Molly and Tommy Smith, cave-dwellers

The Kentish Gazette of the 30th November, 1886,  reported:
“The death has occurred at the Eastry Union of ‘Molly’, who for half a century or more has lived in a cave at Womenswold. ‘Molly’ or Mary Anny Smith, as her real name was, was about 70 years old and lived with her son Tommy, who earns his living as a chimney sweep. Mrs. Smith was found ill on the road some weeks ago and was taken to the Eastry Union, where she has since died”.

Molly may have had some family or well-wishers in Nonington as another (unfortunately unknown) local paper reported that she was buried at Nonington church (see below).  One well-wisher may have been the Reverend  Sargent, the vicar of Nonington and a man noted for his acts of charity to those he thought to be in need, who in addition to conducting the burial service may possibly have had Molly buried at his own expense to avoid her having to go into a pauper’s grave at the Eastry workhouse.


Little else appears to be known about this couple, and I would be very grateful for any more information.


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