The Secret Commonwealth


Gone But Not Forgotten
Jul 31, 2001
I have just (for the first time, I'm ashamed to admit) got around to reading The Secret Commonwealth which is a deeply intriguing document. I was wondering whether anyone had any information about the Reverend Kirk?

I have obviously heard of his mysterious death - I am more interested in his life and the research or imagination that lead to his writing of the Secret Commonwealth.


Aug 7, 2002
I think the Robert Kirk case the fascinating. Here is a quote that I had written about it earlier:

To get a good idea about the back story of fairies as alien creatures who are terrifying and beautiful, you should real Robert Kirk's The Secret Commonwealth. The author is rumored to have fallen under the fairies control at the end of his life.

Here is a link to a sum-up of the book; at the bootom of the page, it links to a full-text version on-line.

Here is some of the review from the site, detailing Kirk's end:

"The scholarly minister's interest in the Good People (as fairies were euphemistically called) proved unhealthy. Kirk's monograph was finished in 1691. A short time later, after the minister returned from London to Aberfoyle, he went for an evening stroll in his nightshirt. Kirk's perambulations took him past a fairy mound near his home. While passing by the mound (or walking over it, according to some accounts), the 47 year-old scholar collapsed. He was found and brought home, but died soon after and was buried in the kirkyard of his own church. Kirk's death on or near a fairy mound must have made his parishioners shudder, but an even weirder postscript would be added to the case.

One of Kirk's relatives was awakened in the night by the apparition of the dead minister. Kirk gave him a message for his cousin, one Graham of Duchray. I am not dead, Kirk's specter declared. The Good People had carried him off. He had one chance to escape their clutches: when Kirk's posthumous child was christened (his wife being pregnant when he died), Kirk's apparition would appear at the ceremony. Graham of Duchray was to throw an iron-bladed knife over the head of the minister's specter. Iron was a powerful counter to fairy magic, and Kirk would be released from their power by this act. (One wonders what would become of his corpse, buried securely in the Aberfoyle cemetery... but some folk in Aberfoyle claimed that Kirk's body was abducted, not just his soul. His coffin, it was said, was buried with nothing in it but stones.)

The child was born, and duly christened. While the family dined afterward, Kirk appeared before them. Unfortunately, his cousin Graham was so thunderstruck by this vision he failed to throw his knife as directed. Kirk's spirit faded away, never to be seen again. Well into the twentieth century people in Aberfoyle maintained that Robert Kirk was not really dead, but lived as an eternal captive in fairyland. "

And here are some other cool fairy threads here:

Let me also poit you towards the Ann Jeffries thread: