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So how does Mary's account check out? Perhaps, like us, the Churchwardens did some arithmetic and soon discovered that her tale doesn't add up - there are several missing years unaccounted for. Mary was born in 1759 (baptised on January 1st 1760) so on the day she was questioned, she was in her 48th year. If she started work at 17 as she says, this account should cover 31 years! And here is one of the great weaknesses of the Settlement Act - she simply could not remember the sequence of events which made up her life.
The people she mentioned all existed and would have been known by Peter Lavers and the other churchwardens so was she name-dropping? The Saverys were an old family of considerable means, well-known in the neighbourhood, and her brother John was working on Christopher Savery's estate as a hind at the time of this examination. She mentions two military men by name: the first was Captain Crispin (whose widow she worked for), a Captain of the Dragoons who were stationed in Modbury to act as coast guards and clamp down on smuggling in the area; the second was a Naval Officer, Lieutenant Jeans, whose family lived locally. The Widdecombes, Hodges and Crockers were all close neighbours but she doesn't bother giving the name of the "person at St. Budeaux".
Her family information is selective, perhaps because she knows that her listeners are already familiar with most of it - her mother had a pauper funeral paid for by the inhabitants of Ugborough when she died in 1790. She says she went to live with her brother in Ermington and we can identify him as Edmund Stentiford who was married to Elizabeth Coleman. She mentions "her parents being dead about a quarter of a year" but in fact her mother died five years before her father (also a pauper) who passed away in the April of 1795. Poor woman - she rambles on and on but she cannot prove that one salient fact she so desperately needs - the continuous year of employment in Ugborough. She has drifted from place to place, working for little more than her keep for 31 years and has nothing to show for all her efforts. You can hear the despair in her voice when they press her on this point and she agrees "that she never hired herself for a year since that time", "that time" being the onset of her ill-health.
The men who conducted her Settlement Examination knew she had nowhere else to go and that the Parish Register proved her birth in Ugborough and they offered her some meagre assistance. But they were prudent men who had to account for every halfpenny raised from the Parish to spend on the poor. In 1810, at the age of fifty, she was married to Henry Gill who was barely known to her, an elderly widower and another of Ugborough's paupers. "Two can live as cheaply as one" was a view firmly held by administrators of the old Poor Laws and like churchwardens everywhere, they would have exerted considerable pressure on both Henry and Mary to marry, making it her duty to care for him as he grew more frail and so relieving the Parish of the cost of nursing him. Henry died, aged 88, in April 1824. Poor Mary survived him by just a few weeks - was there someone to take care of her? She was buried on 26 Oct 1824 aged 65.