|Nick Redfern's book Man-Monkey:|
In Search of the British Bigfoot
Some well known sightings of the British creature, which is commonly called the "Man-Monkey," have taken place near Bridge 39 on the Shropshire Union Canal in Staffordshire. They have been investigated by author and cryptozoologist Nick Redfern, who wrote a book fully on the subject in 2007.
|I met Nick at Creature Weekend in May 2015|
Sightings of the Man-Monkey date back to at least 1879, with the first recorded being found in a book called Shropshire Folklore by Charlotte S. Burn, published in 1883. That account follows:
"A very weird story of an encounter with an animal ghost arose of late years within my knowledge. On the 21st of January 1879, a laboring man was employed to take a cart of luggage from Ranton in Staffordshire to Woodcock, beyond Newport in Shropshire, for the ease of a party of visitors who were going from one house to another. He was late in coming back; his horse was tired, and could only crawl along at a foot's pace, so that it was ten o'clock at night when he arrived at the place where the highroad crosses the Birmingham and Liverpool canal. Just before he reached the canal bridge, a strange black creature with great white eyes sprang out of the plantation by the roadside and alighted on his horse's back. He tried to push it off with his whip, but to his horror the whip went through the thing, and he dropped it on the ground in fright."
The man's horse was so frightened that it broke away from the cart and ran away. The man did the exact same thing and skedaddled out of the area. He finally caught up with the horse at a local inn, which he ran inside of. He told the amazed crowd what had happened.
News of the Man-Monkey attack spread, and soon everyone in the area was afraid it would get them. The police even opened a file on the mystery.
|Shropshire Union Canal, where Man-Monkey sightings occur|
No one knows what the Man-Monkey is. Some theorized that it was an escaped gorilla. But, whatever it is, it does not seem to be a cryptid of the flesh-and-blood variety, if the above account can be believed. Horsewhips don't just go right through flesh-and-blood critters like gorillas.
There were also rumors that the Man-Monkey was a spirit of a man who had drowned in the canal shortly before sightings began. Nick Redfern comments on this in his new encyclopedia The Bigfoot Book, quoting Elliott O'Donell's 1912 book Werewolves:
"It is an old belief that the souls of cataleptic and epileptic people, during the bodies unconsciousness, adjourned temporarily to animals, and it is therefore only in keeping with such a view to suggest that on the deaths of such people their spirits take permanently the form of animals."
Could the Man-Monkey really just be the spirit (trapped in an animal form) of some poor soul who drowned in the canal? While it may sound totally crazy that a human spirit can take on animal form after death, the reports of the Man-Monkey started at the canal right after someone drowned there. Sightings have continued since 1879, and the location is usually Bridge 39 on the canal where the first sighting occurred, and the monster usually shows characteristics of the supernatural, just like with the first sighting. Maybe it really is an animal that is the ghost of a man...