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Case 5505

2. Cruelty to a child at Salisbury, newspaper clipping, c. 30 July 1896

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At the Salisbury Borough Petty Sessions, before Mr. G Fullford (in the chair), Mr. W M. Hammick, Mr. W. Marlow, Mr. E. Waters, Mr. S. Parker, Mr. H. Brown, and R. C. Harding. A, wife of D, labourer, of Meadow Cottages, the Friary, was charged with ill-treating her step-daughter, viz., C, on the 23rd July.

C, step-daughter of defendant, said she understood an oath, and deposed to her mother beating her on Wednesday last with a cane, but she had never beaten her before. On that occasion she was punished because she was a thief. She (defendant) struck her three or four times. Her mother had once kicked her with her knee.

Annie Naish, 1, Meadow Cottages, said she had seen the child beaten on many occasions. The little girl in question was defendant's step-daughter, and was treated as a dog, while defendant's own little girl had every comfort. For instance, one of the neighbours had bought a little pair of boots and sold them to defendant, who, in a very rough manner, told her step-daughter to try them on. They, however, did not fit, and she (witness) saw defendant strike her across the head with the boot, making a very nasty cut. She had seen the step-child turned out of doors in the winter, in the cold. Defendant alluded to her step-children (of whom there were five) as pigs, and said they were not wholesome enough to have their meals with her.

Sarah Gascoyne gave a similar evidence to that of last witness. Defendant, who seemed very composed, when asked if she had any questions to ask the witness, replied in the negative, when Mr. Waters pointed out that the evidence given by the last two witnesses was of a very serious nature, and if she did not cross-examine the witnesses, and prove that it was untrue, they, of course, would have to go by the evidence of the witnesses. Defendant, however, said she had no questions to put to the present witness.

Harriet Conduit, of 4, Meadow Cottages, stated that defendant treated her step-children very cruelly, especially the one in question. She had heard her (defendant) say, "let the pigs stop out, they are not fit to come in with my children." Witness had seen the cut in the child's head. It was about one inch in length.

The Chief Constable stated that on 24th July last the little girl in question was brought to the police station. He examined her, and found her shoulders and back were covered with bruises. He sent for the mother and asked her to account for the bruises on the child's body. She replied that she had only beaten her once with a cane. She had only given her three or four strokes with it. The husband of defendant was a hard-working man and gave his wife 16s per week.

Mr. Charles Gilbert Kemp, medical assistant to Mr. Harcourt Coates, deposed to examining the child on 24th July. The body had a great many bruises on it, perhaps, fifteen or twenty, which he should say were caused by some hard object, and not by the hand. He should certainly say that the marks were due to excessive chastisement. There was a bruise in the small part of the back, probably caused by the kick in the back which the child complained of.

Harriet Elliot, also residing at Meadow Cottages, deposed to seeing defendant kick the child twice, about six months ago. It was not an uncommon occurence for the child to be beaten cruelly. She had told her (defendant), that she was starving the child.

Defendant: Did you not say when I complained to you about the children, "Go and give them a good thrashing?"

Witness: No.

Defendant said that as to her starving the children "they had more meat in their house in one day, than most of the people had in a year" - (laughter).

After a short consultation the chairman said they were of opinion that the child had gone through a long and barbarous course of cruelty. Leaving out the evidence of the little girl - which they considered had been considerably prompted - they found defendant guilty, and she would have to go to prison for six weeks with hard labour. They had taken a very lenient view of the matter, and defendant must mind that if she still continued to illtreat her children, she would not be treated so leniently again. He also wished to say that she would be closely watched when her term of imprisonment had expired. He wished to thank the witnesses who had rightly given evidence in order to put a stop to this cruelty. Of course it was very unpleasant to give such evidence against their neighbour, but in the bench's opinion they had done their duty.

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Image of Case 5505 2. Cruelty to a child at Salisbury, newspaper clipping, c. 30 July 1896
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