Hidden Lives Revealed. A virtual archive - children in care 1881-1981 * Image of handwritten text

Case 3392

2. "Extraordinary case of neglect", Oxford Times, 26 November 1892

View the Case Summary.

Page 1 of 1


E, gardener, Sunnymead. was summoned for neglecting his two children. E, aged two years, and G, aged ten months, in a manner likely to cause them unnecessary suffering or injury to their health. -

Mr. Arkell, who prosecuted on behalf of the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, said the case was a peculiar one. Defendant was in the habit of purchasing a large quantity of food, helping himself, leaving out a small quantity for his wife and children, and locking up the remainder. The society felt they could not accept the responsibility of allowing this go on through the winter, and the wife and children to starve, and therefore, they commenced these proceedings. -

Inspector Davis, R.S.P.C.C., said he visited defendant's house on several occasions since last February. On February 8th defendant was present, and the baby was in a fearful state of emaciation, and literally starved. Defendant said he gave it some milk, but it had evidently not enough. The child afterwards improved, the defendant giving it more milk. Some of the food which the defendant produced was not fit for a pig, and the children could not eat it. He told defendant that it would be better to leave out the food so that the wife and children could help themselves, as with the small quantity he left out they must be starved, but he said he should do as he liked. He again visited the house on the 8th March, and found a small quantity of condensed milk and a piece of bread to keep the family all day. In April and July he again visited the house and found a similar state of things. On November 7th he found in the house two tiny pieces of bread and a part of a tin of condensed milk, which was to keep the wife and six children during the day. There was something in the pot, but he would not give it to a pig. -

Defendant said he should like the food analysed to see what it contained - (laughter). He himself had to put up with a bit of bread. -

P.C. Phillips, stationed at Summertown, said he accompanied the inspector on the 8th of March, and he corroborated what he said. Ann Lynes, a midwife, of Summertown, said she had attended defendant's wife with all her children. The last confinement was at Christmas, and it was a strong, healthy baby. She had frequently been to defendant's house since February, and found Mrs. -- in a bad state, and also the baby. She asked defendant for some sugar for the baby, but he refused to get any. When the confinement took place there was no food in the house. When the defendant came home at night he unlocked the cupboard and took out some bread and meat and at it, and drank a pint of beer. She asked him if he was not going to give his wife some food, and he said he had given her what he could afford. She was in the house yesterday, and saw food there not fit to eat. It was soaked bread which had been fried. The children were not generally well clothed. -

Defendant (laughing). A good thing if they were. -

By the Bench: The defendant went out to work each morning, and returned at night. The woman kept the house as clean as she could. She was quite shocked to see the woman the other day; her heart ached for her. E, defendants wife, said she had six children living at home with her. Her husband was not in constant work. He earned about 16s. a week on an average. One of the boys earned a shilling a week. Her husband bought food, and brought in bread every night. He occasionally brought in meat. He gave them so much for the day, and locked up the rest, in the front room. She had to beg food when she had not enough. He never trusted her with money, as he was afraid she would spend it in drink. She used to spend a little in drink some time ago. He gave her condensed milk for the baby, and sometimes boiled bread. When he left in the morning, he left a plate full of bread and lard and some stock meat given them by a gentleman, but they could not eat it, it was so salt. She begged some bread from the neighbours on that day. The children were generally very hungry before defendant came home. They never thought of buying any clothes, and had plenty given them. Defendant generally cooked his food at night, when she was asleep. He fried meat. On one occasion she asked him for some of the meat, and he put it away in the cupboard and broke the dishes, plates and tea things, and tried to put out the fire with a bucket of water. He had been for sometime in the habit of locking up the food - it was getting quite an old thing in her house. -

By the Clerk: She and the children had not, during the past year, had sufficient food to keep them in health. At one time she used to drink, but she had left that off, as she had no money now - (laughter). -

Defendant her said he locked up the food to make it spin out - (laughter). -

Charles Franks, grocer, Sunnymead, said defendant had been in the habit of dealing with him almost very day, and bought bread and lard and bacon - quite sufficient for the family. He owed witness a considerable account - £9 1s. 1 1/2 d. He told defendant he should have to stop supplying him on credit. -

Elizabeth Merritt, Woodstock-road, Summertown, said that about six weeks ago she asked defendant how he was and he said, "I am better in health than ever. I eat and drink all I can get, and the others have what I leave/" -

In defence, defendant said he had always left in the house what it was in his power to leave, and he locked it up so that his family should have food every day. "He that provideth not for his own household is worse than an infidel, and hath denied the faith" - (laughter). The Bench retired, and on their return the Mayor said the magistrates had given the case a great deal of patient attention, and there was no doubt he had been guilty of very unkind conduct towards his family. At the same time they thought there were mitigating incidents in connection with it. They also thought that defendant was in some measure afflicted himself, and the hoped if they adjourned the case for a month, he would improve in his conduct, and tray and make his wife and children a happy and comfortable home. He seemed to have earned sufficient money, and looked after his own creature comforts, but he must not forget that the surroundings of his home were not as they should be. The officer of the society would be constantly on the watch to see if he did his duty to his family better than he had done. The case would be adjourned for a month in the ope that he would try and keep his home in a better condition. -

E was then charged with not sending his two children to school, and this case was also adjourned for a month.

Page 1 of 1

Original document

Click image to view larger in a new window:

Image of Case 3392 2. (quote)Extraordinary case of neglect(unquote), Oxford Times, 26 November 1892
 page 1

The Children's Society UNESCO logo Big
           Lottery Fund logo Wellcome Trust