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A Pauper Idiot from Husborne Crawley

In times past the words idiot and imbecile were medical terms without the very insulting meanings we give them today. The following advertisement appeared in The Northampton Mercury on 6th September 1788:


LOST, from the Parish of HUSBAND-CRAWLEY near Woburn, Bedfordshire.
THOMAS AXBEY, aged about 50 years. Had on a white Waistcoat, Russia Drab Breeches, an old Wig, a Hat laced with white Paper, and a Cockade in it; had an old bayonet, and a piece of a Cutlass fixed in a stick or pole; he is perfectly harmless, but always wishes to appear like a Soldier – was seen to go through Woburn on Sunday Evening last between Nine and ten o'Clock, on the Road to London, with two Men Travellers, meanly dressed.

Any Person giving Intelligence to the Parish Officers of Husband Crawley, where the said Idiot is, will be rewarded with Thanks.

A Thomas Axby, son of John and Sarah was baptised in Husborne Crawley on 14th April 1742. There is no burial record for a Thomas Axby after 1788, which makes one fear the worst and that he simply disappeared with the two "meanly dressed" travellers.