(The). A kind of exaggerated “Cock Lane ghost” (q.v.), which “haunted” Sampford Peverell for about three years in the first decade of the 19th century. The house selected was occupied by a man named Chave, and besides the usual knockings, the inmates were beaten; in one instance a powerful “unattached arm” flung a folio Greek Testament from a bed into the middle of a room. The Rev. Charles Caled Colton (credited as the author of these freaks) offered 100 to anyone who could explain the matter except on supernatural grounds. No one, however, claimed the reward. Colton died 1832.
Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894