The Mayfair “Ghost” (1770)

This one is pretty funny, no cannibals or gore here, and I did a tweet thread about it earlier this month. I discovered this story in the London Post, Aug. 1770. I came across it while looking up other stories for the co-written 18thC Slasher WIP (working title: REDSTONE) research.

Full Transcript:

The following story has made some noise in the neighbourhood of May-fair: A celebrated lady of quality, in the absence of her old gallant (Gen. C.) was entertaining herself in an agreeable tete a tete with a young beau, the son of a noble Lord; when in the interim her old gentleman returned; the lady (as is common in such cases) locked the young man into a closet, and put the key in her pocket. The old lover, finding the lady dressed, insisted that she should accompany him to Ranelagh. Her favourite maid was out; she had therefore no one to communicate the closet secret to: however, she made herself easy with thinking that she would feign herself indisposed and stay but a short time at Ranelagh; but happening to join an agreeable party there, the company, the music &c. all conspired to make her forget her imprisoned beau, and away they all went to Vauxhall, from whence they did not return until four in the morning. In the mean time the closeted gentleman made various efforts to regain his liberty. In the morning the house maid came to clean the room, when hearing an odd noise (for he was by that time asleep and snoring) she alarmed the house, and Insisted that the closet was haunted, for she was sure no human being could be there. In short, the lady was obliged to come and release the lover, who to his no small mortification, is, since this event, nick-named The Ghost.

This one just made me laugh, and I think requires no detailed discussion! Hope you enjoyed it too! I think my favourite line is “as is common in such cases”, which absolutely creased me. So many lads locked in closets. Just a standard drill.


May-fair: Mayfair, the affluent district in London.

closet: a large wardrobe, possibly like one of these.

old gallant: her admirer, beau, in this case a General in the British Army (Gen. C.) – the paper only gives his initial but that would be enough for most of the social circle to know exactly who this referred to.

Ranelagh: Ranelagh Pleasure Gardens were set up to rival Vauxhall, but there was nowhere to get a decent drink (tea or coffee was fine) and no gambling.

Vauxhall: Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens were accessible across the river by boat, which at night must have been a more exciting start to the evening’s entertainment, and walks in the gardens were well-lit but also had a mix of more secluded places for promenading or slipping off for something naughtier.

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