Mexborough and Swinton Times January 25, 1908
Claim for Hire of a Piano
Messrs Joshua Marshall and Co Ltd, music dealers, Huddersfield, brought an action against John Thomas Martin, groom, 9 Trent Terrace, Conisborough, to recover the sum of £7 3s 4d which represented balance of hire of a piano for two years and four months at £5 per year.
Mr G W Andrew supported the plaintiffs, and Mr W Baddeley appeared for the defendant.
A collector in the employment of the plaintiffs declared that he was present when the defendant entered into and signed the agreement.
Mr Baddeley: Now, I want you to be careful. You are aware that the defendant can neither read nor write and that the agreement produced was signed by his wife?
Witness: I repeat that I was present when he signed it.
Frank Burrow, the manager of the Mexborough branch of plaintiffs firm, deposed that defendant personally made one payment. Defendant had never requested him to remove the piano.
Shown the agreement which was said to contain the signature, and asked whether the writing was his, defendant replied, “I cannot read sir.”
He proceeded to say that his wife agreed to hire the piano without his knowledge, and in order to keep up the instalment she took in lodgers. He denied that he had ever made any payment on account, and added that he told his wife if she did not get rid of the piano he would send word to the plaintiffs firm to have it removed.
In reply to Mr Andrews, defendant stated that his wife told him four or five days afterwards that she signed the agreement.
Mr Andrew: Come round here, and try to write your name.
Defendant: I will sir.
Now then try and write it. – Well Sir, I’ll make a cross (laughter).
Defendant’s wife was called. She said she spoke to her husband about a piano, and he told her she was not to have one. Eventually she signed an agreement, and an instrument was delivered, witness making the whole of the payment on account of it, and obtaining receipts.
Judgement was entered for plentiful amount claimed to be paid at the rate of two shillings per month.
The same plaintiff sued Vincent Lote, miner, Tickhill Street, Denaby for £6 4s 6d, balance of an account of £10 prior of piano for eight weeks at 10 children each four weeks, against which £3 15s 6d had been paid, leaving the balance claimed.
Defendant said that when plaintive representative saw him he told him that he preferred to have £9 or £10 to pay down before he had anything to do with a piano. He also said that the signature to the agreement was obtained from his son, a boy of about 10 years of age.
The latter was called and said he signed agreement, because the baby was crying. (Laughter).
Mr Andrews: and if the baby had not be crying your mother would have signed it, would she? (More laughter)
Judgement for plaintiff, at the rate of 1/6 monthly