The Horrors of the Major Weir, the Bowhead Saint

Drawing of Major Weir’s house, found on Wikipedia.

Major Thomas Weir is a notable figure in English lore. His house sat empty for decades, long after he and his sister were executed. Neighbors reported a host of ghostly activity within the dark house. Infernal parties were witnessed inside, with lights, strange music and the sounds of dancing. They heard the sounds of diabolical howling and strange spinning machines. On several occasions, a phantom coach pulled by 6 headless steeds sped to the house. Major Weir, and his sister, came out of the derelict house and climbed inside. A few people witnessed the Major’s specter emerge from the old house atop a headless, black steed and gallop off into oblivion.

Thomas Weir (1599-1670) was a soldier in the Scottish army and a “Covenanter” who practiced a rigid form of Presbyterianism. He was known for uplifting and powerful prayers. He was called a “Bowhead Saint” because his home was around the summit of West Bow. Several nuns of his time called him “Angelic Thomas” before he confessed to unspeakable crimes.

Major Weir, and his sister, was highly regarded in their community. They descended from a historic line of nobles in the land, who were originally from Germany. Weir was also commonly called “black” although it is uncertain if the family had ancient African ancestry or some other nationality. All records refer to the darkness of his skin. He wore a cloak and carried a black staff. He was a tall man, known for his grim countenance. It’s also stated he had a large nose.

In early 1670, Weir became ill. He was 70 years of age by that point. He then told a shocking series of confessions to those caring for him. He admitted to having infernal power and to a life of debauchery and crime. He attributed his powers to a walking stick, given to him by the devil. The walking stick had strange satyrs carved on it, with a human head atop the handle.  His sister later said the staff was a gift from the Devil, crafted from a single piece of thornwood. Weir stated that so long as he didn’t hold the staff, he was normal. If he held it, he’d revert to those evil ways.

He also admitted to a live of incest with his sister. He claimed he was unable to look at an orthodox minister.

Weir stated he freely entered any house he chose and often visited women, while their husbands were gone, to partake in carnal pleasure with them. He said he was unable to pray without his staff in his hand. There are rumors he had a son and committed incest with a stepdaughter, but the majority of records state he was an unmarried man who lived with his sister. By the time his lengthy confession ended, he’d admitted to adultery, incest, bestiality and frequent meetings with the devil.

No one believed his shocking admission until his sister, Jean, corroborated the story. Jean was also incriminated in Weir’s admissions. She was supposed to have obtained a magic yarn from the diabolical one. It allowed her to make a higher quality of yarn faster than any other individual.

Jean said that in 1648, the devil’s coach picked her and her brother up. The coach was pulled along by six steeds and all were on fire. She said Weir’s primary gift for his service to the devil was foresight.

Jean admitted to having an incestuous relationship with her brother since she was 16, including the brief amount of time she was married. Persons today dismiss it as two mentally imbalanced individuals, but their histories of debauchery could have just as easily been true. We can certainly debate any “supernatural” merit. The fact is they were coherent enough to convince everyone who knew them closely, while knowing the price was probably going to be a long, agonizing death.

The two were sentenced to death. Major Weir was hung, or garroted, and his body burned on April 11, 1670. His infamous walking stick with the human head cap was burned with him. Jean was also hung and they were buried at the base of the Gallows on Shrub Hill.

The house was said to be cursed over a century after that. One of the “spells” Weir allegedly placed on the house was to confuse those who entered. You might think you were going in one direction, however you really were going in the opposite.

In 1780, an ex-soldier purchased the house. William Patullo moved in with his wife. They were only able to stay a few hours into the night, as they both reported a creature in the shape of a calf had came upon their bed and stared at them.

From current information, the house was demolished in 1830.


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