THE story of the devil picking St Chad’s up from Delamere St and dropping it due to the praying of the locals is pure fantasy.

The story of Robert Nixon, however, has more credence although two distinguished historians question whether Robert Nixon the Over prophet ever existed.

Winsford Guardian:

Some of his prophecies did, however, bear fruit! Little is known of him, but John Nixon leased a farm at Over from the Abbot of Vale Royal. It was called Bark House Farm and is still there in what is now Mill Lane. Then, it was described as above Grange Lane between Winsford and Whitegate.

John and his wife had several children, the youngest being Robert. They were not too happy that their youngest son was fat, ugly, exceedingly stupid, idle and cruel – not a particularly PC way to describe anyone today but that is how he was seen in those long-gone days.

Winsford Guardian:

Some say he was born during the reign of Henry VII and some at the time of James I, both of these kings visited Vale Royal, but this will be mentioned later.

When John and his wife died, the farm was taken over by Robert’s elder brother, who also took responsibility for the errant Robert who proved to be a very poor worker and cruel with the animals.

One day a farmhand caught Robert viciously goading one of the farm animals, an ox. The farmhand told him to desist or he would tell his brother, Robert replied that what he was doing didn’t matter as the ox would be gone in three days.

Winsford Guardian:

His brother was informed and no one knew what Robert was talking about. That is until three days later when the Lord of the Manor arrived unexpectedly to collect his rightful dues under the ancient law of heriot, and he chose to take the ox. After this Nixon’s utterances were treated with some respect.

The tale continues tomorrow when we see just how accurate some of his prophecies were.