The following article appeared in the Exeter Flying Post on June 7th 1821 and the following week on June 14th. I wonder if she was caught? I looked through a few later editions of the paper but found nothing more. Who was she?
WHEREAS MARY ANN WINDEATT late of Chagford in the county of Devon, singlewoman STANDS CHARGED on the Coroner's Inquest with the wilful murder of her FEMALE BASTARD CHILD, who was found dead on the 28th ult. in a Plantation near Ashburton, The Churchwardens and Overseers of Ashburton, do hereby offer a HANDSOME REWARD to any Person who will Apprehend the said Mary Ann Windeatt, and lodge her in the County Gaol at Exeter.
The said Mary Ann Windeatt is apparently about 22 or 23 years old, short and rather slight, and good looking, when she left Ashburton, was dressed in a black straw bonnet, black or dark stuff gown, black stockings and check apron, with a handkerchief round her face; and is supposed to be gone into Somersetshire with a man called EDMONDS a stonemason, with whom she lately cohabited.
Ashburton, 4th June, 1821
- Advert in Trewman's Exeter Flying Post, June 7th 1821 and the following week on June 14th
I have looked through a few subsequent issues of the Exeter Flying Post and the one for the end of May but found no further reference to this case so we don't know what happened next.
Who was she?
Well we have a bit of clue as to what may have happened next in that both the IGI and the Devon Family History Society's marriage records for 1813-1838 have the following entry:
03/07/1821 John EDMONDS married Mary Ann WINGETT at Exeter Holy Trinity
This was swiftly followed by a christening:
26 Jul 1821 John Winget EDMONDS Father: John EDMONDS Mother: Mary (IGI)
This could be her? WINGETT was, of course, a variant of WINDEATT and the two names were used interchangeably at that time. If it is her, she was quite bold to have done something as public as getting married when she had a price on her head.
But perhaps she didn't know that the child had been found or that they were after her? Or perhaps the child found in the plantation was not hers? If she was the Mary Ann above who married in Exeter and who had a baby a few weeks later then it probably was not her child at all. However, people around about who had known she was expecting, may have jumped to that conclusion, when the baby was found at about the same time that she disappeared. It would be good to find the coroner's report but I understand that these have never been kept and the only chance one has is to find a newspaper report of it.
[Later] It has also only just occurred to me that the child may have been an older daughter of hers that she got rid of in order not to be impeded in her new relationship and family. Again it would be useful to find a newspaper report of the inquest.
There is a brief description of infanticide on the Old Bailey pages:
Another entry - which could be linked is the appearance c.1864 of a Mary Ann EDMONDS of Topsham, needlewoman, in the Exeter Police charge books.
Link to Exeter Police charge books index
Last updated: February 19, 2013