David Salisbury's Ghost

: Welsh Folk-lore

I will quote from Bye-Gones, vol. iii., p. 211, an account of this


There was an old Welsh tradition in vogue some fifty years ago, that

one David Salisbury, son of Harri Goch of Llanrhaiadr, near

Denbigh, and grandson to Thomas Salisbury hen of Lleweni, had given

considerable trouble to the living, long after his remains had been

laid in the grave. A good old soul, Mr. Griffit
s of Llandegla,

averred that he had seen his ghost, mounted upon a white horse,

galloping over hedges and ditches in the dead of night, and had heard

his 'terrible groans,' which, he concluded, proceeded from the weight

of sin troubling the unhappy soul, which had to undergo these

untimely and unpleasant antics. An old Welsh ballad entitled 'Ysbryd

Dafydd Salbri,' professed to give the true account of the individual

in question, but the careful search of many years has failed me in

securing a copy of that horrible song.


This Spirit fared better than most of his compeers, for they, poor

things, were, according to the popular voice, often doomed to ride

headless horses, which madly galloped, the livelong night, hither and

thither, where they would, to the great terror of the midnight traveller

who might meet this mad unmanageable creature, and also, as it would

seem, to the additional discomfort of the unfortunate rider.

It is, or was believed in Gyffylliog parish, which is in the recesses of

the Denbighshire mountains, four or five miles to the west of Ruthin,

that the horses ridden by Spirits and goblins were real horses, and it

was there said when horses were found in their stables at dawn in a state

of perspiration that they had been taken out in the night and ridden by

Spirits about the country, and hence their jaded condition in the


It was also thought that the horses found in the morning in their pasture

ground with tangled manes and tails, and bodies covered with mud, had

been during the night used by Spirits, who rushed them through mire and

brier, and that consequently they presented the appearance of animals who

had followed the hounds in a long chase through a stiff country.

There is a strong family likeness between all Ghost stories, and a lack

of originality in their construction, but this suggests a common source

from which the majority of these fictions are derived.

I now come to another phase of Spirit Folk-Lore, which has already been

alluded to, viz., the visits of Ghosts for the purpose of revealing

hidden treasures. The following tale, which I took down from the mouth

of John Rowland, at one time the tenant of Plas-yn-llan, Efenechtyd, is

an instance of this kind of story.