Lady Tichborne’s Dying Wish

Lady Tichborne’s Dying Wish

Lady Mabella Tichborne was a virtuous woman who lived in England with her miserly husband, Sir Roger de Tichborne, until her death in 1150.

Lady Tichborne wasn’t a healthy woman, and upon her death bed, requested her husband to grant her a dying wish.

Mabella asked her husband to give a loaf of bread to each of the poor every year on March 25, the feast day of the Virgin Mary.

Sir Richard had no compassion for anyone, and told her he would give an amount equal to the mass of land she could traverse while carrying a lighted torch.

The good and charitable Lady surprised her husband, dragging herself out of her bed, and crawling over 23 acres of the Tichborne Estate. The land is still known as The Crawls.

Lady Mabella, although honorable, had her limits. She told her husband if he or any member of the family stopped giving out the yearly dole of bread, there would be a curse upon them and the Tichborne line would die out. The curse went on to decree that from seven sons would be produced seven daughters, the family name would then die out, and the house would crumple to the ground.

Sir Roger may have been stingy, but he wasn’t stupid, and the tradition continued for over 600 years. The local government became frustrated with the influx of vagrants and vagabonds into the city every year, and did away with the dole in 1794.

In 1802, a 13 year old son died. In 1803, part of the old house collapsed. At that time, the Tichbornes boasted seven sons. Over the next decade, three more sons died mysteriously. In 1821, the eldest son, Henry, fathered seven daughters.

In 1826, perhaps as a defense against the curse, third son, Edward, changed his name to Doughty. He did produce the male heir so highly sought after, but the child died suddenly at the age of six.

The dole was restored soon after, and is continued to this day by the Tichborne family, although it has changed slightly: Every year on March 25th, if you come from the village of Tichborne or the village of Cheriton, you will receive a gallon of flour. Every child receives a half-gallon of fine flour.


Ventura, Varla. The Book of the Bizarre: Freaky Facts & Strange Stories. SF: Weiser
Books, 2008.

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