Mary, a fisherman’s wife, appears in the first chapter of Barefoot on the Cobbles. She is the first mother that we get to know in the novel and through Mary, we can experience a manifestation of motherhood that is rather different from those that are revealed in later chapters. Unlike most Victorian families, Mary has only two children, Albert and Fred. There is no evidence for any other live births but she may have suffered miscarriages. Of course, there could have been another reason for her untypical lack of fecundity. The story of how she opens her heart and home to young Eadie is a true one. Like a number of Bucks Mills’ wives, Mary was often known by the forename of her husband, to avoid confusion with others of the same surname, hence ‘Mrs William’.
Mary’s post should really have been yesterday. She was born as Mary Jane on 22 September 1842 at Horn’s Cross, Alwington, Devon to Richard and Hannah Hamlyn née Lewis and she was the only child of their marriage. They were a farming family and Mary worked as a launderess; nonetheless, in 1862, Mary met and married William, a fisherman from the neighbouring parish. Theirs was the first marriage in the newly opened Anglican church at Bucks Mills. Their son, Albert arrived nine months later and his brother followed two years after that.
Mary lived at Rose Cottage in Bucks Mills for the last forty years of her life. She died in 1928.
More information about Bucks Mills can be found here.
‘Albert was explaining to his mother how he had rescued a distressed Eadie from the square.
‘Mebbe you stay here for a day or two maid, ’til your da calms down,’ said Mary.
There was reassurance in the words but who was the more comforted, Mary or this dark-visaged child with sadness in her soul? Mary turned to her son, who had unwittingly presented her with a few days of companionship.’
Barefoot on the Cobbles will be published on 17 November 2018. More information about the novel can be found here. Copies will be available at various events in the weeks following the launch or can be pre-ordered from Blue Poppy Publishing or the author.
[…] and when Eadie was about six, she was informally adopted by Ellen’s brother, William and his wife Mary. From that point onwards, Eadie spent her whole life living in Rose Cottage in Bucks Mills. She […]