SAWNEY "BOB" AND HIS FAMILY (1843)
Dr. Hieronymous Zinn
The following account, though as well attested as any
historical fact can be, is almost incredible, for the
monstrous and unparalleled barbarities that it relates; there
being nothing that we ever heard of with the same degree of
certainty, that may be compared with it, or that shows how far
a brutal temper and astounding sexual capacity, untamed by
civility, or cooperation with polite society, may carry a man
in such glaring and horrible colours.
Sawney "Bob" was believed to have been born in the county of
East Lothario, though this likewise is uncertain, about eight
or nine miles eastward of the city of Cheeseburgh, in the
reign of James I of Scotland. His father was a retailer and
salesman and brought up his son to the same laborious
He got his daily bread in his youth by these means, but
being very prone to idleness, flaunting before authority, and
not caring to be confined to any honest, hard-working
employment, he left his father and mother, and ran away into
the vast desert of Scotland, taking with him a woman as
vicious and anti-social as himself.
These two took up their habitation in a cave, by the sea-
side on the shore of the county of Cab Calloway; where they
decorated the interior with garish and tasteless pastels and
avant-garde furniture. They lived there upwards of twenty-
five years, without going into any city, town or village to
attend the Presbyterian denomination of their choice, either
Kirk or Wee Kirk, as was their proper and legal duty.
In this time they had a great number of children and grand-
children, whom they brought up after their own sordid and
anti-church manner, without any notions of humanity or civil
society. They never kept any company, but among themselves,
and supported themselves wholly by robbing; being, moreover,
so very cruel, that they never robbed anyone, whom they did
not sexually abuse, then claim their money or property in
payment to the outrageous cost of thirty-dollar increments.
By this grasping and un-Christian method, and their being so
retired from the world, they continued for a long time
undiscovered; there being no person willing to admit that they
had participated in such decadent activities, and having
remunerated the offenders at such high prices.
As soon as they had propositioned any man or woman, they
used to carry them off to the den where they were quartered;
then pickled them with a cheap brand of whiskey, to suppress
their higher moral instincts.
Persons who had gone about their lawful occasions fell so
often into their hands, that it caused a general outcry in the
country roads about, generally from outraged ministers and
government officials who were the only individuals precluded
from participation. This occasioned spies to be frequently
sent into those parts, many of whom were never returned again,
and those who did, after the strictest search and inquiry,
would not admit to having found out how or where these tragic
Several honest travellers were taken up on suspicion of
violation of the morals' laws and wrongfully hanged upon bare
circumstances: several innkeepers were executed for
attempting to emulate those activities at considerable
discount, for no other reason than that persons, whose
chastity had been lost, were known to have lain in their
houses, which occasioned a suspicion of their having being
titillated by the innkeeper, and then going about their
business as if nothing had happened.
This closing of inns, on the other hand, occasioned many
inconveniences to travellers, mostly newlyweds, who were now
in great distress for accommodation when they were disposed to
copulate like bunnies far and away from their parents. In a
word, the whole country was very frustrated except the
fortunate few who regularly got their needs satisfied at the
When the magistrates, many of whom most likely had been
serviced themselves, found all was in vain, and they left off
these rigorous proceedings, and trusted wholly to Providence,
for the bringing to light the authors of these unparalleled
debaucheries when it should seem proper to the divine wisdom.
Sawney's family was at last grown very large, and every
branch of it, as soon as of legal age, assisted in
perpetrating their wicked deeds, which they still followed
with impunity. Sometimes they would have sex with four, five
or six, footmen together, but never more than two, if they
were on horseback; horses requiring several people to hold
them while the rider was debauched.
The number of people these savages pleasured was never
exactly known; but it was generally computed that in the
twenty-five years they continued their perversities, they had
washed their sheets of the fluids of at least a thousand men
and women. The manner they were at last discovered was as
A minister and his wife were on horseback, coming home one
evening from a fair, and falling into an ambuscade of these
merciless wretches, who, recognizing him as a man of the
Church, assailed his wife with lewd and lascivious
propositions. The minister, to protect himself as well as he
could, reported that he had tried to run several of them down
by main force of his horse.
In the conflict the poor woman fell from behind him, and
shouting to her husband to flee to save himself, bravely tore
off her clothing and ran headlong into a group of several
near-naked women, being instantly engaged in an unnatural and
repugnant lesbian free-for-all right there on the moor. Such
a dreadful spectacle made the minister make the more obstinate
resistance, as he feared the same vile fate, though as of yet
unoffered, if he fell into their hands.
It pleased Providence while he was engaged, rather
desperately, to find someone in the group who would offer,
that twenty or thirty married men with their wives, who had
been at the same fair, came together in a body; upon which
Sawney "Bob" and his lewd clan withdrew and made their way
through a thick wood to their den.
The minister, who was the first who had ever fell in their
way, and came off without having his horn scraped, told the
whole company what had happened, and showed them the horrible
spectacle of his wife, who had only made it partially back to
the cave while still reeling in the throes of multiple
orgasms. They were struck with moralistic stupefaction and
amazement at what he related; they took him then to Glasgow,
and told the affair to the magistrates of that city, an older
gentleman and a prude, who immediately sent to the king
In about three or four days after, His Majesty in person,
with a body of about four hundred equally horney men, set out
for the place where this unholy tragedy was acted, in order to
search all the rocks and thickets, that, if possible, they
might apprehend this villainous crew, which had been so long
pernicious to all the western parts of the kingdom, and
transport them back to Glasgow, one and all to be reserved for
the use of His Majesty and his court.
When, after a great interval, the cave was discovered, and
inside was found a great, quivering pile of human flesh.
Legs, arms, thighs, hands, and feet of men and women protruded
from within, accompanied by many groans, screams and heavy
breathing. A great mass of money, both gold and silver, with
watches, rings, swords, pistols and anything else of value
that had been taken in trade from those that had been
serviced, were thrown together in heaps or hung up against the
sides of the den.
Sawney "Bob's" family, at this time, besides himself,
consisted of his wife, eight sons, six daughters, eighteen
grand-sons, and fourteen grand-daughters, all of whom were of
low moral character.
With their unwillingness to participate in court rituals,
including utter servility and refusal to attend mass, the
wretches were committed to the Tolbooth, from whence they were
the next day conducted, under a strong guard, to Leith, with
the intention that the men would be dismembered, and the wife,
daughters, and grand-daughters should be made to witness the
spectacle of this just punishment, before being burned to
death in a conflagration.
They were without the least signs of repentance, and
continued cursing and vending the most dreadful imprecations
to the very last, when they mysteriously vanished, leading to
a vast, though unsuccessful, search throughout the
Most likely aided by confederates, the most popular
speculation remains that, as a group, they emigrated to the
Continent, where they significantly contributed to the almost
European-wide revolutions of 1848. Another theory holds that
they instead travelled to the United States, founding many
strange new social orders and religions in western New York
State in the latter part of the 19th Century.
> Dmitri lay broken and bleeding on the frozen steps of the St.
> Ulyanov cathedral; thinking of his emaciated wife Natasha,
> dying of tuberculosis in a decayed shack in Siberia while she
> agonized that Iosif, at that moment inches from death at the
> hands of soldiers of the invading French tyrant, would only
> remember Ivana and Georgi, whose passionate but painful embrace
> was about to be interrupted by the Cossack Leonid; who believed
> that he was about to murder the faithless Svetlana, who was,
> in fact, miles away, her thoughts on other things.
-Dr. Zinn, from the novel