Tamsin Blight (1798-1856) was a famous witch, healer and pellar of Cornwall, England, known as “the Pellar of Helston.” Stories about her were recorded by the Cornish folklorist William Bottrell in the 19th century.
Tamsin Blight was born in Redruth in 1798, probably to a poor family. Her first name is sometimes given as Tamson in records. She also was called Tammy Blee (blee is Cornish for “wolf”). Little is known about her early life. Later, it was said that she was a descendant of the true pellar blood of Matthew Lutey of Cury.
In 1835, at age 38, she married a widower, James (Jemmy) Thomas, a copper miner who claimed to be a pellar. While Blight enjoyed a good reputation, Thomas did not. Reputedly, he was a drunk who repelled spells for young men in return for sexual favours. One newspaper story described him as “a drunken, disgraceful, beastly fellow, and ought to be sent to the treadmill.”
His outrageous conduct damaged Blight’s reputation. When a warrant was issued for his arrest for wanting to commit “a disgraceful offence” (i.e., an act of homosexuality), Blight separated from him. Thomas fled and was gone from Cornwall for about two years.
Blight continued her career as a pellar. People from far away would make pilgrimages to see her; sailors would get protective charms from her prior to making voyages. She especially healed people who believed they suffered because of ill-wishing. Even when she was ill and confined to bed prior to her death, people still came to see her. According to stories, people would lie on stretchers by her bedside, and walk away healed.
Blight also divined the future, and expelled bewitchments of animals. She reportedly conjured spirits and the dead.
She evidently did not hesitate to curse those who angered her, however. One story tells of the village cobbler refusing to mend her shoes because she was not good about paying her bills. She told him, “You’ll be sorry for that, for in a short while I will see to it that you have no work to do.” The cobbler’s business went into a tailspin, and he left the area.
At some point, Blight may have renewed her relationship with Thomas. She had a son, and Thomas may have been the father. She reportedly passed on her powers to her son.
Blight died on October 6, 1856.
Little was heard about Thomas until his death in 1874 in the parish of Illogan. An obituary described him as a wizard of great ability and repute.
- Jones, Kelvin I. Seven Cornish Witches. Penzance: Oakmagic Publications, 1998.