Spooky 1790s scrapbook featuring sketches of 'The Yorkshire Witch', 'The Irish Giant', and 'The Remarkable Shrew' is unearthed

A spooky Georgian scrapbook dating back 230 years which features ancient witches and Irish giants has been unearthed in time for Halloween after decades gathering dust in a cupboard.

The spooky scrapbook contains all manner of fantastical creatures
The spooky scrapbook contains all manner of fantastical creatures

The book was compiled between 1790 and 1820 and includes strange and quirky characters - including a woman who grew horns and a "Remarkable Shrew".

It was put together by an author who researched the history of artists and engravings and is now being sold by one of his ancestors for hundreds of pounds.

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The eerie pages feature sketches of mysterious fantasy characters like Mary Bateman "The Yorkshire witch" and and Mrs Mary Davis of Great Saughall, near Chester.

The book has been catalogued by an expert

The scrapbook states "an excrescence grew upon her head which continued 30 years and grew into two horns"

Other pages show the front and back of a mermaid with huge floppy hands, a serpent-like tail and pointed head.

It also includes "Mother Damnable, the remarkable Shrew of Kentish Town" and Mr Henry Blacker, "The Irish Giant" who is pictured towering over a room full of men.

Joseph Capper, an "eccentric inmate at the Horns, Kennington" is also featured alongside "The true effigies of James Whitney, the notorious highwayman".

'The remarkable Shrew of Kentish Town'

The historic scrapbook will now go under the hammer at Hansons Auctioneers, in Etwall, Derbs. with an estimate of £300-£500 on December 14.

Jim Spencer, antiquarian books expert at Hansons, said: “What a timely find to coincide with Halloween.

"I love old scrapbooks, the idea of someone compiling all these clippings around 200 years ago, perhaps perusing the spooky characters by candlelight.

“Most scrapbooks I unearth are Victorian, dating from the 1870s, featuring cute puppy dogs, sentimental 'chocolate box' scenes and pious greetings cards.

"They always sell for a lot of money but they're not terribly exciting.

Georgian scrapbooks are quite different, with grotesque or bawdy caricatures, peculiar personalities, biting political satire, criminal broadsides and ballads.

"This album includes some gentle cartoons by Rowlandson, some attractive stipple engravings by Bartolozzi, and some earlier 17th-century engravings after van Dyck.

“But it's the portraits of these characters that will tickle the public’s imagination while we're busily carving pumpkins and grabbing our broomsticks.

"The portrait of James Whitney, who was regarded as a 'gentleman highwayman', intrigues me.

"This was a fashionable outlaw of the 1690s, long before the dandyism of Beau Brummel, but evidently with the spirit of Adam Ant.

“The album includes depictions of fashionable women wearing beauty patches, and drunken men wearing wigs.

"It was kept around the time of the Napoleonic Wars, and indeed we see a couple of portraits of Nelson and Napoleon.

“It belonged to Stanley Austin, a notable author on artists and the history of engraving.

"This explains why the material is so wide-ranging and interesting, from Old Master etchings to droll cartoons.

"The current owner is a descendant of Austin, and, having treasured the album for many years, would like it to be celebrated and find a good home rather than being kept in a cupboard.

"I was delighted when they showed it to me with some other books, it's just the sort of thing I love.

"It's been a pleasure assessing and cataloguing it.”