Life was far from easy for poor people in the eighteen hundreds. Housing and sanitation in Fowey at this time were so dilapidated that, in a letter to the Editor of the West Briton in December 1856, the town was described as '… the most downcast, neglected seaport in the West of England'.
Imagine the distress of Jenifer Jago, born in 1774, who, as reported in the Royal Cornwall Gazette, was committed to Bodmin Gaol in October 1845, for two months, even though she was then 71 years old. It was reported that Jenifer, with her daughter and three other women, were all sentenced to two months in prison. They were all found guilty of stealing apples from their employer, Jonathon Treffry of Place.
People who were destitute were a charge on the Parish where they lived, and previously, Fowey Parish had lodged an appeal against the removal of the Jago family from Camborne to Fowey.
However, the Parish records show twelve people with the surname Jago in Fowey in 1866, some of whom had good jobs, such as shipwrights, and some being agricultural labourers.
There is a record in the Parish burials for June 1866, of a Jenifer Jago, who was then living in Passage Street, and would have been 92, a very good age for those times. It is tempting to believe that Jenifer's story ended happily, and that on her release from Bodmin, she was able, with the help of relatives, to live comfortably in Passage Street for her remaining years.
Research Ros Eaton
Sources: Isabel Pickering, Some Goings On ! (Fowey: Author, 1995) http://www.connorsgenealogy.com/Cornwall/FoweyRecords/Burials-H.htm [Accessed 29 Jan. 2012]