In an article in Romany Routes about Artula Stanley, baptised on 22nd May 1741 at St. Bartholomew’s Church, Winchester, Hampshire, ‘daughter of a Gypsy,’ I discussed the possibility that she was descended from a sibling or a child of the Artula Stanley who began having children in about 1717, and who married Solomon Draper in September 1732 in Canterbury, Kent. In fact, Solomon and Artula did have a daughter named for her mother, but she died in infancy.

As a result of some fine research by RTFHS member Mark Hughes we now know the ‘daughter of a Gypsy’ was surely a niece of the original Artula, the child of Artula’s brother, Hercules Stanley, and his wife Parthenia, who also began having children at the same time, often favouring the same territory. We know this principally because of a removal record for Parthenia Stanley and her family from Standlynch, Wiltshire to Dorset in the winter of 1764.

To begin somewhere near the beginning, Jackson’s Oxford Journal of 19th January 1760 recorded the case of ‘Thomas Horne, a Gypsy, and Artula, his wife [who] were tried on an indictment for stealing a black mare seized in their custody a few weeks ago, and as they were passing through this place,’ adding that ‘the man was found guilty and sentenced to be hanged, and the woman acquitted.’ Thomas Horne/Hearn’s wife was the Artula Stanley baptised in 1741, and we know this because she was to baptise a daughter, Elizabeth, at Hagbourne, Berkshire on 10th August 1760, daughter of Thomas and Artola (sic) Hearn, indeed she was probably pregnant at the time of the trial. This little Elizabeth was to figure in the removal records of 1764, described as Parthenia Stanley’s granddaughter.

Artula survived only a few years after the baptism of her child, and was buried in Laverstock, Wiltshire as Artuly Hearn in 1764. Laverstock is significant here as it is also the location for the baptism of Moses Stanley, son of Mary and Paul, in December 1764. Ten days after Moses’ birth the vagrancy pass for Mary, wife of Paul, ‘who had gone from her, ‘daughters Eliphalet, aged about 6, Temperance, aged about 4, and baby Moses, as well as that for Parthenia Stanley, wife of Edward (which suggests an alternative name for Hercules), and grandchildren Robert, aged about 7, and Elizabeth, aged about 4, was issued and shows the group being returned to ‘Fivepenny Okeford’ (Okeford Fitzpaine), in Dorset, which they claimed as their place of origin.

Mary had almost certainly contracted a cousin marriage in her union with Paul Stanley, son of Peter, probably younger brother of Hercules, and his wife, Jane/Jenny, and a baptism of a Mary Stanlock (sic), daughter of Hercules, sojourner, at Cobham, Surrey, on 12th February 1737 is surely hers. Since Hercules and Parthenia had baptised their first known child, Hercules, in 1717, Richard in 1719, Edward in 1723 (but buried a week later), Peter in 1730 (dying a fortnight later), Mary in 1737, the baptism of Artula would have occurred when Parthenia would have been about 41 or 42, and was therefore probably her last child.

Mary and Paul’s first known child was a daughter, Sarah, who was baptised in Chieveley, Berkshire in 1755, and probably died young, and another daughter, Temperance, was baptised in Tarrant Gunville, in Dorset, on 30th November 1760. The child recorded as Live/Lett Stanley, child of Thomas (sic) and Mary at Crawley, Hampshire in the December of 1758, is an excellent candidate for the Eliphalet mentioned in the vagrancy pass. The errors, if errors there be, were not uncommon in the eighteenth century, especially where Gypsies were concerned, often because they were baptised at their camp site and details entered later, from memory.

Interestingly, a common practise in removal records was to divide any children present evenly amongst the adults, where possible; this suggests that it is possible the Robert with Parthenia is actually Mary’s son, although he, like little Elizabeth, could be a Hearn, son of Thomas with a previous wife, as perhaps he is too old to be the child of Artula, unless, of course, hers was a late baptism in 1741.

A postscript to this narrative is another burial. We know that, around the same time as the vagrancy pass was issued, an Edward Stanley was held in prison in Wiltshire and that, in the April of 1765, it was decided to send him to the Assizes in Berkshire. It is likely that this is Hercules, held whilst the women and children were subject to removal to their place of origin, and Paul, very sensibly, absconded. It is equally likely that Parthenia would return as soon as possible to the county, and to her husband. Could she be the woman, name unknown, simply recorded as the ‘wife of Edward Stanlee,’ who was buried in June 1765 in the same churchyard in Laverstock where Artula had been buried just a year before? I believe so. Ultimately, Mary Stanley was to be buried in Wiltshire at Landford, about ten miles distant from Laverstock, her husband Paul probably having died 13 years earlier, and buried in Dorset, ‘a stranger and pauper.’ A memorial stone marks the burial spot of ‘Mary Stanley, died 1797, aged 60, Queen of the Stanley tribe.’ An article by a cleric of St. Andrew’s church at Landford, Wiltshire, wrote that her husband Paul was also buried there; in fact, Norman Burton has correctly, after some detailed research, found that Paul Stanley is mentioned as her husband on the headstone, but it does not indicate that this is also his burial site, and was merely a mis-reading of the headstone.

  • I am grateful to Norman Burton for travelling to Landford to ascertain the exact reading of the headstone and Mark Hughes for his careful research.