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Molly Leigh- Witch of Burslem

A myth submitted to the site by Skye Bayley Heath

Uk,England, Staffordshire, Stoke on Trent, England

The legend of Molly Leigh, The witch of Burslem.

Molly Leigh was born Margaret Leigh, in Burslem around 1685.
It is said that she was born different. Deformed. That she was ugly. She was shunned by the village, because of her deformities and also her strange ways - It is said that she ate a hard crust of bread just a couple of hours after birth, and that she would suckle from the animals in the neighbouring farm instead of her mothers milk! Sadly her ugliness and deformities worsened as she grew older.

As she grew older she became more alone, more isolated, her only companion was an old blackbird that was rumoured to be able to create the sound of any bird! Molly Leigh had a lonely life, as her parents died when she was at a young age, leaving her without company and in desperate want of a friend. The want of a friend was said to be the reason behind the vicious temper and vindictive streak she had adopted later in life.

With the death of her parents, Molly realised that she needed to earn a living, so she would take her milk into Burslem town and try to sell it, but was often accused of watering it down.

Molly Leigh was also accused of witchcraft by local parson Reverand Spencer, according to him Molly reacted by sending her blackbird to land on the Turks head, (Reverand Spencer's local drinking spot) causing the beer to become sour giving all of the customers rheumatism. In anger Spencer tried to shoot the blackbird, but failed.
The parson further accused Molly Leigh of witchcraft because of this. (Also in the 1600's a blackbird was said to be the sign of a witch).

It is thought that Molly Leigh died in/around 1748, the reverand Spencer took the funeral. Following her death some of the villagers were said to have descended on Molly's cottage-some say it was to loot the property, others say it was to kill the blackbird, who was making a nuisance around town- they were see to gave been met by a figure of Molly knitting by the fire in a rocking chair muttering the words "Weight and measure sold I ever, milk and water sold I never".

The terrified locals took drastic action, the parson was said to have her tomb excorsised three times by three different excorsists because her spirit wouldn't lay to rest. It is rumoured that two of the excorsists died in trying, also Spencer and a couple of other locals took the blackbird and buried it still alive with Molly Leigh. Also they had her grave turned so it faced opposite to all others. Her tomb is easily spotted as it is the only grave facing the 'wrong way' in 'Saint John's church'.

Today and over the years children dare each other to run three times around the grave and chant "Molly Leigh, Molly Leigh you can't catch me" or "Chase me round the apple tree" and "Follow me, into all the holes, that I can see", so the spirit of Molly Leigh will appear

By Skye Bayley Heath
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