From Fortean Times 196 (May, 2005):

...As PC George Dixon (of Dock Green) almost said.

Many fortean moments in the Diaries of John Evelyn (1620-1706). Strange creatures proliferate: a four-legged cockerel with two arses, one located pectorally "by which he likewise voyded dung" (13 Aug 1641); cat with six ears, eight legs, two bodies from navel down, and a pair of tails (4 April 1644); "batts as big as catts, ratts of a strange size" (4 Oct 1650); giant stag antler and "monstrous bones of incredible length" (2 May 1664); an African creature with ox body, pikefish head, and peacock tail claimed by an Italian whom Evelyn met at scientist Robert Boyle's house (28 March 1689) - cf. Fort, Books, pp608-24; a merman's skin (13 Feb 1645)-cf. Fort, p620; two giant whales (3 June 1658 & 26 March 1669), the first's mouth "so wide divers men might have stood upright in it".

A 1636 ballad by Martin Parker describes a monster stranded in Cheshire, choicest verses being: "His pissle is in length foure yards/Big as a man i'th wast/His cods are like two hogsheads great/This seemeth past beleefe/But men of credit can relate/What I describe in briefe."

No shortage of human curiosities: a 23in (58cm) man's kneebone found in Sicily (26 Jan 1645); remote Italian rustics of giant stature with 1001b (45kg) throat tumours (May 1646); a hermaphrodite that "shew'd both sexes very perfectly, the penis only not perforated, went for a woman" (21 Aug 1667); a child of monstrous head without eyes or nose, voiding excrement from a lateral buttock hole (13 Sept 1660); an eight-year-old Dutch boy with `Deus Meus' on his right eye, `Elohim' on the left, with no adverse effect on his sight: some doctors called them fake, others natural (30 March 1701-see FT48:36); stigmata affected a servant girl, "very modest, no phanatic" (5 Aug 1670) - cf. Fort, pp1021-2.

Curiouser and curiouser: a physician exhibited "a tooth, with its roote, found in the testiclle of a woman whom he dissected" (22 April 1680); a man voided a 24ft (7m) worm with 400 mouths and stomachs (9 Aug 1682); a French woman was 24 years pregnant whilst a similarly gestating Englishwoman produced a child with petrified limbs (29 Aug 1678); a Roman lady pissed two hundredweight (102kg) of water every 24 hours despite drinking nothing (17 Feb 1662). Of his many reports of celestial phenomena and weird weather, I space-savingly mention only the huge hailstones shaped like crowns and Order of the Garter (25 June 1652) - cf. Fort, pp959, 967.

Miscellaneous finale: two separate monkey attacks on babies in Greenwich (11 Nov 1683); two sisters died on same day of same month of same illness, six years apart (14 Sept 1684) - cf. Fort, pp847-50, 859-60, 992; a plague of caterpillars devoured "all the winter fruit through the land, and even killed several trees" (24 May 1685); a shipwrecked man swam 22 leagues (122km) to land with a tinder-box strapped to his head "which was not so much as wett all that way" (16 Oct 1644).

"Everything in our experience is only part of something else that in turn is only a part of still something else" - Fort, p8.

Barry Baldwin
(reprinted with permission of the Author; blame any typically graphic transcription errors on dm)