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Esther Coad

A young, educated woman forced into a life of servitude at Coad Farm following the death of her mother, father and younger brother from the Great Sickness.  Esther’s father was an apothecary in Kent; her mother, Sarah, a skilled herbalist. She inherited her mother’s skills and her father’s observational medical journals, but no material wealth on their demise. 

The Coads of Hamsey

Farmers and distant members of Esther’s wider family.  Farmer and Missus Coad took Esther in as a maid of all work.  They had three sons, Jacob, Josiah and Job. The family were mean-spirited and heavily involved with the local smugglers.

The Kempe family of Southease

Tilly Kempe, Esther’s aunt, and her two sons, Sam and Jeremiah, head of the smuggling gangs in the area.

Becca and Beth

Becca, a very young girl employed by Farmer Coad as a scullery maid.  Abused by Farmer Coad, she became pregnant, giving birth to Beth.


An orphan boy who lived in the workhouse but spent most of his time wandering the streets of Lewes and living on his wits. 

Mrs. Makepiece

A Lewes resident who helped Esther and Beth following their escape from Coad Farm.  A resident of Keere Street and stalwart of the town.

Miss Wardle

Eccentric spinster friend of Mrs. Makepiece who takes Billy-alone under her wing but who, in general, prefers her piggies to humans.

Cecilia and Farmer Elwood

Cecilia, the daughter of an earl, married to Farmer John Elwood.  Farmer Elwood was a Gentleman farmer with a considerable estate. The Elwoods become Esther’s patrons and absorbed her into their own household in recognition of her care, skills and kindness.



A young farm workman much valued by the Elwoods. 


Dr. Bartholomew Grieve

Coroner and physician for Lewes and the wider district.

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