A tale of two famous curses

When one discusses curses, and wonders if they are, in fact, true, it is always prudent to research such things.

Here, we present two famous curses that had rather dramatic results.

The Tichbourne Curse, was laid upon a noble English family in the reign of Henry II, and came true in precise detail centuries afterward.

The originator of this curse was a pious and strong-minded woman, Lady Mabell de Tichburne, who wished to leave an annual gift or ‘dole’ to the poor. Knowing the mean disposition of her husband, she told him on her death-bed that if he or his descendants ever stopped this charity, great misfortune would fall upon the family, their name would be changed, and their race die out.

As a sign that their doom was impending, there would be the birth in one generation of seven sons and in the next of seven daughters, and the family home would fall down.

For hundreds of years the Tichbourne Dole, in the form of a yearly free distribution of bread, was given to the poor. Then in 1796 the seventh baronet, Sir Henry Tichbourne, decided that the event had become a nuisance, and stopped it. In 1803 a large part of the old mansion collapsed.

The seven sons, followed by seven daughters, were duly born; and a series of family misfortunes, including the notorious law-case of the Tichbourne claimant, convinced the descendants of Lady Mabell that their ancestral
130 Famous Curses curse was a fact.

The family, whose name had been changed to DoughtyTichbourne by circumstances of inheritance, decided that the dole should be resumed. It is given out yearly to this day, though now in the form of flour instead of bread.

Another famous curse which worked out over the centuries was the Doom of the Seaforths. This is an example of those curses which take the form of a fatal prophecy.

Scotland seems to be the particular home of them, probably because of its long tradition of the second sight. The Doom of the Seaforths was pronounced by Kenneth Odhar, known as the Brahan Seer. He was condemned to death as a witch by the Countess of Seaforth, and publicly burned at the stake in the latter part of the seventeenth century.

When on his way to execution, he solemnly pronounced these words: “I see a chief, the last of his house, both deaf and dumb. He will be the father of four fair sons, all of whom he shall follow to the tomb. He shall live careworn and die mourning, knowing that the honors of his house are to be extinguished forever, and that no future chief of the Mackenzies shall rule in Kintail.”

The seer went on to describe in detail what misfortunes would overtake the family; and he said that when four great lairds were born “one of whom shall be buck-toothed, the second hare-lipped, the third half-witted, and the fourth a stammerer”, the Seaforth then holding the title would be the last of his line.

This prophecy, made publicly in such dramatic form, was long remembered; and in 1815 the line of the Seaforths became extinct, in the exact circumstances the Brahan Seer had pronounced.

Both of the above stories are well-founded upon historical fact.

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