|Known for||Demonic possession & Exorcism|
George Lukins, also known as the Yatton daemoniac, was an individual famous for his alleged demonic possession and the subsequent exorcism that occurred when he was aged forty-four; his case occasioned great controversy in England.
The Rev. Joseph Easterbrook, the Anglican vicar of Temple Church, was summoned on Saturday, 31 May 1778, by Mrs. Sarah Barber, a woman who was travelling in the village of Yatton, Mendip, in the county of Somerset. The woman told the pastor that she came across a man by the name of George Lukins, a tailor and common carrier by profession, who had a strange malady "in which he sang and screamed in various sounds, some of which did not resemble a human voice; and declared, doctors could do him no service." Mrs. Barber, who formerly resided in Yatton, attested to the clergyman that Lukins had an extraordinary good character and attended services of worship, where he received the Church sacraments. However, for the past eighteen years, he had been subject to atypical fits, which Lukins believed resulted from a supernatural slap which knocked him down while he was acting in a Christmas pageant. George Lukins was consequently taken under the care of Dr. Smith, an eminent surgeon of Wrington, among many other physicians, who in vain, tried to help George Lukins; moreover, after his twenty week stay at St George's Hospital, the medical community there pronounced him incurable. Members of the community began to think that Mr. Lukins was bewitched and he himself declared that he himself was possessed by seven demons, who could only be driven out by seven clergymen. Rev. Joseph Easterbook contacted Methodist ministers in connexion with Rev. John Wesley who agreed to pray for George Lukins:
"'Some time ago I had a letter requesting me to make one of the seven ministers to pray over George Lukins. I cried out before God, "Lord, I am not fit for such a work; I have not faith to encounter a demoniac." It was powerfully applied, "God in this thy might." The day before we were to meet, I went to see Lukins, and found such faith, that I could then encounter the seven devils which he said tormented him. I did not doubt but deliverance would come. Suffice to say, when we met, the Lord heard prayer, and delivered the poor man.'"
— Rev. John Valton
An account of the exorcism was published in the Bristol Gazette. The newspaper reported that George Lukins, during his alleged possession, claimed that he was the devil, made barking noises, sung an inverted Te Deum, and was very violent. In light of these claims, on Friday, 13 June 1778, seven clergymen, including Rev. Joseph Easterbrook, accompanied George Lukins to the vestry at Temple Church, where they performed an exorcism on the man, which included hymn singing and prayer. The deliverance concluded when the demons were allegedly cast out using the Trinitarian formula; the clergymen commanded the demons to return to hell and George Lukins then exclaimed "Blessed Jesus!", praised God, recited the Lord's prayer, and then thanked the Methodist and Anglican clergymen. Rev. Easterbrook, when recording the events under the patronage of Rev. John Wesley, stated that the account would be doubted in this modern era of skepticism, but pointed to "the scriptures, and other authentic history, of ancient as well as modern times" to buttress what he felt was a valid case of demonic possession. An article in The Gentleman's Magazine and Historical Chronicle criticized the account, stating that Lukins actually suffered from "epilepsy and St. Vitus's dance." Dr. Feriar, a medical demonologist, criticized George Lukins as an impostor masquerading as a demoniac. Nevertheless, after the exorcism, George Lukins was described as calm and happy. Following this case, several pieces of literature were printed on George Lukins, thus popularising his alleged case of diabolical possession and deliverance, despite the original design to keep the case a secret.
- Authentic anecdotes of George Lukins, the Yatton daemoniac. G. Routh. Retrieved 2007-12-31.
- An appeal to the public respecting G. Lukins, (called the Yatton Demoniac) containing an account of his affliction and deliverance, etc.. Retrieved 2007-12-31.
- Patients and Practitioners. Cambridge University Press. Retrieved 2007-12-31. "These two incidents in 1788 probably owed much to the interest aroused earlier in the year by the exorcism of George Lukins, 'the Yatton demoniac', by Joseph Easterbrook, the vicar of Temple, and six Methodist ministers."
- Bulletin of the John Rylands University Library of Manchester, Volume 85, Issues 2-3. John Rylands Library - University of Manchester. Retrieved 2007-12-31. "Under such considerations, then, the case of the Yatton demoniac may be seen in a new light. A tailor by occupation, George Lukins was a forty-four year ..."
- The Mirror of literature, amusement, and instruction, Volume 4. J. Limbird, 143, Strand. Retrieved 2007-12-31. "His case occasioned great controversy in the western parts of England, and some accused him of imposture."
- The Wonders of Nature and Providence, Displayed: Compiled from Authentic Sources, both Ancient and Modern, giving an Account of Various and Strange Phenomena existing in Nature of Travels, Adventures, Singular Providences, &c.. E. and H. Hosford, Printers. Retrieved 2007-12-31. "And as the most horrible noises usually proceeded from him in his fits, it was suggested that the vestry-room of Temple church, which is bounded by the church-yard, was the most retired place that could be found in Temple parish; and for that reason that situation was preferred to any other, it became our design to conduct this business with as much secrecy as possible. But our design in this respect was rendered abortive ... This letter much attracted the notice of citizens; and it having by some means or other been made known, contrary to our desire, that a prayer meeting on Friday morning was held in the vestry room of Temple church, for the man who was the subject of that letter, a considerable number of the people planted themselves upon the walls of the vestry-room, and heard part of the prayers, the singing, the conversation, and the wonderful sounds which proceeded from Lukins, and carried some account of these circumstances to a printer, who instantly dispatched papers upon the subject, through the streets of Bristol, and its vicinage. Similar papers were shortly cried through the streets of Bath, London, and many other parts of the land. So that contrary to our design the affair was in this manner brought before the public."
- Hannah More: the first Victorian. E. and H. Hosford, Printers. Retrieved 2007-12-31. "Mrs. Easterbrook was probably the recently widowed mother of the Revd Joseph Easterbrook, vicar of the Temple church in Bristol and one of the most prominent clergymen in the city. In June 1788 he had been controversially involved in an incident which a tailor named George Lukins, from the Mendip village of Yatton, had claimed to be possessed by demons. He and six 'Wesleyan' ministers performed an exorcism in front of a great crowd in the Temple church, after which Lukins was described as calm, happy, and thankful for his deliverance."
- The psychological phenomena of Christianity. Charles Scribner's Sons. Retrieved 2007-12-31. "The last case of demoniacal possession of note in England was that of George Lukins of Yattan."
- Notes and queries. Bell & Daldy. Retrieved 2007-12-31. "George Lukins was a common carrier between Bristol and Yatton in Somersetshire: he was a psalm-singer, a ventriloquist, and an actor of Christmas plays or mummeries, and he had practised upon the credulity of his immediate neighbourhood for eighteen years before his fame reached Bristol."
- The Wonders of Nature and Providence, Displayed: Compiled from Authentic Sources, both Ancient and Modern, giving an Account of Various and Strange Phenomena existing in Nature of Travels, Adventures, Singular Providences, &c.. E. and H. Hosford, Printers. Retrieved 2007-12-31. "On Saturday May 31, 1788, Mrs. Sarah Barber called on me acquainting me that she had just returned from a visit to Yatton, in the county of Somerset, where she had found a poor man afflicted with an extraordinary malady. She said his name was George Lukins; that he had fits daily during her stay at Yatton, in which he sang and screamed in various sounds, some of which did not resemble a human voice; and declared, doctors could do him no service. Some time ago she resided at Yatton several years altogether, well knew George Lukins and his relations, and was thoroughly acquainted with the opinion of the neighbourhood concerning them: and could with confidence declare, that he bore an extraordinary good character from his childhood, and had constantly attented the church and sacrament. Of her own knowledge she said, that she could affirm, that he had been subject to first of a very uncommon nature, for the last eighteen years: for the cure of which he had been placed for a considerable time under the care of Mr. Smith, an eminent surgeon of Wrington, who administered all the assistance in his power without effect: many other medical gentlemen she said had in like manner tried to help him, but in vain. Many of the people about Yatton conceived him to be bewitched; but he himself declared that he was possessed of seven devils, and that nothing could avail but the united prayers of seven clergymen, who could ask deliverance for him in faith."
- The Mirror of literature, amusement, and instruction, Volume 4. J. Limbird, 143, Strand. Retrieved 2007-12-31. "One of the last instances of supposed demoniacal possession among Protestants was that of George Lukins, who was a native of Yatton, in Somersetshire, and had been brought up a tailor. This person, about the year 1770, whilst going around the neighbourhood with other young fellows, acting Christmas plays or mummeries, suddenly fell down senseless, struck, as he conceived, by an invisible hand, which was thus allowed to punish him for the part he was playing, though his general conduct through life had been commendable and pious."
- Encyclopaedia Britannica; or A dictionary of arts, sciences, and .... Encyclopaedia Britannica. Retrieved 2007-12-31. "He asserts that Lukins's first seizure was nothing more than a fit of drunkenness that he always foretold his fits, and remained sensible during their continuance; that he frequently saw Lukins in his fits, 'in every one of which, except in singing, he performed not more than most active young people easily do; that he was detected in an imposture with respect to the clenching of his hands; that after money had been collected for him, he got suddenly well; that he never had any fits while he was at St George's Hospital in London; nor when visitors were excluded from his lodgings, by desire of the author of the Narrative; and that he was particularly careful never to hurt himself by his exertions during the paroxysm."
- The Wonders of Nature and Providence, Displayed: Compiled from Authentic Sources, both Ancient and Modern, giving an Account of Various and Strange Phenomena existing in Nature of Travels, Adventures, Singular Providences, &c.. E. and H. Hosford, Printers. Retrieved 2007-12-31. "Every method that variety of persons have suggested, have been exerted without success; and some years ago he was sent to St George's Hospital, where he remained about twenty weeks, and was pronounced incurable."
- Bibliotheca Somersetensis: County books, Bath excepted. L-Z. General index. Barnicott and Pearce. Retrieved 2007-12-31. "Lukins, George. Case of diabolical possession. Seven devils! A case of diabolical possession with an account of the spiritual efforts of seven clergymen of the Church of England, who assembled at Temple church Bristol on the 13th of June 1788 to relieve the afflicted object of George Lukins of Yatton in Somersetshire said to be possessed of seven devils."
- History of Wesleyan Methodism: Wesley And His Times. Kessinger Publishing. Retrieved 2007-12-31. "'Some time ago I had a letter requesting me to make one of the seven ministers to pray over George Lukins. I cried out before God, "Lord, I am not fit for such a work; I have not faith to encounter a demoniac." It was powerfully applied, "God in this thy might." The day before we were to meet, I went to see Lukins, and found such faith, that I could then encounter the seven devils which he said toremented him. I did not doubt but deliverance would come. Suffice to say, when we met, the Lord heard prayer, and delivered the poor man.'"
- The Wonders of Nature and Providence, Displayed: Compiled from Authentic Sources, both Ancient and Modern, giving an Account of Various and Strange Phenomena existing in Nature of Travels, Adventures, Singular Providences, &c.. E. and H. Hosford, Printers. Retrieved 2007-12-31. "But our design in this respect was rendered abortive; for on Wednesday evening the 11th of June, there was published in the Bristol Gazette, the following letter:"
- The Mirror of literature, amusement, and instruction, Volume 4. J. Limbird, 143, Strand. Retrieved 2007-12-31. "Whilst under the influence of these deplorable seizures, his countenance became greatly distorted, and his actions convulsive and violent to an extraordinary degree. He would then, in a roaring voice, declare himself to be the devil, and with horrid execrations summon around him certain invisible agents, commanding them to torture the possessed by all the diabolical means possible. He would next, at the presumed order of the demon, sing hunting and pastoral songs in different tones; in one part imitating a delicate female, in another singing in his own character, and again changing his voice, would personate the demon himself with hoarse and appalling modifications of sound, that bore no resemblance to any thing human. He would afterwards sing an "inverted Te Deum," in the alternate voices of a man and woman, who, with much profaneness, would thank the demon for having given them so much power."
- History of Wesleyan Methodism: Wesley And His Times. Kessinger Publishing. Retrieved 2007-12-31. "He was cruelly distorted, and uttered foul language; but was often heard to say, that he should be delivered if seven ministers should pray with him. His words at length attracted notice, and the Rev. Mr. Easterbrook, vicar of Temple Church, collected that number to pray with Lukins in the vestry, and see what the Lord would do. They were gentlemen of superior education and able ministers."
- The Wonders of Nature and Providence, Displayed: Compiled from Authentic Sources, both Ancient and Modern, giving an Account of Various and Strange Phenomena existing in Nature of Travels, Adventures, Singular Providences, &c.. Retrieved 2007-12-31. "A clergyman present desired him to speak the name of "Jesus," and several times repeated it to him, at all of which he repeated "devil." During this attempt a small faint voice was heard saying, "Why don't you adjure? On which the clergyman commanded, in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost, the evil spirit to depart from the man; when a voice was heard to say, "Must I give up my power?" and this was followed by dreadful howlings. Soon after another voice, as with astonishment, said, "Our master has deceived us." -The clergyman still continuing to repeat the adjuration, a voice was heard to say, "Where shall we go? and the reply was, "To hell, and return no more to torment this man." On this the man's distortions were stronger than everl attended with the most dreadful howling. But as soon as this conflict was over, he said, in his own natural voice, "Blessed Jesus!" - He then immediately praised God for his deliverance, and kneeling down said the Lord's prayer, and returned his thanks to all who were present. I am aware, that the above account of George Lukins, will by many be doubted; for this is the day of scepticism, concerning such things. But wherefore; surely it must arise from ignorance of the subject. Does not the scriptures, and other authentic history, of ancient as well as modern times, testify that in all ages of time, there have been frequent familiarity between the inhabitants of this earth, and the invisible state, upon errands of love, or of malevolence. He who is altogether a sceptic upon this subject, is not far from sitting in judgment upon the Bible itself, and condemning it as a fere fable."
- A Narrative of the extraordinary Case of George Lukins, &c. &c.. The Gentleman's Magazine and Historical Chronicle. Retrieved 2007-12-31. "This extraordinary case appears to have originated in a complication of epilepsy and St. Vitus's dance afflicting a person of a weak mind, early impressed with the idea that the disease was the effect of a power which the devil had obtained over him."
- Exorcism and Enlightenment: Johann Joseph Gassner and the Demons of Eighteenth-Century Germany. Yale University Press. Retrieved 2007-12-31. "The English also had their own demoniac who underwent a Methodist "exorcism" in 1788, a scandal which prompted a flurry of publications."
- Notes and Queries. Bell & Daldy. Retrieved 2007-12-31. "Among many rare and curious pamphlets in the library under my care ..."
- The European Magazine: and London Review, Volume 15. Philological Society of London. Retrieved 2007-12-31. "A Narrative of the extraordinary Case of George Lukins, of Yatton, Somersetshire, who was possessed of evil spirits for 18 years: Also, an account of his remarkable deliverance, in the Vestry-Room of Temple Church, Bristol. Octavo. Robinsons, 1788. Authentic Anecdotes of George Lukins, the Yatton Demoniac, with a view of the controversy, and a full refutation of the Impostor. By Samuel Norman, member of the Corporation of Surgeons in London, and Surgeon at Yatton. Octavo Evans, 1788. An Appeal to the Public respecting George Lukins, (called the Yatton Demoniac) containing an account of his affliction and deliverance together with a variety of circumstances which tend to exculpate him from the charge of the Imposture. By Joseph Easterbrook, Vicar of Temple, in the City of Bristol. Octavo. Herdsfield and Scollick, 1788."
- A Narrative of the extraordinary case of George Lukins, of Yatton, Somersetshire: Who was possessed of evil spirits, for near eighteen years: also an account of his remarkable deliverance, in the vestry-room of Temple Church, in the city of Bristol. Extracted from the manuscripts of several persons who attended. To which is prefixed a letter from the Rev. W. R. W.. 4to. 23,  p. [Bristol, 1788] (W. R. W. = William Robert Wake)
- Wrington History: George Lukins - an account of his affliction and deliverance
- Flickr: Image of Temple Church (Bristol) with account of George Lukins
- The Changing Face of Bristol: Bristol Haunted Unusual Happenings
- Duke University: John Wesley's Reading- Evidence in the Book Collection at Wesley's House, London