Mary Wilcox,of Witheridge, Devonshire, alias Caraboo.
Published by J.M. Gutch Augt. 16th. 1817.
Stipple engraving, sheet 250 x 150mm. 9¾ x 6". Tatty and chipped extremities.
Mary Baker, born Mary Wilcox, alias 'Princess Caraboo'. She arrived one day in the spring of 1817 at Knole Park near Bristol. By speaking a made-up language and not a word of English, she convinced the lady of the house, Elizabeth Worrall, that she was a lost noblewoman from the East Indies. She stayed with the Worralls for a few months, until one day she ran away to Bath. She was spotted in the Circus by a family friend Dr Wilkinson, the proprietor of the Pump Rooms, who followed her as far as the Pack Horse. He took her to some ladies in Russell Street, who gave her tea and treated her like the royalty they believed her to be, until Mrs Worrall arrived to fetch her home in the evening. Dr Wilkinson, a polymath and scientific lecturer (who later lived at 55 Great Pulteney Street and introduced gas lighting to Bath), had been very intrigued by Caraboo and her language when visiting the Worralls, and had written a long description of her in the Bath Chronicle a few days earlier. The article was published at his request in several other newspapers, and it was not long before the story was read in Bristol by a woman who recognised the description of Mary Baker and her eccentric behaviour. Just as Dr Wilkinson in Bath was launching an appeal to send the poor lost Caraboo home, Mrs Worrall in Bristol was being told that her house-guest was a fraud. The story created a sensation in the local and national press, and Dr Wilkinson in particular became the object of much merriment. Frontispiece to John Matthew Gutch's 'Caraboo. A Narrative of a Singular Imposition practised upon the benevolence of a lady residing in the vicinity of the City of Bristol, By a young Woman of the name of Mary Willcocks, alias Baker, alias Bakerstendht, alias Caraboo, Princess of Javasu', 1817. After Nathan Cooper Branwhite (1775 - 1857), painter, miniature painter and engraver.
[Ref: 9651] £75.00