Mexborough & Swinton Times, March 25th, 1905.
A Singular Conisboro’ Domestic Case
A Husband Delusions
Thought he was being poisoned
Some rather astonishing details were made public, when a Conisboro’ fireman, named John Ridgill, was summoned by his wife, Esther Ridgill, for persistent cruelty. She also applied for a separation order.
Mr. Frank Allen appeared for the complainant, and defendant was not represented.
Mr. F. Allen stated, in opening, that the facts of the case had been before their Worships on a previous occasion, the 28th May last year.
The Complainant at that time applied for had obtained an order of separation with the custody of the children, with 12/6 (62.5p) per week maintenance. The defendant at that time put forward the defence that he had reason to complain of another man’s intimacy with the complainant but he was afterwards satisfied that he had made a mistake. He afterwards signed an apology in the presence of him (Mr. Allen) to the effect that he admitted the charges he had made against his wife were totally unfounded, and he unreservedly withdraw them, and apologised to her for having made the same.
After that they went to live together once again. He (Mr. Allen) thought at the time the man’s conduct was very strange: perhaps he had certain doubts as to the state of his mind, but she went back to live with him.
All went well for a fortnight, but then at that time the same ideas began to run into his head again. He seemed to get a notion that she was trying to poison him. Since last September he had got up at all times in the right, put clothes on, and had gone searching round the house for poison. He had also threatened to murder her. Only the previous Saturday night he threatened ‘to do for her.’ and said it was the last time.
The complainant was absolutely terrified, and went with the children to a neighbour’s, Mrs. Palmer’s, where she had stayed. The defendant even followed her, and asked her to return. He then went round to the front of the house to the window, and putting his fist up, grasping an open knife, he threatened what he would do.
He (Mr. Allen) thought when he heard the evidence which he would call that whatever might be the defendant’s reason it was not safe for the complainant to live with him. He was earning 35/- to 36/- per week. – Complainant, a little pale-looking woman, was then sworn, and she stated they were married in 1895, and there were two children of the marriage, Charles Samuel aged 5, and Ella, aged 4 years.
On May 28th, 1904, she obtained an order of separation against the defendant upon the grounds of persistent cruelty. The defendant had never struck her, but he had many times threatened what he would do. The defendant had said she was trying to ‘put him in the front.’ Complainant explained they had removed, and had gone to live in front of the cemetery. He also accused her of trying to poison him. He had been worse since they went to live at Mount Pleasant, and was something terrible to live with. She was terrified of him.
On the previous Saturday he threatened her, and said she would not see Sunday, as it was her last time. The defendant was a fireman at Cadeby Colliery, and earned 35/- a week. -The defendant, a peculiar-looking man, said he didn’t see where the cruelty came in. He had never threatened his wife with a knife. He added: ‘This stuff that has been put in the can I cannot say what it is.’
Emma Palmer, in corroborating complainant’s evidence, said defendant treated the complainant ‘worse than a dog.’ – The defendant had not much to say. He put in a pay sheet, which showed he had 27/11 to draw for six days’ work. The percentage had to be added.
The magistrates granted an order of separation, the defendant to contribute 10/- per week towards his wife’s maintenance; the wife to have the custody of the children. They thought the woman ought to do something herself.