misuse or stealing of property yet there were no laws outlawing kidnapping. No wonder people were worried about the gypsies stealing children- they certainly could with little to no legal repercussions.
An unfortunate mother who had to deal with the lack of child protection laws was Mary Davis, a military wife and landlady. Mary's husband was fighting in Spain, leaving Mary and her six-year-old son alone in their Westminster house, which she rented out to lodgers. One of the lodgers offered to watch over Mary's son while Mary went to her job as a washer-woman, an offer which the over-worked gladly accepted. However, when Mary returned from work that night neither her son nor the babysitter could be found anywhere.
The devastated mother searched high and low for her son, even after she delivered another son a few months after the incident. Eventually Mary found herself and her newborn at an Inn in Folkingham (over a hundred miles away from London) where they stopped to rest for the night. Mary was eating dinner at the Inn when the landlady insisted that two young chimney sweeps who just entered eat something as well. To the dismay of everyone, one of the sooty children looked up from his dinner and jumped into Mary's arms with the joyful cry of, "That's my mother!"
Mary's story was one of the few with a happy ending (despite never finding the woman responsible for her son's indentured servitude) and thankfully, two years later in 1814 a law was finally passed outlawing the theft of children.