The name Clarinda Stanley appears three times in Hampshire records in the eighteenth century. The first reference is in the Midsummer Quarter Sessions at Winchester in 1744, when Peter Stanley, Richard and Millicent Stanley, their daughter Clarinda, together with James Scamp, Thomas and Elgina (?Algenny) Scamp and their daughter Mary, are brought from Odiham House of Correction. Are these two families related? (Algenny is a name which appears in the Stanleys and Clarinda a popular name in the Scamps; this may simply be coincidence, but it is possible that Millicent Stanley was a Scamp before her union with Richard, the county of Kent being popular with both family groups.)
Peter Stanley was, almost certainly, the husband of Jane/Jenny, with whom he had children baptised in Hampshire and Berkshire, between 1737 and 1756; Richard Stanley is a cousin, son of Hercules and Parthenia, and he and his wife, Millicent, were to baptise their known children in Hampshire, Dorset and Surrey. There is no age given for Clarinda, but a gap in the family might suggest a birth in about 1743, and it is possible that hers is the baptism recorded at Rotherfield Greys, Oxfordshire, of a Clarenda, daughter of a traveller, baptised 13th March 1742/3.
A Clarinda Stanley appears again in the Midsummer Quarter Sessions in Winchester in 1780, together with Sylvia and Caroline Stanley, all described as vagabonds. If this is the same Clarinda she is at least 37 years of age, the other two women much younger. Sylvia/Selbea is, in all probability, the daughter of Peter, son of the first Peter Stanley mentioned, and his wife, Sarah, who was baptised at Hampreston, Dorset, on 20th May 1760. She married William Fletcher at Millbrook, Hampshire, in January 1781, and a Clarinda Stanley married a Thomas Tapps at Portsea St. Mary on 13th May 1782. This surely indicates that she is not the original Clarinda, born in about 1743, but a daughter of William and Ann Stanley, travellers, born in 1760; this couple were also the parents of Caroline Stanley, baptised at St. Mary Bourne, Hampshire on 2nd April 1758. Caroline, too, married at Portsea St. Mary, to a John Fletcher on 1st May 1784.
In the early eighteenth century, and living in London, Clarinda reappears in a satirical report in the Morning Post of 24th October 1814:
Clarinda Tapps, an ancient Sybil, was charged by Caroline Walker with having defrauded her of 2s 6d under pretence of opening to her the page of futurity. It appeared that the prophetess resided in Maypole Alley, and Mrs. Walker, having heard of her fame, went to enquire what lot was written down for her in the book of fate. Having obtained admission to the presence of the venerable matron, she was informed if she wished to have her fortune well told, she must deposit 2s 6d as an offering at the shrine of information. This request was complied with, though rather reluctantly. Several mystic rites were then performed. The Temple was fumigated, and the sacred book was opened. The fortune of the curious enquirer appeared in the brightest colours. She was informed that, though at present a single woman, she would soon marry; that fate had decided she should have 11 children, all of whom should travel and be fortunate. It happened, unfortunately, that Mrs. Walker was already married. This made her entertain doubts of the skills of the prophetess; she demanded her money back and, on its being refused, had the prophetess committed as a vagabond to prison.
Clarinda’s first child with Thomas had been born on home territory, and given his father’s name when he was baptised on 14th November 1784 at Portsea, Southampton. However, two further children attributable to the couple were born in the following decade in London: Margaret Frances was baptised at St. George’s, Southwark on 5th January 1792, born the previous November; another daughter, Caroline Clarinda, was baptised at the same location in April 1800, having been born on in November 1799.
On 29th January 1800 there is a settlement examination for Thomas Tapps and his wife, Clarinda, in London:
Thomas Tapps, 55 his wife, Clarinda, and three children, Richard, 10, William, 2, and a female infant, born in November. Thomas was born in St. Peter, Bedford and 22 years ago married at Kingston, near Portsmouth, Hampshire. He lived for four years as an apprentice to Mr. Thomas Simpson of Cow Cross, pipe makers, then ran away and enlisted as a soldier.
It was, in reality, 18 years since Thomas and Clarinda had married, but the location is correct and the three children listed include Caroline Clarinda, born just two months prior to the settlement examination. Their first child, Thomas, who would have been about 16, is not with them and, as Margaret Frances is also absent, she probably died young. Richard and William are interesting additions to the known children of this couple.
Clarinda and Thomas, therefore, appear to have settled in Southwark, where Clarinda seems to have made a number of court appearances. In the Easter of 1802 she accused William Wilkes, a labourer, and his wife, Esther, of ‘assault and threatened violence.’ The case was dismissed. In January 1808 Clarinda was in court again, accusing Mary Peggs and John Nichols of ‘feloniously stealing a silver watch and other articles, the property of Thomas Tapps.’ They were both acquitted. Finally, in 1814, a few months before she herself was to be imprisoned, she accused Patrick Sullivan of ‘assault and threatened violence.’ He was found guilty and imprisoned in the county gaol for three months.
Clarinda, wife of Thomas Tapps, also appears in the Southwark rate books, for the years 1821 to 1831, the location where she had worked as a fortune teller; by this time her address is Red Cross Court, Red Cross Street, in the parish of St. Saviour’s. It was, unsurprisingly, a poor district. There is a City of London Burial record of a Cliorander Tapps, which is surely her, being buried on 10th June 1829 at Ireland Yard, St. Anne’s, Blackfriars. This is very close to her address in Red Cross Street, and indicates that Clarinda died long before she could pay those rates in 1831. The record of her death lists her age as 67, giving a birth year of 1762, which was, after all, only two years out.