One night in 1817, a woman appeared in the village of Almondsbury, in England. No one could figure out who she was. But everyone wanted to solve the mystery.
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help on all states in situations where, once upon a time, one might be
in that way,
Strange woman turned up in a cottage
which called almonds berry, which is several miles outside of the city of Bristol, to very bustling port city. At the time this is professor MEG grass. The date is April,
third, eighteen, seventeen and
seemed to be speaking a language that no,
around her understood the woman looked to be about twenty five years old, with pale skin and dark hair. She was wearing a black dress.
With a red and black cotton shawl wrapped around her shoulders and another shawl wrapped around her head. People noticed that
that our hands are very smooth. Like you
I've been using them for work. She was carrying almost nothing a small bar of soap and a few anguish coins, Jews first taken what was called the
overseer of the poor. The overseer offered her money, but the woman wouldn't take it. She made it clear that she was very tired and needed. A place
sleep. Eventually, she was brought before the
local magistrate, Mr Whirl, who was-
a very well to do landowner and in the village and
He couldn't understand her either, but apparently he he had a greek servant and it was hoped that somehow the
It would be able to speak with her
didn't turn out to be the case. The woman continued to make it clear she needed to sleep, and eventually Mr Wall and his wife decided to get her room at the village in she refused certain foods
She appeared not to know what a bed was for and tried to make up her her bedding
the ground. She only agreed to sleep on the bed after
to the innkeepers young daughter, climbed on it and showed her. How to
all this added
is added to the sense that she was a person who was totally
well, english or european customs and ways of life that she had never seen a bed before
before. So she wouldn't know that this is what you slept on exactly right at one point, the woman song,
we should of a pineapple on the wall of the parlor and appeared to get very excited people in the room, thought she was trying
tell them that she recognized pineapples from home and they started to think that are home must be very far away from the village of almonds, berry and then very
villagers, and increasingly, as the word spread other you know, curious.
bodies of one sort or another. You know tried to engage
To engage in conversation, got to understand her missus
we're all the magistrates wife visited her at the Inn the woman lit up when she saw her
and Missus Whirl decided to take the woman home with her until they could figure out what to do
Mrs world was an American somewhat out of place. Herself am, was
probably a more curious person. Quite frankly, then, her husband was and am, and she may have felt
tat. She had the wherewithal. You know to kind of care for this person
until more was discovered about her. But she
also warn her apparently quite severely about
The danger of being committed to the workhouse and there were sort of two possible
things that could happen to somebody who was caught begging in those in oh by ways of
England at that time if they were determined to be a vagrant, which means that they were essentially homeless
visible means of support, etc. They would be taken up before the local
for the local authority, could suffer, very severe, consequences could be, could be, could be put in the stocks and eventually would be,
despatched to wherever they were believed to have come from my grasp. It says the other thing that could happen was that you'd be sentenced to a workhouse. It was tantamount to prison
tend to be extremely menial and difficult, and people were even known to starve to death in in the workhouses so being taken for a vagrant. What about the you know the not quite a fate worse than death, but pretty close MRS Worrell wanted to help the woman, but she was also a little bit suspicious. She reportedly said to her my good young woman. I very much
I very much fear that you are imposing upon me and the u understand and can answer me in my own language. If so and distress has driven you to this expedient make a friend of me, I'm a female as yourself
and can feel for you and will give you money and clothes and will put you on your journey without disclosing your conduct to anyone. But it must be on condition that you speak the truth. If you to see
I think it right to inform you that Mr Worrell is a magistrate and has the power of sending you to prison. The woman made no
sign of recognition or
fear, or even understanding when the word workhouse was mentioned, and in
she never responded to you, no words.
sentences, questions spoken in English, other
circulating, or she didn't appear
understand anything that was asked or said to her it.
the wife. The kind of wife was kind of thing, hey level with me, get you in trouble, but you're going to get yourself in trouble. Let's figure out
exactly what's going on here.
im down on a piece of paper and showed it to her. She said her name, Elizabeth Warren,
a few times and tried to give the pen and paper to the woman,
paper to the woman indicating that she should do the same
the woman just shook her head and then she pointed to herself and said caribou and that's
That's what she came to be called the
here to see if he might know what to do with her, but he couldn't figure out where she
he couldn't figure out where she might have come from or who she could be either. So she was committed to Saint Peter S, hospital a home for poor residents of this
wouldn't touch any of the food there and she refused to sleep in the beds. Mrs Worrell couldn't couldn't stand it. She came to pick her up
people came to visit and introduce themselves. People who would travel
The sight of England were especially eager to meet her and try to determine
He was speaking. Some visitors thought she could be speaking. Greek others thought turkish. Some people thought to speaking a dialect of Chinese. At one point, a sailor came to visit and, to everyone's surprise, he claimed he could act
claimed he could act as an interpreter for her by Mr Manuel Inez. So who was portuguese and had spent some time in Malaysia?
came to interview her and
It's from that with the information that she was. A person of consequence who had from her native country
which he described as being near Sumatra and
that she had been kidnapped and brought
all the way to the coast of England, where she had managed a kind of miraculous escape
the planted story, seed, a seed and its new visitors would arrive to meet her. They would was caribou shoes.
was caribou. She was the
thus of an island called Java. Sue, which, it came to be believed, was
somewhere near Malaysia,
her father was chinese. Her mother was malaysian and
one day. She was out sort of with her Ladys in waiting doing something
and on the beach and a pirate
captured her and abducted her to his pirate brig, and then they went sailing
Then they went sailing sort of all over the place,
really a map was reconstructed of the rough map of her travels all over the world.
Finally, she way.
her way to the coast of Bristol
there. She was able somehow to elude
jump into the ocean close enough to the coast that she could swim to shore
when she could swim illustrations of
the flags from various countries, ports and asked her to point to any that look familiar
The book familiar. She closed her eyes and shook her head. People said this must mean she been held prisoner
deck, where she couldn't see anything at all and so in low morals. Here the story of of this woman of this princess who's going to this terrible ordeal, they ask her to stay. They moved her into their enormous estate. It was called Knoll Park, but this woman was not a princess. Her name was Mary Baker and she'd grown up about eighty miles down the road, I'm Phoebe Jack.
This is criminal me
Tell me about this woman growing up. Who was this woman? She
been born into a family. Where I will, I believe they were here. The father was a cobbler
and no doubt very small time farmer as one was at the time in a village called with rich
in Devon sure and
in a dire way and she had been of a sort of a wild girl in her youth.
And she had been of
a wild girl in her youth. Apparently she was in it. She was very flooding she loved to play
boys games hang out with boys and
at some point either her parents kind of.
Their her parents, kind of inner shoved
long, her way or she just left and
eight or wait London, where she worked as a servant in it, few different households and in a kind of
various things. While she was at one at one of her places of employment, she learned how to read at least in a room
Eventually she lost. What I believe was the last of her servant, jobs because she set fire to a bed and, not surprisingly, was kicked out,
after that she, but she would. She was known for talent entertaining small children with kind of wild stories about herself and in places that she'd visited and so forth anyway. So she takes up
wandering life. She she
She committed herself to the Magdalen House, which was sort of reformatory for prostitute.
who were trying to change there.
Surely of life, but eventually she was kicked out of there too, because she hadn't been nowhere prostitute. So
shape in a really kind of had nowhere to go once she
fallen below the servant class.
below the servant class. She
in no class- and she was
hundred around the country, doing sort of odd jobs falling in with different. You know, rogues unreal,
then she seems to have fallen in with a kind of a band of robbers at one point so so she was wandering from place to place without much.
in it with our really any prospects, kind of learning all the way and the hard scrabble in a school of life. So why not try something else? How you know what's the loops, what are the options
John Matthew, Gulch was the editor of Felix Farley's. Bristol journal,
Bristol Journal. He wrote an account
Mary Hoax, it was published in eighteen
seventeen in it, he wrote that you got
idea to pretend you didn't speak English after
From Normandy who had established a kind of lace making factory
wished, a kind of lace making factory outside of Bristol, and she noticed that
They had an unusual headdress and that they were attracting a lot of attention in a frumpy.
This by either because they were, they were dressed differently. They spoke differently, so they were visiting their visible.
foreignness made them into us
not to have felt that she was, as you know, as a kind of
runaway servant, vagrant beggar. She wasn't glamorous
She wasn't glamorous enough to be interesting,
imagining herself doing. Doesn't you know she? She maybe she was trying to be
maybe she was trying to be taken for French, but after all, plenty of people could speak for.
so that wasn't going work for long. So so she kept kind of
thing elaborating to elude exposure
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many speakers is one of the most influential pop artists in the twenty first century, but the one thing that's been given too little
tension is her music. I music colleges slowly and with my friend,
songwriter Charlie Harding. I'm the the of vultures Pike Ass switched on pop all about the making and meaning upon this month were breaking down Britney's classics. In a four part, many serious called listening to Britain join us as
war time too toxic and more we'll take a deeper, listen to the influences, sound and cultural impact, a piece of classic pop hips check out listening to Britney on switched on pop wherever you get your podcasts, the whole performance seems to have started for her, maybe not exactly on a lark but without a whole lot of premeditation and did she expect
out of premeditation in did she expect to be taken for anyone in particular? I don't think so. I think she was probably you know trying to avoid being.
consigned to the workhouse, but it seems to have been kind of
in everybody's interest to to have a
story about her. It made MRS Worrell feel important that she was hosting the you know the princess of this silent. You know Java Sue, one thousand, eight hundred and seventeen a lot of what the visitors coming to the world's house to see this princess might have known about. The world. East of Europe came from literature, vague romanticize descriptions of the so called Orient Samuel Taylor, Coleridge's,
Kublai Khan was published one year before Lord Byron work. The came to be known as the turkish tales or oriental tales was incredibly popular at this time, he's been called the most fashionable poet of the early teen hundreds, and so people who wanted to be seen as fashionable well run
and worldly too willing to say out loud to one another, a real place. People brought illustrations and objects for her to identify and they kept going back over the and they kept going back over the biggest clue they had the sailor had arrived in story.
So you know seems to have been a bit of a rogue who probably thought that he could kind of you know ride on the coattails of this person's celebrity
on the coat tails of this person celebrity by making up a story that would
and so whether she somehow gave him
stand by somehow
him to understand by gestures or in or pictures
something that there was a pirate.
In a who had objected her or whether this was what he kind of thought would be agreed.
story, and she then kind of went along with she did it.
Thing. She could to keep people thinking
she was the lost princess, they all believed her to be and not marry Baker from down the road.
Well shoe and every time she saw a body of water, she would sufficient jump right into it in and swim very vigorously. This was not something that that
young lady european young ladies did. She would sing
songs that her own in her own language she cooked she out.
her own pigeon and Meda made a courier out of it and
early. Someone tried it and said that it tasted very good so.
seems to have done everything she could both to show
young English. Women knew how to swim. I know or or you know, could shoot a bow in a you know, with a bow and arrow and hit
shoot a bow and arrow with a bow and arrow and hit something she carried around.
on her dress, she actually fought?
sash on on her dress. She actually mock duel with
they had a kind of mock duel with dagger
or swords in which she apparently trounced him.
So she up. She was probably having a ball and all this time
living in the world's mansion. The world had a quite extensive library
and up and she was given free access to all their books, alot of which were large expensively produced picture books.
Many of them Travelogue Captain
cooks voyages which both described
and also pictorial depicted Tahiti, the costumes of two
the customs of Tahiti
Samuel Raffles, is book on Sumatra, which had just been published
probably never seen so many books in her life
she certainly understood spoken. English
I read English though she not clear how well and she certainly understood- spoken English,
and she could look at all these pictures all she wanted to she. Could you don't get ideas? You know what did Jagger look like
Sumatra or Tahiti, where what would she carry
true or to Haiti, where what
which carry around. How would she, how is she comport herself and then all the visitors who came to the world's is in
hope of solving the mystery themselves brought their own.
sections with them, their own information or in a believed, expertise in vain, feigned oriel expertise about languages etc? So she was both, I think,
gathering material from from
because they believed she couldn't understand English, because she didn't betray any knowledge of English.
Understand English, because she didn't betray any knowledge of English. They would get a feel quite free to discuss right in front of her face. What sort of did and didn't make sense as far as what they of they thought they knew they.
bring her things to look at and to identify a little. You know commodity.
That came from various parts of of Asia. A piece of China enough, a fancy comb, indian ink, whatever the case might be, and she knew perfectly well what they were, because they
her name's said what they were. Indian ink surprising comes from India right and it seems as though kind of her method was sort of
they yes of mentally, say yes to to every suggestion that was given to her. So she was
providing all the way with a great deal of help from all the
So she you know she. She gathered lots of clues this way and also from
from her earlier vagrant adventurous life at one point,
adventurous life. At one point she let MRS
and she designed a new outfit for herself
used to wearing.
and she designed to new outfit for herself,
the sleeves are long enough to touch the ground. There's a very bad
sash round the waist Jews, given some fabric, the make the outfit herself
so. She could wear it around the house. She wore peacock feathers on the side of her head and on her feet, sandals without any stockings, and though
There's a portrait of her on made in that costume. Note was commissioned by MRS Whirl of the most eminent artist in breast
into the background, like boats and palm trees, and so the more people came to visit and the more questions they asked
asked the more the more they speculated around her, the more she
they speculated around her. The more she began to present, as it were, as the kind of
representative of the habits and customs and costumes and food, etc that that she had grown up with she even
apparently was very consistent convincingly consistent in the language that she spoke, so that
It was very consistent convincingly can
isn't in the language that she spoke so that all the new one could identify what it was. They could identify that it
its own internal rules.
She fell asleep in some company and
One time when she fell asleep in some company
some one, I guess, tried to stop
her awake with an accusatory statement in English. She showed no comprehension,
she was not.
turn it off.
And came and sort of paid court to her saying you know you are the most beautiful creature I have ever beheld
what he was saying. One story
appear to understand what he was saying? One story goes that one day she over her
the servants talking about how they are going to stay awake at night to see if she said
I fall asleep and then started speaking the made up language. The language she made up was so consistent that her visitor started compiling a vocabulary list of the word she used. She came close to being caught once when she was very
she used, she came close to being caught once when she was very sick and reportedly her cheeks turned red when the doktor said she might die, but her reaction was dismissed as a symptom of her fever after she recovered. She wrote a thank you letter to the doktor who had treated her in her own language. The letter was shared with experts and Bristol in bath.
Some speculated that are language could be related to java knees. A language spoken in Indonesia, the letter
even sent to Oxford University for analysis.
And she correspond with any known language, though her alphabet didn't shown.
respond with any known language.
Had been shown up a book called fries pantograph, which was a kind of a pity of all the existing
For that of the world in a kind of glossary and- and I like libido, she may have sort of base
She never pinned herself down as coming
that she never pinned herself down as
coming from anywhere in particular, and so that the mystery deepened the more expertise and was brought to bear upon it
She must have been worried about being caught and partly because of that she was very vigilant. She was very careful, not you know not to break character, Nina, never to do anything in or out of out of character with the performance that she'd established and she didn't want to be caught because, of course, she didn't want to be sent to the work
She didn't want to be caught because, of course, she didn't want to be sent to the work ass. You wanna be denounced as a vagrant how, in a how long, she
meet somebody who would sort of take her out
She probably was just kind of spending it out.
as long as she could before
She was able to it. Maybe she hoped that she would be able to have scorned before it before the hammer came down. Maybe she hoped she would meet. Some
buddy, who would sort of take her out of that life
seems like there were a lot of admirers in own. Some of them probably did propose to, or at least proposition her. So maybe she was hoping that one of the glance would sort of turn out to be prince, charming one of the experts so
all who had been most besotted with her and who ve been a kind of frequent visitor to the World s mansion was
Mr Charles Wilkinson, who was a kind of it,
known figure around Bristol. He placed a description of her
kind of a glamorized in
persons notice in the local paper Felix Farley's Bristol Journal in the hut,
in the apparent of that this would somehow able to
tell them where she'd actually come from. In his description, he wrote
Such actually come from effect on
it he wrote up,
Is the general effect on all who behold her that, if, before suspected as an the sight of her removes all doubt
It was picked up and published by all the major papers in the UK
was included in the articles, but Mister Wilkins description was precisely
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Mary Baker moved in with the world's they heard from a woman who said she read, Doktor Wilkins detailed description in the newspaper and recognise
Troublemaker and sort of you know recognize the personality, as well as the physical description. She said, the woman who'd been staying with them was not a print
nowadays, as well as the physical description she said, the
and had been staying with them was not a princess, choose her former tenant, and at this point finally, Caribou whose performance crumbled
One Bristol paper reported the bubble has at length neither Miss Caribou,
proves to be neither more nor less than plain Mary Baker. The erratic child of honest parents, in the humble village of with rich in the county of Devon and other paper wrote
the wonderful female who is out witted the doktor puzzled, the learned and astonish the multitude turns out to be a vile impostor she'd, never made a mister
former landlady denounced her as a kind of you know runaway servant,
Mrs world did what is for me in some ways, the most unexpected part of the whole story,
story, which is that
world did what is for me in some ways, the most unexpected Carter. The whole story, which is that instead
being her own head in the sand because she'd been so embarrassed,
in a young woman or kind of bearing her own head in the sand, because she'd been so embarrassed, she booked her up
one way: vote in Trans Atlantic Voyage to America in the hopes that
in her ordinary life would somehow be able to you know,
in in her ordinary life, would somehow
and be able to
make herself reemerged herself in a different country where
news of Mary Baker reached America just before
becomes someone new again of
calls reached America just before she did.
time. She arrived dozens of articles been published about her. Some of them include
people didn't seem to care if it was all a hoax, the gathered at the dock and asked if the
It's on board. Mary Baker got off the ship wearing a veil that covered her face
The princess was on board. Mary Baker got off
Ship wearing a veil of covered. Her face
One thousand eight hundred and seventeen account written by John Matthew, Dutch,
didn't seem to feel very guilty, but she did acknowledge that MRS War
I've, been very kind to her,
she eventually left Philadelphia for New York and from there she wrote a letter to MRS war.
in America, for about seven years and most of that time, is a blank. As far as the historical record goes, you know how. How did she? How did she live during that time? I have no idea
Recal record goes. You know how did she? How did she lived during that time? I have no idea. She had been idle. She'd been offered work as a seamstress. I thank and
We did it for a little while didn't like it very much but
Eventually, you know, by hook or by crook. She comes back to Bristol in eighteen, twenty four and maybe because she's made certain kinds of connections in. Oh, maybe because she's learn certain skills actually sets herself up in business selling leeches to the Bristol Hospital, which is basically mean being a medical supplier and makes a fairly decent.
lower middle class living for the rest of her life as a businesswoman. She got married and had a daughter and lived in Bristol for the rest of her life. She died.
In eighteen sixty four, the age of seventy three
her daughter, Marianne took over the leeches business
one of the reasons we know so much about Mary Baker
but shortly after she got caught
this war or last your friend. If she could help her pieced together, everything she could about her
and she learned from almost everyone that Mary Baker
to tell stories. As one person put, it
most. Everyone did Mary Baker love to tell stories, as one person put it odd, unaccountable stories.
Stories which seem to arise from the love of telling something extraordinary today, you can see the Edward Bird
that MRS World Commission on display at the breast, a museum.
In me Lydia Wilson, as our senior producer or producers are Susannah, Roberson and Libby Foster are technical directors. Rob Byers engineering by Ross Henry Julian Alexander makes original illustrations for each episode of criminal. You can see them at this is criminal dot com, where we'll also have a link to make
reach up sort of criminal? You can see them at. This is criminal dot com, where we're lost, have a link to my grassroots book. Fictions in fakes,
forging romantic authenticity. Seventeen sixty to eighty and five were on Facebook and twitter at criminal show.
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Transcript generated on 2022-03-28.