Mother Leakey and the Bishop
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|Oxford University Press|
the observer Sun 02 November 2008
History professor Peter Marshall has unearthed a 380-year-old ghost story and combined it with 17th-century religious conflicts, Anglo-Irish relations, and the machinations of Charles I's minions, to rather jolly effect. After her death in 1634, widow Susan Leakey kept popping up from beyond the grave to pester her family and neighbours; not unusual for the time, apparently, until she intoned something about a son-in-law in the Church of Ireland. This piqued the attentions of the privy council, whose investigation into the spectre's claim culminated in Protestant bishop John Atherton being hanged after accusations of incest, sodomy and bestiality. A wider picture of how religion and gossip have developed since emerges from Marshall's engaging presentation of this intriguing case.