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Barlaw



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The Source:

Dudley Wright
"Vampires and Vampirism"
William Rider & Son, London, 1924

The Case:

In February 1729, in a village, not very far from Barlaw, which is said to be located somewhere in Moldavia, an old gardener died, who was said to be something of a sorcerer. During the night before the day on which he was supposed to be buried, his coffin (that was inside some church for the night) was said to have been moved around, and the black cloth that was covering it had disappeared. A bad omen. So before the man was buried, a stone was put into his mouth. Three nights later, a young girl who was about to get married reported that the old gardener had appeared in her bedroom telling her: "I have come to suck from you, as I have already sucked from him who is to be your husband." After which he had tried to strangle her. The frightened girl demanded in vain that the gardener's corpse would be disinterred, and then died no less than two days after the incident. The husband to be was warned that the spectre had announced that he would die as well. The gardener's grave was opened, his body was said to look "of a fresh colour" and it was consequently cremated.

The Date:

February, 1729. Not a bad dating for a case this old. If it is correct.

The Place:

According to Wright, the story is supposed to have taken place in a village near "Barlaw" in Moldavia. So I think we may assume that "Barlaw" is at least a somewhat larger place, possibly a town. So far, I have been unable to trace its location, and by lack of further evidence I am inclined to believe that the reference may be to the place "Birlad", which is situated in the Romanian part of Moldavia. Then again, who am I ? So go check your own maps and find the place ! Hey, be sure to let me know when you do.

Personal Comments:

The source of this tale is not exactly famous for its accuracy. Dudley Wright's "Vampires and Vampirism" is an important book the way it antedates the work of Montague Summers who, despite all his criticism, seems to have been more than happy to make use of Wright's earlier research. But at the same time, admittedly, Wright's book does seem to be a bit of a shambles. Wrongly spelled names and place names, datings that obviously are no good, and even identical cases presented twice as different ones.

Possible Follow-Up:

First check Wright, to find what I may have done to his story. Then try to find Wright's original sources, and take it from there. Of course we should also try to establish a correct location. In other words, business as usual: try to find out more. Never be satisfied with other people's findings. Check everything again and again, and then, when you think that you have the whole picture, you may draw your own conclusions.

2009 by Rob Brautigam - NL - Last changed 19 November 2009

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