1683, October 24: Shower of Toads Invades Acle
According to an old manuscript preserved in Blickling Hall, Norfolk, England, toads poured down on the village of Acle on October 24, 1683, and became a nuisance invading houses. The Acle "publican" threw the toads by the shovelfull into the fire or out into the yard, for he couldn't stand the smell of them. The next day, however, they were gone.
The earliest reference to this incident I can trace is a letter reproduced in The News for December 1975 (which later changed its name to Fortean Times). The letter is said to be originally from the Eastern Daily Press of July 19, 1975 (I haven't been able to find a copy yet). In response to a previous letter to the newspaper, a Mr. R.C. Fiske wrote that it reminded him of an incident mentioned in a very old letter dated October 24, 1683, and written by famous theologian John Collinges [1623-1690]. This letter as Fiske reprinted it runs thus:
Collinges received an interesting bit of news from a man named Gargrave, described as "a good sober fellow that collects the hearth money." Gargrave had visited the town of Acle the week before, and an innkeeper had told him that the night previous most of the houses were filled with great toads; the innkeeper scooped them up by the shovelful and threw them in the fire; because he couldn't stand the smell of them, he threw the rest in the yard. The next morning they were all gone. The toads were said to have come down in a shower.
The letter, Fiske tells us, is copied from the Historical Manuscripts Commission report on "The Marquis of Lothian MSS," preserved at Blickling Hall, Norfolk, England. Fiske never tells us how he had access to such a document, and I will have to confirm its existence.