Repentance Hedges, d. 1730

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Generous Relief for a Respectable Widow

Like her husband Richard, Repentance Hedges was a respectable pauper who received generous, but variable relief from the wealthy parish of St Dionis Backchurch for many years.

Wife of Richard Hedges

It is not known when Repentance and Richard Hedges married, nor how many children they had. As noted in Richard's biography, it was relief handed out to Repentance in 1708 which first brought the Hedges family into the parochial relief system of St Dionis Backchurch, where, following a check on their settlement status, relief was provided almost continuously to the family until Richard's death in 1716. During this period specific payments were made to care for her during illness on at least three occasions.

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Widowhood: Variable Relief

Following her husband's death, Repentance suffered further hardship with the death of a child in November 1716, and illness, both of which led to additional payments from the parish.

In October 1717 there is a puzzling entry in the account book: "to expences at several times on account of Hedges Marriage 1-0-11". Given that her surname continues to be recorded in the parish records as "Hedges", and there is no further mention of any husband, it is likely that this does not refer to a remarriage by her. The marriage may have involved one of her children, or it may have involved someone outside her immediate family. This marriage certainly did not have any positive effect on her financial situation, since in March of the following year the churchwarden recorded giving "Goody Hedges" ten shillings for "relief of her necessities".

Throughout the period from 1716 to her death in 1730 Repentance appears to have benefited from substantial relief from the parish, although the specific amounts varied from year to year. The parish paid her rent (in the house of Lady Matthews, as it had on occasions prior to her husband's death); an annual pension; varying sums of money from parish legacies; and "sacrament money". Not all these are recorded every year, but the absences may reflect lacunae in record keeping rather than a withdrawal of relief. Nonetheless, the parish was not above reducing her relief on occasion, owing to changes in either her circumstances or the available funds. In 1717, for example, her pension was 3s 6d per week for fourteen weeks and 1s 6d for the other 38 weeks, but the reason for the reduction was not explained. In some years she received several gifts from parish legacies, and in other years none. In 1721, for an unexplained reason the churchwarden spent a shilling for "a summons for Repentance Hedges".

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From 1728 the relief given to Repentance increased, perhaps reflecting her increasing age and frailty. In April 1729 she was given a more generous than usual sum from Lady Harvey's Gift, 10 shillings, and in January 1730 she was given four shillings, "being sick". On June 9th 1730 the churchwarden records. "cash paid Do. [Mrs Smith] burying charges of Repentance Hedges 17s 6d".

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About this Biography

Created by

Robert Shoemaker

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