Jane Sewell’s name appears regularly on the surviving vouchers for Skelton parish, between 1784 and 1788, usually receiving the sum of £0.19s.6d for the maintenance of her child. Sometimes the bills are signed by her father John or by her with her mark, a cross. Therefore, it is presumed Jane was not literate enough to sign. Jane’s name also appears on the list of those receiving payments in the Churchwarden and Overseers’ Account Book of 1788 (see Ann Stubbs). The payments being made by Isaac Dodd, Vestry Clerk.
Baptised on 3 May 1759 in Skelton parish, Jane was the daughter of John Sewell, a yeoman. She appears to have lived most of her life there. She was in Skelton when Rev Tovey Jolliffe purchased the place she occupied in 1820. (See the separate blog on Jolliffe). Jane had five siblings: Izilla (1760–1766); John (bap. 1763); twins, Timothy and Mary (bap. 1765) who both died within a few days; and Zillah (bap. 1766). Their father died on 17 April 1813.
Jane had 4 children Mary (bap. 1779), Henry (bap. 1784), Anne (bap. 1788) and Rahel (bap. 1793). The father of one is known. All baptized in Skelton. She actively sought financial assistance for her children. The Warrants for refusal to pay on Bastardy orders at Cumbria Archives reveal a letter written by William Wilson, Justice of the Peace, asking the Constables to summon the Overseers to explain why Jane has been refused relief.
Whereas Jane Sewell of your parish hath this day made oath unto me William Wilson that she the sd [said]Jane Sewell is very poor and not able to provide for herself and bastard child and that the Sd [said] Jane Sewell did at several times apply to the overseers of the poor of the parish and was by them refused to be relieved. Then one therefore does require you to summon two of the overseers of the poor of Skelton parish to appear before me on Tuesday next at the house of Mrs Roper, Sun Inn, Penrith, in the county at the hour of eleven o’clock in the forenoon to show cause why relief should not be given to the Sd [said] Jane Sewell.
The letter is dated 28 September 1784. From the vouchers that have been found it appears Jane did eventually get her relief.
By 1793 Jane was once again seeking help for her children. Again through the jurisdiction of William Wilson.
As on the oath of Jane Sewell of Skelton in the said county of Cumberland single woman that on the seventeenth day of June last the said Jane Sewell was delivered of a female bastard child at Skelton and that John Nicholson of Skelton is the father of the said bastard child is now living and likely to become chargeable to the said parish of Skelton.
The Constables of the parish were ordered to bring Jane Sewell to Isaac Wilkinson’s house to be further examined while John Nicholson was also to attend to make his lawful defence. The putative father was responsible for the maintenance of illegitimate children, the parish authority releasing funds until the father could do so. In 1792 this was the case with Jane’s brother John Sewell. He was ordered first to pay £1.3s 6d to the Overseers of Skelton then £0.1s.9d weekly as he was adjudged to be the reputed father of Mary Jackson’s child.
Jane Sewell was buried at Skelton the 30 March 1823 aged 63.
Cumbria Archives Carlisle
PR 10/81, Skelton Oversees of the Poor and Churchwarden accounts book, 1734-1817
PR 10/72-80, Skelton Warrants for refusal to pay on Bastardy orders, 1779–1806
DCC 1/47, Deeds Mostly small properties in Skelton mainly sold to Thomas James and Thornbarrow (p. Hutton) and Penrith, 1736-1801 and to the Rev Tovey Jolliffe Rector of Skelton 1796-1820
PR 10/V/16, Skelton Overseers’ Vouchers
PR 10, The register of the parish church of Skelton 1580-1812 baptisms burials, and marriages, marriages and deaths 1813-1832