March 11th, 1905.
A Denaby Elopement
Wife and Furniture Gone.
Deserted Husband Takes Proceedings
A case which aroused considerable interest in the Denaby district was that in which Sarah Ann Oliver, described as a married woman, of Doncaster, together with Herbert Thorpe, a filler, described as residing at Conisboro’, were charged at the Doncaster West Riding Police Court, on Saturday, before Mr. G. B. C. Yarborough (presiding), Mr. W. W. Warde-Aldam, Mr. J. C. Coulman, Mr. G. Battey, Mr. G. A. Thompson, Mr. Godfrey Walker, and Mr. J. Hodgson, by Frederick Oliver, husband of the female prisoner with larceny of furniture, etc., at Denaby.
Mr. A. Muir Wilson, solicitor, of Sheffield, appeared for the prosecutor, whilst Mr. Baddiley defended both prisoners.
Mr. Wilson’s Opening.
Mr. Wilson, in opening, said he appeared in support of the charge, and the two prisoners were charged with, stealing on the 7th Feb., a rocking chair and a large number of other articles, the total value of which would be sworn to by the prosecutor. They were downstairs in another room because, of course, if he brought them into the Court they would think they were commencing business in the wholesale line – (laughter) there was such a large quantity of goods.
He might say if the lodger had only run away with the wife alone the prosecutor would have thanked Providence for it – (laughter) – but he had not – he had not only taken the wife but a very substantial quantity of his furniture too (Laughter). The parties were married 16 years ago, and after that period of married life the wife had seen fit to fall in love with the lodger, and decamp.
The lodger came to reside with the parties six or seven months ago, and he (Mr. Wilson) would have thought Mr. Oliver would have had a little more commonsense than to have had a lodger in his house. The man was eventually given notice, and left in January. He (Mr. Wilson) would call evidence that he took surreptitiously parcel after parcel of goods, which would be spoken to by a boy, the son of the parties, aged 12 years.
He did not at any time care about calling such young children, especially to give evidence against either of their parents, but he was bound to do it in this case.
The son of the first marriage received a letter from the prisoner Thorpe, being countersigned by the wife. It was as follows: –
Dear Geo, Lllewelyn.
I now taken the pleasure in writing these few lines, hoping to find you in the best of health and spirits. I must also tell you that I am writing this letter for your mother, and for her sake I wish to explain matters to you, both for her benefit and for mine also, and hoping you will with kind consideration look into this affair which I am going to make clear to you as well as possible.
First of all, mother is very ill, although she is mending very slowly. It is nothing else but the way your father keeps carrying on with her; it is sickening to hear him. I expect you will have heard from your father who I am lodging with, and has been since last August, and all the time I have been there your mother has led a dog’s life of it, unbearable for a man never mind a woman.
If it had not been for your mother I should have left some time since, but your mother has always begged me to stay, or else she could not live, she should be doing something with herself. And I have always respected your mother since I have been here, not only that I have grown to think more of her than that, which you will plainly understand and I have promised to assist your mother out of her difficulties, which, of I did not do, I should not be a man. On purpose to get her out of her misery, as it is nothing else but misery for her, she has confessed to me that she can be happier with me than ever she has been in her life, so I am furnishing a house for her and Lizzie Ann and Johnny, and hoping you will look at the thing in good light for your mother’s sake, whatever you do.
I should be pleased to see you any time you come; you are just as welcome as your mother. I wish I could see you to have a talk to you. I could tell you more than I have time to write, but whatever you do, George, whatever light you look at it, do not turn on her, because she thinks of you doing so, and it is worrying her very much. If you did do such a thing she would do away with herself before being tortured the same as she is.
So I hope you will let me have a letter back as soon as possible to show your mother what you think of it. I also wish to tell you that it is arranged for mother and the children to leave your father a fortnight to-day (Monday), she is going to Doncaster; when she goes I shall see everything safe. Write to this address when you write to me. With the hopes, I remain, yours sincerely.
C/o Mr. W. H. Thorpe, No. 88, Doncaster, Burcroft, Conisboro’
Continuing, Mr. Wilson said a more impudent letter could not have been penned by the adulterer to the son of the woman he was destroying. He (Mr. Wilson intended to call the child, aged 12 years, who would say that everything was happy until this man Thorpe came in the scene. Unfortunately this was not a country where ashplanting was law, as if it was, it would be a remedy to treat the man. The prosecutor also found the following letter under the butter cooler: –
Just a few lines to let you know that I have gone. I got to know where you was on Sunday. I have taken the sewing machine and two beds, and sold the room fender to pay my train. You have no need to bother yourself about me and Johnny and Lizzie, we shall be all right. All as I owe you must not pay. I have left you six blankets. I hope you will keep off the drink. You have told me to go many times and I have took it in my head this time. It has nearly broke my heart. I shall not stop Johnny to write to you.
Your Wife and Child.
Continuing, Mr. Wilson said the boy he would call would state that he wrote the letter at the dictation of his mother. On the 7th February his client went to work on the afternoon shift, and so far as he knew there was nothing to arouse his suspicious that anything was going to happen. When he came back at a quarter to eleven at night he received the key of the house from a neighbour. Upon entering the house he found his wife gone, along with some of the furniture, and discovered the letter which had been read under the butter cooler.
This was not a court of morals, it was simply a court to settle disputes, and he asked that the two prisoners be committed for trial. He was bound to say, in fairness to his client, that if there had been any approach to him on the part of those people he would have been quite willing that so far as the wife was concerned, no further proceedings should be taken against her, but so far as the man was concerned the case was bound to go forward, and that the woman had been the dupe of the man, and they would not be very much surprised when they saw what a great difference there was between Oliver and Thorpe.
They said that the man ought to be punished, and severely punished, for what he had done. They believed the woman was his dupe, and unfortunately under his influence.
Evidence was then called.
The prosecutor, Frederick Oliver, was sworn, and he stated that he resided at 41, Tickhill Street, Denaby Main. The female defendant was his wife, and he was married to her 16 years ago, on the 12th July, 1889. At that time she was a widow with three children. The eldest was George Llewellyn, and there was Lizzie Ann and Harriet (who had since died). There was one child of the marriage, William John, who was 13 years of age.
The male defendant, Herbert Thorpe, came to lodge abut seen months ago. Witness have him a 4 week’s notice to leave his house on the 14th January, and he left on the 21st of that month. Prosecutor had become rather suspicious of his conduct with his wife. The boy William was living at home. On Tuesday, the 7th of February he (prosecutor) want to work at 1-30 in the afternoon and returned about 10-45 the same night. His wife was at home when he left and seemed to be quite friendly with him, and her manner gave not the slightest information that anything unusual was going to happen. The lodger had gone, and peace seemed to have been restored one again. (Laughter.)
When he got back at 10-45 Mrs. Jennings, a neighbour made a statement to him, and when he entered the house he found his wife had gone and the letter (produced) under the butter cooler on the table in the handwriting of his son Williams, and upon looking through the house found the following goods to be missing: – 1 skin rug, 1 timepiece, oil painting.
Mr. Muir Wilson: Was it on oil paining of yourself?
Prosecutor: No, sir, it was of the missus. (Laughter.)
Two pictures, two violins.
Mr. Muir Wilson: Are you musical?
Prosecutor: No, sir, they belong to the little boy.
A violin case, two decanters.
Mr. Muir Wilson : Anything in ’em.
Prosecutor: No, sir.
Two cake stands, 1 sugar basin, 1 sewing machine, 1 cheese dish, 1 hearthrug, 1 boy’s suit, 6 blankets, 1 feather bed, 2 guilts, 2 sheets, bolster, 2 pillows, 3 bolster cases, 1 travelling case.
Mr. Muir Wilson: What was that?
Prosecutor: Well, it was a basket sort of .
Have you been to the seaside with it?
With the missus?
Ah! happy memories. (Laughter.)
2 pieces of carpet, 1 rocking chair, 1 child’s chair, 2 sheets, 1 tureen, 1 set of china.
Mr. Muir Wilson: For afternoon tea?
Prosecutor: Yes, sir.
1 fender, fireirons, tablecloth, flower stand, copper kettle, mantle border, comb box, glass dish, 3 cups and saucers, 5 dinner plates (two small ones), 2 chair cushions, 1 serviette, 1 copper tea urn, bread board, music stand basket, 12 carpet rods, 1 net bag.
Mr. Muir Wilson: Now is there anything else?
Prosecutor: Yes, sir, there is something in the house now which I have not recovered.
What do you consider is the value of these articles?
About £25 for the lot.
Well, it’s cheap.
The Chairman: Were all these articles your property?
Prosecutor: Yes, sir.
Mr. Muir Wilson: Have you ever given your wife or this man any authority to take these good away?
No sir, certainly not.
On the 23rd February, did you apply for a warrant against the two defendants?
I have read a letter dated the 23rd January purporting to be signed Herbert Thorpe. Do you know his handwriting?
Though it is not material to this case, I want to ask you if there is any ground for the allegations made in that letter by the male defendant that you have been treating your wife unkindly?
No, sir, except that I have spoken to her several times in account of this man.
Further questioned as to if he had ever thrashed her, prosecutor said five or six years ago he had struck her for ‘setting her impudence up.’
Passed Off In Another Name.
Mr. Baddiley: You were married in Wales, were you not?
Prosecutor: Yes, sir.
Where did you go to when you left Wales?
Into the North England, into the County of Durham.
And it was whilst you were there you married Mrs. Oliver?
You were only in Durham a few months, I believe?
And then, I think you went to Rotherham, and you were there only a few months.
How long is it since you came to Denaby?
About 13 years, as near as I can recollect.
What name did you come to Denaby in?
What was the reason of assuming the name of Wright?
Because me and a man called Barney Wright came to seek work as sinkers at the pits, and we passed as brothers.
Well, that is the tale, is it?
Me and him went to seek work together.
Well, never mind. I will try and suggest a reason. When you were in Wales was a bastardy order taken out against you in the name of Oliver?
And when you got to Conisboro’ were you arrested on a warrant?
Were you ever arrested?
In the County of Durham.
And how much had you to pay on the warrant for arrears of bastardy maintenance?
Well, I paid £10 to get clear of it altogether.
Now, was it not a fact that the warrant was for £10, and that you assumed the name of Wright, so that they could not find you?
Why did you take the name of Wright, wasn’t Oliver good enough?
Have you ever been convicted in the name of Wright?
Have you never been fetched up once?
I have had to pay 10/- for being drunk in the name of Wright.
Mr. Muir Wilson objected, remarking that these questions were irrelevant to the point at issue, but the Bench overruled the objection.
Mr. Baddiley, continuing: You were convicted in the name of Wright?
Ever since you came to Denaby, thirteen years ago, has your wife taken in lodgers?
Sometimes as many as three at a time?
Mr. Muir Wilson: But it was not her money.
Mr. Baddiley: Has your wife from time to time bought goods for the house from the money paid by the lodgers?
Did your wife buy the fender and the fire-irons?
It was my money that paid for them. She bought everything in the house so far as I know, but they were paid for out of my money.
In answer to further questions the prosecutor said he bought his wife a sewing machine. She paid the instalments for it.
Did your wife take in sewing?
Very little, I don’t think she has made 10/- with the machine since she has had it. Who made the hearthrug?
My mother and father.
And didn’t your mother send it to her as a present?
She sent it to me for a present.
In answer to the Chairman, the prosecutor said the violins were purchased by him for his boy to learn to play. They were his property.
Mr. Baddiley: Is it a fact that you have during your married life assaulted your wife?
I think not more than once.
The Chairman: You have assaulted her?
Yes, sir. I have struck her once.
Even if I bring evidence to prove she has had a black eye. How has she come to them?
I remember. I run her out of the house, and she fell down and scraped her face and blacked her eye.
Mr. Muir Wilson: That’s not larceny.
Mr. Baddiley: But we say it isn’t larceny. Have you ever locked her out at night?
No sir, not once in my life.
In answer to further questions the prosecutor said that his wife had never had to go into the children’s room and sleep with them for protection.
Have you ever told your wife – in fact, many times – to go?
Have you ever said she could leave you and you would pay to her?
Have you ever told her to go and take whet things belonged to her?
In answer to further questions he saw Thorpe on the 27th January.
Were you there when he came?
Did he came for his clean clothes?
No, sir, he came for his dog.
Did you remember the Sunday before your wife left you?
Do you help him to parcel the clothes up?
Do you remember the Sunday before your wife left you?
What time did you go home?
About one o’clock in the morning.
Wasn’t it 4-30 a.m.?
In answer to Mr. Muir Wilson, the prosecutor said whatever money his wife received from the lodgers she was allowed to keep. The goods which she bought were bought out of his money.
George Llewellyn Williams, son of the first marriage, lived in South Wales. He received the letter which had been read from the prisoner Thorpe, and which was countersigned by his mother.
Mr. Baddiley: Was it in consequence of something said to you by your step-father that you went away?
Witness. No, sir.
William John Oliver, son of the parties, 13 years of age, was next called. The second letter which had been read was written by him at the dictation of his mother. He remembered going on the 7th February from Denaby to Doncaster. It was about seven o’clock at night. The letter was put under the butter cooler. They went to 43, Park Road, Doncaster, and afterwards to 19, Cheshire Terrace. Mr. Thorpe was there. Before he left the house in January he saw him take something out of his father’s house wrapped up into paper parcels, three or four times. He also saw him take a tin box. Witness went back to his father last Tuesday. The violins were the property of his father.
In answer to Mr. Baddiley witness said he would swear that the tin box was not the property of Thorpe.
Mr. Baddiley: Where is it now?
Witness: At 19, Cheshire Terrace.
Mr. Wilson: And we are going to have it too.
Mr. Baddiley: But you will not.
Mr. Wilson: Yes, we shall.
Mr. Baddiley: Well, I say not.
Mr. Wilson: But I say we shall make a good effort before twelve o’clock to-night.
In answer to further questions the witness said the tin box in question which Thorpe took out of the house was given to his father by witness’s grandmother the last time she came over last summer.
Mr. Baddiley: Thorpe had a tin box, hadn’t he.
Did you see him take it away?
Yes, on the Monday before he left.
How did you know?
Because I went with him to Doncaster.
Where did he go to live on the Saturday?
At Don Street, Conisboro’.
Did he go to live with his brother.
I’m Not In It.
Police-constable Rawson, stationed at Denaby, said on the 27th February, at 2-30 p.m., he apprehended the prisoner Thorpe, read the warrant over to him, and cautioned him. In reply he said ‘It’s a d—d lie, I am not in it.’ On the 28th February, at mid-day, he visited the house, No. 19, Don Street, Doncaster, and found the articles which formed the subject of the present charge. The house was in the occupation of Mrs. Oliver. He read the warrant over to her, and she replied ‘Two of the blankets belong to Thorpe, and some of others I have had given me.’
In answer to Mr. Baddiley, witness said there were many things left in the house when these articles mentioned had been removed.
The Defence and Cruelty.
Mr. Baddiley, for the defence, contended there was not the slightest evidence against the man, there was not the slightest vestige of evidence that he had removed any of the things. The prosecutor had admitted that he never missed a thing until after Thorpe had gone; and he had never been on the premises except when the husband was present.
The Chairman pointed out that there was the evidence of the boy that he saw him taking paper parcels away.
Mr. Baddiley: They might have contained things belonging to him. Continuing Mr. Baddiley said after further discussion it was no need him addressing them because necessarily they could not deal with the case that day. It would be a question of the man’s oath against the woman’s oath. He would reserve his defence.
Mr. Wilson asked that both prisoners be committed for trial.
In answer to the charge both prisoners pleaded not guilty.
Mr. Baddiley called witness.
Elizabeth Ann Williams, who said she was the daughter of the female prisoner, by her first marriage. She lived at Don View, Doncaster. Before removing to Doncaster, she lived with her mother and Oliver at Conisboro’. The baby’s chair was given to witness.
Mr. Baddiley asked the witness as to cruelty on the part of Oliver.
Mr. Wilson objected because the questions had nothing to do with felony.
Mr. Baddiley: But it has.
Mr. Wilson: It is no excuse for crime, and I object strongly.
The Bench overruled the objection.
Mr. Baddiley (to witness): How has your step-father treated your mother?
Witness: He has ill-treated her. I have seen her with a black eye.
Mr. Wilson again objected, but the Bench allowed Mr. Baddiley to go on.
Mr. Baddiley: Have you heard your father tell her to go out of the house?
Witness: Yes, sir, many times.
And to take some of her things with her?
Yes, he said he would let her have some. She could take which she wanted. I have heard him say that more than once. In fact, many times. She could take what things she wanted to furnish a house for herself.
Mr. Wilson: Who took these things to Doncaster?
Witness: A Mr. Russell.
Where does he live?
I don’t know.
Well, I want to know, because I may want to subpoena him.
I don’t know.
Mr. Baddiley: He can soon be found.
Mr. Wilson: How many people live in the house?
Witness: Mr. Thorpe, and mother, and myself.
In answer to further questions, witness said Mr, Thorpe and his mother occupied separate bedrooms. They had been there since the 7ths February.
Who pays the rent?
Who gives her the money?
Has he ever kissed her?
I don’t know.
Does he pay anything for his lodgings?
Yes, but I can’t tell you what.
What a fairy tale! (Laughter.)
The prosecutor recalled, said the tin box was his property. He had seen it in the house and had identified it, but had not fetched it away. He would not bother to do so. There were many things in the house which belonged to him, but which he had not bothered to take away.
The Bench committed both prisoners for trial at the Sessions, and allowed bail themselves in £20 each, with two sureties of £10 each.