The Legend of Maggoty Johnson!

 

Maggoty Johnson,

Maggoty Johnson,

Maggoty Johnson,

Maggoty Johnson,

Maggoty Johnson,

Maggoty Johnson,

Maggoty Johnson,

Maggoty Johnson,

Maggoty Johnson,

Maggoty Johnson,

Maggoty Johnson,

Maggoty Johnson,

Would you go one further? and say it a 13th time to see if Maggoty Johnson will rise from the grave and perform a dance for you? Or would you run around his grave 12 times backwards, at midnight to see if he rises, then pulls you back into his grave? These are a few of the local legends that belong to the small Cheshire village of Gawsworth and their mysterious Maggoty Johnson.

 

I was around 7 years old when I first came across Maggoty Johnson’s grave. My Aunty and Uncle lived just down from the grave site, which is on Maggoty Lane in Gawsworth, Cheshire. I can just about remember been with my nieces as they dared me to say his name… I must admit I was scared, but with hesitation I did it; (nothing happened) but it was day light and we did  run off as soon as we said the 13th Maggoty Johnson…! We didn’t look back (well I didn’t anyway) So here I am 30 so years later and for some unknown reason, Maggoty Johnson popped back into my head, it got me thinking… Who was he? What did he do and what is the grave doing there and why? What is the legend about? So, with all these questions unanswered, I set about finding out more about him.

 

Firstly, Maggoty Johnson was born Samuel Johnson in 1691 and he was an entertainer with lots of strings to his bow, including a musician, dance master, play writer and more notably the last Jester in England, based at Gawsworth Hall in Cheshire. He was a wild eccentric man and liked to be known as Lord Flame! After he played himself in his quite successful play called “Hurlothrumbo” or “The Supernatural” His play, played over 30 consecutive nights at the Little Haymarket Theatre in London. He also had numerous other works published including “The Blazing Comet” and “A Vision of Heaven”  

It is said that after coming home to Gawsworth, he fired an arrow up into the air from a rooftop and where ever it dropped, that is where he was to be buried. His wishes were granted in 1773 aged 82. But originally, they made a mistake and buried him in the grounds of Gawsworth church. But, upon reading a letter stating that he wanted to be buried in the woods where the arrow fell, they had to remove the body and reburied him in the now Maggoty woods. Could this of upset Maggoty? There have been a few ghostly sightings of him, notably from a twentieth-century sexton, he reported meeting him one moonlight evening riding a white horse, and as he followed him through the woods towards the grave; he was just in time to hear the bump of the gravestone thudding back into place, once Maggoty was back inside.

On reflection, I suppose we will never know, are imaginations can conjure up all scenarios for him and his legend, now and for generations to come.

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