A hobgoblin, usually called "Raw-head and Bloody-Bones," used to frighten children, as in Go to sleep or raw-head an' bloody-bones fetch thee. In Lincolnshire, a ghost or spirit that haunts wells. In Warwick, an imaginary specter said to pull naughty children playing on
the edge of dangerous water into the pool. The warning here was, Keep away from the marl-pit, or raw-head and bloody-bones will have you.

The name is found twice in Samuel Butler's Hudibras (681-862):

"Turns meek, and secret, sneaking ones,
To raw-heads fierce and bloody-bones."

And again (1111-1112):

"Made children, with your tones, to run for't,
As bad as bloody-bones, or Lunsford."

Colonel Lunsford was attached to the Earl of Bedford's force during part of the English Civil War.



  • Cobham Brewer, E. (2001). The Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. Cassell reference.
  • Wright, J. (1904). The English dialect dictionary. Vol. 5. London: H. Frowde.