Mother Shipton

Mother Shipton
Mother Shipton.jpg
Mother Shipton's cave

Ursula Southeil (c. 1488–1561) (possibly Ursula Southill or Ursula Soothtell[1]), better known as Mother Shipton, was an English soothsayer and prophetess. The first publication of her prophecies, which did not appear until 1641, eighty years after her reported death, contained a number of mainly regional predictions, but only two prophetic verses – neither of which foretold the End of the World, despite widespread assumptions to that effect.[2]

One of the most notable editions of her prophecies was published in 1684.[2] It states that she was born in Knaresborough, Yorkshire, in a cave now known as Mother Shipton's Cave, that along with the Petrifying Well and associated parkland is operated as a visitor attraction. She was reputed to be hideously ugly. The book also claims that she married Toby Shipton, a local carpenter, near York in 1512 and told fortunes and made predictions throughout her life.

It is recorded in the diaries of Samuel Pepys that whilst surveying the damage to London caused by the Great Fire in the company of the Royal Family they were heard to discuss Mother Shipton's prophecy of the event.[3]



Mother Shipton's house

The most famous claimed edition of Mother Shipton's prophecies foretells many modern events and phenomena. Widely quoted today as if it were the original, it contains over a hundred prophetic rhymed couplets in notably non-sixteenth-century language and includes the now-famous lines:

The world to an end shall come
In eighteen hundred and eighty one.[4]

This supposed prophecy has appeared over the years with different dates and in (or about) several countries (for example in the late 1970s many news articles about Mother Shipton appeared setting the date at 1981[citation needed]). However, this version did not appear in print until 1862, and its true author, one Charles Hindley, subsequently admitted in print that he had invented it.[5]

Part of her most famous prophecy is below:

"Carriages without horses shall go,
And accidents fill the world with woe.
Around the world thoughts shall fly
In the twinkling of an eye.
The world upside down shall be
And gold be found at the root of a tree.
Through hills man shall ride,
And no horse be at his side.
Under water men shall walk,
Shall ride, shall sleep, shall talk.
In the air men shall be seen,
In white, in black, in green;
Iron in the water shall float,
As easily as a wooden boat.
Gold shall be found and shown
In a land that's now not known.
Fire and water shall wonders do,
England shall at last admit a foe.
The world to an end shall come,
In eighteen hundred and eighty one."



Mother Shipton moth

Quite who Mother Shipton was or what exactly she said is not definitively known. What is certain is that her name became linked with many tragic events and strange goings on recorded all over the UK, Australia and North America throughout the 17/18/19th centuries. Many fortune tellers used her effigy and statue, presumably for purposes of association marketing. Many pubs were named after her. Only two survive, one near her birthplace in Knaresborough and the other in Portsmouth where there is a lifesize statue above the door.

A caricature of Mother Shipton was used in early pantomime and is believed by historians to be the forerunner of the Panto dame.

There is a moth, Callistege mi, named after her. It seemingly bears a profile of a hag's head on each wing.

See also

  • 2012 Doomsday prediction


  1. ^ The Strange and Wonderful History of Mother Shipton, London, 1686
  2. ^ a b Mother Shipton's Prophecies (Mann, 1989)
  3. ^ Entry for 20th October 1666, cited in Mother Shipton's Prophecies (Mann, 1989)
  4. ^ a b Harrison, William Henry (1881). Mother Shipton investigated. The result of critical examination in the British Museum Library, of the literature relating to the Yorkshire sibyl. London. 
  5. ^ Notes and Queries, 26 April 1873

External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Mother Shipton — /shipˈtən/ noun A type of moth whose wing markings resemble the profile of an old woman • • • Main Entry: ↑mother …   Useful english dictionary

  • Mother Shipton — Ursula Southeil (* 1488, wahrscheinlich in Knaresborough; † 1561), vielleicht auch Ursula Sonthiel; besser bekannt als Mother Shipton, war ein englisches Medium des Spätmittelalters. Sie wurde durch eine Anzahl an ungewöhnlich präzisen… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Mother Shipton —    According to popular belief, Mother Shipton lived in Tudor times and foretold many major events in English history. A *chapbook of 1641 alleges she was born at Knaresborough (Yorkshire) in 1488 and died in her seventies; however, these details …   A Dictionary of English folklore

  • Mother Shipton Moth — Scientific classification Kingdom …   Wikipedia

  • Mother Shipton's Cave — (or Old Mother Shipton s Cave ) is at Knaresborough, North Yorkshire, England, near to the River Nidd. Nearby is a petrifying well which has been a tourist attraction since 1630 due to its association with the legendary soothsayer and prophetess …   Wikipedia

  • Shipton — is the name of a number of English villages and hamlets (see List of generic forms in British place names):*Shipton, Gloucestershire *Shipton, North Yorkshire *Shipton, Shropshire *Shipton Bellinger, Hampshire *Shipton Brook, Buckinghamshire… …   Wikipedia

  • Mother Goose — This article is about the fairy tale character. For other uses, see Mother Goose (disambiguation). A page from a late 17th century handwritten and illustrated version of Charles Perrault s Contes de ma mère l Oye, depicting Puss in Boots The… …   Wikipedia

  • SHIPTON, MOTHER —    a prophetess of English legend, whose preternatural knowledge revealed in her prophecies, published after her death, was ascribed to an alliance with the devil, by whom it was said she became the mother of an ugly impish child …   The Nuttall Encyclopaedia

  • Саутейл, Урсула — Урсула Саутейл (англ. Ursula Southeil, возможно Урсула Сонтхил) (1488 1561), более известная как Матушка Шиптон, была английской …   Википедия

  • Ursula Southeil — Statue von Mother Shipton Eingang zu Mother Shiptons Höhle …   Deutsch Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.