Mary Ann Scott


Mary Ann Scott was born in Newton St Cyres in 1814, the only daughter of William and Elizabeth.

She married John Herman, a mariner, at St David’s in Exeter in 1832. He apparently died in about 1838.

The story of Mary Ann's crime and conviction is taken up by The Western Times of Saturday 13 November 1841.


MONDAY. Before the Mayor, H. Blackall and J. Harris Esqrs., and Dr. Miller*, Justices.

A young woman named Marianne Herman, one of the frail sisterhood, was charged by Geo. Adams, a youth who had scarcely arrived at the age of maturity—certainly not of discretion—with, stealing from his pocket, on Sunday evening, a purse containing 9s. 6d. It appeared from the complainant’s story that he went into the Pestle and Mortar public house, in King-street, on Sunday evening, and while discussing a glass of beer, he formed an acquaintance with the prisoner, who entered the room with the ease and familiarity of one well accustomed to the interior arrangements of Pestle and Mortar. An invitation to drink and the gift of a shilling were both cheerfully accepted by the prisoner, but the kindness was most ungratefully repaid. Presuming on the generous simplicity of her youthful acquaintance, she shortly after contrived very dexterously to transmit the purse with its contents from the pocket of the complainant to the foot of her own stocking, where, however, it was not long concealed before Adams discovered his loss, and taxed her with the theft, which she denied. He requested the landlady to search the prisoner, but she refused to do so. He then gave her into the custody of Gingham who conducted the prisoner to the Guildhall, where she was searched, and the money found, as before stated, in the foot of her stocking. She was fully committed for trial. The evidence having disclosed several particulars discreditable the character of the public house, the Mayor deemed it advisable to send for the publican, in order to give him an opportunity of vindicating the suspicious character his house. The landlady having arrived, the deposition of the complainant was read to her, and as her observations failed to dispel the doubts entertained by the Bench, the Mayor told her that his opinion was that her house was not only a public house, but served also for the purpose a brothel, and that should therefore cause a note to that effect to be entered in the clerk's book, in order that it might be taken proper notice of on the next licensing day.

* Magistrates John Harris and Patrick Miller were respectively senior surgeon and physician to the Devon and Exeter Hospital.