2 at a time, nor never more than 8: they always appear in
even Numbers, 2, 4, 6, 8. when I said often in my Sickness, They
were just gone out of the Window, it was really so; altho you
thought me light-headed. At this time when I came into the
Garden, they came to me, and ask'd me, if you had put me out of
the House against my Will: I told them I was unwilling to come
out of the house: Upon this they said, you should not fare the
better for it; and thereupon in that Place, and at that time, in
a fair Path you fell, and hurt your Leg. I would not have you
send for a Chyrurgeon, nor trouble your self, for I will cure
your Leg: The which she did in a little time."
A longer account of Jefferies' encounter in the garden can be
found in Robert Hunt's 1871 book, Popular Romances of the West
of England. This literary version contains details that had
probably circulated as rumours for two centuries and which were
not included in Pitt's letter. Whether these rumours originated
in Anne Jefferies' own confessions is difficult to say but the
result is a much stranger rendition of the same story, with
features that are atypical even of the most surreal fairy tales.
Atypical to all but tales of abduction, that is.
Hunt writes that on meeting her in the arbour, one of the little
men "clambered upon her bosom and neck, and began kissing her."
Before long, all of the beings were kissing "her neck, her lips,
and her eyes." When one of the beings "ran his fingers over her
eyes…she felt as if they had been pricked with a pin." All of a
sudden, "Anne became blind, and she felt herself whirled through
the air at a great rate." When she could see again she found
herself in a different world. She found herself in a beautiful
forest, surrounded by temples and palaces of precious metals and
"hundreds" of people "walking about," "idling," dancing and
playing sport. She then realised that the fairies now seemed to
be about the same height as herself, and that she was wearing
"the most highly-decorated clothes." Anne found a handsome mate,
with whom she made love until for some reason the other
inhabitants of the realm started getting angry and they had to
part. At last "the fairy who had blinded her again placed his
hands upon her eyes, and all was dark. She heard strange noises,
and felt herself whirled about and about, and as if a thousand
flies were buzzing around her." In a short while she was found
by the Pitt family, who all mistakenly conceived that "she was
recovering from a convulsion fit."
Such is the literary version of Jefferies' abduction.
From that time on, Anne Jefferies became famous throughout
England as a faith-healer and fairy contactee. Moses Pitt writes
that "People of all Distempers, Sicknesses, Sores, and Ages"
travelled from far and wide to Cornwall to see the girl and
receive her magical treatment. She charged no fee for her work
and even stopped eating lunch and dinner with the family,
claiming that the fairies were feeding her. On one occasion,
writes Pitt in his letter, a neighbour called Francis Heathman
dropped by to visit Anne. He was told she was in her room, so
"he goes into her Chamber to see for her; and not seeing her, he
calls for her: She not answering, he feels up and down in the
Chamber for her; but not finding her, comes and tells us she was
not in her Chamber. As soon as he had said this, she comes out
of her Chamber to us, as we were sitting at Table, and tells
him, she was in her Chamber, and saw him, and heard him call
her, and see him feel up and down the Chamber for her, but he
could not see her although she saw him, notwithstanding she was
at the same time at the Table in her Chamber eating her dinner."
Unfortunately, so many strange goings on and her growing
reputation as a seer worried the local authorities. They sent
"both the Neighboro-Magistrates and Ministers" to the house to
question the maid on the nature of her supernatural contacts.
Despite hearing Anne Jefferies' "very rational Answers to all
the Questions they then ask'd her," her interrogators concluded
that the spirits she spoke to were "the Delusion of the Devil,"
and they "advised her not to go to them when they call'd her."
Not long after this, the Justice of the Peace in Cornwall, John
Tregagle Esq., issued a warrant for her arrest. Jefferies spent
three months in Bodmin Gaol, where she was not allowed food or
drink. "And yet," to everyone's amazement, "she liv'd, and
without complaining." The fairies were feeding her! When she was
finally freed it was decided that she could not return to the
house of the Pitts, so! she went to stay with Moses Pitt's aunt,
Mrs. Francis Tom, near Padstow. There "she liv'd a considerable
time, and did many great Cures," but later moved into her own
brother's house and eventually married.
In his letter Moses Pitt makes it clear that he had made an
effort to gather as many details as he could about the case and
to find witnesses. He mentions Mr. William Tom, "some time since
Mayor of Plimouth…who did aver the Truth of Many, if not all the
Passages I here relate," and declares that he "could bring
several other Persons now living to justify the Truth of what I
write." Unfortunately, Anne Jefferies herself would not make any
more statements about what she had experienced, "fancying that
if she should do it, she might again fall into Trouble about
it." In 1691 Pitt wrote to his nephew, an attorney living in
Cornwall, asking him to visit the woman – then in her
mid-sixties – and interview her, but she refused to speak about
it with anybody. In January 1693 Pitt asked his brother-in-law,
Mr. Humphrey Martyn, to try to approach her with the same
request. This time Anne Jefferies replied that she did not want
her life made into "Books or Ballads" nor her name "spread about
the country" in this way. She added that she wouldn't even do it
for "five hundred pounds"!
"…for she said, she had been questioned before Justices, and at
the Sessions, and in Prison, and also before the Judges at the
Assizes; and she doth believe, that if she should discover
[reveal] such things now, she should be questioned again for
Anne Jefferies died in 1698.