Phoebe Hessel – the Stepney Amazon

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Brighton & Hove

Who was Phoebe Hessel.?

She was born in Stepney London.

She enlisted in the Army disguised as a a man to be with her lover, and served as a soldier

Both remained in the British Army, fought and was wounded in battle in 1745.

Finally, she revealed her deception to the wife of the Regiment’s colonel, Phoebe and her lover were both discharged and married.

They lived in Plymouth where they had nine children, of whom eight died in infancy, and the survivor died at sea.

After Golding died, she moved to Brighton to marry fisherman Thomas Hessel.

He died when she was aged 80. She supported herself by selling fish in and around Brighton

In old age, she sold small items, such as oranges and gingerbread, on a street corner near the Brighton Pavilion

She became well known in Brighton, due to her great age and unusual experiences.

She was forced into the workhouse but was granted a pension of half a guinea week by the Prince Regent in 1808.

She attended his coronation parade in Brighton in 1820.

Phoebe died at the age of 108.

She was buried in the graveyard of the Church of St Nicholas in Brighton

Further info on female soldiers

She was sometimes referred to as the ‘Stepney Amazon’;thus Amazon Street and Hessel Street (both named in her honour) still exist today in Stepney (Tower Hamlets).

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