Peg o' Nell

A water-sprite that haunted the River Ribble in North West England. A spring in the grounds of Waddow bears her name, and is graced by a stone image, now headless, which is said to represent her.

Tradition avers that in days of old Peg o' Nell was a servant at Waddow Hall. Before starting one morning to fetch water from the well, the girl offended her mistress the lady of Waddow, who thereupon expressed a wish that she might fall and break her neck. It was winter, and the ground was coated with ice. Peggy fell, and the malediction was fulfilled. But she had her revenge. Waddow Hall now became possessed of an evil genius. When the chickens were stolen, the cow died, the sheep strayed, or the children fell sick, all was due to Peg o' Nell. And further she was inexorable in demanding every seven years a life to be quenched in the waters of the Ribble. When "Peg's night," the closing night of the period, came round, unless a bird, a cat, or a dog was drowned in the stream, some human being was certain to fall a victim there.

Cp. Peg Powler.



  • Henderson, W. (1879). Notes on the folk-lore of the northern countries of England and the borders. Covent Garden: W. Satchell, Peyton and Co., p. 265.
  • Wright, J. (1903). The English dialect dictionary. Vol. 4. London: H. Frowde.

This article incorporates text from Notes on the folk-lore of the northern countries of England and the borders (1879) by William Henderson, which is in the public domain.