Spring Heeled Jack (also Springheel Jack, Spring-heel Jack, etc), is a character from English folklore said to have existed
during the Victorian era and able to jump extraordinarily high. The first claimed sighting of Spring Heeled Jack that is known
occurred in 1837.
Later alleged sightings were reported from all over England, from London up to Sheffield and Liverpool, but they were
especially prevalent in suburban London and later in the Midlands and Scotland.
Many theories have been proposed to ascertain the nature and identity of Spring Heeled Jack. The urban legend of Spring
Heeled Jack gained immense popularity in its time due to the tales of his bizarre appearance and ability to make extraordinary
leaps, to the point where he became the topic of several works of fiction.
Spring Heeled Jack was described by people claiming to have seen him as having a terrifying and frightful appearance,
with diabolical physiognomy that included clawed hands and eyes that "resembled red balls of fire". One report claimed
that, beneath a black cloak, he wore a helmet and a tight-fitting white garment like an "oilskin". Many stories
also mention a "Devil-like" aspect. Spring Heeled Jack was said to be tall and thin, with the appearance of a gentleman,
and capable of making great leaps. Several reports mention that he could breathe blue and white flames and that he wore sharp
metallic claws at his fingertips. At least two people claimed that he was able to speak in comprehensible English.
The first accounts of Spring Heeled Jack were made in London in 1837 and the last reported sighting is said in most of
the secondary literature to have been made in Liverpool in 1904.
The first reports of Jack was from a businessman returning home late one night from work, who told of being suddenly
shocked as a mysterious figure jumped with ease over the high railings of a cemetery, landing right in his path. No attack
was reported, but the submitted description was disturbing: a muscular man with devilish features including large and pointed
ears and nose, and protruding, glowing eyes.
Later, in October 1837, a girl by the name of Mary Stevens was walking to Lavender Hill, where she was working as a servant,
after visiting her parents in Battersea. On her way through Clapham Common, according to her later statements, a strange figure
leapt at her from a dark alley. After immobilising her with a tight grip of his arms, he began to kiss her face, while ripping
her clothes and touching her flesh with his claws, which were, according to her deposition, "cold and clammy as those of a
corpse". In panic, the girl screamed, making the attacker quickly flee from the scene. The commotion brought several residents
who immediately launched a search for the aggressor, who could not be found.
The next day, the leaping character is said to have chosen a very different victim near Mary Stevens' home, inaugurating
a method that would reappear in later reports: he jumped in the way of a passing carriage, causing the coachman to lose control,
crash, and severely injure himself. Several witnesses claimed that he escaped by jumping over a nine foot-high (2.7 m) wall
while babbling with a high-pitched and ringing laughter.
Gradually, the news of the strange character spread, and soon the press and the public gave him a name: Spring-heeled