Yes! The fascination of the seventh son of a seventh son! Is it more than folklore? More than the 1988 Iron Maiden album that stemmed from the folklore? I suspect there may have been more seventh sons born last century than this, but still, it conjures powerful visions of mystical or even biblical significance, doesn’t it? According to Wikipedia, it can go so far as to be broken down by regions:
- Ireland – believed to be a healer
- France – believed to have curative properties
- Latin America – believed to be a werewolf
- Italy – believed to be a charmer of snakes
- U.S. – believed to garner riches
Well, that last was borne of a book written in the year 1807-08 by Edward Kendall regarding his visit to the Newgate copper mine. Indeed, a radio drama aired in 1980 on the CBS Mystery Theatre called “The Iron Horse” by Sam Dann played off that account of mining discoveries. Jimmy Stewart starred in a 1940 movie called “The Philladelphia Story” that noted the legend and as recently as 2014 the fantasy-adventure film Seventh Son has as the main character a seventh son of a seventh son that featured Jeff Bridges and Julianne Moore. (Gees, never heard of it!)
To be authentically a seventh son of a seventh son, however, there must not be a female sibling separating the numbers. (Therefore, singer Perry Como could not legitimately claim the distinction. Lyle Lewis Aley, radio announcer was an unproven seventh, and Len Dawson, quarterback for the Kansas City Chiefs claimed the distinction without acknowledging where his dad stood in the family line. Como, however, could make musical magic with the best of them.)
Still, there are many books written that include the folklore theme as a plot–all fiction in the fantasy or science fiction genres, so who is to say it may or may not magically bestow super-human properties, cause I could find no non-fiction references.
Several popularly noted fiction books with the theme include:
- I will Fear No Evil by Robert A Heinlein, 1987
- Seventh Son (Tales of the Alvin Maker Book 1) by Orson Scott Card 1993
- Septimus Heap (#1) series by Angie Sage 2014
And, of course, the granddaddy, blockbuster of them all–the Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowlings, including Deathly Hallows (#7) 2009, which includes the 7th child of the 7th child (Ginny Weasley), a girl! (And the females have magical powers of their own.) These books were written for the 9-12 years age group. That’s fine–it got ALL ages to reading again!
- And if you really want to have some goosebumps, try Comic book superhero Johnny Thunder who obtained his magical birthright by virtue of being the seventh son of a seventh son and was also born at 7 am on July 7 (the seventh day of the seventh month), 1917. Unfortunately, it didn’t have quite the fire of the Potter series.
With all the time and research, however, I was not able to find one non-fictional account of a real seventh son biography, memoir, or story. Still, we do love our folklore and stories handed down and wonder how the stories got started. If you’ve come across some true accounts, I’d love to hear them!
©2018 V Williams (Photo attribution for title pic: Pexels, Theatrical poster for Seventh Son from Wikipedia)