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Mother Shipton

Ursula Southeil was a 16th-century English clairvoyant and mystic who went by the name Mother Shipton. She died in 1561, and 80 years later, a book of her prophecies was published. She predicted many events, all in a style so vague that they could mean just about anything.

One couplet, however, was very specific, reading, "The end of the world will surely come, in eighteen hundred and eighty one."

That year came and went, but her wildly inaccurate prediction failed to discredit her. From the time her prophecies were first published until the 19th century, she was credited with predicting various calamities, and fortune-tellers would put her statue outside their place of business, thereby lending themselves soothsaying credibility.

A pub in her native town of Knaresborough and another in Portsmouth feature life-size statues of her as well.

Photo: Wikipedia Commons