« Lore

Episode 179: Confidence

2021-09-13 | 🔗

Folklore has many uses, and a quick trip through history would reveal many that you’ve come to expect. It educates a community, preserves events and well-known figures, and provides a sometimes-fictional explanation for mysterious happenings. But one particular use for folklore needs a deeper look…because it’s beyond thrilling.


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This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
have you ever known, someone who was just too smart for their own good? You know the type right there, brilliance and unnatural. I just about everything they do, but. Tend to use their brains for less than typical things, usually to get up to trouble growing up in the nineteen fifties and Sixtys Frank was a textbook example of this. He was a bright kid with a couple of uncanny skills. He could learn enough about anything just by observing how it works and he could find creative ways to use that knowledge for his own benefit. Honestly, there was very little he couldn't do if he put his mind to it. For Frank, though, damn it becoming a Mastercard earnest, his first conned was stealing from his father, using a credit card meant to buy gas for his work truck after that he
time figuring out how to write checks for cash, he didn't have eventually how to do the same off other people's accounts but he also expanded his horizons between the aid of sixteen and eighteen Frank used a forged pilots licences to travel around the country logging, roughly a million miles after that he pay did to medicine spending time, in Georgia, hospital as the chief resident pediatrician overseeing half a dozen interns and countless patients, even man to forge a Harvard LAW School transcript and use it to get a job in the Louisiana State Attorney General's office, something that required him to take and pass the state bar exam, and even after his criminal career, ended in arrest in prison time. Frank Abigail Junior was so good that the FBI.
I would ultimately hire him as a consultant on fraud. Most people have heard frank story thanks to Steven Spielberg hit film about him. Catch me if you can, but even if you haven't it's easy to see just how much troublesome Can get up to when they got a sharp mind, an unnatural understanding of the assumptions people make. for as long as humans have been around, there have been people gullible enough to believe anything and others who are willing to take Vantage of that, and while modern con artist tend to focus on fraud of some kind, their predecessors sometimes leaned heavily into a different world altogether a world where anything. was possible and more understanding. What made people tick included understanding? What made them feel fear the world a folklore, I'm Erin Monkey and this is lower.
it's easy to imagine the fear they must have felt. This was eighteen o for, after all, there were no electric street lights to chase away the darkness, as the sun set on the Yorkshire town of Coward, and so fear was always there on this particular night, though that fear took on a shape, as a local farmer looked out his window on his darkened property. He caught a glimpse of something in the shadows, something with the twisted shape of a goblin like face, and the FAO Claude he'd been raised on allowed his mind to put the pieces together. What he was looking at was a barge asked its across. sure that owes some of its identity to the accent of northern England. Instead of ghost people, there would say guest and this legendary creature, the bar gassed, certainly was ghost like there was a shape shifter, sometimes taking on the form of a black dog while other times. Looking more like a god,
Or apparition and the folklore was clear about how dangerous the bar guest were. They were, often seen as an omen of death as seen one with your own eyes could prove disastrous when they took the shape of a black dog. They were often Company by the sounds of rattling chains, and if they got inside your home, they were no to steal your valuables. So on this night, the fire who saw the mysterious shape outside, did what any good person might have done in that area. At the time he ran away fearing for his life, he bolted out of his house and ran ass fast ass. He could toward his nearest neighbor. We don't know if the bar gas gave chase or if it remained behind but when the farmer returned, he found his home ransacked and robbed, but at least he was alive later that night far from the farmers house, the bargain stopped at the edge of the road reaching up to its neck. The demonic figure, slowly peeled off its mask, like something pulled straight out of an old scooby. Do cartoon
and then tucked it into his bag. Ass. He stepped out of the shadows and onto the road. The bar gassed was no more and in its place, was the real thief. A local man named Joseph Brown Brown was a young man, perhaps thirty years old, at the time when he was a kind artist. We don't know a lot about his early life like who his parents were, and while we and assume that he had many siblings, as most people did in those days. We are know of one of them by name a sister named Mary, but we, certainly have a bit of information about his early adulthood. Joseph Brown worked most of the time as a flax dresser, someone who processed fibre from the flax plant so that it could be used in textiles in Josephs Day. It was common for flax dressers to develop lung disease from their work. So it's easy to under
then why he might have wanted out Joseph was described by newspapers at the time as a pretty unattractive man is rather brutish face, made him difficult to forget once he was gone and while he was in front of you, he was beyond charismatic. There was a paradox that he was well aware of to this idea that he looked rather unintelligent on the surface actually brilliance in a lot of ways like a lot of con artists. Before and after him, Joseph understood people and what made them tick example: he knew that the people in town were obsessed with the tradition called porch, watching it was an annual event, always on the night of April twenty fourth known ass St Marks Eve when locals, would sit inside the church porch and keep watch for ghostly visitors If the spirit of a local man or woman was seen between the hours of eleven p M in one, I am those people were said to be destined to die in the coming year.
it was a position with a lot of power and because of that individuals who volunteered for the task were often paid by locals to reveal who they saw that night, partly for the easy coin, and partly for the power it gave him over. Others Joseph was said to love the job, but his reputation as a ghost seer was helped along two other events as well. First, during an evening of heavy drinking at a local establishment, Joseph was thrown out by another young man, the two fought and Joseph lost, but apparently, ass. He was leaving. He shouted that the other man would be in the ground before the year was over and it actually came true. Second event happened when Joseph predicted that someone who lived on his father's street would drown a highly specific claim for sure but on Easter Sunday that's exactly what happened
when a young bricklayers apprentice who lived on his father's street, went to the river after work to wash off slipped and hit his head on Iraq and drowned as a result, Joseph knew what made people tick in his town, the understood their hopes and dreams and he Understood their deepest fears, whether it was through his official work as part of the church, porch watch or just through careful observation of the people around him, he couldn't help but notice and opportunity. Yes, it probably would have surprised a lot of people to see the bar gassed peel off its face revealing Joseph underneath, but to him it just made sense. People were gullible by nature and their dependence on folklore only amplified that so, rather than work the dangerous job of flax dressing, he pivoted to something more fun, more lucrative and much more effective
and for a while it worked as planned overtime. He robbed a number of farms in the area, building up a good old fashioned community panic as he went, but eventually some people became a bit more curious and started to follow the clues like Scooby and the gang they followed them back to the source and soon enough a warrant had been issued for his arrest. With his con exposed Joseph hand was forced, like the bar gassed, he had been impersonating vanished into the night, leaving town and family behind, but while his criminal action he might have ended in one place, it would appear in another soon enough, because for Joseph Brown one thing was clear: there would always be more constable. Yeah brown didn't leave town alone now
I beside him was a younger man named Joseph Hessel Grave sort of an assistant, an apprentice. And yes, I know that their both named Joseph and that's going to be confusing. So I'll, probably just refer to them, both by their last names from here on out. If that's, ok, with you, I saw grave couldn't have been much older than seventeen or eighteen at the time. His childhood is a mystery to us as well, but clearly he preferred a life of crime to the typical path most people followed and together he in Brown, made quite a team. As I mentioned before, Brown wasn't them
attractive guy. In town, it's clear from some contemporary newspaper accounts that a lot of people assumed he was mentally disabled in some way they referred to him as dumb, but naturally that public perception came with its own folklore. It was a common belief that those with mental disabilities were closer to God and that the Spirit World often spoke through them. Maybe it had something to do with Jesus and his message about child like faith, but what is clear is that most people looked at Joseph Brown Face and assume that he wasn't bright, which, as we know now, was a mistake, the two men set up their newest con in the town of Hansel, where they were far enough away from home to not be recognised, but rather than dust off that bar gas costume. They try their hand at a new scheme, fortune telling embrowns appearance help tremendously with that people would pay to hear his predictions, which he delivered through a perfect
whence designed to reinforce their assumptions about his intelligence and then Hessel grave would pretend to interpret for him. It was a risky game, thanks in part to the wide assortment of social views on fortune telling it was at the basic level of form of magic which made it both illegal and immoral, but it was also not taken very seriously by a lot of people. In fact, it was common young unmarried women to play husband, divination games, especially around Halloween and Christmas, honestly, the way fortune telling was perceived often came down to social status. If you are which it was seen as a simple distraction, entertainment and nothing more. But if you are poor, all the fortune telling options available, whether it was Crystal balls cards or bare bones, palmistry tended to be frauds and therefore illegal, which is probably why brown and Hessel grave when looking for a bigger, safer concept pull off and they found it right where they lived. You see, after
arriving in Hansel. They paid for lodging at the home of two old spinsters by the name of Fletcher, having no husbands. Children. These late he's made money my renting out a room in their home, providing a place to sleep and meals to eat. It was profitable to according to the records the, it's. Your sisters had managed stashed away, at least twenty pounds worth roughly two thousand dollars today, which they kept in a strong box in ass, so wasn't long before brown and Hessel Gray found out about it and started plodding ways to steal it. After briefly, Toying with the idea of marrying one of the Fletcher sisters, Brown settled on a plan with less long term, commitment required on October twentieth of eighty no, for he paid a visit to a druggist in a neighbouring town introduced himself as Joseph Fletcher and then spun a fanciful, about how his father was suffering, incredible pain and did laudanum to sleep, the door,
Man named Mr Perkins felt great sympathy and sold him about an ounce of the stuff, a reddish brown opium powder that contains morphine encoding, among other things, Perkins didn't know the truth about why Brown needed the drug or what he had planned for it. He was just helping a troubled stranger out of a jam. The following night October, twenty first brown and hassle grave sat down to dinner with the Fletcher sisters, ready to put the plan in motion, but just ass things began their neighbour Robert Challenger, showed up unannounced and one The women asked him to join them, for the meal challenge recalled watching Brown produce a quart of ale and then pour some of it into a pint glass. Before mixing in a brown powder brown sugar to help the taste he was told, and then the cup was passed, the round. First, a hassle grave who pretended to sip from it and then to the Fletcher sisters. Elizabeth Fletcher was said to have consumed the most of it.
Around nine p m at night, both men retired to bed and challenger, went home in the middle of it. though, when the house was quiet, the two lodgers came out of the room, found Elizabeth Sleep and slipped the key to the strong box out of her pocket after getting what they came for the rather bags and vanished into the it challenger must have slept in a bit later than his neighbours when he woke up the following morning, some one else visited and told him that Elizabeth Fletcher was dying. He quickly made himself presentable, then rushed over to see her only to discover she was already dead what happened next was a miracle of coincidence. New Of the woman's murder spread far and wide, including to the druggist chop operated by Mr Perkins and when he heard the names Elizabeth Fletcher and Joseph Brown, a light bulb, went on in his head. After telling the authority that he knew exactly who had done the deed. A warrant was issued.
Amazingly brown and has so grave were tracked down. They were hiding out in their old hometown. Pretending, like nothing had ever had and in short order. They were arrested, put in chains and transported to the local magistrate for trial It seems as if their short journey down the road of criminal activity and finally come to an end and justice was about to be served, but their story wasn't over just yet. In fact, brown and hassle grave or only warming up the local newspaper said it best owing to the ignorance or stupidity of the coroner. Proper proofs were not procured at the time to fix the death upon the parties, so they were dismissed, in other words,
brown and Hessel grave were free. The authorities botched the investigation and with no case there was no trial, so both men returned home. Now they ve had a brush with the law, literally getting arrested for a murder. They definitely committed and somehow walked away without consequences. So would be safe to assume that they had been scared straight so to speak, and yet the historical record only shows just how much more bold they became after it Turning to cowboy they started in on some petty mundane crimes in January of eighteen o five, they stole some fine fabric linen and black. Silk from a woman in town went out. Where to sell it and then came home with their pockets full of coin. In August of that year, they even pull the good old fashioned mugging hiding in the is alongside the highroad for a traveller to pass by, but Joseph Brown loved, using beliefs and traditions of the community to his own advantage.
Where he shine, and as November approached, you realize There was an opportunity on its way November. Fifth, Back in one thousand, six hundred and five, a man named Guy Fawkes, had tried to assassinate King James, the first by blowing up the House of Lords in a scheme remembered as the gunpowder plot ever since the country has celebrated that date with fireworks in church bells. But this one was going to be much bigger than most because it was the bicentennial anniversary and people love nice round numbers, so around eight p, dot M that night at the entire countryside, rocked and rang from the celebration noises brown and grave jumped out of another hedge outside of town. This time they had firearms with them, knowing that they would sound like fireworks to any one else who heard them and when they were done, they left their victim George Calvert, in a ditch, wounded and bloody. It would be hours before Calibre discovered and by then it was clear. His injuries were grave, despite being transported to the
rural infirmary in the nearby city of York, positions weren't able to save him, but he certainly put up a fight. wooden pass away until December fourteenth and when that happened, the crime transformed from robbery to murder. I like to tell you that this was the one that and for them at the authorities, track them down and arrested them, and indeed in December of that year, both men were taken into custody, but sadly, this new trial was also thrown out for the very same reason as the first, a defect in the evidence against them. Once again, brown and hassle. Grave were free men, it wouldn't last long now for a pair of intelligent Kuhne artists, they often got tangled up in some of the dumbest and in March of eighteen, o six that was an assortment of cured, meets it seems that they had Vince demanded MR render to let them into the house where he worked as a servant, the home of John and Elizabeth Bolton and walk away
with a large quantity of ham and bacon when they were spotted selling the food a few days later to a local pub owner, things quickly fell apart. Both men were arrested, as was the servant MR render, and they were taken off to York for their trial. a trial by the way that would have no issue with flood evidence. This time I won't go into too much detail about that trial. They were caught red handed They knew it. Someone had actually seen them in the field outside the Bolton's house, just after the theft dividing up their stolen goods, they even saw bacon sitting, Rest, but that doesn't mean that Joseph Brown was going down without a fight. First heat. Try to blame it. On Mr Render, the man stolen the food himself Brown claimed and was, they trying to sell it to them in the field. That's what the witness had seen that night and to help her himself. Some credibility, brown, hair, his own sister Mary, take the stand and vouch for his character as well as the one
and who rented him a room in town. But none of it worked slipping through the net of justice for the murders of Elizabeth Fletcher and George Calvert. It would be the theft of bacon that would end their journey brown and hassle grave were found guilty of a crime and their sentence was delivered. Death by hanging. They're always seems to be one in the crowd that individual
well who believes they are smarter than the system than the other people around them most of the time that just makes them difficult people to live with, but every now and then that overconfidence drives them to something. Darker. History is filled with stories of cod are discussed, and the tail of Joseph Brown is just one of many, but the events of his life to a really good job of illustrating the true meaning behind the term. Con artists build fraud through trust. They know people so well so intuitively, but their aim to trick people into doing whatever they want. All it takes is a little Confidence, those are the sorts of crimes they got Joseph Brown to where he was in the summer of one thousand, eight hundred and six. Despite his intuition and intelligence, he found himself facing the death penalty with no hope of escape, but people like Brown rarely give up that easily
after appealing to a higher ranking official, both men had a lucky break rather than being sentenced to death to the theft of food. They were to be transported to Botany Bay in Australia, half a world away there. They would leave out the rest of their days with no rights no way home.
and no second chance. It was a decision that put Joseph Brown on a ship at the docks in Portsmouth, but before starting the long and dangerous journey to Australia, it stopped at the Isle of Wight. Where Brown appealed to a magistrate there remember he was a con artist. So a fresh setting met new people to manipulate and after confessing to all of his past crimes, he got what he was hoping for. A return trip to York for another chance to sway the jury. It backfired, though, this time, thanks to his own confession, he was on trial not just for the theft of food, but also for all his previous murders. Maybe he assumed that he would be able to talk his way out of it. Perhaps he hopes that the defects in the evidence that had thrown out those cases before would somehow still be there brown roll the dice but came up empty
dead. That sentence of lifelong service in a penal colony halfway around the world was replaced with immediate execution. He was escorted from the pact courtroom to the square outside or the gallows were set up for all to see and there in front of a crowd of over five thousand people. He was hanged until he was dead, just as the sentence demanded true to the times his by
He wasn't carted off for burial. As always, there were too many medical students and not enough cadaverous to learn on, though his body was delivered to them. Joseph Brown spent his life's studying other people in order to manipulate them for his own benefit, but in the end the table was turned. It was time for others to learn a little something about him. Crime in folklore, art the most obvious bedfellows honestly, when we discuss things like fortune telling or a premonition, we tend to think of them in safe, harmless settings, but clearly
Joseph Brown saw an opportunity to use belief and tradition to his own advantage, and he wasn't alone. I have one more story to tell you that mixes folklore and fraud, and you won't believe how it ends stick around after this brief sponsor break to hear all about it. This episode of lore was made possible by native hate. You know it stinks wanting to bend your favorite audio drama like Bridgewater, but you have to go to work instead, but while real life can sometimes think, there's no reason you have too that's why you should try. Aid of native cares about the products you put on your body there, all about stopping the stink the right way. That's the native difference. You probably already know about natives legendary, aluminum free deodorant, but every try, their body wash toothpaste or their brand new mineral based on screen. Yeah native now has broad spectrum S Pierre thirty son screen for your face in body. Its lightweight absorbs quickly and he could choose between uncensored or cocoanut, and Pineapple
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dot com, floor, Wondery, m dot com floor sign up today, Mary wasn't a witch, but a lot of people assumed she was in reality. She was a thief and had always been one. She was just the sort of thief who used tradition and folklore to her advantage. She was born in one thousand, seven hundred and sixty eight to a family of farmers who
in the village of asking me about twenty miles from the city of York, it wasn't an easy childhood and they struggled to get by most ears, so ass, soon ass, she was old enough to work for a living. She was hired out as a servant girl in the nearby town of thirst. Sadly, we don't know how old she was when that happened, but it couldn't have been easy far from home working for someone else's family all, while still in her childhood. So she started plodding from an early age how she was going to improve her state. and for Mary that started with theft. In fact, it was in early theft that cost her that job ass, a servant girl, but rather than return home, it seems that she left for greener pastures, making her way self to the city of London. there. She began to build a reputation for herself, has a con artist and cut purse, but mixed in Emma All that was something else. Some people believe that she had supernatural powers,
So here we have Mary, barely a teenager, working over strangers in the big city with tricks that had them, convinced that she was some kind of which national older and wiser. She pivoted to other countries like potions for awarding off evil spirits and medicinal tonics and people trusted her with this. For you, Is her break out moment, though, happened you're in life when she was about thirty, eight years old. That was when she came into the possession of a magic chicken. Yes, you heard that right. She called it the prophet hen of Leeds and it had the most unusual talent. It seems that the eggs that were laid by this hen would have messages written on them. Things such as Christ is coming,
and the people of leads when crazy for it it turns out, it was just another one of her cons. She was actually taking freshly laid eggs, writing the messages herself and then placing those eggs back inside the hen. And yes, it was a ridiculous stunt. The pull there's no question about that, but I think it's also ridiculous that people actually fell for it and believed it was real give me for saying it's, but my guess they fell for the yoke that same year. She picked up a new client, William Henry, a paragon were a local couple who needed help and they had become rather desperate in their search for it. You see, they were absolutely convinced that Rebecca had been cursed. That was the only way they could explain the chest pain she was having and she wasn't getting better and Mary was there to help. You gave them both a special food that was meant to help fight off the evil Spell Rebecca was under but Mary
also laced that food with a small amount of poison, perhaps to keep the woman sick and in need of her services, but a backfired and within just a few months, Rebecca was dead. Now, given the situation, we would expect William to lash out, have her arrested or simply walk away and wash his hands of it all. But that's not what he did know for the next two years, William continued to be paying customer returning time and again to marry for various charms and potions. Berwin It was probably a security, blankets and a living connection to his dead wife, where Mary, the relationship was dependable income. But all of that came to an end when William somehow discovered that one of the charms he had purchased was a total fabrication. It was the prophet hen of leads all over again without the eggs. This time and William was raged. He went to the local authorities and told them what he suspected and then worked with them to lure
married to a meeting where they could arrest her once custody. All it really took, was a quick search of her home to uncover evidence of a number of crimes, including the murder of Williams, wife, Rebecca Mary, professed her innocence, of course, even from inside a prison cell. She, right out that she had never intended to poison the woman. Medicine was tricky after all, but they didn't buy it after all the evidence, had been gathered and the case against her was established. Mary was dragged into the court room in York for her trial. hers was one of a number of cases being tried that day, but between the actual proceeding, and the jury's deliberation, it became an eleven our ordeal when it was over, though the answer was final. She was guilty of fraud and murder and was sentenced to immediate exit.
fusion, after being taken outside Mary Bateman, was hanged in front of a crowd of over five thousand onlookers right alongside to other criminals who met their fate at the same moment after it was over. Her body was left hanging for days, while visitors paid You coins to view it would. Her remains, were finally cut down. They were taken to a local medical museum or strips of her skin, were tanned into leather and sold as charms and are skeleton fared no better. becoming and exhibit that state on display, until at least two thousand fifteen o in one less, I mentioned a moment ago that the courthouse had other trials going on the same day as marries and that she even hanged beside two of them later that day while the unusual thing about that is just how similar one of the other criminals was to her, he too had been a kind artist,
one who had built a short but popular career by using his communities, beliefs against them, leading to profit and a bit of men. and while I'm sure, you'd like to know his story. The amazing thing is you already do, the man who hanged alongside Mary Bateman was done other than Joseph Brown. This episode of war was written and produced by me, Erin Monkey with research by steed and music by Chad. Lawson Laura is
much more than just a podcast. There's a book series available and bookstores and two seasons of the television show on Amazon. Prime video check them both out. If you want a bit more lore in your life I also make an executive produce a whole bunch of other podcast, all of which I think you'd enjoy my production, Bunny grim and mild specializes in shows that sit at the intersection of the dark and the historical you collar more about all those shows and everything else going on over in one central place, grim and mild dot com
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Transcript generated on 2022-03-04.