Pig-faced women

Legends featuring pig-faced women originated roughly simultaneously in Holland, England and France in the late 1630s. The stories told of a wealthy woman whose body was of normal human appearance, but whose face was that of a pig. In the earliest forms of the story, the woman’s pig-like appearance was the result of witchcraft. These stories became particularly popular in England, and later in Ireland.

About Pig-faced women in brief

Summary Pig-faced womenLegends featuring pig-faced women originated roughly simultaneously in Holland, England and France in the late 1630s. The stories told of a wealthy woman whose body was of normal human appearance, but whose face was that of a pig. In the earliest forms of the story, the woman’s pig-like appearance was the result of witchcraft. These stories became particularly popular in England, and later in Ireland. In late 1814 and early 1815, rumour swept London that a pig- faced woman was living in Marylebone. The last significant work to treat their existence as genuine was published in 1924. Today, the legend is almost forgotten. The earliest surviving version is a Dutch print about an Amsterdam woman named Jacamijntjen Jacobs. In 1621 Jacobs, while pregnant, was approached by a female beggar accompanied by three children, who pleaded that her children were starving. Jacobs told the beggar: ‘Are these my children pigs? May God then give you such pigs as I have here!’ Her daughter was born in 1638–39, and at the time of publication she spoke in a grunting voice and ate from a silver trough. speculates that the pig-faces woman myth originated as a fusion of two earlier mediaeval stories. The Dutch legend of Margaret Henneberg tells of a noblewoman who turned away a beggar with twins and was herself punished by giving birth to 365 children. In a similar French folk tale, the noblewoman in question gave birth to a litter of nine piglets and gave the children as her children.

The child was born healthy and perfectly formed in every respect other than having the face of a pigs. The story is said to have become prevalent in England in late 1639. In 1861 Charles Dickens remarked on the longevity of the belief in pig-face women in England. In 1864, Robert Chambers proposed a significant theory about the origin of the facial legend. It is that a genuine child with a genuine facial legend was born early in the early 17th century, and was born to a family of piglets who lived to the age of 100. The legend is now almost forgotten, and is a genuine legend of a woman born in the mid-19th century who was born with the head and face of an adult pig, and who died in 1864 at the same time as her husband. The tale is believed to have originated in the Netherlands, but is more likely to have come from the Netherlands in the 16th century. It was only in England and later Ireland, that the legend became well known and widely believed. It became widely believed that reclusive 18th-century philanthropist Griselda Steevens had kept herself hidden from view because she had the face of a Pig. The magical elements gradually vanished from the story and the existence of pig- Face women began to be treated as fact. Unscrupulous showmen exhibited living pigs at fairs. These were not genuine women, but shaven bears dressed in women’s clothing.