The Legend of Psychic Moll Pitcher: A True Story

Chances are you have never heard of Moll Pitcher, one of the most famous clairvoyants in early American history … unless, of course, you grew up in the New England area of the United States. Then, you may have heard the name ‘Moll Pitcher’ in reference to a famous, legendary witch (whom you assumed was a fictional character). Or, maybe you heard of a some ‘Molly Pitcher’ who was a heroine in some Revolutionary war battle. For the rest of the country, especially in the Western U.S., the name ‘Moll Pitcher’ rings no historical bells in collective memory.

Actually, there was a real Moll Pitcher. And, she would become one on the most famous clairvoyants in American history – until she was, more or less, forgotten within the history books.

Living in both a time and a place not too far removed from the Salem witch trials, Moll Pitcher was an 18th century American psychic who was highly regarded for her fortune-telling abilities. Moll was born around the year 1736 in the town of Marblehead, Massachusetts, to Lydia and Aholiab Diamond. In 1760 she married Robert Pitcher, an apprentice of her father’s. Historical sources cannot agree on whether the family moved to the town of Lynn, Massachusetts before or after Moll’s marriage, but, either way, she soon began working as a fortune-teller out of the family’s Lynn cottage.

Edward Diamond – The Wizard of Marblehead

The story of Moll’s psychic abilities starts well before her birth. As is the case for many psychics, clairvoyance and psychic abilities ran in Moll’s family line. Her grandfather, Edward Diamond, was a retired ship’s captain who was called "Wizard Diamond" by the people of Marblehead.

moll pitchers prophecies

Moll Pitcher’s Prophecies by Mrs. Ellen Griffin, Marblehead Museum Archives – Click Image Above To Purchase Reprint

Edward wasn’t known for his fortune-telling. No, Edward was known for his magical ability to aid ships on their journey home during ferocious storms. It is said that, on stormy nights, he would go to the graveyard and give orders to the ships out at sea. Many sailors claimed that they had either seen or heard Edward giving them orders which helped them get safely back to shore.

Edwards’s magical power wasn’t just confined to the ocean. One famous story tells of how he was once visited by a poor widow whose firewood had been stolen. New England winters are known to often be brutal, so the loss of one’s firewood was considered not just inconvenient, but life threatening. This widow pleaded with Edward for help, to punish the thief. It is said that Edward cast a spell over the man which compelled him to walk up and down the town roads throughout an entire night with a heavy log on his back. The next morning the thief returned all the stolen wood.

The Seeress of Lynn

Moll inherited her grandfather’s love of the sea and a psychic connection with ships – though Moll’s psychic talents manifested in a different way. Rather than being able to rescue ships that were already out at sea, she seems to have known the fate of a voyage before it even happened. So accurate were her predictions that many sailors refused to leave port if she predicted a disastrous journey. Moll was also known to give prophecies concerning love, crime, lottery tickets, family matters and just about any topic that her clients wanted to know about. Naturally, ship owners were none to thrilled with Moll’s talents, and often create rumors about her being a ‘witch’ and her readings were ‘fake’, anything to discredit her and keep sailors from avoiding ships and voyages deemed risky.

Despite the efforts of clergy and wealthy merchants, Moll’s reputation for accuracy grew. Her clients came from all walks of life. She was visited by people of all classes, background, and beliefs. Of course, her most common clients were sailors and their wives and many of the regular townsfolk. As her reputation began to spread across the New England states, she began to provide readings to European nobles visiting ‘the Americas’.

Moll’s preferred method of divination seems to have been reading tea leaves, classically known as tasseography. She would boil loose tea leaves and pour them into her client’s cup. She would then pour out the tea, tip the leaves onto the saucer, and deduce the client’s fate by the positions of the leaves. Moll often delivered her prophecies in rhymes, much as the oracles, the early sibyls, of the ancient world are recorded to have done. She is also said to have read palms, performed readings with cards, and made use of healing herbs to treat certain ailments. Unfortunately, there are no surviving records of how she acquired her knowledge of divination, her style of divination, nor her use of herbology.

Moll was widely respected and there is little to indicate that she had many unsatisfied clients (except those who objected to her being a psychic). Her career stretched on for over fifty years. Moll’s fame grew even further after her death in the year 1813. For example, it was later discovered that Moll was mentioned in Henry David Thoreau’s journals.

Moll Pitcher’s Famous Predictions

Not much in the way of first hand accounts of Moll’s predictions and the readings she provided. However, about 70 years after Moll’s death, author Ellen Griffin began compiling stories about Moll Pitcher and her grandfather Edward Diamond from family members, historical documents and the family members of those who had known Moll. In 1895, Ellen Griffin published Moll Pitcher’s Prophecies – World Renowned Pythoness of Lynn (later retitled Moll Pitcher’s Prophecies – American Sybil). Even in 1895, some of Moll’s predictions seemed outlandish – only much later would those predictions come true.

It was the predictions which came true during Moll’s life time, or were fulfilled shortly after her death, which made Moll Pitcher a near household name during the late 1700s into the mid-1800s. General John Glover of Marblehead, Massachusetts, took Moll Pitcher to Cambridge to see General Washington. There, she boosted Washington’s spirits when she foretold the outcome of the Revolutionary War. It is said Washington himself had a vision about the destiny of the yet unformed United States (go HERE to learn more). Washington is reported to have said, "You have adopted a sibyl and a saint". Later, Moll predicted Washington would become the President of the United States. She also foresaw that the eagle would become the national bird of the United States. It is said she predicted the outcome of the Battle of Bunker Hill.

Naturally, the British were also interested in Moll’s psychic predictive abilities. British generals Burgoyne, Pitcairn and Gage consulted with the ‘oracle of Lynn’. Working for the rebels, Moll’s family said the oracle was clever at gaining more information from them than they did from her. What information Moll gained was passed on to Elbridge Gerry of Marblehead (Gerry would later go on to become a Vice President of the U.S.) in order to further the Revolutionary cause.

It was some of Moll’s predicted inventions in the future which has kept Moll’s Prophecies relevant today. For example she predicted such inventions as the radio, the submarine, the automobile and that man would one travel into space. We are still waiting for some of Moll’s predictions such as the ability to ‘command the storms’; use clouds to prevent heat and create rain during times of drought; thaw frozen water in winter with ‘glorious sunbeams led by sun conductors’.

The Other Molly Pitcher

Historically, there is a perhaps a better known Molly Pitcher: The Captain Molly at the Battle of Monmouth. This Moll Pitcher is an unrelated legendary woman from the Revolutionary War. That legend goes that Molly Pitcher saw her husband, who was manning a canon, killed. She immediately took his place and manned (or womanned) the canon herself, refusing to quit even in the face of advancing British troops. This Molly Pitcher would become known as the heroine of the Battle of Monmouth and is supposed to have been rewarded by General Washington himself with a commission and half pay for life.

Problem is, there is no real historical documentation of a ‘Molly Pitcher’ at the Battle of Monmouth. It seems that ‘Moll Pitcher’ was composite of women in order to portray the valor of American women during the Revolutionary War – a ‘story’ largely created by newspapers. It is likely a case of bad research by a newspaper reporters since there were real women who served with valor.

Some say the real heroine manning a canon for the colonial army was likely to have been, not a ‘Moll Pitcher’, but rather, Margaret Corbin. And, she was not the heroine of Monmouth, but rather the battle at Fort Washington in 1778. This ‘real’ Margaret Corbin did fire her husband’s cannon when he was killed, and, was wounded. Due to her wounds, she became part of the ‘Invalid Regiment’ at West Point. Margaret Corbin was called Captain Molly and in 1779 was awarded a lifetime pension of a private soldier’s half-pay. (To learn more about this visit: Journal of the American Revolution). Other historians think Mrs. Mary Hayes was the ‘real’ Moll Pitcher’ who manned her husband’s cannon at the Battle of Monmouth (go to Government Historical Archives to learn more).

The point here is that Moll Pitcher, noted clairvoyant of Lynn, Massachusetts, and patriot, was a real person, not a myth. The Molly Pitcher of the Battle of Monmouth was more myth than real – although likely based on a real person. Oddly, (or perhaps revealing the prejudice against clairvoyant’s being recorded historically for their contributions) the mythological war hero Molly seems to have become better remembered and more historically ‘real’ than the real Moll Pitcher. No disrespect to the ‘Molly Pitcher – War Heroine’ fans intended. It is a great story – our only wish is that the real Margaret Corbin and Mary Hayes had got the appropriate credit they deserved.

Moll Pitcher’s Legacy

Following her death, Moll’s popularity was bolstered in part by poet John Greenleaf Whittier, who published a 900-line poem entitled Moll Pitcher in 1838. The poem, however, was not very complimentary and not very factual. It described Moll as an ugly witch (she was in fact considered attractive); had a hitch in her gait (Moll, in fact, had no limp and was very spry into her 70s); and who did the "work of sin" (more a comment on the author than the subject). The good people of Lynn took offense at this characterization and, in the late 19th century, marked her grave with a stone that read, in part, that she was attractive and "of good form and agreeable manners". It is said that Whittier distanced himself from the poem later in life. And, the city of Lynn continues to honor their famous prophetess – the Lynn Museum declared Oct. 5th 2013 to be Moll Pitcher Day and that night there were readings and exploration of psychic mediumship.

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Moll would also be the main heroine in an 1855 play entitled Moll Pitcher, Or the Fortune Teller of Lynn, written by the prolific author Joseph Stevens Jones. This play would be among one of his most popular and enduring works. The played had successful showings on the stages of Philadelphia, Boston, and New York.

Moll Pitcher is a curious figure because no matter how much others tried to portray her as witch and a deceiver, those who knew her seemed to wholly reject this characterization. Yes, she had a few critics and skeptics, except among those who knew her or for whom she provided personal comfort and predictions. Had she been born a few decades sooner she would likely have been prosecuted as a witch. Had she been born today she would likely be dismissed as are many of today’s psychics. In her own time, however, she was well respected for her gifts, and this respect and her fascinating predictions have helped her legacy endure into today. In many ways, Moll Pitcher was the Marie Anne Lenormand of Early American history. The biggest difference is that Marie Lenormand’s home country of France largely embraced their ‘sibyl of Paris’, especially in a historical context. The newly born country of the United States, with it’s puritanical roots, seems to have tried to forget Moll Pitcher … except for those who knew her in Lynn.

One last note: It is said that several descendants of Moll Pitcher also inherited her gift of clairvoyant … but that is a story for another time.

If you would like to talk with a classic clairvoyant, give Psychic Misty a call at 1-866-407-7164 – toll free USA and Canada. Would you like help selecting the perfect psychic for your questions and needs? Check out Psychic Selection – or – call 1-800-340-8374. They offer free help selecting the perfect connecting with the best psychic for your questions and needs. Wonder folks with a great service.

Interesting Resources:

Legends of North Shore
Molly Pitcher – Wizard’s Daughter
Marblehead Myths, Legends and Lore
Moll Pitcher’s Prophecies