9 May 1903
ASHTON VACCINATIONS PROSECUTIONS
Goods to be Seized and Sold
Indignation Meeting on the Market Ground
The agitation which has been going on for some time in
regard to vaccination prosecutions in Ashton has at length
culminated in the levying of distraint upon the four conscientious
objectors to vaccination who were fined at the Ashton
Borough Police Court on March 2nd last. On that occasion,
it will be remembered, Councillor R A BARRETT was summoned
by Mr William HUGHES, vaccination officer, for disobeying
an order to have his three children vaccinated.
The proceedings were taken
under section 31 of the Vaccination Act, 1897, which provided
for the vaccination of every child under 14 years of age,
under a penalty for non-compliance of 20s. On January
31st Mr HUGHES gave notice to Councillor BARRETT that
he was in default in respect to his children, Eric, aged
11, Annie and Alice Maud, and he was requested to have
them vaccinated within 14 days. Dr HAMILTON, the public
vaccination officer, called at Councillor BARRETT’s
residence to vaccinate the children and he refused to
have them vaccinated.
Similar summonses were also
taken out against Messrs BAINBRIDGE, BARKER and WELCH.
The following were the fines: BARRETT £3 10s 6d,
BAINBRIDGE £3 0s 6d, BARKER £2 1s, and WELCH
£2 1s; total £10 13s. Dr COOKE, who was in
the chair, said the Bench had decided to make orders for
these children to be vaccinated. They recognised the fact
that when the Act came into force in 1898, the defendants
had the option of getting exemption certificates.
They did not, however, take
advantage of that, therefore the Bench, under the circumstances,
considered there was no option on their part but to make
an order, which, however, would last for six weeks. If
the children were not vaccinated within that time action
would, of course, be taken by the vaccination officer.
As a result of the prosecutions
the Ashton Anti-Compulsory Vaccination Society was reformed,
and indignation meetings were held, at which a fund was
opened for resisting the demands of the vaccination officer.
A number of conscientious objectors to vaccination came
forward and banded themselves together for this purpose.
On Friday of last week, the police authorities, acting
under a warrant to do so, entered the houses of the objectors
and marked various articles of furniture with the mark
of the Crown, the broad arrow, as being realizable assets
for the purposes of recovery of the fines. In the case
of Councillor BARRETT, the amount of the fine had in the
meantime grown from £3 10s 6d to £4 7s, and
the articles marked in his case consisted of a large bookcase,
sideboard in the drawing-room, and hat stand in the lobby.
In the case of Mr BAINBRIDGE a pianoforte was marked,
and in the other two cases various articles of furniture
Five days are supposed to elapse,
not counting Sunday, after which notice of sale, before
taking proceedings for distraint. The Chief Constable
is anxious to carry out his share in the proceedings with
as little inconvenience as possible and to facilitate
the duties of the auctioneer, with a minimum of discomfort.
The question as to whether the goods will be taken on
the Market-ground and disposed of there or sold at the
respective houses of the parties concerned, has not yet
Meeting on Ashton Market Ground
In spite of the dampness of the weather, there was a large
gathering on Ashton Market Ground on Thursday night, when
an indignation meeting was held under the auspices of
the Ashton Anti-compulsory Vaccination Society.
The first speaker was Mr M
T SIMM, who spoke of the large sum paid in vaccination
fees, and the effects of vaccination on the system. He
advocated purer sanitary arrangements in connection with
old property. He spoke of the meeting being a sort of
kick-off. The fight must go on until the other side gave
up. They were not going to sit down quietly and see police
officers and vaccination officers entering the homes of
people against their will.
The parents’ wishes ought
to be respected. No one in the town could give them a
good scientific basis as a reason for vaccination. The
vaccination officer had instructions from some one in
London. If those in London were going to call the tune,
they ought to pay the piper. – (Applause.) As the
vaccination officer was paid by the ratepayers, they ought
to have some say as to what his work should be, and as
to his course of conduct. They must protest against this
new form of tyranny. – (Applause.)
Councillor R A BARRETT referred
to the duty of citizens to obey the law, but, he said,
a law must so obnoxious, so contrary to common sense and
reason,, and might so trespass upon the common right of
every man that it might be their bounden duty to fight
against it. He felt it his duty to object to the application
of the vaccination law. His children were in a healthy
condition of body. To enforce the vaccination law was
not to secure the health of children.
As regards claiming exemption,
he was determined not to appear before the magistrates,
who, although they were not so ready to call upon oneself
to observe the law, were not prepared to administer it,
and he was not going to be catechised and questioned.
He was prepared to take the consequences. The whole thing
seemed to be really a farce. It was a question largely
of catchments. He questioned whether the vaccination officer
was doing his duty in this respect.
There were thousands in the same position in other parts
of the country who were not taking the line he was doing.
The whole thing was a question of money making. –
(Hear, hear.) One of his children was 12 years of age,
and in a short time would have been outside the vaccination
officer’s power. Another was a fine lad of 11 years
of age, and another a girl aged 8 years.
It was not that he could not
pay the money, because he was in that position that he
could pay; but he protested in the name of those who could
not pay, and it was for those men for whom he was working.
– (Applause.) He hoped his action would help to
protect those not able to pay. – (Applause.) He
did not want to make himself notorious, and pose as a
martyr. He along with others wished to show that there
was such strength of opposition in the town that they
would find it was not all roses if they were going to
prosecute working men not able to face the music.
As regards extorting the money
in the way intended, articles had been marked in his house
which were ten times the value of the amount wanted. –
(A voice: “Shame.) He believed it was the same in
the other cases. In the case of Mr BAINBRIDGE they had
even marked a piece. – (Laughter.) If the articles
were to be removed from the house for sale they would
cause a lot of inconvenience and disturbance.
In administering a law, it
ought to be done with a minimum of discomfort to those
concerned. Some valuable article in the house might have
been marked which could easily have been removed without
inconvenience. This, however, was a small matter compared
with the principle for which they were fighting. They
could mark the whole house if they liked, and himself
as well, and take him if they had the power. – (A
voice: He daren’t.)
He hoped the ratepayers would
help them, and see that they got fair play. In conclusion
he referred to the insanitary conditions of various parts
of the town, and described vaccination as a dangerous,
disease-producing practice. They hoped shortly to be able
to be able to bring a man of great ability from London,
who would speak to them on the subject.
Mr M T SIMM moved the following
resolution: “That this meeting of the citizens of
Ashton lodge their protest against the action of the authorities
in invading the houses of the people, and prosecuting
them for refusing to have their children vaccinated. Mr
Mr Joshua TAYLOR, in supporting,
entered into a scientific explanation of vaccination.
Some years ago, he said, they took a census of the district,
and found that 80 per cent of the ratepayers of that district
were against the prosecutions. Yet those ratepayers paid
the wages of the man instituting these prosecutions.
They had a Government in power
which had been spending the taxpayers’ money in
doles to all but the man who laboured and earned the money.
He could not see why Councillor BARRETT and the others
should be prosecuted when such a large number should be
allowed to go free. He himself had been fined 22 times
in that court for his own children. He had been fined
six times for one child, and had his goods sold on the
Market Ground. It was a piece of tyranny to select children
of such an age.
The resolution was carried
unanimously. Addresses were delivered by Mr HART (Clayton)