1861, October 4: Lord Eglinton sees the Bodach-Glas

It has been said that legends tell of an omen of death seen by "certain clans in Scotland," known as the Bodach-Glas -- the "dark grey man." At the moment I know of only one report that claims to be an actual sighting of this mysterious being.

Earl of Eglinton

Lord Eglinton [Larger version here.]

        Archibald William Montgomerie, more commonly known as the 13th Earl of Eglinton and 1st Earl of Winton [1812-1861], is said to have been well-known and liked by his fellow countrymen (despite the rather unhappy look in the portrait above!). Lord Eglinton was semi-famous for his attempt to revive jousting tournaments as a public spectacle in 1839, which attracted around 10,000 people (and much ridicule from a political party opposed to the Earl)... unfortunately, the event was assaulted by a heavy rain, and when it was reconvened a day later, most of the crowd did not return.

         In 1866, a story about Eglinton was recorded by author William Henderson in his book The Folk Lore of the Northern Counties of England. The tale, as Henderson tells it, is that on October 4, 1861, Lord Eglinton was playing a round of golf on the links of St. Andrews, which is one of the oldest golf courses in the world, located in Fife, Scotland. Strangely, he stopped playing in the middle of the game, telling his companion "I can play no more. There is the Bodach Glas. I have seen it for the third time; something fearful is going to befall me."

        Eglinton died that very night at Mount Melville House, near St. Andrews, and it was very sudden; he was handing a candlestick to a lady who was retiring to her room when he dropped dead.

My Source's Source

        There appears to be no earlier reference to this event than Henderson's 1866 book. Henderson states he was told the story by a clergyman (whom he doesn't name), and that this clergyman also informed him of the name of the man who was playing golf with Eglinton at the time he made his statement. Henderson assures us as readers that he had "been informed on the most credible testimony" of the details of the event... so we must take his word for it or not.

        Interestingly, an attempt on my part to find any details regarding Eglinton's death from other sources only found one reference that states the Earl died of apoplexy, which is internal bleeding, possibly due to a stroke. I can find no other confirmation of the details about the day, either him having played golf or handing a lady a candlestick... but outside of an actual full-length biography, it's not unusual that details like this would not be noted alongside larger accomplishments of his life in any short biographical article.

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