Elizabeth Yexley, d. 1769

A Widow Supported by her Parish

Following the death of her husband, Elizabeth Yelxely became increasingly reliant on the parish for relief. She was fortunate to be settled in a parish, St Dionis Backchurch, which provided relatively generous relief, despite her occasional misbehaviour.

Early Life

Little is known about Elizabeth Yexley’s early life. Her marriage record of 1745 states she was born Elizabeth Jones and resided in the parish of St Botolph Aldgate. Elizabeth married Robert Yexley, a widower, on 14 July 1745 at St Dunstan’s in the East. Baptismal records indicate their daughter, also named Elizabeth, was christened 17 July 1748 in the parish of St Stephen, Coleman Street. It is also likely she had a son, James, baptised 13 May 1747 in the same parish, although it is unclear whether he was still living when Elizabeth first applied for settlement.1

Issue of Settlement

The first time we come across Elizabeth Yexley in London Lives is through a complaint from the parish of St Giles Cripplegate in April 1761 complaining that Elizabeth was illegally settled there and 'is likely to become chargeable'. Following this letter, upon inspection into Elizabeth’s past she was transferred to the parish of St Dionis Backchurch as she claimed it to be her late husband’s last settlement.

On the 23rd April 1761 Elizabeth was brought in front of the churchwardens and overseers of the poor of St Dionis Backchurch and examined. Elizabeth reported that her husband died in 175s and she claimed that St Dionis Backchurch was his last parish of settlement as she was informed he kept a pork shop on Leadenhall market and lived with his first wife there. Following his death, Elizabeth said she worked for upwards of a year at Mr Peter Pope’s Hosier in Fenchurch Street and for Mr Upton, an attorney, in Great Winchester Street.

On further inspection the overseers found that Robert Yexley had rented a house for £20 per annum on the corner of Leadenhall market and Elizabeth was allowed to settle in St Dionis Backchurch.

Parish Support

On the 14th April and the 23rd April 1761, the day Elizabeth was moved from St Giles and went for her settlement examination, St Dionis Backchurch provided Elizabeth with a few shillings of relief and again in May she received money for relief and to redeem her clothes from pawn. Throughout her life in St Dionis Backchurch Elizabeth appears in the churchwarden's and overseers of the poor account books and in the minutes of the parish vestry as a member of the casual poor or receiving casual support.

In and Out of the Workhouse

On the 9th January 1762, possibly because she was unwell, Elizabeth entered the workhouse of Mr Birch at Rose Lane Spittlefields and stayed there for nine weeks until the 10th of March. The parish paid for her to receive attention from an apothecary and to enter a hospital.

In the August and early December of 1762 she appears as a member of the casual poor receiving a few shillings for relief from the parish, yet on the 21st December Elizabeth was readmitted to the workhouse. She was given £1 2s 6d to redeem her clothes from pawn and in January 1763 the parish paid for a new pair of shoes, two pairs of stockings, two aprons, two handkerchiefs and a shift. On the 1st March 1763, the Workhouse Inquest Minute Book notes that Elizabeth was called in and 'reprimanded for her elopement from the house and her infamous behaviour'. On the 26th November 1763 Elizabeth left the workhouse to go out for service having received the previous day money to fetch her Sunday clothes from pawn and a new wardrobe including two shifts, two aprons, two handkerchiefs, a pair of shoes and an undercoat.

Elizabeth does not appear again until the following year on the 26th December when she received money from Lady Osborne's gift to the parish as a member of the casual poor.

Yet by the end of 1765 Elizabeth appeared to be back at the workhouse where she was given a new gown, upper coat and medical attention. Alongside the gifts of money she received from the parish and wealthy residents, the parish also paid Elizabeth for looking after Simonds, a foundling who was take in at the workhouse.

A Change of Address

The parish changed its workhouse contractor to a house at Hoxton run by Messrs Hughes and Philips. Elizabeth was moved there on the 15th August 1767 and ordered to be punished as much as is consistant with the order of ye House, for her exceedingly ill behaviour. She was not being allowed to leave the house and ‘to have as few & bad cloaths as possible’. Yet in November she was ordered to be entirely clothed.


From her arrival in the parish Elizabeth appears to have suffered from an unnamed illness and she was treated several times in hospital and by an apothecary. When she returned to the workhouse at the end of 1765 it appeared to be more severe as she remained in the workhouse and received medical attention several times. On the 11th June 1767 her hospital expenses were paid for and on the 1st December the overseers and church wardens 'enquired whether she had an apothecary'.

Elizabeth appears to have remained in the workhouse until her death in 1769. She received considerable support from the parish during her time with money from the parish for relief, clothes and on one occasion a pair of spectacles alongside a part of the annual gifts of money from Lady Osborne and Alderman Abdy. In June 1769 Hughes and Philips were paid by the parish for her expenses at the hospital and again for medical expenses in July, and on the 1st of August 1769 they were reimbursed for the cost of her burial.

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External Sources


1 FamilySearch.org, consulted 21.03.12.

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About this Biography

Created by

Hannah Wallace

Further contributions by

Eleanor Veryard