As regular readers will know, I have been friends with him for 40 years now, since we were kids together in Hong Kong. He is undoubtedly one of the two best researchers I have ever met; he and Nigel Wright both have what Charlie Fort would have no doubt called a wild talent; a talent for going into a library, unearthing a stack of old newspapers, and coming back with some hitherto overlooked gem of arcane knowledge.
Today he writes saying that in his opinion the following two new stories are not thoroughly unusual,but they do border on being strange. The first, the Scottish wolf, found dead on the east coast of Scotland,dates from April 1811 and the giant (ish) snake from August 1811.
"There was lately found at Tyringham,near Dunbar,the dead body of a large Wolf. There were several wounds on its head, and a cut on its neck,and from the appearance of the body it has long bean dead. It was immediately skinned and stuffed, and is in good preservation. The colour is light dusky yellow a black ridge down the back,and nearly white in the belly and breast. It has a sharp snout,erect ears,strong foreparts and a bushy tail. The length from the snout to the tip of the tail is 6 feet. The legs are shorter than usually described. It is conjectured the creature had been on board some of the vessels lately wrecked on the coast."
Macclesfield Courier and Stockport Express or Cheshire General Advertiser (MC & SECGA) April 27th 1811.
According to J.E.Harting the last wolf was killed in Scotland in 1743(1) but M.Carwardine reports a date as late as 1848.(2)
Now here,the giant serpent of Florida:
"A serpent of extraordinary size,has been recently discovered in the Mississippi swamp, a few miles above the village. I have conversed with three gentlemen of unquestioned veracity who have seen it. They agree in their description,which is,in substance that the monster is in body considerably larger than the ordinary man,beautifully stripped with gold and green,rich beyond conception-the length is not accurately known,but is supposed to be from 15 to 23 (or 25,type unclear) feet. One of the gentlemen with whom I conversed shot at it with a rifle,when it emitted a very offensive smell,from which he supposed he had wounded it. However,as it was seen the succeeding day,it is presumable that if it was wounded,the wound was slight.
This is the first serpent of such large size I have heard of." (M.C.& SECGA) August 17th 1811.
(1).J.E. Harting. A Short History of The Wolf In Britain.p.90
(2) M.Carwardine. The Guiness Book of Animal Records. p.42