Heartless Cruelty to a Child at Conisborough

September 1897

Mexborough and Swinton Times September 3, 1897

Heartless Cruelty to a Child at Conisborough

William Tate, miner, Edlington Street, New Conisborough, and Caroline Fletcher, married woman, Conisborough were charged with cruelty to a child at Conisborough on August 16

Mr Baddeley appear to prosecute on behalf of the NSPCC and said the male defendant was charged both with ill-treatment and exposure, the facts would disclose a very bad state of affairs as far as a woman was concerned.

On August 16, the inspector of the NSPCC was informed that something was wrong and he went to the home of the male defendant in company with PC Evans.

They found defendant’s son, a boy name Robert, aged 12 years, upstairs in an apology for a bed. There was a bed tick on the bare boards, and as the inspector would tell there was very little indeed inside the bed tick. The woman told the inspector that a doctor had seen the boy, and he told their he was in a dangerous state, and must not be allowed to leave his bed.

The Inspector cautioned the woman, advised her to treat the boy kindly and left. Immediately afterwards she turn the boy out of the house with nothing on but his shirt and trousers, and the inspector found him in a neighbour’s house in a very exhausted state.

Mr Baddeley continuing said it appeared the woman, acted in the capacity of housekeeper for the male defendant and was almost always drunk. She began drinking in the morning and kept up until such time as she had to go to bed drunk. The lad had been suffering from fear, and although he was in this state, the woman they him scrub the floors of the house before he went to school in the morning. He sought to tell the magistrates of the father was a consenting party to this cruelty. He was rough to the boy in the presence of the inspector and as soon as he got the summons he threatened the lad, and as a matter of fact he ran away home in fear of his life.

Thomas Hunt, inspector, NSPCC was called and corroborated Mr Baddeley statements. He added that when he called to see the boy the female defendant was under the influence of drink. He found the boy lying on a bed tick, containing cloth, but little of it, which was placed in the rare boards. The boy complained to him that he did not get sufficient food. He had asked for milk, but was not allowed to have any, and the (witness) found nothing by the bedside except a pitcher containing cold tea, without sugar or milk. The boy was very feverish. He asked the woman if a doctor had seen him, and she answered in the affirmative. On leaving the house he cautioned her, and requested to treat the boy kindly and follow the doctor’s instructions. He went to see some of the neighbours, and about 20 minutes afterwards on going to the house next to the defendant he found the lad had been turned out of doors by the woman. The boy was in the neighbour’s house and was sitting on the sofa. He was so weak he could not sit erect.

He arranged with the neighbours that the boy should remain there to see the father, and in the afternoon called again at the defendant’s house.

He then saw the male defendant and told him what he had seen, that the boy had been turned out, and the father, when he asked him to go and fetch the child said “let the – – – – come back when he likes.”

After a good deal of persuasion however, witness induced the defendant to go next door to fetch the child. The boy was asleep on the sofa and the defendant seized him roughly by the arm, and said, “Now then wake up.” The poor boy was unable to get up, and the defendant then pulled him off the couch. Witness remonstrated with the defendant for his roughness, and he replied that he had better mind his own business.

The boy told the witness he was afraid to go home with his father, because he would thrash him. Witness noticed a quantity of blood and matter in one of the boy’s ears, which the boy in the presence of the defendant said had been caused by his father striking him

In answer to the female defendant, witness denied he was shown some milk that she had obtained for the boy. She showed him some cold eggs and bacon, she said she was going to give the lad, but he told her it was not fit for one in the boy’s condition.

PC Evan corroborated evidence of the inspector.

The male defendant denied cruelty and pleaded ignorance to what’s house keeper had done.

He was ordered to pay £1 18s 6d costs, was bound over to keep the peace for six months. The female defendant was fined 40s including costs, and the custody of the child was taken from the defendants.