Arts and Leisure

Danger, Disappointment and Desire: Colonial Superstitions About Moles

From "Examination of a witch" by Tompkins Harrison Matteson

Superstitions about moles were commonplace in colonial New England. One of the most pernicious held that moles and other markings in certain places denoted the bearer had made a pact with the devil and was a witch.

From "Examination of a witch" by Tompkins Harrison Matteson

From "Examination of a witch" by Tompkins Harrison Matteson (1853)

But more frivolous interpretations existed, as well. The New academy of Complements was a book of sample love letters and advice that was popular in England in the 1500s to the 1700s. It went through countless printings and iterations and the early American printer Isaiah Thomas of Worcester brought it to this country in the 1700s for entertainment and advice.

It included a complete treatise on the meaning of moles:

A mole in the middle of the forehead denotes riches and advancement, by the favor of friends.

A mole in the right part of the forehead signifies the life prosperous and successful in riches and love affairs, in he left, that you shall meet with many crosses and disappointments.

A mole between the eyes inclining to the nose denotes the party to grow rich by marriage.

A mole on the nose signifies speedy and often marriages, and the party to be fruitful in children.

A mole on the right cheek shows the party to be prosperously in worldly affairs, but covetous and desirous to circumvent other people.

A mole on the left cheek (shows to a man) cross in his affairs, to a woman lots of honor and danger of life in child birth.

A mole on the chin demonstrates a perfect wife, but promises no great riches.

A mole on the left arm promises much labor, but on the right, riches gained by industry.

A mole on the breast promises the party advancement by the favor of the Great ones.

A mole on the belly demonstrates the party to be beloved and to gain riches and advantages by it.

A mole on or near the private parts promises ability in duties, vigorous in love and successful in many children.

A mole on the neck denotes much labor and sorrow.

A mole on the right hip denotes the person greatly to be beloved, and fortunate in love affairs.

A mole on the left hip signifies the party shall be rich by death of relations.

A mole on the right knee promises success in love and several marriages.

A mole on the right leg promises plenty and an easy life, but on the left, travail and poverty and the like on the right or left foot or any part of the heel.

Thanks to: The New academy of complements erected for ladies, gentlewomen, courtiers, gentlemen, scholars, soldiers, citizens, country-men, and all persons, of what degree soever, of both sexes: stored with variety of courtly and civil complements, eloquent letters of love and friendship : with an exact collection of the newest and choicest songs à la mode, both amorous and jovial / compiled by the most refined wits of this age.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Jonathon Brackenbury

    Jonathon Brackenbury

    March 25, 2017 at 8:42 am

    Surely marrying a small furry animal would have been highly provactive and against ‘god’s’ laws….??

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

To Top