- Tregeagle, Jan (John)
- A 17th-century Cornish highwayman punished by the DEVIL. The ghost of Jan Tregeagle is known for his howling in protest over his fate. A historical Jan Tregeagle existed; he was an unpopular magistrate in Cornwall, England. Local lore held that he achieved his success by forgery, fraud, and illegal seizure of estates of orphans. He also was rumored to have made a PACT with the Devil.According to lore, Tregeagle worried about the fate of his soul as he grew older, and he bribed the clergy to allow him to be buried in consecrated ground, which he believed would prevent the Devil from collecting his soul. He was buried in St. Breock’s churchyard, where he rested quietly for seven years.A legal dispute over landownership arose, and Tregeagle’s ghost was summoned from the grave to testify in court. He did, on behalf of the defendant, who won the case. But the man refused to return Tregeagle to his grave, claiming the job was too dangerous. The clergy decided that the only way they could keep Tregeagle out of the clutches of the Devil was to keep him busy for eternity. Tregeagle was bound by spells to bail out DOZMARY POOL with a leaky limpet shell, a task he could never complete.One night, Tregeagle escaped and dashed across Bodmin Moor, with the Devil and his HELL hounds (see BLACK DOGS) in pursuit. Tregeagle tried to hide in the ruined chapel atop ROCHE ROCK, but his head became wedged in the east window.He was rescued by a priest and two saints, who took him to Padstow beach and set him to the endless and impossible task of weaving ropes from sand. Every time the tide came in, the ropes were destroyed, and Tregeagle howled in protest. He became such a noisy nuisance that he was sent to Berepper, where he was supposed to empty the beach of sand. Once a DEMON tripped him and made him spill his sack, creating a sandbar.He was unpopular at Berepper and so was sent on to Land’s End, where he was supposed to sweep sand. Once again, he howled in protest. Tregeagle’s ghost is said to haunt Roche Rock, especially on windy nights. He still screams and howls at the torment of the hellhounds.
Encyclopedia of Demons and Demonology. Rosemary Ellen Guiley. 2009.
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