The History of Leith

June 1, 2004

The Superstitions of Newhaven

The fisher folk of Newhaven had many superstitions which are now slowly going out of fashion now. Foe example while at sea if the idea of a cat or pig should cross the mind then the name of the animal could not be mention and if mentioned only in very veiled terms. To think of dogs was bad luck and to think of a hare was absolutely terrible!

Should reference be made to a minister then fear would descend on any crew as he could only be spoken as “the man in the black coat”. Friday was an unlucky day except for getting married and to mention John Brounger would stop fishing straight away.

The strange fact is John Brounger was a real person and was an old fisherman in Newhaven and when too unfit to go to sea he would ask for fish or oysters from the crews of the fishing boats before they put to sea when they returned. If the crew refused then he would curse them and wished them back luck on their next trip. Sometimes the curse did work as it is recorded that some of the boats he cursed sank. For many years after John Brounger died if someone said “John Brounger is in your head sheets” or “on board with you” was enough for fisherman to stop fishing and return to port. Before doing this the boat had to go round in a circle three times to break the curse.

Some Text