After departing from Bristol, Bampfylde continued his impostures on route to Exeter, visiting well-to-do acquaintances to whom he eventually revealed his true identity upon which they expressed great surprise but treated him handsomely nevertheless. On reaching Exeter, when news of his arrival spread, a small crowd gathered to hear from him of his adventures in America.
There now follows the strange story of Carew's encounter with Lord Weymouth who was himself predisposed to indulge in cunning deception.
One day Bampfylde was begging in the town of Maiden Bradley as a shipwrecked seaman when he saw on the other side of the street a similarly attired beggar, who on seeing Carew, crossed over to speak to him and asked him where he had stayed last night, and where was he heading. Using the canting language, he asked Carew if he would brush into a boozing-ken and be his thrums, to which he agreed readily. They talked of this and that over their ale: of various questions concerning the country, of families that were more charitable and those less so, of the moderate and severe justices, and those countries that would and would not permit begging in their territories.
After they had travelled some distance from the house they began to argue over who was to carry the victuals, neither wanting to encumber themselves, not having a wife or child nearby to give it to. Carew was for throwing it in the hedge, but his companion urged against this, saying it was a shame to waste good victuals; so they both agreed to go to The Green Man, about a mile away, and exchange it for liquor. They tarried some time at this alehouse, and snacked the arget; then, after a parting glass, each went his separate way.
This Lord Weymouth was Thomas Thynne, born in 1710, who succeeded to the title of the second Viscount Weymouth in 1714, and died in 1751.
As soon as Carew and his companion had parted company, Lord Weymouth slipped home by a private route, divested himself of his disguise, and, calling for his servants, said that he had been informed that two mendicant sailors had visited his house, that they were impostors, and he ordered two of his men to mount their horses and bring them before him. Naturally the servants were only able to capture Carew, and he was taken back to the mansion. The Viscount accosted him in a very rough manner, asking him where the other fellow was, and told him he should be made to find him.
After that Lord Weymouth, to whom Bampfylde had confided his real name, showed him considerable hospitality, taking him to the Warminster horse-races, and they parted the best of friends. On subsequent visits to his lordship, Carew was presented with a hearty welcome at his house and offered a guinea. On one occasion, recalling the events just described, Weymouth jokingly remarked that he was more expert at the science of mumping even than Carew himself.
Carew continued his mendicant activities across the West of England and further afield, including a visit to Stockholm in Sweden where he disguised himself as Presbyterian parson called Slowly, a castaway from a vessel bound for Revel; on another occasion he went to Paris dressed as a devout Roman Catholic who had left England out of an earnest zeal to spend his days in the bosom of Catholicism.
Some time later on a return visit to Exeter with his wife to see friends, while out walking on his own in Topsham nearby he was accosted by merchant Davey who was accompanied by several captains of other vessels.
Thus it was that Carew was kidnapped and transported to Maryland for a second time. Once more he escaped, slipping off in a canoe unnoticed during the convict sales. To avoid recapture he travelled during the night, and hid in trees during the day; he stealthily stole food from empty homes when the occupants were out tilling the fields. To cross the mighty River Delaware he clutched at one of a number of horses grazing near the banks, and making a crude bridle from his handkerchief, persuaded the horse to swim the river with Carew on its back. He eventually made it to Boston where he was able to secure his passage back to England.
In 1745, on hearing news each day of the progress of the Jacobite rebels under Bonnie Prince Charlie, The Young Pretender, Carew decided to travel north to join with them. Leaving his wife and child in Devon, he made his way to Edinburgh where he met up with the rebels. Not having the stomach for combat, he pretended to be very lame and sick. He hobbled on with them to Carlisle and then on to Manchester where he had his first sight of the young Prince. From there they moved on to Derby where a rumour was spread that the Duke of Cumberland was coming to fight them. Though the Young Pretender was game to fight, his followers were less courageous and they retreated to Carlisle. At this point Carew decided to depart for home.
After being reunited with his wife and daughter on his return from the north of England, they paid a visit to Sir Thomas Carew of Hackern, a relative of Bampfylde's, who offered to provide for them if he would give up his wandering life. The offer was declined. Some time later, much to the delight of his wife, he at long last decided to settle down, and having acquired sufficient wealth by some means, purchased a house in Bickleigh, his birthplace. There he spent his remaining years in obscurity, outliving his wife. He lived to see his daughter marry a gentleman before his death, believed to be in 1758; he was buried in the churchyard at St Mary's Church in Bickleigh.
We conclude this portrayal of Bampfylde Moore Carew with a brief consideration of these two themes: the authenticity of the published accounts of his exploits, and the reasons for his enduring popularity.
It is beyond dispute that Bampfylde was a real person born into the venerable Carew family of Bickleigh, and that he ran away from school, choosing thereafter to lead the life of an itinerant beggar or vagabond. He travelled widely and was undoubtedly forcibly transported to Maryland from where he escaped and eventually returned to England. It is most likely that the first edition of the Life and Adventures was based on Bampfylde's own version of events, as the title page opposite reveals:
Carew may well have been a master of disguise, especially as begging by an impostor (or mumping as it was known) was not uncommon at the time. However, the relationship between Carew and the supposed community of the gypsies, and the account of the death of Clause Patch and his replacement by Carew as King of the Mendicants, are fanciful elaborations introduced by Robert Goadby to serve his own political agenda in the second expanded version of Carew's life, An Apology for the Life of Mr. Bampfylde-Moore Carew. This was written and published by Goadby in collaboration with W. Owen; it is also noteworthy for the vehemently sarcastic passages directed at Henry Fielding and his novel Tom Jones. Hugo Breitmeyer sums up the gypsy thread in the Carew biographies like this:
Why was it that Bampfylde Moore Carew became a folk hero, revered and admired by younger readers almost as much as Robin Hood? Although he is largely forgotten today, the popularity of his life story lasted at least until the early 20th century.
English society from when Bampfylde was born in the late 17th century until the 20th century was organized in a strictly hierarchical system of class divisions, with a privileged few at the top of the pyramid. About five percent of the population constituted the gentry, and above them, the nobility. It was this small minority who controlled most of the country's wealth, and in rural areas owned most of the land. They wielded all the power and made all the decisions affecting the inferior majority.
It is in the context of this narrow conformity that the picaresque tales depicting the lives of rogues and vagabonds flourished in the literature 17th and 18th centuries. Here in the case of Bampfylde was the true story, albeit embellished, of the well-educated scion of the noble Carews giving up all his privileges to become an idler, a swindler, and a practical joker whose victims came from the rich and powerful from which he had himself broken away.
The popularity of Bampfylde was sustained through the 19th century by the adoption of his character in place of other favourites such as Aladdin as the leading role in pantomimes. For example, in 1825 there was a production called Bampfylde Moore Carew, or the Gipsey of the Glen, while nine years later the pantomime Bampfylde Moore Carew, Or Harlequin King of the Beggars was pulling in the crowds.