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Princess Caraboo from the Island of Javasu

She turned up in Gloucestershire in 1817, claiming to be Princess Caraboo from the island of Javasu – saying she had been kidnapped by pirates before escaping and making her way to England. The fact that Mary Willcocks’ tale was completely invented arguably makes her story no less remarkable. The young woman who said she was a princess from a faraway island was later proved to be a 26-year-old cobbler’s daughter from Devon, whose exotic foreign dialect had been a fictitious language. The supposed princess arrived in the Gloucestershire village of Almondsbury, near Bristol, on 3 April 1817, wearing a black turban and black dress, with her possessions wrapped up in a small bundle. She appeared exhausted and starving and was speaking a language nobody in the village could understand. The villagers thought she was a foreign beggar and she was taken to the home of Samuel Worrall, the local county magistrate. Mrs. Worrall was fascinated by her exotic appearance, but Mr. Worrall was more suspicious, asking her by signs if she had any papers with her. The girl emptied out her pockets, but all she had were a few halfpennies and a bad sixpence. Although possessing counterfeit money could mean the death sentence, the girl seemed not to understand the seriousness of the offence. The only other thing she had in her possession was a bar of soap pinned inside a piece of linen. Worrall then asked to look at the girl’s hands. They were soft, showing no signs

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