Monday, 5 January 2015

Mermaid or Sea Devil?

The following is from the Morpeth Herald, 8th September 1855


On Monday Night the 27th inst. while Mr. Adam Storey was fishing for salmon trout off Cresswell, he perceived something white  on the surface of the water, and rowing near the object, he found a large fish, by some fishermen called the mermaid, by others the sea devil, with a large Gull in its mouth. One of the bird's wings was spread out which had prevented it from being swallowed entirely. After the fish had been killed the bird was released, and recovered after being brought on shore, and his now in the hands of Mr. John Batey, of Morpeth, for the purpose of being preserved.


This Adam Storey who made the discovery is definitely my ancestor, but it is hard to tell whether it is my 4x, or 3x great-grandfather.  I'm not entirely sure whether the short article was written to be laughed at, or was entirely serious and meant for people to read and be amazed.

It is also unclear whether calling the fish a 'mermaid' was considered a positive thing and considered a thing of beauty, or if it were just simply an alternative to 'sea devil'. What I do know is that fishermen and other sailors are very superstitious folk, and certain words or phrases are absolutely not to be uttered, such as 'pig' as it is deemed unlucky. Whistling is definitely not allowed, as it is thought to bring about a storm.