Mary Partridge b. 1764

Servant Girl and Thief

After working as a servant and receiving some parish relief, Mary Partridge became involved in crime, perhaps as a result of her job as a servant to a pawnbroker.

Early Life

There is no definitive birth date for Mary Partridge. However, as she was 26 years old when examined by the parish officers of St Clement Danes in 1790, she was born around 1764. The information given in her settlement examination indicates that she was a servant from the age of 15, but no other details of her early life are available.

Work as a Servant

From the age of 15 to 22 Mary was a servant in New Street Covent Garden for 7 years, in the parish of St Martin in the Fields. She worked for a Mr Calverts earning a substantial wage of £8 12s per annum, before leaving his service. She did not explain the reason for her departure.

Mary swore under oath that she then did not work as a 'yearly hired servant' for the next 4 years before applying to the parish for relief. But when she testified against William Warton for stealing silk stockings in 1787, she was identified as a servant to Mr Hird of Oxford street who was a pawn broker. Mary testified that the prisoner had pawned two, stolen, silk stockings with her at Hird’s pawn shop.

Parish Relief and the Workhouse

Mary applied for relief on the 6th May 1790 in the parish of St Clement Danes but was denied settlement and instead ordered to be removed to St Martin's in the Fields, where she had previously been employed. She was admitted into the St Martin's Workhouse that same day, staying for just over two weeks before she was discharged from the workhouse on the 22nd May 1790.

The Old Bailey

At the February 1791 sessions of the Old Bailey, Mary was indicted for privately stealing a silver watch worth 20 shillings, having been held for some time at Bridewell awaiting her trial. Her attempts at obtaining parish assistance suggest that she may have committed the theft out of necessity. At this time Mary was in a relationship with a Joseph Smallwood, a journeyman, who was tried alongside her for receiving the stolen goods. Whilst living with Smallwood, Mary adopted the name of Mary Smallwood, although they were 'not married but live together as man and wife'. It was later alleged by the Evening Mail that the couple had been living together for two years. 1

The accusation of theft was brought forward by Martin Everet who testified that having left The King's Bench, after two or three pots of beer, he was invited home by a woman on a street corner before being pushed by a man, to then find his watch to be gone. There were varying accounts of the theft, with Hannah Harrington testifying that Mary had confessed she stole the watch from a foreigner's waist coat.

There is an indication that the theft may have been linked to participation in gangs. Harrington testified that she had an accident with her eye because two 'young fellows came behind me, and said, that is she that is against Smallwood; and they knocked me down on one side and on the other'. She further claimed that two of the witnesses brought in to give character references to Partridge and Smallwood were Partridge’s sister and brother-in-law, hinting they had been brought in to give false testimony in order to secure the prisoners’ freedom. Although in 1787 Mary had given evidence in the case of William Warton, as she was pawned 2 pair of cotton stockings... for 4 shillings,' Mary may well have been involved in selling and trading of illegal goods well before she was indicted herself.

In her defence, Mary proclaimed her innocence, and called several character references. Elizabeth Camplin stated that Hannah Harrington was 'seeking revenge' and that she had 'trusted [Mary] with a great deal of her property'. George Tellick similarly testified that he 'had never heard that she wronged a person of anything'. Nonetheless, both Mary and John were found guilty.


Mary was sentenced to 7 years transportation and John to 14 years. On the 28th May 1791 Mary and John were transported to Australia on the Pitt India Man. Along with 404 other prisoners, Mary was bound for New South Wales in Australia.2 She does not appear in the records after this date so it is not clear whether she returned after her 7 year sentence.

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External Sources


1 Evening Mail (London, England), February 18, 1791 - February 21, 1791; Issue 310.

2 Convict Transportation Registers Database, consulted 29 February 2012.

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About this Biography

Created by

Anna Gavrieldes

Further contributions by

Eleanor Veryard