The Truth About The English Witch Who Predicted The Internet

The internet as we know it was started in 1991 when Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web. The idea, first developed by the US military in the 1960s, had been around forever, and not just because of science fiction, but rather a prediction made by a witch in the 15th century.

Ursula Southeil, better known as Mother Shipton, lived during the 15th century but her predictions had consequences even to the 19th century. According to The Vintage News, Ursula was born in a cave in 1488. Her mother, reports The Yorkshire Post, was a 15-year old orphan named Agatha. People at the time treated the small family horribly, especially because young Ursula supposedly had a large crooked nose, a hunched back, and twisted legs. Ursula studied the forest and discovered she could tell the future.

After she married a builder named Toby Shipton, Ursula, now called Mother Shipton, began going around towns telling futures and making prophecies. Her prediction "around the world, men's thoughts will fly. Quick as the twinkling of an eye" is widely believed to be about the internet. Her other predictions included the Black Plague, the Great Fire of London, the defeat of the Spanish Armada, and the end of the world.

Apocalypse probably

Despite never being investigated for witchcraft, many believed Mother Shipton's prophecies. According to The Vintage News, an old prediction attributed to her read: "the world to an end shall come; in eighteen hundred and eighty one. A carriage without a horse shall go; disaster fill the world with woe; in water iron then shall float; as easy as a wooden boat." This caused people in the 1800s to panic. After all, she was able to predict the Great Fire of London.

But the world did not end in the 1800s. Nor did it end in 1981 or 1991 as subsequent published editions of Mother Shipton's prophecies said. Mother Shipton did make many predictions, and some of them even turned out to be true. But it turned out, per The Vintage News, an editor by the name of Charles Hindley actually faked the end of the world prophecy.

Mother Shipton died in 1561 but her legend remains strong. Her birthplace, a cave in North Yorkshire, is the longest-running tourist attraction to charge a fee in England. Books about her prophecies are still on sale and people continue to think her predictions may continue to come true. In the end, it may just be a coincidence, but it is fun to think someone from the 15th century was able to foresee the internet. If she really did, why didn't she warn us about internet trolls?