1682: A Black Cloud of Strange Appearance

Willem van de Velde - Aemilia, het vlaggenschip van Tromp (ca. 1639)

At Lynn, Mass., one evening in 1682, after the sun had set, and darkness had begun to throw its pall over the land, a man by the name of Handford went out of doors to ascertain if the new moon had risen. In the western sky lay a black cloud of strange appearance, and after looking at it a short time he discovered that it contained the figure of a man completely armed, standing with his legs apart, and holding a pike in his hands across his breast. Mrs. Handford also came out and saw the apparition. After awhile the figure vanished, and in its place appeared a large ship, fully rigged and with all sails set, apparently in motion, though retaining the same position. It was seen as plainly as a ship was ever seen in the harbor, and was to their imagination, the handsomest craft that they ever saw. It had a high majestic bow, heading southwardly, with a black hull, white sails, and a long and beautiful streamer floating from the top of the mainmast. This was plainly visible for some time. After awhile the people went into their houses though the image still remained in the cloud. On coming out again after a short time it was not to be seen, the cloud had also gone and the sky was clear. Many reliable people in the town saw the apparition, and all agree that the above statement is true; but what it was, and how it can be accounted for is still unknown.

Sidney Perley: Historic Storms of New England: Its Gales, Hurricanes, Tornadoes, Showers with Thunder and Lightning, Great Snow Storms, Rains, Freshets, Floods, Droughts, Cold Winters, Hot Summers, Avalanches, Earthquakes, Dark Days, Comets, Aurora-borealis, Phenomena in the Heavens, Wrecks Along the Coast, with Incidents and Anecdotes, Amusing and Pathetic (1891)

Willem van de Velde: Aemilia, the Flagship of Tromp (ca. 1639)

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