Robert Nixon, the Cheshire Prophet
In Over, Cheshire, there was born a half-wit called Robert Nixon. As he grew up it became apparent that he had the gift of prophecy. His powers were so convincing he came to the attention of the king, who ordered that he be brought to Hampton Court Palace so he could see him for himself. Nixon was afraid, predicting that if he went there he would starve to death; he was, however, persuaded to go. He impressed the king with his abilities, who kept him at court, addressing his fears of starvation by making sure he was well provided for in the palace kitchens. One day the king departed, leaving Nixon in the care of an official who was instructed to ensure his safety. In order to protect Nixon, who was teased by the staff, the official locked him in a closet. But being called away on urgent business, he forgot about Nixon, who starved to death just as he had predicted. According to another version his prophecy was realised when, having irritated the cook with his constant pilfering of food, he was locked in a closet and forgotten about.
Foretels our Second George shall make us Great.
A Providential Period will come,
When Tencin’s dark Designs shall meet their Doom.
Europe shall flourish under Austrian Hands,
And Germany be freed from Gallic Bands.
Astrea still shall poize Great Britain’s Scale;
And Brunswick’s Arms o’er Rebel-Scots prevail.
With Exile tir’d the Regent shall lie down,
Obtain his End — a Coffin, not a Crown.
This Remarkable Prophecy has been carefully Revised, Corrected, and Improved;also some Account given of our Author Robert Nixon, who was but a kind of Idiot, and used to be employed in following the Plough. He had lived in some Farmers Families, and was their Drudge and their Jest. At last Thomas Cholmondeley of Vale-Royal, Esq; took him into his House, and he lived there when he compos’d this Prophecy, which he deliver’d with as much Gravity and Solemnity, as if he had been an Oracle; and it was observ’d, that though the Fool was a Driveler, and could not speak Common Sense when he was uninspired; yet in delivering his Prophecies he spoke plainly and sensiblyhow truly will be shewn in the following Pages.
As to the Credit of this Prophecy; I dare say it is as well attested as any of Nostradamus’s or Merlin’s, and has come to pass as well as the best of Squire Bickerstaff’s: The latter, the greatest Prophet of the last Century. Now, I would not have any Body laugh at it merely because it is a Prophecy. Some ungodly People think there has been no Witch since the Witch of Endor, nor no Prophet since Malachi; but it is plain enough, that Great Men have in all Ages had Recourse to Prophecy as well as the Vulgar. Fortune-telling is in the Low Kind of Prophecy; and yet those Minor Prophets, the Fortune-tellers, have many Advocates to argue, and, if you please, to prove the Truth and Importance of their Predictions. Not to give Instances out of Ancient History of the Wonders performed by English, Scots, and Irish Prophets; the most Modern Story furnishes us with Examples of the greatest Monarchs that have received Comfort from the Art of Sooth-saying. I would not have all grave Persons despite the Inspiration of Nixon. The late French King gave Audience to an inspired Farrier, and rewarded him with a hundred Pistoles for his Prophetical Intelligence; though by what I can learn, he did not come near our Nixon for Gifts.
The Cheshire Prophecy has so many Oddnesses in it, that I am sure the Reader will be glad to see a Thing which is as well known in that County-Palatine, as Mother Shipton’s in Yorkshire. The Simplicity, the Circumstances, and History of it are so remarkable, that I could not help communicating it to the Publick, who I hope, will be as much delighted with it as I was myself. By the way, this is not a Prophecy of to-day; ’tis as old as the Powder-Plot, and the Story will make it appear, that there is as little Imposture in it as the Jacobites pretend there is in the Person it seems to have an eye to; but whether they are both Imposters alike or not, I leave it to the Reader to determine.
In the Reign of King James the First, there lived a Fool, whose Name was Nixon. One Day he came in from Plough out of the Field, and laying down the Things he had in his Hands, he remained a little while in the Dumps, and then with a hoarse Voice, said, Now will I PROPHESY. Then he spoke as follows,
When a Raven shall build in a Stone-Lion’s Mouth on the Top of a Church in Cheshire, then a King of England shall be driven out of his Kingdom, and never return more.
When an Eagle shall sit on the Top of the House, then an Heir shall be born to the Cholmondeley’s Family; and this Heir shall live to see England invaded by Foreigners, who shall proceed so far as a Town in Cheshire; but a Miller, named Peter, shall be born with two Heels on one Foot, and at that Time living in a Mill of Mr. Cholmondeley’s, he shall be Instrumental in delivering the Nation. The Person who then governs the Nation will be in Trouble and skulk about: The Invading King shall be killed, laid a-cross a Horse’s Back like a Calf, and led in Triumph. The Miller having been Instrumental in it, shall bring forth the Person that then governs the Kingdom, and be knighted for what he has done; and after that, England shall see happy Days. A young new Set of Men of Virtuous Manners shall come, who shall prosper and make a Flourishing Church for Two Hundred Years.
As a Token of the Truth of all this, a Wall of Mr. Cholmondeley’s shall fall: If it fall downwards, the Church shall be oppressed, and rise no more; but if upwards next the rising Hill on the Side of it, then shall it flourish again. Under this Wall shall be found the Bones of a British King.
A Pond shall run with Blood three Days, and the Cross Stone Pillar in the Forest sink so low into the Ground, that a Crow from the Top of it shall drink of the best Blood in England.
A Boy shall be born with three Thumbs, and shall hold three King’s Horses, while England shall be three Times Won and Lost in one Day.
The Original may be seen in several Families in that County, and particularly in the Hands of Mr. Egerton, of Olton, with many other Remarkables; as, that Peckforton Windmill should be removed to Ludington-Hill; that there should be so great a Slaughter of Men, that Horses saddled should run about till their Girths rotted away. But this is sufficient to prove Nixon as great a Prophet as Partridge, and we shall give other Proofs of it before we have done with him.
I know your Prophets are generally for Raw-Head and Bloody-Bones, and therefore do not mind it much; or I might add, that Olton-Mill shall be driven with Blood instead of Water. But these Sooth-Sayers are great Butchers, and every Hall is with them a Slaughter-House.
Now as for Authorities to prove this Prophecy to be Genuine, and how it has been hitherto accomplished, I might refer myself to the whole County of Cheshire where it is in every one’s Mouth, and has been so these Forty Years. As much as I have of the Manuscript was sent me by a Person of Sense and Veracity, as little given to Visions as any Body. For my own Part, I build nothing on this or any other Prophecy, only there is something so very odd in the Story, and so pat in the wording of it, that I cannot help giving it as I found it.
The Family of the Cholmondeleys is very ancient in this County, and takes its Name from a place so called, near Nantwich; there are also Cholmton and Cholmondeston; but the Seat of that Branch of the Family, which kept our Prophet Nixon, is at Vale-Royal, on the river Wever, in de la Mere Forest. It was formerly an Abbey, founded by Edward I. and came to the Cholmondeleys from the Famous Family of the Holcrofts. When Nixon prophesied, this Family was near being extinct, the Heir having married Sir Walter St. John’s Daughter, a Lady not esteemed very young, who notwithstanding being with Child, fell in Labour, and continued so for some Days (during which Time an Eagle set upon the House-Top, and flew away when she was delivered, which proved to be a Son).
A Raven is also known to have built in a Stone Lion’s Mouth in the Steeple of the Church of Over, in the Forest of de la Mere. Not long before the Abdication of King James, the Wall spoken of fell down, and fell upwards; and in removing the Rubbish, were found the Bones of a Man of more than ordinary Size. A Pond at the same Time ran with Water that had a Reddish Tincture, and was never known to have done so before or since.
Headless-Cross in the Forest, which in the memory of Man was several Foot high, is now suck within half a Foot of the Ground.
In the Parish of Budworth, a Boy was born about eighteen Years ago, with three Thumbs; the Youth is still living there; and the Miller Peter lives in Noginshire Mills, in Expectation of fulfilling this Prophecy on the Person of Perkin: He hath also two Heels on one Foot, and I find he does not intend to make use of them, for he is a bold Briton, and a loyal Subject of King GEORGE, Zealous for the Protestant Succession in the Illustrious House of Hanover, has a Vote for the Knights of the Shire, and never fails to give it on the right Side; in a word, Peter will Prate or Box for the good Cause that Nixon had listed him in, and if he does not do the Business, this must be said of him, that no Man will bid fairer for it; which the Lady Egerton was so apprehensive of, that wishing well to another Restoration, she often instigated her Husband to turn him out of the Mill; but he looked upon it as a Whimsy, and so Peter still continues there, in hopes of being as good a Knight as Sir Philip his Landlord was.
Of this Peter I have been told that the Lady Narcliff of Chelsea, and the Lady St. John of Battersea, have often been heard to talk, and that they both asserted the Truth of our Prophecy and its Accomplishment, with Particulars which are more extraordinary than any I have yet mentioned. The Noise of Nixon’s Predictions reaching the Ears of King James the First, he would needs see this Fool, who cried and made ado, that he might not go to Court; and the Reason that he gave, was, That he should be starved. (A very whimsical Fancy of his: Courts are not Places where People use to starve in, when they once come there, whatever they did before.) The King being informed of Nixon’s refusing to come, said, he would take particular Care that he should not be starved, and ordered him to be brought up. Nixon cried out, he was sent for again; and soon after the Messenger arrived, who brought him up from Cheshire. How, or whether he prophesied to his Majesty, no Body can tell; but he is not the first Fool that has made a good Court Prophet. That Nixon might be well provided for, ’twas ordered he should be kept in the Kitchen, where he grew so troublesome in licking and picking the Meat, that the Cooks locked him up in a Hole; and the King going on a sudden from Hampton-Court to London, they forgot the Fool in the Hurry, and he was really starved to Death.
There are a great many Passages of this Fool-Prophet’s Life and Sayings transmitted by Tradition from Father to Son in this County Palatine; as that when he lived with a Farmer before he was taken into Mr. Cholmondeley’s family, he goaded an Ox so cruelly, that one of the Ploughmen threatend to beat him for abusing his Master’s Beast. Nixon said, My Master’s Beast will not be his three Days. A Life in an Estate dropping in that Time, the Lord of the Manor took the same Ox for a Herriot. This Account, as Whimsical and Romantic as it is, was told to the Lady Cowper in the Year 1670, by Dr. Patrick, late Bishop of Ely, then Chaplain to Sir Walter St. John; and that Lady had the following farther Particulars relating to this Prophecy, and the fulfilling of many Parts of it, from Mrs. Chute, sister to Mrs. Cholmondeley of Vale-Royal, who affirmed,
That a Multitude of People gathered together to see the Eagle before-mentioned, the Bird was frightened from her Young; that she herself was one of them; and the Cry among the People was, Nixon’s Prophecy is fulfilled, and we shall have a foreign King. She declared, that she read over the Prophecy many times, when her Sister was with Child of the Heir who now enjoys the Estate. She particularly remembers that King James the II. was plainly pointed at, and that it was foretold he should endeavour to subvert the Laws and Religion of this Kingdom, for which Reason they would rise and turn him out; that the Eagle of which Nixon prophesied perched in one of the Windows all the Time her Sister was in Labour. She said it was the biggest Bird she ever saw; that it was a deep Snow; and that it perched on the Edge of a great Bow-Window, which had a large Border on the Outside, and that she and many others opened the Window to try to scare it away, but it would not stir until Mrs. Cholmondeley was delivered; after which it took a flight to a great Tree over-against the Room her Sister lay in, where having staid about three Days, it flew away in the Night. She affirmed farther to the Lady Cowper, that the falling of the Garden-Wall was a thing not to be questioned, it being in so many People’s Memory: That it was foretold, that the heir of Vale-Royal should live to see to England invaded by Foreigners, and that he should fight bravely for his King and his Country: That the Miller mentioned, is alive, and expects to be Knighted, and is in the very Mill that is foretold: That he should kill two Invaders who would come in, the one from the West, the other from the North: That he from the North should bring with him of all Nations, Swedes, Danes, Germans, and Dutch; and that in the Folds of his Garments he should bring Fire and Famine, Plague and Murther: That many great Battles should be fought in England, one upon London-Bridge, which should be so Bloody, that People will ride in London Streets up to their Horses Bellies in Blood: That several other Battles should be fought up and down most Parts of Cheshire; and that the last that ever would be fought in England should be on de la Mere Forest: That the Heir of Olton, whose name is E⎯⎯⎯n, and has married Earl Cholmondeley’s Sister, should be hanged up at his own Gate.
Lastly, He foretels great Glory and Prosperity to those who stand up in Defence of their Laws and Liberties, and Ruin and Misery to those that should betray them. He says, the Year before this would happen, Bread-Corn would be very dear, and that the Year following more Troubles should begin, which would last three Years; that the first would be Moderate, the second Bloody, and the third Intolerable; that unless they were shortened, no Mortal could bear them; and that there were no Mischiefs, but what poor England would feel at that Time. But that George the Son of George, should put an End to all. That afterwards the Church should flourish, and England be the most glorious nation upon earth. The same Lady Cowper was not content to take these Particulars from Mrs. Chute, but she enquired of Sir Thomas Aston of the Truth of this Prophecy; and he attested it was in great Reputation in Cheshire, and that the Facts were known by every one to have happened as Nixon said they would; adding, that the Morning before the Garden-Wall fell, his Neighbour, Mr. Cholmondeley going to ride out a Hunting, said, as he passed by it, Nixon seldom fails, but now I think he will; for he foretold that this Day my Garden-Wall would fall, and I think it looks as if it would stand these forty Years: That he had not been gone a Quarter of an Hour before the Wall split, and fell upwards against the Rising of the Hill, which, as Nixon would have it, was the presage of a Flourishing Church.
As to the Removal of Peckforton-Mill, it was done by Sir John Crew, the Mill having lost its Trade there, for which he ordered it to be set upon Luddinton-Hill; and being asked if he did it to fulfil the Prophecy, he declared he never thought of it. I my self have inquired of a Person who knows Mr. Cholmondeley’s Pond as well as Rosamond’s in St. James’s park, and he assured me the Falling of the Wall, and the Pond running Blood, as they call it, are Facts which in Cheshire any one would be reckoned mad for making the least Question of them. As there are several Particulars in this Prophecy, which remain unfulfilled; so when they come to pass some other Circumstances may be added, which are not convenient to be told till they be accomplished.
If I had a mind to look into the Antiquities of this County, I might find that Prodigies and Prophecies are no unusual Things there. Camden tells us, that at Brereton, not many Miles from Vale-Royal, which gave Name to a Famous, Ancient, Numerous, and Knightly Family, there is a Thing as strange as the Perching of the Eagle, or the Falling of the Wall, which he says was attested to him by many Persons, and was commonly believed: That before any Heir of this Family dies, there are seen in a Lake adjoining, the Bodies of Trees swimming upon the Water for several Days together. He likewise adds, that near the Abbey of St. Maurice in Burgundy, there is a Fish-Pond, in which a Number of Fishes are put, equal to the Number of Monks in that Place; and if any one of them happens to be sick, there is a Fish seen floating on the Water; and in Case the Fit of Sickness proves fatal to the Monk, the Fish foretels it by his own Death some Days before. This the learned Camden relates in his Description of Cheshire, and the Opinion of the Trees swimming in the Lake near Brereton, prevails all about the County to this Day, only with this Difference, that some say ’tis one Log that swims, and some say many.
Lancashire, which is not far off, has been famous for Witches, and I am afraid Cheshire is a little infected by its Neighbourhood. Those that will not believe our Prophecy, may let it alone; but if Hope is a good Help to Faith, I shall not be long among the incredulous.
I have read over your Cheshire Prophecy, and must needs say, that what you have added is to be found in the Original, written in Doggrel Verse : I have read it over and over ; and though it is longer than your Prophecy, yet I think the Substance of it is there ; and I shall now give you some material Passages, which will serve to make your Prophecy compleat. To these I shall add a short Account of his Life, as I have been able to inform myself of it by Old People. I could meet with but one Man who remembred the Prophet, and that was Old Woodman of Copnal.
He says, that Nixon was a short squab Fellow; had a great Head, and goggle Eyes ; that he used to drivel as he spoke, which was very rarely, and was extremely surly. He particularly had a Spite against Children, and would run after them to beat them when they came in his Way, especially if they made Sport with him, as he said they used to do, and himself among the rest, when he was a Lad. He was at first Plough-Boy to Farmer Crowton of Swanlow, and so stubborn, that they could make him do nothing without Beating. They could seldom get any Thing out of him but Yes and No ; and if he spoke much more ’twas unintelligible; nay, he would hardly say No and Yes, unless he was pinched by Hunger. He had a very good Stomach; and the Report was, that he would eat up a Shoulder of Mutton at a Meal, if they would let him, and a good Luncheon of Bread and Cheese after it. The People had, it seems, a strange Reverence even for his Stupidity; and they took his Silence to be like that of an Oracle, as portentous as if he Prophesied.
The first Time that he was found out to be a Prophet was upon this Occasion. Farmer Crowton being one Day at Plough in a Field, near the River Weaver in Swanlow Parish, and his Boy Nixon following him, the Boy stopt on a sudden, dropt his Bottle and Budget which he carried to Field with him, and stood motionless with his Eyes fixed towards Heaven. Neither Words nor Blows could get him out of this Trance for the Space of an Hour. When he recovered, he took up the Things he had dropt, and followed the Plough. His Mailer, and the Men that were all the while, taking him to be in a Fit ; but wondered still that he stood upright, and did not fall down. He himself seemed to be insensible of any Alteration that had happened to him. But for about a Quarter of an Hour after, he talked very rationally of several Things that had been done some Time before, and dropt Expressions of others that were to be done; which presently made his Master, and those that were with him, conclude that Nixon’s Dulness had something sacred in it; and that his Words were Oracles, especially when some little Things he foretold fell out according to his Prediction. ’Twas with this Farmer that he lived when he prophesied of his Master’s Ox, as is mentioned in his Prophecy.
I must correct some Errors that you have been led into by the imperfect Copies of his Prophecy; as that about the Falling of the Wall, which some zealous People have applied to the Church; whereas, in Truth, it has a literal Reference to the State only. Woodman said, the Common Tradition has been, That when the Wall belonging to Vale-Royal House, fell down, it was to denote some remarkable Change in the Government: That if ’twas a serene Day, and the Wall fell Inward, it signified an advantageous and happy Change, but if it were a stormy Day, and fell Outward, and any of the Stones fell into the Brook, it signified the direct contrary. To this he added, that the Cholmondeley Family, whose Seat it was, kept several Workmen in Yearly Pay to support the Wall, and every Month to inspect it all round: That it was buttressed both within and without; and the Week before it fell, the Workmen gave in their Report, that it was so strong, it might reasonably last an hundred Years without any Repairs.
This, I assure you, is not only what the old Man told me, but what I have heard from several others and can get well attested, if it is though proper; As also the Particulars of the Falling of the Wall; which are these:
“Upon the fourth of August, 1688, about 11 a-Clock in the Forenoon being a calm and clear Day, without the least Breath of Wind, that Wall fell flat Inwards all at once, and not so much as one single Stone fell Outwards.”
This happening so little a while before the Revolution, it was taken Notice of as an Accident which was very much to our Advantage: And as there was a greater Rising for the Prince of Orange in Cheshire, than in any other County in England, why may we not imagine that Nixon’s Prophecy contributed very much to it? The Objection to this may be, that the Owner of the House, Thomas Cholmondeley Esq; was a Jacobite; and it is not likely that any Thing about him could bode well to the Revolution. But his being a Jacobite gives the greater Authority to the Prediction, and the Fulfilling of it. For it is not likely that one who was an Enemy to the Prince of Orange, should let a Miracle be wrought in his House in favour of the Happy Change he soon after accomplished. I should not have made this Digression, had not some silly People almost as stupid as Nixon, but by no means so well gifted in Prophecy, given out, that the Falling of the Wall denoted the Rising of the Pretender; and this too, just as he as running away from Scotland.
I cannot help observing to you upon this Occasion, that some of us in this County were strangely spirited by your Prophecy. When the Rebels advanced to Preston, we were told that they intended to march through our County into Flintshire and Denbighshire; if they had, their Route must have been through De la Mere Forest, where Nixon lived and Prophesied; and the Miller Peter with his Countrymen, were resolved to have given them such a Reception, as would have given very great Credit to your Prophecy, which is abused when it has any Interpretation applied to it that has an Eye to Popery and Slavery: For as great a Fool as Nixon was, he was not so stupid as our modern Zealots, nor ever dropt a Word against the Protestant Religion.
To return to Old Woodman: He informed me further, that after it was known what a Prophet Farmer Crowton had in his Family, Mr. Cholmondeley sent for the Fellow, and kept him at his House, giving him in Charge to his Steward, whom he ordered to try whether he could make anything of him, and teach him to read. But Nixon’s Stupidity increased upon him, the more the Steward endeavoured to improve him; and the most he could do with him, was to make him hold his Goad right, and drive Oxen at Plough. As he was once in the Field with the rest of Mr Cholmondeley’s Servants, he let fall his Goad on a sudden, as he had dropt his Budget and Bottle formerly. He stood motionless after the same manner, with his Eyes fixed towards Heaven. The Servants talked to him, and beat him to get him to his Work, and all to no Purpose. He remained in a Sort of Trance for the Space of an Hour; and then recovering, he took up his Goad, and went on with his Business, as though nothing had befallen him. One of Mr. Cholmondeley’s Men asked him, What ailed him? And why he stood there so long? To whom Nixon replied, That he had seen those Things which be could not tell them, and which Man never saw before. He then discoursed to the Servants that crowded about him for near two Hours, and spoke as reasonably as the best of them could have done, without any manner of Hesitation. In this discourse:
He foretold the Civil Wars, the Death of King Charles I. the Restoration of King Charles II. the Abdication of King James II. the Revolution and Glorious War with France, and the F1ourishing State of this Kingdom afterwards: Adding, these Things will as certainly happen, as that I shall be sent for by the King and starved to Death. When he had finished his Speech, he returned to his natural Dulness and Silence; and unless he had been in one of his Trances, he was always Dull and Mute; but while he was uttering his Prophecies, he spoke Clearly, and with an Air of Assurance, that they would be accomplished. The Servants as soon as they came home, told their Master of this Prodigy; and Mr. Cholmondeley ordered them to write down as much of it as they could remember, which they did, and it is preserved in that Family to this Day; together with some less material Hints, as hard Weather, the Scarcity of Provisions, &c. which would certainly happen. That Family has always locked it up as a Treasure, and whatever Pains I have taken to procure a Copy of it, I could never succeed, and despair now of getting it. Mr. Egerton of Olton, who is nearly related to the Cholmondeley Family, has a Copy of it also, but he will not part with it. Both of those Families do lay great stress on Nixon’s Predictions; and, I must tell you, they are two of the most antient and honourable Families in our County.
You have mentioned Nixon’s being sent for to Court by King James the First. Woodman says it was thus; when he came to Court, that King gave him in Charge to one of his Officers commanding him to keep him in close Confinement, and to make strict Observations on his Behaviour, that he might be assured there was nothing of Imposture in him. This Gentleman kept Nixon locked up, and going in a Hurry with the King to Theobalds, he forgot to take care of him, and leave him Provisions till his Return; by which means he was starved to Death. It must be observed that Nixon could not speak, except it was immediately after he was come out of his Trance, and never could be brought to pronounce a sensible Word more than Ay or No, as hath been said, unless when he was pronouncing his Oracles.
There happened something with respect to Nixon, and his going to Court, like what I met with in the Pamphlet you sent me, call’d the Drumrner of Tedworth. For as that Drummer left beating, when King Charles’s Courtiers came to be upon the Watch with him, and would not satisfy their Curiosity; so our Clown of a Prophet, after he came to Court was entirely dumb, and pronounced no more Prophecies. It is laid he was not long there before he was starved.
Nixon was very grateful to his Master Cholmondeley; he prophesied that the Heir to be born to the Family threescore and ten Tears after, should be endowed with very eminent Qualifications, and arrive at greater Honours than any of his ancestors had done: That he should distinguish himself by his Loyalty and Services to the King then reigning; and that after the happy Settlement which would succeed the Struggle, the Peace would be lasting, with a continued Series of Honours and Glory to the Nation. This Child, said Nixon, shall be known by the Appearance of an Eagle at the Time of his Birth, with the Circumstances mentioned in your Prophecy; A long Time before the Eagle appeared, the Country People used to look out for it; and as often as the Lady of Vale-Royal lay in, they would cry, where is the Eagle; when will Nixon’s Heir be born? The Appearance of the Eagle was about five and twenty Years ago: The Lady who lay in was Aunt to Henry St. John, the late Lord Bolinbroke; when she was in Labour, she heard great Shoutings and Acclamations of Joy; and enquiring the Reason, was told, The Eagle so long talked of is come. Upon which her Sister and Mr. J. S. who are both living, went to the Window, say the Eagle fitting on the Bough, and looked at it above a Quarter of an hour. It was seen also by several Thousands of People, and is such a confirmation of Nixon’s Prophecy, that the Truth of it is no where doubted of in this County by either Gentle or Simple. There is some Variation in the Original Prophecy from what is mentioned in your Prophecy about the Competitors for the Kingdom; the Germans, Dutch, and Danes are to conquer those that bring Fire and Famine, Plague and Murder in the Folds of their Garment; and we can understand none but the French by such bloody Invaders; none but French Papists would bring such Destructions among Protestants. As for the Miller Peter, he was born about the Time of the Revolution; and Nixon prophesied that he should have two Heels on one Foot and be Knighted; the two Heels he hath already, but the Spurs are not come to his Lot. Yet however, the Country People in his Neighbourhood have made a Knight of him these many Years, and Honest Peter the Miller is Sir Peter in every one’s Mouth.
I must here correct an Error of Mr Addison in his Freeholder, who has not read your Prophecy with that Attention and Regard which a Thing of such Importance deserves; for he gives Peter the Miller two Thumbs, whereas Nixon gives him two Heels. A Mistake in the Text of a Prophecy is of very dangerous Consequence; and I doubt not, but upon this Notice, in future Editions, this Error will be corrected, and Justice done to honest Peter the Miller.
To this township [Over] tradition has assigned the honour of being the birth place of William or Robert Nixon, an illiterate ideot, said to be author of certain prophecies, which have been printed in all parts of the kingdom, and to which the lower orders in the North, and many better-informed persons, have given credence. They were a subject of general curiosity about the time of the Rebellion of 1745, to such a degree that Fielding has introduced them through the mouth of Partridge1, among the current superstitions then popularly connected with the attempts of the Adventurer.
The birth of this individual has been assigned to the time of Edward the Fourth; but a second story also exists, which refers him to the time of James the First; a date palpably false, as many of the supposed prophecies were to be fulfilled at an antecedent period.
He is said to have attracted the royal notice by foretelling, in Cheshire, the result of the battle of Bosworth, on recovering from sudden stupor with which he was seized while the battle was fighting in Leicestershire, and to have been sent for to court shortly afterwards, where he was starved to death through forgetfulness, in a manner which he had himself predicted.
The silence of registers respecting him is of course accounted for by the time he lived in: that of the Harleian MSS. is more singular; but it must be remembered that those enormous Cheshire collections are mostly copies of deeds, and that the very few original narratives they contain, relate mostly to contemporary events. Webb, in his Itinerary, may possibly allude to him, as the author of “old prophecies,” in the account of Delamere, but obviously rejects the story if he does allude to it. It is, however, not impossible that the fiction may be of some antiquity, for among all the prose vulgarly printed as his prophecies, and referring, in modern language, to places and families unknown at his time, will be found some prophecies of a more general nature, running in metre which varies little from the poetry of the day.
Many instances of the fulfilment of his trivial predictions are maintained in Cheshire, such as the meeting of the abbies of Norton and Vale Royal in the building of Acton bridge; the removal of a mill to Luddington hill by sir John Crewe, and the draining of Ridley pool: but by far the most important is that alluded to by Oldmixon, who says, in an edition of these prophecies, that, in pursuance of the prediction, that an eagle should visit Vale Royal when the heir of that house was to be born, an eagle did come, remained near the house three days, and was seen by thousands of people, and, among others, by the sister, and Mr. St. John, the brother, of Mrs. Cholmondeley, who were brought to the window by the acclamations of the people. Oldmixon states the story on the authority of Lady Cowper, who had the story from Patrick, bishop of Ely, chaplain to sir Walter St. John, Mrs. Cholmondeley’s father, and also from her sister.
If this could be established, Nixon might be referred to the list of certain individuals, among whom may be classed Henry VI. who are said to have possessed a gift of this kind, united with general weakness of understanding. Oldmixon states that snow was on the ground, which may accord with the birth of the person referred to, Charles, eldest son of Thomas Cholmondeley, esq. by Anne St. John, on the 12th Jan. 1684-5; and he was also born heir of Vale Royal, his last surviving brother, by the first marriage, having died in 1679: but it must be remembered that he died as late as 1756, and was only the grandfather of the present generation, and that this fulfilment of a prophecy said to have been looked to for generations by the county, and to have drawn thousands to Vale Royal, is not in two subsequent generations supported by the slightest memorandum, or even a single tradition preserved in a family it so much concerned. Under these circumstances, the fact itself, and the very material circumstance of the prophecy being in circulation before the fact, must rest entirely on the credibility given to Oldmixon. In the compilation of this work there has not occurred any direct or collateral confirmation of the story, or the previous prophecy, in any authentic document whatsoever.
A portrait, with the name of Nixon, was engraved by Harding from a picture in the possession of Owen Brereton, esq. which he picked up accidentally in a very tattered state from some children in Cheshire, who used it as a play-thing; but its connection with the person it is reported to be the likeness of, is altogether imaginary.
1 “All the prophecies that I ever read, speak of a deal of blood to be spilt in the quarrel; and the miller with three thumbs, who is now alive, is to hold the horses of three kings up to his knees in blood.” Tom Jones, Book VIII. Cap. 9.
The father of our Prophet was an husbandman, of the name of John Jonathan Nixon, who, during the course of his life, held a farm of the Abbey of Vale-royal, in the Forest of Delamere, in the county of Cheshire. This place is still held in veneration as being the birth-place of his son Robert, the subject of our present memoir, who was born in the year 1467, in the seventh year of the reign of Edward IV. From his infancy our prophet was remarkable for a stupidity and invincible ignorance, so that it was with great difficulty his parents could instruct him to drive the team, tend the cattle, and such sort of rustic employments.
His parents, at their decease, left the farm, and our Robert very young, to the care of an elder brother, with whom he first gave an instance of that foreknowledge which renders his name so famous.
As he was driving the team one day, whilst his brother’s man guided the plough, he pricked an ox so very cruelly with his goad, that the plough-holder threatened to acquaint his master; on which Nixon said, the ox should not be his brother’s three days hence; which accordingly happened, for a life dropping in the estate, the lord of the manor took the same ox for an heriot.1
During his residence here, he was chiefly distinguished for his simplicity, seldom spoke, and when he did, it was with so rough a voice that it was painful to hear him; he was remarkably satirical, and what he said had generally some prophetic meaning. It was about this time, that the abbot of Vale-royal, having displeased him, he said in an angry tone,
Soon a raven’s nest will be;
which is well known to have come to pass in the person of the last abbot of that place, whose name was Harrow. Being brought before Sir Thomas Holcroft, he was put to death for denying the supremacy of King Henry VIII. Having suppressed the abbey, the king gave the domain to this knight and his heirs, who bore a raven for their crest.
At another time he told them that Norton and Vale-royal abbies should meet on Acton-bridge, a thing at that time looked upon as improbable; yet those two abbies being pulled down, the stones were used for the purpose of repairing the bridge; and what was more important still, a small thorn growing in the abbey-yard, would become its door. We may easily guess, no one thought this last would ever come to pass, and especially as it was understood by every one, at that time of day, that thorns never grew so large; but this shews the uncertain meaning of a prophecy, and that what we understand one way, is probably meant quite different; so it happened in this case, for, at the Reformation, the savage ravagers, under the sanction of religion, sought nothing but rapine and plunder to enrich themselves, and under the name of banishing superstition and pulling down idolatry, spared not even the most revered lineaments of antiquity, the most sacred piles, the most noble structures, or most valuable records, books written by our most venerable forefathers and heroic ancestors. Pieces of the nicest paint, and figures of the best workmanship, being all lost in one common fit of destructive zeal, which every hue and cry is too apt to raise in the breast of a hot-headed bigot; whilst the truly religious, honest, and learned men regret to this day the loss those destructive times has occasioned. Whilst these reached Vale-royal, this thorn amongst the rest being cut down, was cast in the door-way, to prevent sheep which grazed in the court from going in.
But the Reformation he declares in still plainer terms; for he says,
Shall have no churches nor houses;
And places where images stood,
Lined letters shall be good;
English books through churches are spread,
There shall be no holy bread.
It is not necessary to recite every particular he is said to have foretold, which regard either private families or past occasions—however, it may not be amiss to mention what is fresh in every one’s memory who lives near Delamere forest, and what was vouched by several of the oldest inhabitants:
Ridley-pool shall be sown and mown,
And Darnel-park shall be hacked and hewn.
The two wings of Weaver-hall are now standing, and between them is a cart-road; Ridley-pool is filled up, and made good meadow land; and in Darnel-park the trees are cut down, and it is made into pasture ground.
We are also assured, that he foretold the use of broad-wheels, &c. and that the town of Norwich, now a considerable place of trade for salt, will be destroyed by water, which is expected to come to pass by the natives of Cheshire, as much as any other part of his prophecy has done; and some urge, that the navigable cuts lately made is the water meant; but whether a prejudice against those useful improvements may not have given rise to this notion, time only can determine.
But what rendered Nixon the most noticed was, that at the time when the battle of Bosworth Field was fought between King Henry VII. and King Richard III he stopped his team on a sudden, and pointing with his whip from one hand to the other, cried, “Now Richard; now Harry!” several times; till at last, he said, “Now Harry, get over that ditch, and you gain the day.” The plough holder, amazed, related what had passed when he came home, and the truth of the prediction was verified by a special messenger, sent to announce the proclamation of King Henry on the field of battle.
The messenger who went this circuit, related on his return the predictions of Nixon concerning the king’s success; which though it had been confirmed by his arrival, had made it no news to the natives of those parts; but Henry, perhaps the wisest prince of his time, not willing to be deceived, nor yet doubting the dispensations of Providence, though by the mouth of a fool, sent the messenger back to find Nixon, and to bring him before him. At the moment the king gave his orders, our prophet was in the town of Over, about which he ran like a madman, declaring the King had sent for him, and that he must go to court, and there be clammed, that is, be starved to death. Such a declaration occasioned a great deal of laughing in the town, to think that his Majesty, so noted for his wisdom, should send for a dirty drivelling clown to court; and that being sent for, he should fear to be starved there. But how great was their surprise in a few days after, when the messenger, passing through the town, demanded a guide to find Nixon, who then turning the spit at his brother’s, (at the Bark-house,) cried, “He is coming, he is now on the road for me;” but the astonishment of the family can scarcely be imagined, when on the messenger’s arrival, he demanded Nixon in the king’s name. The people, who before scoffed at his simple appearance and odd sayings, and had pointed to their very children to make him their sport, were now confounded, on finding the most ridiculous of all he ever foretold, in their opinion become a truth, which was vouched to their own eyes. Whilst hurried through the country, Nixon still loudly lamented, that he was going to be starved at court.
He had no sooner arrived there, than the cautious King, willing to make trial of his fore-knowledge, devised the following scheme to prove it. Having hid a valuable diamond ring which he commonly wore, after the most seemingly strict inquiry made through the palace, whether any one had seen it, he sent for Nixon, telling him what a loss he had sustained, and that, if he could not help him to find it, he had no hopes left. But how much surprised was the King, when he got for an answer that old proverb,
“He who hideth can find:”
on which he declared with a smile, that he had done this only to try the prophet: but ever after ordered that what he said should be carefully put in writing.
To prevent Nixon being starved, his Majesty gave orders for him to have the liberty to range through the whole palace, and the kitchen was to be his more constant dwelling. Besides which, an officer was appointed to take care that he was neither misused or affronted by the servants, nor at a loss for any necessary of life. Thus situated, one would have thought want could never have reached him; yet, one day as the king was going out to his hunting seat, Nixon ran to him crying, and begged in the most moving terms, that he might not be left, for that if he was, his Majesty would never see him again alive; that he should be starved; that now was the time, and if he was left he must die.
The King, whose thoughts were doubtless fixed on the diversion he was going to, and supposing the matter so very unlikely to come to pass, only said that was impossible, and recommended him strongly to the officer’s care; but scarcely was the King gone from the palace-gate, when the servants mocked and teazed Nixon to such a degree, that the officer, to prevent these insults, locked him up in a closet, and suffered no one but himself to attend on him, thinking he should prevent this part of his prophecy from coming true. But a message of great importance coming from the King to this very officer, he, in his readiness to obey the royal command, forgot to set poor Nixon at liberty, and though he was but three days absent, when he recollected his prisoner, he found him at his return, dead, as he had foretold, of hunger.
Thus evidenced with what is past, stands his prophecy in every mouth in Cheshire; yet a greater affront cannot be given, than to ask a copy from the families said to be possessed of it. Every possible means, it is well known, has been used to smother the truth, perplex the curious, and even to abolish the very remembrance that such a one ever existed, but from what reason cannot appear, except that it is foretold that the heir of O⎯⎯⎯ is to meet with some ignominious death at his own gate,3 with other family events, which though no person or time being perfectly distinguished, may perhaps occasion this secrecy.
We must also observe, that the cross on Delamere-forest, that is, three steps and the socket in which the cross formerly stood, are now sunk within a few inches of the ground, though all remember to have seen it within the memory of man, nearly six feet above; the cross itself having been destroyed long since. It is also remarkable, that Headless cross is mentioned by Merlin de Rymer, and most other English and Scotch prophets, as the last place in England on which it is supposed a decisive action will happen: but as to any fixed period, when the things will come to pass we cannot learn, being all mentioned with the greatest uncertainty.
1 Or an acknowledgment, which by the tenure of some estates, is given to every new lord of a manor.
2 The term used in this country for a lane.
3 A few years ago, since the above was written, Mr. E⎯⎯⎯ of O⎯⎯⎯, was killed by a fall from his horse at his own gate.
AS DELIVERED BY HIMSELF.
On a church-top beside the grey forest.
Then shall a king of England be drove from his crown,
And return no more.
When an eagle shall sit on the top of Vale-royal house,
Then shall an heir be born, who shall live to see great troubles in England.
There shall be a miller named Peter,
With two heels on one foot,Who shall distinguish himself bravely.
And shall be knighted by the victor;For foreign nations shall invade England,
But the invader shall be killed,And laid across a horse’s back,
And led in triumph.
A boy shall be born with three thumbs on one hand,
Who shall hold three king’s horses,Whilst England is three times won and lost in one day,
But after this shall be happy days,
A new set of people of virtuous manners shall live in peace.And the wall of Vale-royal near the pond shall be the token of its truth.
For it shall fall:
If it fall upwards,Then shall the church and honest men live still.
Under this wall shall be found the bones of a British king.
Peckforton mill shall be removed to Ludington-hill,
And three days’ blood shall turn Noginshire mill.
But beware of a chance to the lord of Oulton,
Lest he should be hanged at his own door.
A crow shall sit on the top of Headless-cross, in the forest so grey,
And drink of the noble’s gentle blood so free,
Twenty hundred horses shall want masters,
Till their girths rot under their bellies.
Thro’ our own money and our men,
Shall a dreadful war begin;Between the sickle and the suck,
All England shall have a pluck;
And be several times forsworn, and put to their wit’s end.
That it shall not be known whether to reap their corn.
Bury their dead, or go to the field to fight.
A great scarcity of bread corn.
Foreign nations shall invade England with snow on their helmets,
And shall bring plague, famine, and murder in the skirts of their garments.
A great tax will be granted, but never gathered.
Between a rick and two trees,
A famous battle fought shall be.
London streets shall run with blood.
And at last shall sink.So that it shall be fulfilled,
Lincoln was, London is, and York shall be
The finest city of the three.
There will be three gates to London of imprisoned men for cowsters.
Then if you have three cows, at the first gate sell one, and keep thee at home,
At the second gate sell the other two, and keep thee at home.
At the last gate all shall be done.
When summer and winter shall come,
And peace is made at every man’s home,
Then shall be danger of war.
For tho’ with peace at night the nation ring,
Men shall rise to war in the morning.
There will be a winter council, a careful Christmas, and a bloody Lent.
In those days there shall be hatred and bloodshed,
The father against the son, and the son against his father,
That one may have a house for lifting the latch of the door.
Landlords shall stand, with hats in their hands.
To desire tenants to hold their lands.
Great wars and pressing of soldiers,
But at last clubs and clouted shoes shall carry the day.
It will be good in those days for a man to sell his goods, and keep close at home.
Then forty pounds in hand
Will be better than forty pounds a year in land.
The cock of the north shall be made to flee.
And his feathers be plucked for his pride,
That he shall almost curse the day that he was born.
One asked Nixon where he might be safe in those days?
He answered,In God’s croft, between the rivers Mersey and Dee.
Scotland shall stand more or less.
Till it has brought England to a piteous case.
The Scots shall rule England one whole year.
Three years of great wars,
And in all countries great uproars.The first is terrible, the second worse, but the third unbearable.
Three great battles.One at Northumberland bridge,
One at Cumberland bridge.
And the other the south side of Trent.
Crows shall drink the blood of many nobles.
East shall rise against West, and North against South.
Then take this for good,
Noginshire mill shall run with blood.
And many shall run down Wanslow lane.
A man shall come into England,
But the son of a king crowned with thorns
Shall take from him the victory.
Many nobles shall fight.
But a bastard duke shall win the day,
And so without delay,
Set England in a right way.
A wolf from the East shall right eagerly come.
On the South side of Sandford on a grey Monday morn,
Where groves shall grow upon a green,
Beside green grey they shall flee
Into rocks and many die.
They shall flee into Salt strand.
And twenty thousand without sword, shall die each man.
The dark dragon over Sudsbrown,
Shall bring with him a royal band;
But their lives shall be forlorn.His head shall be in Stafford town.
His tail in Ireland.He boldly shall bring his men, thinking to win renown.
Beside a wall in forest fair he shall be beaten down.
On Hine’s heath they shall begin this bloody fight.
And with trained steeds shall hew each other’s helmets bright.
But who shall win the day no one can tell,
A duke out of Denmark shall him fight.
On a day in England, and make many a lord full low to light.
And the ladies cry, ‘Well away,’
And the black fleet with main and might
Their enemies full boldly assail.
In Britain’s land shall be a knight.
Of them shall make a cruel sight.
A bitter boar with main and might
Shall bring a royal rout that day.There shall die many a worthy knight,
And be driven into the fields green and grey,
They shall lose both field and fight.
The weary eagle shall to an island in the sea retire,1
Where leaves and herbs grow fresh and green,
There shall he meet a lady fair.Who shall say, ‘Go help thy friend in battle slain.’
Then by the counsel of that fair
He eagerly will make to fleeTwenty-six standard of the enemy,
A rampant lion in silver set, in armour fair.
Shall help the eagle in that tide,
When many a knight shall die.
The bear that hath been long tied to a stake shall shake his chains.
That every man shall hear, and shall cause much debate.
Though bull and the red rose shall stand in strife,
That shall turn England to much woe,And cause many a man to lose his life.
In a forest stand oaks three.
Beside a headless cross,A well of blood shall run and ree.
Its cover shall be brass,Which shall ne’er appear.
Till horses’ feet have trod it bare.
Who wins it will declare.
The eagle shall so fight that day,
That ne’er a friend from him shall go away.
A hound without delay shall run the chase far and near,
The dark dragon shall die in fight,A lofty head the bear shall rear;
The wide wolf so shall light,The bridled steed against his enemies will fiercely fight.
A fleet shall come out of the north.
Riding on a horse of trees.
A white hind beareth he.
And three wreaths so free.That day the eagle shall him slay,
And on a hill set his banner straightway.That lion who’s forsaken been and forc’d to flee.
Shall hear a woman shrilly say,
‘Thy friends are killed on yonder hill,’
Death to many a knight this day.With that the lion bears his banner to a hill,
Within a forest that’s so plain,
Beside a headless cross of stone,There shall the eagle die that day.
And the red lion get renown,
A great battle shall be fought by crowned king’s three;
One shall die and a bastard duke will win the day.
In Sandyford there lies a stone,
A crowned king shall lose his head.
In those dreadful days, five wicked priests’ heads shall be sold for a penny.
Slaughter shall rage to such a degree.
And infants left by those that are slain.That damsels shall with fear and glee,
Cry, ‘Mother, mother, here’s a man !”
Between seven, eight, and nine.
In England wonders shall be seen;
Between nine and thirteen,
All sorrow shall be done.
Then rise up George, son of George,
And bless the happy reign,Thrice happy he who sees this time to come,
When England shall know rest and peace again.
1 This applies to Buonaparte, whose arms and colours were an eagle, and who retired to an island called Elba.
FROM AN ORIGINAL COPY.
The famous Cheshire prophet, Nixon, besides his prophecies relative to the fate of private families, also predicted much of public affairs, which we find literally verified by the sequel.
On the Christmas before he went to court, being among the servants at Mr. Cholmondeley’s house, to the surprise of them all, he suddenly started up and said,
“I must prophecy.” He went on, “If the favourite1 of a king should be slain, the master’s neck shall be cleft in twain. And the men of the North2 shall sell precious blood, yea, their own blood. And they shall sacrifice a noble warrior3 to the idol, and hang up his flesh in the high places. And a storm shall come out of the North, which shall blow down the steeples of the South: and the labourer shall rise above his master, and the harvest shall in part be trampled down by horses, and the remainder He waste to be devoured by birds.
“When an oak tree shall be softer than men’s hearts, then look for better times, but they be but beginning.
“The departure of a great man’s soul4 shall trouble a river hard by, and overthrow trees, houses, and estates, From that part of the house from whence the mischief came, you must look for cure. First comes joy, then sorrow; after mirth comes mourning.
“I see men, women, and children, spotted5 like beasts, and their nearest and dearest friends affrighted at them. I see towns on fire, and innocent blood shed; but when men and horses walk upon the water, then shall come peace and plenty to the people, but trouble is preparing for kings; and the great yellow fruit6 shall come over to this country, and flourish; and I see this tree take deep root, and spread into a thousand branches, which shall afterwards be at strife one with another, because of their numbers: and there shall come a wind from the South to the West, which shall shake the tree. I see multitudes of people running to and fro, and talking in a strange tongue. And there shall be a famine7 in the midst of great plenty, and earthquakes and storms shall level and purify the earth.”
After these sayings, which every one, with the slightest knowledge of our history, will instantly apply to those events which they so wonderfully foretold, Nixon was silent, and relaxed into his wonted stupidity, from, which he did not recover until many weeks after, when he became again inspired, and gave vent to those remarkable predictions, which were collected by Mr. Oldmixon; those which we have just now related, were taken down from the prophet’s mouth by the steward, in pursuance of the orders of Mr. Cholmondeley himself, and the original manuscript is now in the hands of a gentleman in Shropshire.
1 The Duke of Buckingham (favourite of James and Charles I. who was beheaded), assassinated by J. Felton.
2 The Scots, who sold their king, Charles I. for a large sum of money, to the English rebels.
3 Supposed the Marquis of Montrose.
4 Suppose Oliver Cromwell, at whose death the greatest storm of wind happened that had been known in England.
5 The plague and fire of London was here plainly foretold.
6 The great yellow fruit, suppose the Prince of Orange, King William III.
7 This was said in the book from whence these Predictions were extracted, to mean oppression of the poor.
With Historical and Political Remarks, and many Instances wherein it has been fulfilled.
This remarkable prophecy has been carefully revised, corrected and improved; also some account given of our author, Robert Nixon, who was but a kind of idiot, and used to be employed in following the plough. He had lived in some farmers’ families, and was their drudge and their jest.
At last Thomas Cholmondeley, of Vale-royal, Esq. took him into his house, where he lived when he composed this prophecy, which he delivered with as much gravity and solemnity as if he had been an oracle; and it was observed, that though the fool was a driveller, and could not speak common sense when he was uninspired, yet in delivering his prophecies, he spoke plainly and sensibly, how truly will be seen in the following pages.
As to the credit of this prophecy, I dare say it is well attested as any of Nostradamus’s or Merlin’s, and will come to pass as well as the best of Squire Bickerstaff’s: it is plain enough, that great men in all ages had recourse to prophecy, as well as the vulgar. I would not have all great persons despise the inspiration of Nixon. The late French king gave audience to an inspired farrier, and rewarded him with a hundred pistoles for his prophetic intelligence; though by what I can learn, he did not come near our Nixon for gifts.
The simplicity, the circumstances, and the history of the Cheshire Prophecies are so remarkable, that I hope the public will be as much delighted as I was myself.
By the way, this is not a prophecy of to-day; it is as old as the powder-plot, and the story will make it appear that there is as little imposture in it as the Jacobites pretend that there is in the person it seems to have an eye to: but whether they are both impostors alike or not, I leave the reader to determine.
In the reign of King Henry VII. there lived a man generally reputed a fool, whose name was Nixon. One day, when he returned home from ploughing, he laid the things down which he had in his hands, and continuing for some time in a seemingly deep and thoughtful meditation, at length he pronounced in a loud hoarse voice, “Now will I prophecy,” and spoke as follows:—
“When a raven shall build in a stone lion’s mouth, on the top of a church in Cheshire, then a king of England shall be driven out of his kingdom, and never return more.
“When an eagle shall sit on the top of a house, then an heir shall be born to the Cholmondeley family: and this heir shall live to see England invaded by foreigners, who shall proceed as far as a town in Cheshire; but a miller named Peter, shall be born with two heels on one foot, and at that time living in a mill of Mr. Cholmondeley’s, he shall be instrumental in delivering the nation.
“The person who then governs the nation will be in great trouble and skulk about. The invading king shall be killed, laid across a horse’s back like a calf, and led in triumph. The miller having been instrumental in it, shall bring forth the person that then governs the kingdom, and be knighted for what he has done: and after that England shall see happy days. A young new set of men, of virtuous manners, shall come, who shall prosper, and make a flourishing church for two hundred years.
“As a token of the truth of all this, a wall of Mr. Cholmondeley’s shall fall. If it fall downwards, the church shall be oppressed, and rise no more; but if upwards next the rising hill on the side of it, then shall it flourish again. Under this wall shall be found the bones of a British king.
“A pond shall run with blood three days, and the cross stone pillar in the forest sink so low into the ground, that a crow from the top of it shall drink of the best blood in England.
“A boy shall be born with three thumbs, and shall hold three king’s horses, while England shall be three times won and lost in one day.”
The original may be seen in several families in that county, and particularly in the hands of Mr. Egerton, of Oulton, with many other remarkables; as, that Peckforton windmill shall be removed to Ludington hill, and that horses saddled should run about till their girths rotted away. But this is sufficient to prove Nixon as great a prophet as Partridge: and we shall give other proofs of it before we have done.
I know your prophets are generally for raw-head and bloody bones, and therefore do not mind it much; or I might add, that Oulton mill shall be driven with blood instead of water; but these soothsayers are great butchers, and every hall is with them a slaugter-house.
Now as for authorities to prove this prophecy to be genuine, and how it has been hitherto accomplished, I might refer myself to the whole county of Chester, where it is in every one’s mouth, and has been so these forty years. As much as I have of the manuscript was sent me by a person of sense and veracity, and as little partial to visions as any body. For my own part, I build nothing on this or any other prophecy, only there is something so very odd in the story, and so pat in the wording of it, that I cannot help giving it as I found it.
The family of the Cholmondeley’s is very ancient in this county, and takes its name from a place so called, near Nantwich; there are also Cholmton and Cholmondeston; but the seat of that branch of the family, which kept our prophet Nixon, is at Vale-royal, on the river Weave, in Delamere forest. It was formerly an abbey,1 founded by Edward I. and came to the Cholmondeley’s from the famous family of the Holcrofts. When Nixon prophecied, this family was near being extinct, the heir having married Sir Walter St. John’s daughter, a lady not esteemed very young, who notwithstanding being with child, fell in labour, and continued so for many days; during which time, an eagle sat upon the house-top, and flew away when she was delivered of a son.
A raven is also known to have built in a stone lion’s mouth in the steeple of the church of Over, in the forest of Delamere. Not long before the abdication of King James, the wall spoken of fell down, and fell upwards; and in removing the rubbish, were found the bones of a man of more than ordinary size. A pond at the same time ran with water that had a reddish tincture, and was never known to have done so before or since.
Headless-cross, in the forest, which in the memory of man was several feet high, is now only half a foot from the ground.
In the parish of Budworth, a boy was born, about eighteen years ago, with three thumbs; the youth is still living there; and the miller Peter lives in Noginshire mill, in expectation of fulfilling this prophecy on the person of Perkin: he hath also two heels on one foot, and I find he intends to make use of them in the interest of King George, for he is a bold Briton, and a loyal subject, zealous for the Protestant succession in the illustrious house of Hanover, has a vote for the knights of the shire, and never fails to give it on the right side. In a word, Peter will prate or box, for the good cause that Nixon had listed him in; and if he does not do the business, this must be said of him, that no man will bid fairer for it; which the Lady Egerton was so apprehensive of, that wishing well to another restoration, she often instigated her husband to turn him out of the mill; but he looked upon it as whimsical, and so Peter still continues there, in hopes of being as good a knight as Sir Philip his landlord was.
Of this Peter, I have been told, that the Lady Narcliff, of Chelsea, and the Lady St. John, of Battersea, together with several other persons of credit and fashion, have often been heard to talk, and that they all ascribed their knowledge of the truth of our prophecy and its accomplishment, with many particulars that are more extraordinary than any I have yet mentioned.
The noise of Nixon’s Predictions reaching the ears of King Henry VIII. he would needs see this fool, who cried and made ado that he might not go to court, and the reason that he gave was, that he should there be starved. (A very whimsical fancy of his, courts not being places where people are used to starve in, when they once come there, whatever they may have done before). The King being informed of Nixon’s refusing to come, said he would take particular care that he should not be starved, and ordered him to be brought up. Nixon cried out, that he was sent for again; and soon after the messenger arrived, who brought him up from Cheshire.
How or whether he prophecied to his Majesty, no person can tell; but he is not the first fool that has made a good court prophet.
That Nixon might be well provided for, it was ordered that he should be kept in the kitchen, where he grew so troublesome in licking and picking the meat, that the cook locked him up in a hole; and the king going on a sudden from Hampton-court to London, in their hurry they forgot the fool, and he was really starved to death.
There are a great many passages of this fool-prophet’s life and sayings transmitted in tradition from father to son in this county palatine; as that when he lived with a farmer before he was taken into Mr. Cholmondeley’s family, he goaded an ox so cruelly, that one of the ploughmen threatened to beat him for abusing his master’s beast. Nixon said, “My master’s beast will not be his three days.” A life in an estate dropping in that time, the lord of the manor took the same ox for an heriot. This account, whimsical and romantic as it is, was told to the Lady Cowper, in the year 1670, by Dr. Patrick, late Bishop of Ely, then Chaplain to Sir Walter St. John; and that lady had the following farther particulars relating to this prophecy, and the fulfilling of many parts of it, from Mrs. Chute, sister to Mrs. Cholmondeley of Vale-royal, who affirmed, that a multitude of people gathered together to see the eagle before-mentioned, and the bird was frightened from her young; that she herself was one of them; and the cry among the people was, Nixon’s prophecy is fulfilled, and we shall have a foreign king. She declared, that she read over the prophecy many times when her sister was with child of the heir who now enjoys the estate. She particularly remembers that King James the Second was plainly pointed at, and that it was foretold that he should endeavour to subvert the laws and religion of this kingdom, for which reason they would rise and turn him out; that the eagle of which Nixon prophecied perched in one of the windows all the time her sister was in labour! She said it was the largest bird she ever saw; that it was a deep snow; and perched on the edge of a great bow-window, which had a large border on the outside, and that she and many others opened the window to try to scare it away, but it would not stir until Mrs. Cholmondeley was delivered, after which it took flight to a great tree over against the room her sister lay in, where having staid about three days, it flew away in the night. She affirmed further to the Lady Cowper, that the falling of the garden-wall was a thing not to be questioned; it being in so many people’s memory. That it was foretold that the heir of Vale-royal should live to see England invaded by foreigners, and that he should fight bravely for his king and country: that the miller mentioned is now alive, and expects to be knighted, and is in the mill that is foretold; that he should kill two invaders who should come in, the one from the West the other from the North: that he from the North should bring with him of all nations, Swedes, Danes, Germans, and Dutch; and that in the folds of his garments he should bring fire and famine, plague and murder. That many great battles should be fought in England, one upon London-bridge, which should be so bloody, that people will ride in London streets up to their horses’ bellies in blood; that several other battles should be fought up and down most parts of Cheshire; and that the last that ever would be fought in England should be on Delamere forest; that the heir of Oulton, whose name is E—n, and has married Earl Cholmondeley’s sister, should be hanged at his own gate.
Lastly, Nixon foretels great glory and prosperity to those who stand up in defence of their laws and liberties; and ruin and misery to those who should betray them. He says, the year before this would happen, bread-corn would be very dear, and that the year following more troubles should begin, which would last three years; that the first would be moderate, the second bloody, and the third intolerable; that unless they were shortened no mortal could bear them; and that there were no mischiefs but what poor England would feel at that time. But that George the son of George, should put an end to all. That afterwards the church should flourish, and England be the most glorious nation upon earth.
Lady Cowper was not content to take these particulars from Mrs. Chute, but she enquired of Sir Thomas Aston, of the truth of this prophecy, and he attested it was in great reputation in Cheshire, and that the facts were known by every one to have happened as Nixon said they would; adding, that the morning before the garden-wall fell, his neighbour, Mr. Cholmondeley, going to ride out a hunting, said, “Nixon seldom fails, but now I think he will; for he foretold that this day, my garden-wall would fall, and I think it looks as if it would stand these forty years: that he had not been gone above a quarter of an hour before the wall split, and fell upwards against the rising of the hill, which, as Nixon would have it, was the presage of a flourishing church.
As to the removal of Peckforton mill, it was done by Sir John Crew, the mill having lost its trade there, for which he ordered it to be set upon Ludington-hill; and being asked if he did it to fulfil the prophecy, he declared he never thought of it. I myself have inquired of a person who knows Mr. Cholmondeley’s pond as well as Rosamond’s in St. James’s park, and he assured me, the falling of the wall, and the pond running blood, (as they call it,) are facts, which in Cheshire, any one would be reckoned mad for making the least question of them. As there are several particulars in this prophecy which remains unfulfilled; so when they come to pass, some other circumstances may be added, which are not convenient to be told until accomplished.
As Nixon’s Prophecies are by some persons thought fables, yet, by what has come to pass, it is now thought, and very plainly appears, that most of them have or will prove true; for which we have on all occasions not only to exert our utmost might, to repel by force our enemies, but to refrain from our abandoned and wicked course of life, and to make our continual prayers to God for protection and safety.
1 It is reported that there is a room in this house, the door and window of which are kept closely fastened, and no one is ever permitted to enter the same, except the next heir, when he attains his twenty-first year, at which time he goes in alone, and when he returns, it is shut up as before.
Woe be to that bard who speaks ill of a seer.’
So sings Warburton. In a book professing to be a collection of the legends and old lore of Cheshire we could not omit all mention of Nixon, yet what are we to say of our county Nostradamus? One account affirms that he was born in the time of Edward IV., about 1467. One of the prophecies, or rather an act of second sight (as they call it in the Highlands) attributed to him, was (whilst ploughing in Cheshire) speaking of the battle of Bosworth, and the result of the battle, which was being fought at that very time in Leicestershire (August 22, 1485, a curious time for ploughing). Miss Wilbraham utilises the idea of his having been born in the reign of Edward IV. in ‘For and Against,’ her accurate tale of the fifteenth century. It is, however, a curious thing that the first printed account of Nixon is that of ‘Oldmixon,’ published in 1714, which opens thus:—
Here is at once a discrepancy of some 150 years in the date of the two accounts of his birth. The more the accounts of Nixon have been ventilated by our Cheshire historians, the more problematical and irreconcilable they are. He is said to have been born at Over, and though his reputed residence (Bridge-end House) is pointed out, no mention is made of him in the registers of Over or Whitegate; and the very existence of the house in which he was born would at any rate disprove his birth in 1467. He is said to have been starved to death at Hampton Court by the negligence of the servants, who had (during the temporary absence of the Court) shut him up for some peccadillo, and forgotten him. A closet at that palace, pointed out now as the scene of his death, was built in the reign of William III., and the whole palace was built subsequently to the reign of Henry VII., during which period, according to some accounts, Nixon died. The particulars relating to the Cholmondeley family of Vale Royal, mentioned in the printed accounts of Nixon’s life, do not tally with the known history of that family. No author I understand who might have been contemporary with Nixon in either the reigns of Edward IV. or James I. mentions him, and the first printed account of him, as I said before, did not appear till ninety years after the death of James I. In the ‘Iter Lancastriense,’ written by Richard James in 1636, is a trace, and a doubtful trace, of one of the prophecies attributed to Nixon, in one of the later published accounts of his life:—
Thus riming—“When all England is alofte,
Then happie they whose dwellings in God’s crofte.”
And where thinke you this crofte of Christe should be
But midst Ribchester’s Ribble and the Dee.’
In Nixon’s life we have the following. One asked Nixon ‘Where he might be safe in those days?’—he answered,
But other counties seem also to have their preordained sanctuary. In Yorkshire we find the following version:—
Then Hallamshire shall be God’s croft.’
Many ingenious completions of Nixon’s prophecies have been given to the world, but it is wonderful how we find a clever person work out the accomplishment of a prophecy he is predetermined to prove.
Amongst Nixon’s prophecies is the following:
And bless the happy reign,’ &c. &c.
No Richard came, so it was changed to George, the son of George.
One of the ingenious readings of prophecy (not one of Nixon’s) is the following. There was an old saying, whence originating is not very clear,
The initials of
spell Hempe. At Elizabeth’s death ‘England was done,’ being united to Scotland by Elizabeth’s successor, James I., and becoming Great Britain.
The conclusion I should come to with respect to our ‘Palatine Prophet’ is this. That a man called Nixon (which was probably a soubriquet and not the original name, which will account for not finding the name in the registers) existed at Over. He was probably called by the ignorant peasants (with whom omne ignotum is pro magnifico) Nick’s son, or the son of the Devil, from the supernatural knowledge they attributed to him, and which the vulgar of all ages are more apt to consider as originating in Hell than in Heaven. When Nixon lived is a myth. He was probably a half-witted clown, or not ‘all there,’ as we say in Cheshire, but gifted with considerable shrewdness and cunning (not incompatible with a partially diseased brain); and that, like the pretenders to second sight in Scotland, he may have occasionally made some happy guesses, and may have become acquainted with facts and realities during the rambling life so frequently preferred by those who are not quite right in their upper stories, the retailing of which among the stay-at-home rustics of his own neighbourhood invested everything he said with a sort of mystic authority and credit. During his time, and since he has passed away, the prophetical allusions and dark sayings of the county, however and from whomsoever originating, have been attributed to Nixon; just as in Sheridan’s time all the sharp sayings of the period were fathered on him. The first editions of ‘Nixon’s Life’ contain very few prophecies in comparison with the later editions. The following is from an old edition, where we find more than double the prophecies of the original (1714 A. D.) edition:—
[Followed by The Original Predictions of Robert Nixon: since they are quoted in full in the previous section, I have not duplicated them here.]
Nixon is also said to have predicted that Northwich should be destroyed by water.
The following is said to have been his prophecy relating to the Reformation:—
Shall have no churches nor houses,
And places where images stood
Lined letters shall be good;
English books through churches are spread,
There shall be no holy bread.
I will only add two more of his prophecies:—
Soon a Raven’s nest shall be.
Ridley Pool shall be sown and mown,
And Darnel Park shall be hacked and hewn.
Among the lower orders in Cheshire there is a strong belief and faith in Nixon, and there is no story about him too wild to be believed. A man told me that Lord Delamere had cut down and sold to a carpenter the oak under which Nixon used to prophesy; that the carpenter had made a table of part of it; and that the vein of the wood repeated over its whole surface likenesses of Nixon; and that Lord Delamere bought the table, which is now at Vale Royal. The only thing that spoils the interest of this tale is that it is simply false in every particular and never did occur.
The fame of Nixon has spread far and wide, but like other modern prophets, the real foundation is very slight for the reputation reared upon it. The mysterious figure eludes the grasp, and the keener the search the greater is the disappointment. It would be a mistake to suppose that the belief in his vaticinations is extinct. Few events of an unusual character occur without it being supposed that they “fulfil” some vague words attributed to Nixon. Sometimes a waggish antiquary writes some doggerel darkly anticipating the modern wonder.
When sober inquiry is made as to Nixon we are met with the preliminary difficulty that there is absolutely no evidence that he existed at all! His first biographer was John Oldmixon, the historian, who published, in 1714, “The Cheshire Prophecy, with historical and political remarks.” There was another account by W. E., issued in 1719. There was also an anonymous “Life and Prophecies of Robert Nixon, of Bridge House.” He has been noticed by Ormerod, Halliwell-Phillips, Egerton Leigh, Mr. Worthington Barlow, and Mrs. Wilbraham. The present writer has collected and edited the varying versions of the prophecies. An examination of the data shows that his birth is variously stated as having occurred in the reign of Edward IV. and James I. It is Oldmixon who placed him under the Stuarts, and yet we have a circumstantial account of the manner in which he foretold the result of the battle of Bosworth-field. This should be compared with the passage in which Aubrey tells us that when he was at school, he heard a tradition that when the battle of Bosworth-field was being fought, a man of the parish of Warminster in Wiltshire, took two sheaves in one of the great fields, “crying (with some intervals) now for Richard, now for Henry; at last lets fall the sheaf that did represent Richard; and cried, now for King Henry, Richard is slain.” As no manuscript copy of any antiquity exists of the prophecy, and the first printed edition only dates from 1714, it might occur to the sceptical that they were dealing with a modern forgery or jeu d’esprit. This however does not appear at all likely. Oldmixon’s pamphlet refers to many instances in which the sayings of the prophet were held to have been realised, and although some of these are of a very trifling character they are stated with exact circumstance as to the persons and places indicated. The pamphlet was frequently reprinted, not only in London, but in various parts of the country, and it is very improbable that it would have remained uncriticised and uncontradicted unless it had embodied substantially the floating traditions then current in Cheshire.
When the prophecies are examined it is seen that they consist of rhymes and jingle, such as in former ages were current in England. Such doggerel lines are now either a matter of lingering superstition or of purely antiquarian curiosity, but there was a time when prophecy was a powerful political engine. Mysterious rhymes, usually breathing of death or slaughter, were constantly in circulation amongst our ancestors. The “Whole Prophesie of Scotland, England, and some parts of France and Denmark,” which was printed by Waldegrave in 1603, contains forebodings, to which the names of Merlin, Bede, Thomas the Rhymer, and others are attached. The collection was one in which a number of the popular prophecies then floating about were combined into one narrative, which was continuous if not intelligible. In this we find some of the most characteristic portions of the Cheshire prophecy.
We may smile at these fancies now, but even in the reign of Elizabeth it was found desirable to prohibit by law any “fond, fantastical, or false prophecy.”
Vaticinations were industriously circulated by the contending parties in the State, and a prophet must have been at least as important as a poet laureate. When the event had falsified the prediction it could easily be altered so as to meet the new exigencies of the case. Some of these dusky rhymes found more than one local habitation. The same or similar sayings are attributed to Thomas the Rhymer, to Mother Shipton, and to Robert Nixon. For this reason, whatever be the truth or falsity of the details as to his life, the rhymes of the Cheshire Prophet will remain as curious and interesting documents in the history of the county.
A great deal of confusion and ambiguity surrounds the strange figure of Robert Nixon, Cheshire’s own prophet. He was born, according to one report, the son of John or Jonathon Nixon, who leased a farm called either Bank Farm or Bridgehouse Farm near Newchurch in the parish of Over. Another report, however, says he was born at Bridge End House in 1461. He was christened in 1467 — not impossible, as christenings were often left late in those days — and left in the care of his elder brother.
Nixon was, it appears, almost an idiot. An eighteenth-century biography — no mention of him appears in print before 1714 — describes him as ‘a short squab fellow, had a great head, and goggle eyes; ...he used to drivel [dribble] as he spoke, which was very rarely, and was extremely surly... He had a very good stomach; and the report was, that he would eat up a shoulder of mutton at a meal, if they would let him, and have a good luncheon of bread and cheese after it.’ Nixon was employed as a ploughman and proved a difficult employee, given to standing in trances in the fields. In one such, at the time of the battle of Bosworth, he stopped the team of horses and stared into the distance. He cried ‘Now Richard! Now Harry!’ several times — and then, finally, ‘Now, Harry, get over that ditch and you gain the day.’ A remarkable achievement, to be sure, though the story is somewhat spoiled by the unlikelihood of his being engaged in ploughing at the time of Bosworth, which took place in August!
While working as a ploughman, the monks of Vale Royal annoyed him by their behaviour. Nixon, it is said, extemporised the rhyme:
Soon a raven’s nest will be.’
This was a meaningless jingle at the time, but it proved to be truly prophetic, for the last abbot was called Harrow. He was executed by Henry VIII, and the lands given to Sir Thomas Colcroft — whose crest was a raven. Nixon also prophesied that Norton and Vale Royal Abbeys would meet in Acton Bridge, which they eventually did, their stones being used to build the bridge after the dissolution of the monasteries.
In time, the sayings of Robert Nixon reached King Edward IV, who sent for him to come to London. But even before the messenger arrived with the summons, Nixon stated that he must go to London and there be ‘clammed’ [starved], a prophecy that came only too true.
On his arrival, the king decided to test Nixon and hid a valuable diamond ring. When he was asked to find it, Nixon wasn’t fooled for a moment: ‘He who hideth can find,’ he said. The king, duly impressed, ordered that all Nixon’s prophecies be put in writing, and gave him the freedom of the palace, especially the kitchen where, to the fury of the staff, he spent hours eating and drinking.
One day, however, the king departed on a hunting trip. Nixon ran after him, pleading that he should not be left alone or he would never be seen alive again, he would be starved. This can partly be explained by his well-grounded fear that, in the absence of the king, the kitchen staff would take due revenge for all his past liberties. Impressed against his will, the king ordered an officer to look after Nixon twenty-four hours a day. All went tolerably well — though Nixon was mercilessly mocked by the kitchen staff — until the king summoned the officer. Believing he would not be long, the officer locked Nixon in a closet to protect him from the staff and left hurriedly. The king kept him longer than was anticipated, and by the time the officer returned three days later Nixon was dead.
Another version of this story — equally anonymous and unverifiable — places the event in the reign of James I, whose cooks, infuriated by Nixon’s interminable picking at dishes in the kitchen, locked him in a closet as a punishment. The king, departing suddenly from Hampton Court to London, forgot about him.
However, how Nixon managed to do a long-distance commentary on Bosworth and serve King James is a bit of a mystery! During his short life, Nixon is reputed to have correctly foretold a surprising number of events including the Civil War and the winning side, the death of Charles I and the Restoration of Charles II, the abdication of James II, the French Revolution and the war with France, the Great Fire and Plague, and the accession of William of Orange. A couple of examples suffice to give the general tone of his predictions.
On the death of Charles I:
The master’s head shall be cleft in twain.’
The reference to the favourite is clearly to either Strafford or the Duke of Buckingham.
On the Civil War:
But at last clubs and clouted shoes shall carry the day.’
And another on the Civil War:
And infants left by those that are slain
That damsels shall with fear and glee
Cry “Mother, Mother, here’s a man.”
But after this shall be happy days
A new set of people with virtuous manners
Shall live in peace.
But the wall of Vale Royal next the pond shall be the token of its truth
For it shall fall.
If it fall downwards
Then shall the church be sunk for ever,
But if it falls upwards against a hill
Then shall the church and honest men still live.
Under this wall shall be found the bones of a British king.’
The wall fell upwards on 4 August 1688, at about eleven in the morning, the day being bright and clear and without the least breath of wind. Beneath the ruins of the wall were found the bones of a man of exceptional height.
There are a few memoirs of Robert Nixon, mostly dating from the eighteenth century. Some present the prophecies in verse form, others in prose. Contradictions and inconsistencies abound, as I have indicated. Nevertheless, Nixon existed and if he worked on a smaller canvas than Nostradamus he also had a remarkable run of successful predictions. It is, of course, highly suspect that no predictions were published until well after the relevant events, so that the extent of editorial contribution is unknown. Whatever the actual truth, Nixon remains a strange and fascinating character with at least a grain of truth to him. Certainly he has as much truth as the much-altered text of an old ballad, and as much validity.
While Oldmixon cites ‘Lady Cowper’s Original’, Cruikshank cites ‘Lady Cowper’s Correct Copy’. I’ve included both, despite the fact that most of the text is essentially the same, because there is a significant difference. Oldmixon has Nixon living in the time of James I, and being summoned to his court, but Cruikshank’s copy describes him as living in the time of Henry VII, and being summoned to the court of Henry VIII. Though this means having to plough through a lot of redundant material, it serves to illustrate the problems faced by anyone trying to set a date to Nixon’s life.
As more than one of the above critics has noted, a great deal of uncertainty surrounds Nixon – indeed we have to question whether such an individual even existed, at least as he is described here. Even if there once was an idiot ploughboy who formed the nucleus for the later, mythical character, did he ever speak any of the prophecies ascribed to him? It’s clear that many of Nixon’s prophecies have been added after the events they are supposed to describe, or to have predated the time he is supposed to have lived, while others are too vague or too broad to be meaningful. All the descriptions of his prophecies are anecdotal, with the first printed account not appearing until 1714. This leaves us with various claims made by certain Cheshire families (only two of which are named) who had copies of the ‘original’ – each no doubt differing from each other, and each no doubt having been transcribed in a questionable fashion, as is borne out by the discrepancies between two versions of Lady Cowper’s Copy. Nevertheless, as has been shown by other prophets such as Nostradamus and Mother Shipton, people remain fascinated by those who claim to predict the future, and Robert Nixon is Cheshire’s contribution.
The writers above, especially Ormerod and Axon, sum up all the contradictions and irreconcilable differences between accounts of Nixon and his prophecies better than I can, and I shan’t attempt to analyse the historical details further. I shall merely add the prophecies themselves, genuine or not, for the benefit of anyone interested in reading them for themselves.