Skip Navigation

Welcome to Bedford Borough Council

Home > Community Histories > Stevington > The Evidence of Others

The Evidence of Others

The Evidence of William Boyer

William Boyer of Stevington, fuller, was churchwarden of Stevington. About twenty five years previously he had gone to draper's house "to get a brief indorsed by the said Mr. Draper and he, this Deponent, going into the kitchen of the said house for fire to light his pipe did there see Dorothy Kins sit in an elbow chair in the Chimney corner, but upon his coming in and looking earnestly upon her, she rose up and went to the window and wept, upon which this Deponent asked her if she was not well and she answered: I would  I was as well as you William" and this Deponent did then observe that she the said Dorothy was very big and much bigger than she was when he see her last which was about three or four months before, and her body much bigger than she usually bad been before that time and he, this Deponent, before that very intimate with the said Dorothy and often in her Company. And he, this Deponent, did really then think and believe that the said Dorothy was big with Child. And further says and deposes that in two or three days after she, the said Dorothy, was conveyed from Stevington. And there was then a whispering in the said parish that the said Dorothy was big with Child and was carried to London to lie in there. And also say that the said Dorothy did return again to Stevington in about a month's time after her bring conveyed away as aforesaid".

Boyer went on: "That about eight years since he, this Deponent, being at the house of the said John Draper the said John Draper asked him how many Children he had, and he answered nine or ten upon which the said Mr. Draper told him that he wondered how he did to maintain and keep them whole by labour and with all the said John Draper then told this Deponent that he the said John Draper had but one poor child here and he found work enough to keep her whole she, the late said Mary Smart, now called Mary Draper, that very instant passing through the room where they sat".

The Evidence of Alice Earle

Alice Earle testified that seven or eight years before a Bedfordshire clergyman "as this deponent conceived him to be by his discourse" came into the Bear Inn at Saint Neots [Huntingdonshire]  "and brought with him on the same horse a girl or young woman. And the said Clergyman and young woman continued there that evening and when it was time to go to bed this Deponent asked the said Girl or Young woman (who then sat crying and complained she was not well) whether she would lie with her, this Deponent's, daughter. And she told her no, she would not lie with anybody till she came to her cozen Rachael at Cambridge, and this Deponent came downstairs and told the said Clergyman, being then below, what the young woman said. Upon which he ordered this Deponent to put the said young woman into his bed which this Deponent's daughter accordingly did and afterwards the said Clergyman went into the same room to the said girl or young woman and there lay with her all night as this Deponent verily believes and next morning they went away together for Cambridge as the said Clergyman told this Deponent".

Evidently Draper tried to suggest that he had been with a boy because Alice then testified that it was a girl or young woman. Certainly it was wearing women's clothing and was of small statute. She was forced to admit she did not see them in bed together but they had been left in the same room which had but one bed.

The Evidence of Thomas Smith

Smith testified that he was often at Draper's house in Stevington during Mary Kins' lifetime and believed her to be Draper's wife. He believed Dorothy to be Mary's sister because he had heard Mary's mother call Dorothy her daughter. Dorothy had lived with Draper for any years and it was reported in Stevington that they were married and that Mary was their daughter.

The Evidence of George Cox

Cox's testimony was similar to that of Smith.

The Evidence of Martha Thorpe

Martha Thorpe of Saint Martin's-in-the-Fields [Middlesex], widow testified that she had known Draper for three years. She had been born within five miles of Stevington and was "down in the Country" about April 1706 and, on the fifteenth of that month, visited Draper at his house. She stayed the night and heard Draper own Dorothy as his wife and Mary to be his daughter. She believed that Draper and Dorothy "do now live in an adulterous and incestuous manner together".

She saw Draper and Dorothy together in their bedroom "and the said Dorothy has been undressed to her Shift having only a nightgown on, in order to go to bed with the said John Draper and as this Deponent verily believes did lie together that night, they being locked into the said room".

The Evidence of Mary Draper

Mary was John Draper's niece "being her father's own Brother". She was in Draper's house in Stevington in July 1705  and stayed with him for three weeks. "She, this Deponent, saw the said Dorothy Kins and John Draper in naked bed together which said Dorothy is reputed the natural and lawful sister of Mary Kins, the said John's former wife, deceased and as she verily believes and that the said John has now a Daughter named Mary by the said Dorothy she, this deponent, having seen and heard her ask them blessing and the said Dorothy and John hath often owned the said Mary to be their Daughter and do now continue so to do as she verily believes. And that the said John and Dorothy do now live at Stevington aforesaid in an Adulterous and wicked manner as she believes and their said daughter Mary with them".