Every village at every era has its problem characters. For Finmere at the end of the 18th century, it was Mary Makepeace.
On 8 January 1786, Wooley Leigh Bennett performed the baptism for William, son of Mary and John Makepeace, labourer. Three years later, John seems to have departed. On 26 April 1789, Bennett baptised Mary’s second child, Mary Hawkin. [i] She is recorded as illegitimate. Three further daughters were born. A Martha was baptised on 25 March 1792 and a second Martha on 14 October 1792. The second Martha is described as illegitimate. Hester was baptised on 20 March 1797. [ii] There is no mention of her legitimacy. Perhaps because of her loose life, in 1792, Mary was summoned before the ecclesiastical court in Oxford. The Parish Clerk, William Crow was paid £2 9s 6d to take her there. They rode on hired horses at a cost of 10 shillings. The churchwardens paid for these, and 1 shilling was ‘paid for a sheet for Mary Makepeace to go to church in.’ [iii] Mary died on 1 June 1799.
[i] Presumably, Hawkin is the name of the new Mary’s father. It is not a Finmere name.
[ii] Esther Makepeace, daughter of Mary Makepeace was buried on 28 June 1802. There is no record of her baptism.
[iii] Churchwardens account book. Oxford County Archives. PAR/105/4/F1/1, folio 40 verso. The sheet is presumably part of her penance.