The fear was so great that armed citizens started patrolling the area, that is until someone shot what they thought to be the ghost...
The Hammersmith Ghost
The Hammersmith Ghost haunted the area of the churchyard and the surrounding streets and anyone unfortunate enough to meet it had strange stories to tell. Rather than just allowing itself to be seen, the ghost would chase passers-through down. Different things happened to different people when caught – one woman was gripped by the fiend until she passed out, (she later came too and was found wandering aimlessly in the cemetery but she never recovered from the shock and died soon after) and one man was grasped by the throat by the ghost.
The ghost was generally described the same way by all who encountered it – it was very tall and very white.
Hysteria was rising through the population of Hammersmith and with word of mouth taking the story to other parts of London, it was believed that some businesses were hampered by clients not wanting to travel there and risk seeing the ghost.
However there were also those who went out of their way to catch a look of the ghost, some staking out the cemetery and nearby streets, one even coming face to face with the ghost, chased after it but alas it got away.
A Tragic Meeting with the Ghost
Francis Smith was patrolling the area with a loaded gun when he entered Black Lion Lane. As he made his way through the hedge lined path he spotted a white figure coming towards him. He called out to it, told it to stop but when the figure continued coming towards him, Francis raised his firearm and fired.
The white figure dropped to the ground.
On closer inspection, Francis Smith realised that he had killed an innocent man, a bricklayer and plasterer by the name of Thomas Millwood.
Thomas Millwood was wearing the clothes of his trade, all very white, and with superstitious fevers running high, it was little wonder no one had shot at him before. As a matter of fact, during the weekend before, Millwood had already unintentionally scared a group of people who thought that he was the ghost.
Coming Full Circle Strangely Enough
Although many testified to his good nature, that the death was accidental, that he was in fear of his life and it was essentially self defence, the Judge ordered the jury to find Smith guilty of murder if they believed the facts related to that crime.
At first they found him guilty of manslaughter, a lesser charge, but the court would not accept the verdict – they had to find Smith guilty or not guilty of murder, all other factors were irrelevant. The jury came back with a second verdict of guilty and the sentence of death was handed down – Smith was to be hanged and dissected.
Luckily for Smith the sentence was commuted to one years hard labour.
But what of the 'real' Hammersmith Ghost?
Well it turns out the ghost was John Graham, a elderly shoemaker who took on the guise to frighten his apprentice. The reason being that the apprentice had been scaring Graham's children with ghost stories, so what better way to get revenge than to dress as a ghost and scare him right back?
Pity at least two people were now dead because of it.
But it does not end there...
After Thomas Millwood was shot in Black Lion Lane, his body was taken to the Black Lion Pub. It is believed that Millwood, or at least the part of him that still exists, is responsible for the hauntings there. He likes to whisper patrons names in their ears, tap them on the shoulder and make loud bangings and footsteps in the rooms above the bar.
One owner believes he had even felt Thomas Millwood walk right through him one evening - a localised, cold breeze chilling him all the way to his bones.
So it turns out Thomas Millwood was accidentally killed for looking like the Hammersmith Ghost only to later become a ghost in Hammersmith anyway.