In a time when suicide was a sin, a man took his own life when he couldn’t have the woman he loved. His tormented soul is said to haunt the moors in Dartmoor in Devon, England were he was buried. 

An unmarked grave outside the parish boundary lays the body of George Stephens that lived in Dartmoor in Devon, England. In some sources, he is called John. He committed suicide in 1763 or 62, depending on the sources, after his marriage to Mary Bray, a farmer’s daughter fell through. 

There are conflicting variations as to why the marriage fell through. In some cases, it was the parents of the girl that rejected him because they deemed him unworthy of their daughter. In other variations of the legend though, she betrayed his love right before their wedding. 


The Haunting Heartbreak

In his mind, Stephens was so in love with Mary and there could only be her for him. In some accounts of the story he would walk outside her home every night to keep an eye on her. It was then he found out she was cheating on him with his best friend only a week away from their wedding. 

The Grave: The grave to Stephens can still be seen out in the moors in Dartmoor.// Source

In some versions he only spots her with another man at a fair in their village after her parents tore them apart because he wasn’t worthy. No matter if they actually were engaged or not, the pain of him not being able to be with her was too much for him to bear.

In many versions of the tale, Stephens kills her after her betrayal. It is most often by poison. Either a poisonous apple or deadly nightshade. 

In other versions though, he only kills himself with a sort of poison used for rats and Mary lives on without him causing her any harm. It is then said she lived to be very old, but never married. 

The Ghost at the Grave

Because of the manner of his death when he took his own life, he was not allowed a proper burial by the church and was laid to rest near Peter Tavy Moor, only marked by a granite post that you to this day can still see. 

Shortly after his death, locals began noticing strange things happening out on the moor. His ghost was seen several times and the sound of shrieking could be heard in the night at his anguish. It is even said that a certain Rev. Dr. Jago of Tavistock was summoned to lay his spirit to rest. 

If it worked though is not certain as the locals continued to be afraid to walk the moors in the dark in fear of running into the restless spirit of the man so tormented, the pain of it all continued into his afterlife and never gave him the rest he craved for. 


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Stephen’s Grave | Legendary Dartmoor

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