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Monster of Leeds

Updated on June 23, 2014

The Leeds Devil

1735, Leeds Point: a Monster Born

An impoverished mother, known as Mother Leeds, already had 12 children to her credit in 1735. When she became pregnant a 13th time, it is said that she cursed her condition. How would she feed yet another mouth and care for another child? An additional child would further impoverish Mother Leeds and her already sizeable brood. At the expectation of such additional hardship, she cursed, "let the child be a devil," "to the devil with this child," or something just as careless...

When her time was near, the townswomen gathered with Mother Leeds at her bedside and as the storm howled outside, the women assisted Mother Leeds to deliver the 13th child. The midwife and helpers were anxious about the birth, as all were familiar with rumours in the local area about Mother Leeds practicing witchcraft. All the women breathed sighs of relief when the 13th child was born and appeared healthy and normal.

This relief was short lived, however, because shortly after its birth, the baby's form began to rapidly change. From a chubby cheeked infant with ten fingers, ten toes and normalcy, there erupted a creature said to have hooves for legs and feet, a forked tail in behind, bat wings for arms and finally, a horse-like head at its top.

The transformed one uttered a growl, then a screech, right before it killed the midwife. After the fatal attack on the midwife, the violent creature flew up and out the chimney. It surveyed the village and nearby land as it flew overhead in a vast circle, then headed out of sight, toward the pines.

Tidbits on Mother Leeds

According to legend, Mother Leeds was a woman named Deborah Leeds who was married to a Japhet Leeds. While there are records of a Japhet Leeds from the right region of the US where the Jersey Devil legend originates - and most folklorists agree that Japhet Leeds existed - less information is verifiable about Deborah Leeds.

A copy of Japhet Leeds' "Will" document can be easily be found, and in his will he mentions 12 children. The will was drafted in 1736. If this document is legitimate and this man, Japhet Leeds was, indeed, married to the Deborah or Mother Leeds in question, then there is still no verifiable 13th child that people believe to have been the Leeds Devil - the 13th child of Mother Leeds.

Some versions of legend say that the 13th child of Mother Leeds was born grotesque, with creature features as well as some human features - and that the creature flew up and out of the chimney moments after birth. In some versions, the 'child' was born and looked normal, but only for a few minutes. Within a short time, the child transformed to something resembling a part-human, part-creature form - and again - flew up and out the chimney.

Perhaps the above are reasons why Japhet did not mention the 13th child in his will, drafted in 1736, even though the questionable creature-child was supposedly born on a stormy night in 1735.


Jersey Devil

The supposed 13th child of Mother Leeds, born in 1735, became known as the Jersey Devil. The legend of The Jersey Devil has been around for a couple of hundred years. Over 200 alleged sightings of the Jersey Devil have been reported and this legend shows no signs of stopping.

Even Joseph Bonaparte, older brother of Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte is said to have had an encounter with the Jersey Devil in 1820, while he was on his own estate, Bordentown, engaged in hunting activities.

The Jersey Devil has been blamed for everything from igniting fear in the hearts of locals and tourists to the killing of livestock all around the New Jersey region. To go along with many purported sightings of the strange and frightening Jersey Devil creature, many 'tracks' or footprints have been found which are not quite identifiable - and the beast is said to also emit a scream that has been called 'unearthly.'

The creature has been shot at and at least twice, in two different locations and times, it is said that the shooter managed to strike the beast in the right wing as it was flying. In both instances, the wound that should have affected the beast seemed to do nothing, and the beast continued its flight, seemingly unhindered by being shot.

As recently as 1951, 'a screaming humanoid monster' was reported by some local teenaged boys, and this claim set of a panic/hysteria over the Jersey Devil at that time in Gibbstown, New Jersey.

More recently, in 2007, a couple of reports turned up about a 'bat-like' flying creature and about a creature that flew like and looked like a 'gargoyle.'

In Litchfield Pennsylvania in 2008, a rural resident claimed to have seen a creature emerge from the roof of his barn and fly away. Most nearby residents believe that even in 2008, this creature was the Jersey Devil.

Jersey Devil - Monster of Leeds

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Documentary on Jersey Devil by Weird NJ-TV

Notes on the Weird NJ-TV Video Above:

The above video is a decent documentary from a source called "Weird NJ-TV."

This video is very informative and tastefully done, examining the history surrounding the Jersey Devil. The film/documentary crew has managed to track down a man named Harry Leeds who has traced his roots back to the Mother Leeds era. Harry Leeds may be about 11 generations removed from Mother Leeds and her family, and he takes the WEIRD NJ-TV crew for a little tour near his home. This is a walk in the backwoods area where Mother Leeds' home is thought to have existed almost 300 years ago!

Harry Leeds also tells the crew about an incident from his childhood when he was playing around in the wooded area and believes he might have seen the Jersey Devil. Mr. Leeds shows the crew exactly where he was standing when he saw the Jersey Devil during his teen years. 

The video is of nice length and has some of the better information I've found about the Leeds Monster/Mother Leeds, and includes mention of a few alternate details in the legend that have transpired over the years.


Info on The Jersey Devil


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