Mary Clarke

Mary Clarke (later Mary Bailey) was the daughter of labourer William Clarke and his wife Susanna Rolf of Botesdale, Suffolk, England.

In February 1835, she gave birth to her first child, outside of marriage - Caroline. Roughly two years later, she then gave birth to a son - Edward Jarman Clarke. Whilst there appears to be no indication of the father of these two children - or whether it was the same man, Caroline would often refer to her father as being an 'Alfred Woods'.

In November 1838, she married Botesdale labourer and widower, William Bailey, whose first wife Sarah had died (possibly during the birth of their fourth child).

Together, Mary and William had seven children, adding to both of their previous families.

However on the 12th March 1841, Mary appeared in court charged with neglect and assault of two of her step-daughters - Emma Bailey and Louisa Bailey. After conclusive evidence - including from neighbours, the children themselves, and other local people, Mary was charged with neglect and assault and sentenced to serve six months hard labour at Ipswich County Gaol. The gaol is known to have had several treadwheels by this stage, and so Mary probably had to tread endlessly and pointlessly on the wheel for hours each day. Her first and last month were served in solitary confinement.

William served two months for neglect - the second month in solitary confinement.

As a result of her conviction, she was not present when the enumerator visited the family in 1841. Instead, she was in prison with her six month old daughter Emily.

She appears in the Hartismere Union Workhouse in Eye, Suffolk, for the 1851 and 1881 censuses. Of which the former, she appears with the youngest of her children.

She is also noted as present at the death of her husband, at Hartismere Union Workhouse in November 1869.

Her death date is currently unknown, and a few attempts to find it have led to incorrect death certificates. The search continues.

Life Events


  • 19th January 1810 in Wattisfield, Suffolk, England.


  • William Bailey (1806-1869) on 8th November 1838 at St. Mary's Church, Redgrave cum Botesdale, Suffolk, England.


Census and Residence

  • 1841: 29yrs, Ipswich County Gaol and House of Correction, St. Helen's Street, Ipswich, Suffolk, England.
  • 1851: 39yrs, Hartismere Union Workhouse, Eye, Suffolk, England.
  • 1861: 46yrs, Botesdale Street, Botesdale, Suffolk, England.
  • 1871: 60yrs, 20 Back Hills, Botesdale, Suffolk, England.
  • 1881: 68yrs, Hartismere Union Workhouse, Eye, Suffolk, England.


  • 1881: Housekeeper (Inmate) at Hartismere Union Workhouse.


  • After 1881, location unknown.


  • Location not yet known.


  • William Clarke (17??-?)
  • Susanna Rolf (17??-?)


  • Not yet known
  • Not yet known
  • John Rolf (17??-?)
  • Not yet known

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