2 April 1904

Posing as a Theatrical

John NORRIS, aged 17 years, residing with his parents in Eccleshall-street, Clayton, was on Monday charged at the Stalybridge Police Court on remand from Saturday with stealing a waistcoat, the property of John DRINKWATER, under somewhat peculiar circumstances.

Captain BATES said the lad was originally charged with obtaining food by false pretences, but he (the Chief Constable) had decided to proceed on the larceny charge only. Prisoner went to the house of Mrs EGGLETON, in Bayley-street, and on the statement that he was a member of the “Chinese Honeymoon” Theatrical Company he obtained lodgings. It really did seem strange how any woman could be taken in by such a lad as the one in the dock; his very appearance and looks were enough, but any way, Mrs EGGLETON was deceived, and she allowed the prisoner to stay the week-end at her house as a lodger.

After he left on the Monday the waistcoat of another lodger was found to have been stolen from a drawer, and subsequently prisoner was found to be wearing it, and when he (Captain BATES) asked him about it he gave the very reasonable and sane reply that it was a better waistcoat than his own. (Laughter.) It was only fair to say that prisoner had been an inmate of Prestwich Asylum.

Sarah Ann EGGLETON said she resided with her husband at 13 Bayley-street, Stalybridge. On Saturday night week prisoner came to her house and asked for lodgings, saying he was with the “Chinese Honeymoon” Company. He stayed until Monday morning, during which time the waistcoat produced was in a drawer in the house. The waistcoat belonged to another lodge named John DRINKWATER, and was worth about two shillings.

Captain BATES: You thought he was an actor? — Witness: Yes, that’s the reason I took him in. He said he would pay me 14s 6d per week, and that the manager of the Theatre had sent him. — Did you think he was a comic man, or a tragedian? — (Laughter.) — Well, I don’t know; he was singing on the Sunday and telling us how he would have to go on the stage at the Theatre the next day. — (Renewed laughter.)

Detective LEE said he arrested prisoner on Friday last at 5 Grasscroft-street, where he was then lodging. Witness subsequently charged him with the theft, and he made no reply. He was then locked up.

Prisoner’s stepmother came forward, and said the lad went away from his home at Clayton a month ago. He got up in the night time, put on his best clothes, and was intending to put on his best boots, but he was evidently disturbed, as they found them on the stairs. He had been in trouble at Manchester, and had not followed any real employment for twelve months. When in Prestwich Asylum they had to pay 6s per week towards his maintenance, but they could not afford this, and the lad came home. Prisoner had been examined by two doctors, both of whom pronounced him to be of weak intellect, and said he would have to be watched.

Captain BATES: He is wanted by the Ashton police on three charges of false pretences. — The Mayor: Is he quite rational at times? — Mrs NORRIS: Yes, sir, but he sits brooding a lot. Twelve months ago he underwent an operation for his eyes, and since then seemed to have gone worse. — The Mayor: Will you take charge of him if we let him go? — Mrs NORRIS: It is no use me taking him; I cannot do any good with him. — Do you think we should send him to prison for a month? — Well, I don’t know, sir. — Captain BATES: Don’t you think a month would do him good? — Mrs NORRIS: I think so.

The Mayor: Has he been locked up since Friday? — Captain BATES: Yes, sir. — The Mayor said the Bench did not think it prudent to send the lad to prison in the state he was. He would be bound over in the sum of %3 to be of good behaviour for six months. The magistrates hoped Mrs NORRIS (his stepmother) would take care of him.

Mrs NORRIS: What have I to do if he keeps doing this? — The Mayor: I should put him under restraint. It will be as cheap for you to keep him at home as sending him away where you would have to pay. Consult his father. — Prisoner, looking vacant, then left the dock and joined his stepmother.

Body Found in the Canal

A man named James Arthur SHAW, a turner, living in West-street, Openshaw, was walking along the towing path of the Stockport Canal, about mid-day on Sunday, when he found an overcoat and a hat lying on the path near Openshaw Bridge. He gave information to the police, and the body of a man was recovered from the centre of the canal.

At the inquest this week, before Mr Ernest GIBSON (the city coroner) and a jury, evidence was given to this effect by Constable PERRY, and the man SHAW. The body had not been identified, and there was nothing on the deceased to lead to this. He had in his possession a knife, tobacco box, pipe, matches, needle and thread, envelopes, &c, but no money. The envelopes were examined, but they had not passed through the post.

The police officer PERRY said he thought the man would be about 56 years of age, but Dr TELFORD (of the Royal Infirmary), who made an examination of the body, thought he would be about 45 to 50 years old. He had a small bruise on the forehead, but that had nothing to do with death, which was due to drowning. The time of immersion must have been a short one.

The Coroner: How long do you think? — Dr TELFORD: About an hour I should think. He added there was nothing to indicate his identity. He had the appearance of being a labouring man, but from an examination of his hands there were indications he had not done any work for a long time..

The Coroner said there was no doubt from the evidence the man had met his death by drowning, but there was no evidence how he gat into the water. His body had not been identified, and it would be the duty of the jury to return an open verdict. This the jury did.

Terrifying Females

A sensation has been created at the West-end of Ashton during the past few weeks which may well make one wonder at the depravity to which the perpetrator at present still at large is capable of descending. No language is too strong to adequately qualify what appears to be a brainless form of horseplay. Were it not that the fellow’s “ambushes,” for such they are, are designed to terrify young girls and even upgrown women, the whole thing must be dismissed with contempt.

The police have the matter under investigation, and detectives have been on the watch, but so far the author of the scare has succeeded in secreting himself before the emissaries of the law have been able to effect his arrest. Feeling has been very strong in the district, and in consequence several men with families, highly respected in the town, have declared their intention of taking the law into their own hands should they be fortunate enough in arriving on the scene at the opportune moment. For some time, they have been acting as private detectives without avail.

The offences have all taken place within the past three weeks, the last occasion being one day last week when a young woman was rudely assailed in Wilkinson-street. There have been about a dozen cases altogether, and the tactics have been varied in nearly every case, the time chosen being about nine 0’clock at night.

One female was passing along Welbeck-street carrying a quantity of groceries, when she was suddenly tripped down on the pavement and the groceries scattered over the ground. In the darkness she saw a man dart down a side street, but was unable to distinguish him, only that he was tall and apparently had a dark moustache.

In another case, a young woman felt a tap on the shoulder from behind, and on looking round was terrified by the appearance of the man. Two young women were walking along the same street, when one of them, daughter of a well-known business man, was suddenly pounced upon and thrown violently to the ground. Fortunately her home was close by, and when she was able to rise to her feet, she and her companion ran screaming into the house. Her assailant again made off before assistance arrived, and nothing more was heard of him that night.

Similar cases have occurred in Blandford-street and the vicinity of Ashton Moss. What can be the meaning of these cowardly assaults it is difficult to say, because the acts, however despicable, seem to have always been frustrated, and being mostly in lighted streets where people are regularly passing, the only conclusion to be drawn is that someone is at large who should be confined in a lunatic asylum. The police are exercising great vigilance in the matter, and it is hoped their efforts will lead to capture.

A South Clayton woman named Sarah Ellen AMOS, living in Clayton-lane, died a few days ago from injuries sustained in stepping off a moving tramcar in Piccadilly. From evidence given at the Coroner’s inquiry (conducted by Mr Ernest GIBSON) it appears that deceased was 38 years of age, slipped off the car opposite a notice board stating that all cars stopped at that point. The guard and other passengers stated that the deceased was previously warned to keep her seat, but she took no notice.

The guard stated that the notice referred to only appeared to the Market-street end of the Piccadilly cars, but the Coroner and jury thought that notice was misleading. It was an invitation, said the Coroner, to passengers to get off the cars. He thought there should be some modification of the notice. — Mr BELL (from the Town Clerk’s office) who watched the case on behalf of the Tramways Committee, said the Corporation would readily acquiesce to any suggestion made.

The Jury returned a verdict of “Accidental death,” contributed to, they believed by a misleading notice. They also recommended that the handrail on the cars should be made higher, so as to be a better protection against passengers falling off. They exonerated the driver and guard from all blame. Mr HALL promised the recommendation should be forwarded to the proper quarter.

On Monday, at the Stalybridge Police Court, Mary QUINN, married woman, of 81 Cross Leech-street, Stalybridge, was charged on two informations with having obtained an order for the supply of 2s 6d worth and 2s worth of groceries on the 7th and 18th March under false pretences, and with intent to defraud the Mayor’s Relief Fund.

Captain BATES, chief constable, briefly reviewed the facts, and said the woman had the impudence to tell the Relief Committee that her total income was only 10s weekly, whereas the evidence which would be called would show conclusively that she received considerably more than that.

Captain BATES was sworn. He said that on the 11th March he was in his office dispensing relief pending the committee taking over the work, when Mrs QUINN came before him and asked for assistance. — Defendant: I do not know where your office is, mister. — The Clerk: But you do know who the gentleman is? — Defendant: No, I do not. — Captain BATES: Do you mean to say you have not been to my office? — Defendant: I don’t know where it is. The Clerk: This is the chief constable. — Defendant: Oh, there was Mr LEECH (school attendances officer) there was another gentleman. — Captain BATES: And that gentleman was me. — Defendant: All right.

Proceeding, the Chief Constable said that on the strength of the woman’s tale that she was in need he gave her an order for the purchase of goods to the amount of 2s 6d. He did not remember exactly what amount the woman said her income was, but it must have been under ten shillings, or he would not have relieved her. She said her husband was out of work. — Defendant: Yes, he was out of work at the time.

Councillor James BOTTOMLEY, JP, said that on Friday, 18th March, he was acting as chairman of No 3 Relief Committee when the defendant made application for assistance. He asked her what the total income of her home was from all sources for the previous week, and she replied “Ten shillings.” She also said her husband was out of work, and that they had four children to keep, none of whom were working. Witness gave her an order to procure 2s worth of goods. — Defendant denied saying that her husband was out of work, but Mr BOTTOMLEY was confident, having made a note of the woman’s answers.

Mr John TRAVIS, from the office of Messrs John Summers and Son, Globe Ironworks, said that the husband and son of defendant were employed at the works, and on the 5th March their joint earning were £1 13s, and on the 12th March £1 12s 1d. — Job JONES, furnace builder, said defendant’s husband and son occasionally worked for him. On March 5th he paid the lad 3s 10d, and on March 12th 5s 6d, as wages.

John QUINN said he lived at 81 Cross Leech-street, and was the husband of defendant. On March 5th he gave his wife 12s out of his wages. — Defendant, interposing, said that if her husband would speak the truth the bench would find that he often “played him.” — Witness thereupon hesitated considerably when next questioned, and he was told to stand down.

Defendant, after denying the charge, subsequently pleaded guilty, and was fined 10s 6d, or 14 days’ imprisonment. She was given time in which to pay. Captain BATES did not press the cases, remarking to the bench that the offence was committed before the magisterial warning last week that future offenders would have to go to prison.

On Thursday, at the Police Court, a blowing room operative named James HENSHAW was charged with persistent cruelty to his wife, Sarah HENSHAW, and that such cruelty had caused her to live separate and apart from him, and he had wilfully neglected to maintain her. He pleaded not guilty. Mr J Alfred GARFORTH defended. Mrs HENSHAW was charged by her husband with being an habitual drunkard under section 3 of the Act of 1879. She pleaded not guilty. Mr GARFORTH said there were cross-summonses, but the same class of facts governed the whole thing. They did not need to have two separate hearings.

Sarah HENSHAW was then sworn, and said she lived at 12 Victoria-street, Ashton, at present. The defendant was her husband, and was a low maker in a cotton mill. On the 5th February he smacked her in the face four times, and told her to leave the house; if not he would kick her out. She told him it was raining, and then he got her by the shoulders and turned her out of doors.

She went to him on Thursday, and he said he would put her out again if she did not go. He swore heavily at her, and threatened what he would do. Some four months ago he kicked her on the back and legs and tried to strangle her. She left him then. After they had been married, seven months ago, he gave her a black eye in three weeks. She had no children, but he had four. She was destitute, and he had her furniture.

Cross-examined by Mr GARFORTH: Do you maintain you have been a good wife to him? Yes. — When you married him did you know what he was doing. Yes. — Did you know he only had 19s 4d a week. He was out of work then. — Did you know he had three children? Four children, yes. — What are they? Two boys and two girls. Did you know that when he got work he had to walk to Droylsden and back with his eldest daughter Nellie every morning? Yes. — For 19s 4d a week? Yes, and the girl got 3s 10d. — How much did he give you out of the 19s 4d? He never gave me any money. — Why? Because he likes to spend it himself — You smoke, don’t you? Yes, but not since I was married; he would not let me.

Do you know the Magnet Inn? Yes, that was where we met him. — Has your husband had to pay as much as 1s 7d for what are known as “tabs” for you? Yes. — Have you been in the habit of stopping in bed until twelve, one, and two o’clock? No. — Has Dr PARK ever threatened to report you to the R.S.P.C.C. for neglecting you husband’s children? Yes, but I was ill in bed. — Through the Magnet? No, inflammation of the stomach.

Do the police know you? I don’t know whether they do or not. — Have you been sentenced in this court for prostitution? Yes. — Have you been so habitually drunk that you have lost control of yourself? — No. Do you deny neglecting the children through your drinking habits? Yes.

Ellen EDWARDS, 12 Victoria-street, Ashton, proved seeing the defendant turn his wife out on the night of the 5th February. — Mr GARFORTH: Were you not in Yorkshire that night? No. I had been in Yorkshire.

Mr GARFORTH, for the defence, suggested in the first place that there was scarcely enough evidence to ground this summons for persistent cruelty. The story of his client was that his first wife died two years ago, and left him with four little children. He married her in the hope that she would be a faithful wife and mother to his children. He would tell the bench that she had habitually neglected the children through her drinking habits. She had stopped in bed through drink or the result of drink, and the children had had to go to school without breakfast many a time.

Defendant was called, and swore that his wife was addicted to drink and had neglected her domestic duties. His daughter Ellen also gave similar evidence. The Bench decided to dismiss the charge of persistent cruelty, and made an order of maintenance against the husband of 2s 6d per week.

Mr GARFORTH said he would like to say as publicly as possible so that this woman could hear that the first time they heard of actual adultery he would apply that the order should be rescinded. So she had better be careful about her way of living. — Mrs HENSHAW: And I wish to say everything they have said from beginning to end is all false. They have not told a word of truth from the beginning.

Sir, — The Rev Ivor JONES is evidently anxious to take up the cudgels against the Nonconformist churches and, like the Irishman who went round the neighbourhood asking someone “to tread on the tail of his coat,” is evidently spoiling for a fight. With every word of his remarkable speech delivered at the half-yearly meeting of the Rural Deanery of Ashton, reported in the current issue of your valuable paper, I entirely disagree, and against a portion of it I desire to enter an emphatic protest.

His remarks are interesting as manifesting the temper and spirit in which the Education Act will be administered in thousands of parishes. It is evident that Mr JONES is labouring under the false assumption that there is only one true church, and that the one by law is established. It appears to be necessary to state that the New Testament idea of the church is that of a home of Christian believers.

It is too late in the day to tolerate such bigotry and uncharitable inferences as the Nonconformists of this borough are compelled to draw from the remarks of Mr JONES. Doubtless much more lies behind the sneer at Nonconformist chapels than is apparent at first sight. Mr JONES is much pained to think that his scholars can attend “Nonconformist chapels as easily and with as clear conscience as if they had always been brought up in those teachings.” Yes, why not? Will Mr JONES answer?

”The teaching is sometimes comprehensive enough, ranging from a penny novelette to an account of a football match.” Has Mr JONES himself ever been to a Nonconformist service? It would appear so. If he has, what did he find to sear his conscience? How many novelettes has he heard read, and how many accounts of football matches has he heard given in either a Nonconformist church or Sunday school? Surely the gibe against those who attend prayer meetings is unworthy of one who pretends to be a believer in prayer?

Mr JONES is evidently finding it out that so long as a minister flouts his people and indulges in practices which his congregation resents he must expect them to be found worshipping even in Nonconformist chapel. Yet the worst of all remains. We are now asked to pay rates in order that the children of this borough shall be handed over to receive at the hands of those like minded as himself such religious teaching as they think proper to give to all those placed under their care. Can you been surprised that we should have the passive resistance movement in our midst?

If our position as resisters required any justification it has been supplied gratis. And our thanks are due to the Rev Ivor JONES. I expect to enrol, as a result of his deliberations, a large number of others as resisters, who say we will have none of it. For we cannot conscientiously pay rates to maintain schools in which there they legally be given teaching hostile to, and even destructive of the religious denominations to which we belong. Such payment makes us responsible for the teaching given in these schools, and we decline to accept the responsibility.

Thanking you in anticipation, sir, I remain sincerely your,

Woodlea, Pelham-street, Ashton-under-Lyne
29th March, 1904

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