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1799 (2)

21 April to August 1799

1799 cont. 21 April to c.19 August 1799:   MJV remains in Ilchester Gaol.

Apr 24:  MJV writes to JL to tell him of her imprisonment. The benefactions from the Taunton ladies will keep her for a few months without his paying her weekly. She complains bitterly about conditions in the jail, and attempts to shame JL by submitting to the hardship if only he would retract the beliefs shaping his behaviour toward her. She and the child are both ill. She asks JL to arrange to have a magistrate sign the necessary order for her to receive 2 farthings per week in bread from the county. She swears she has no “secret rescuer”: she will not ask for Mr Ireland’s help, as this would advertise her situation to “all the merchants of Bristol”. [#13]

"Your unhappy child and myself and servant were conveyed here on Sunday last...The sufferings I experience here are most dreadful, I mean in regard to being domiciliated with low company besides another circumstance of a very humiliating and indecent nature..."

Apr 27:   JL instructs Beadon to arrange the magistrate’s order for county relief.  [#14]

May 14:  MJV still has not received the county bread allocation. Mary Jane is extremely ill. She has received a gift of money from a lady, which has “saved the life’ of the child. She writes to Beadon asking him to send her month’s allowance to her at “Mrs. Jones”, Post Office Ilchester. She asks him to tell her if her real situation is known in Taunton so she can act accordingly: and also to post a letter to the lady who helped her. She has heard that JL was the instigator of her arrest, but will make no comment until she is certain of the fact.  [#28]

"I have received an intimation that will excite your horror but not perhaps your astonishment -- it is that Mr. L. has instigated my being arrested.  If it is so, I have nothing to hope but to finish my unpropitious career in this wretched abode!"

May 22:   Through Beadon, MJV posts requests for help to Exeter (possibly to family there*) and to Mr. Gaulis. She tells Beadon she now believes JL was not the cause of her arrest, but still hopes that he will eventually act fairly towards her and the child. She needs the allowance soon, as Mary Jane’s illness and her son’s board have nearly exhausted her money.  [#15]

* MJV’s sister Charlotte and mother/stepmother Catherine (nee Oak) may still be living in Exeter at this time (before Charlotte’s marriage in St. Etienne, France).

June 7:  MJV and her daughter are both ill and weak. She has received help from Mr Andrews and Mr [Hancock?]. She asks Beadon if the letter and parcel were posted as requested. She is distracted and distraught.  [#16]

Jun 9:   MJV writes to Lethbridge. A benefactor has alleviated her immediate need: Mary Jane is now sleeping out with a family, at a cost of 1/- per week, and her health has improved. As soon as MJV receives her month’s allowance she will discharge her servant and place the child out. She is now getting the county bread. MJV refers to an Affidavit (yet to be sworn?): JL has seen a copy of the contents and must “feel an involuntary conviction” of the truth of them. She says she will be glad to adopt a mode of drawing payment monthly, or if necessary quarterly, if it will be regular.  [#17]

"[T]he unexpected benevolence lately bestowed upon me by several persons together with enjoying the county bread has set me above want and made my poor heart once more elated with that blessed sensation ~ gratitude."

Jun 11:   JL instructs Beadon to arrange some way for MJV to be paid monthly, with the least trouble to himself. He wishes to be done with the whole matter.  [#18]

"She is an extraordinary production in nature; & I had no business to have anything to do with her.  Felix quem faciunt aliena pericula cautum..."

Beadon forwards 2 pounds to MJV.

Jun 30:  MJV is arranging a placement for Mary Jane but this is still undecided. Friends are attempting to have her released from prison and found work. She writes to Beadon asking him to hold further payments from JL until she lets him know her address.  [#19]

August 15:  Three pounds will be due to MJV on 3rd September, since the last remittance in June. She asks Beadon to send it to Captain Graham “on duty at Ilchester”. She asks if JL will still be in London then. She will soon be leaving prison. Mary Jane is well.  [#20]

c. Aug 19:  MJV is released from Ilchester Prison.  [#21]



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