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Bowker, Agnes (b. 1541/2), servant and alleged mother of a cat, was the daughter of Henry Bowker, a yeoman or butcher of Market Harborough, Leicestershire, and suffered from fits of 'the falling sickness' or epilepsy. Although she described being once sent to live in ...

Article

Cakebread, Jane (1827/1828–1898), inebriate and subject of medical enquiry, was born in Sawbridgeworth, Hertfordshire, the daughter of James Cakebread (1783/4–1852), a carpenter and carter originally from Clavering, Essex, and his wife, Susan (1793/4–1863) of Sawbridgeworth. The eldest surviving daughter in a large family, ...

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Jane Cakebread (1827/18281828–1898) by unknown photographer, 1895 The National Archives

Article

Maillard [married name Briel], Marie (1680–1731), beneficiary of miraculous healing, was born in Cognac, St Ouge, France, on 25 September 1680. A Huguenot, in 1689 she escaped from persecution in France with her parents, John Maillard, a sword-cutler, and Charlotte du Dognon...

Article

Gordon Goodwin

revised by H. C. G. Matthew

M'Avoy, Margaret (1800–1820), impostor, was born at Liverpool of respectable parentage on 28 June 1800. Of sickly constitution, she appeared to become totally blind in June 1816. Her case attracted considerable contemporary attention from the readiness with which she was alleged to distinguish, by touch, colours of cloth, silk, and stained glass. She could also accurately describe the height, dress, bearing, and other characteristics of her visitors, and even decipher letters in a printed book or manuscript with her fingers' ends, so as to be able to read with tolerable fluency. ...

Article

Moore [née Peg], Ann (b. 1761), the fasting woman of Tutbury, was born on 31 October 1761 at Rosliston, Derbyshire, the daughter of a labourer and sawyer, William Peg. She went into domestic service, and in 1788 married a fellow farm servant, ...

Article

Toft [née Denyer], Mary (bap. 1703, d. 1763), the rabbit-breeder, daughter of John and Jane Denyer, was baptized at Godalming, Surrey, on 21 February 1703. She married Joshua Toft, a journeyman clothier, about 1720. They had three children, Mary, Anne, and James...

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Mary Toft (bap. 1703, d. 1763) by John Faber junior (after John Laguerre) © National Portrait Gallery, London