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Seventh son of a seventh son

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The seventh son of a seventh son is a concept from folklore regarding special powers given to, or held by, such a son. To qualify as "the seventh son of a seventh son" one must be the seventh male child born in an unbroken line with no female siblings born between, and to a father who himself is the seventh male child born in an unbroken line with no female siblings born between.[1] The number seven has a long history of mystical and biblical significance, such as seven virtues, seven deadly sins, Seven Sleepers and Seven Heavens.

In some beliefs, the special powers are inborn, inherited simply by virtue of his birth order; in others, the powers are granted to him by God or the gods because of his birth order.

In many cases seventh sons (who are not born to a seventh son) are also said to have supernatural or healing abilities.[2]

Regional variations[edit]


In Lancashire and particularly in Blackburn there was, in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, a tradition of calling seventh sons of seventh sons (and seventh sons) 'Doctor' (forename) because of their supposed abilities as healers.[3]


The seventh son of a seventh son is gifted as a healer. The seventh son of a seventh son is part of a more general phenomenon known as the "cure" (sometimes also called the "charm").[4] Belief in the efficacy of seventh son healers and other folklore related to healing persisted to the 20th century in parts of Ireland.[5]


In Italian legend, "Ciarallo" was a seventh son of a seventh son who had the power to enchant and recall snakes, and who was immune to snake venom. Ciarallo was not only a seventh son, but underwent a special initiation rite called "inciaramazione". Customarily, one would ask Ciarallo's intercession when a snake was discovered in the house. Ciarallo would answer these requests by attracting the snake with a whistle. He would also perform the inciaramazione rite on other people to ensure protection from snakes by spreading a special oil on their arm. Children were led to Ciarallo by their mothers to get protection.[6]

Latin America[edit]

In some Latin American countries, the seventh son of a seventh son is believed to be cursed to be a werewolf, lobizón, Luison (in Paraguay) or lobisomem (the Portuguese word for "werewolf"). To prevent this, the newborn should be baptized in seven different churches. Alternately, he may be baptized under the name Benito, with his eldest brother (the eldest son of their father) as his godfather. The local myth of the lobizón is not connected to the custom that began over 100 years ago by which every seventh son (or seventh daughter) born in Argentina to "legitimately married parents of good conduct and moral character" is eligible to become godchild to the president.[7]


Raymond T. McNally and Radu Florescu describe the Transylvanian folk belief that "the seventh son of a seventh son is doomed to become a vampire."[8]

United States[edit]

According to Edward Augustus Kendall in Travels through the Northern Parts of the United States, in the year 1807–1808, while he visited the Newgate copper mine and prison, he met an innkeeper who told him that "there was to be found in the surrounding hills, a black stone, of a certain species, through which a seventh son of a seventh son, born in the month of February, with a caul on his head, can discern everything that lies in the depths and interior of the globe." The author speculated that the importance of mining to the community gave rise to the localized belief.[9][10]

Alleged real-life examples[edit]

  • James Murrell was the seventh son of a seventh son, according to investigations by Arthur Morrison.[11]
  • Abram George (1916?–?), Mohawk faith healer from Akwesasne, claimed in contemporary news reports to have been the seventh son of a seventh son.[12][13][14]
  • Archille Noé Baillargeon (1889–?) from Tecumseh, Ontario was the seventh son of a seventh son and was believed to have extraordinary healing powers.[15]
  • Although singer Perry Como claimed to be a seventh son, he had two older sisters and only one older brother who survived to adulthood plus three preceding siblings who died in infancy.[16]
  • Pro football Hall of Famer Len Dawson was the seventh son of a seventh son, born the ninth of 11 children.[17]
  • Ivor Powell, Welsh football player and manager said that "people used to keep pointing it out, but it didn't mean a lot to me"[18]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Ten Thousand Wonderful Things, Edmund Fillingham King, p. 315.
  2. ^ Young, Simon (2019). "What's Up Doc? Seventh Sons in Victorian and Edwardian Lancashire". Folklore. 130: 395-414 at 404-405.
  3. ^ Young, Simon (2019). "What's Up Doc? Seventh Sons in Victorian and Edwardian Lancashire". Folklore. 130: 393–414.
  4. ^ See A D Buckley 1980 'Unofficial healing in Ulster.' Ulster Folklife 26, 15–34
  5. ^ Murphy, Anne; Kelleher, Cecily (1995). "Contemporary Health Practices in the Burren". Irish Journal of Psychology. 16: 38-51 at 43-44.
  6. ^ "TRADIZIONI E MITI POPOLARI". Retrieved 2015-09-06.
  7. ^ "No, Argentina's president did not adopt a Jewish child to stop him turning into a werewolf". TheGuardian.com. 29 December 2014. Retrieved 2015-02-06.
  8. ^ McNally, Raymond T., 1931-2002, p. 121 (1979). In search of Dracula : a true history of Dracula and vampire legends. New English Library. OCLC 6588409.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link) CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  9. ^ "Thomas Holcombe of Connecticut - Person Page 877". Holcombegenealogy.com. Retrieved 2014-06-13.
  10. ^ Denis Larionov & Alexander Zhulin. "Travels through the northern parts of the United States, in the year 1807 and 1808 (Volume 2) by Edward Augustus Kendall". Ebooksread.com. p. 12. Retrieved 2014-06-13.
  11. ^ Morrison, Arthur (1900). "A Wizard of Yesterday". The Strand Magazine. 20: 433.
  12. ^ "Indian Healer Returns Home" (PDF). The Massena Observer. Massena, St. Lawrence County, New York. March 20, 1930. Retrieved April 20, 2016 – via NYS Historic Newspapers. Some have attributed the boy's miraculous power to his descendancy. He is the seventh son of a seventh son and from this circumstance is believed to have been endowed with a sort of sixth sense.
  13. ^ "Abram George: Mohawk Fatih Healer (United States, 1916?". Boys' Historical Clothing.
  14. ^ Bonaparte, Darren. "The Healing Powers of the Seventh Son of a Seventh Son". reprint from The People's Voice, October 21, 2005
  15. ^ Gervais, Marty (2012). Ghost Road: and other forgotten stories of Windsor. Windsor: Biblioasis. pp. 85–87. ISBN 978-1-926845-88-3.
  16. ^ Macfarlane, Malcolm; Crossland, Ken (June 13, 2009). Perry Como: A Biography and Complete Career Record. McFarland & Company. pp. 8–9. ISBN 9780786437016. Perry usually shrugged off the idea that he had any special gifts because of it, although he never denied its veracity, despite knowing full well that he had only one elder brother.
  17. ^ "ESPN Sportsnation chat".
  18. ^ "The Ivor Powell Interview". The Vale Park Beano. 64.

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