Persistent Cruelty

In 1901, Thomas Henry WHEELEY and Ann ROGERS had been married for 23 years and had had 8 children together.  They were living on Dalkeith Street in Walsall – a row of terraced houses built alongside the Walsall Locks less than ten years before (in the early 1890s). Thomas was a ‘brown saddler’ living in “a poor locality” so life was probably not easy for the family.

Snippet of the 1901 census page
Thomas Henry Wheeley and Ann Rogers on the 1901 census

On Saturday the 20th May, 1905 – only a few years after the census was taken – the family had ‘a quarrel’. Thomas who had been out drinking, came home and argued with Ann, calling her names. Ann, in turn, threatened to throw a saucer at him and Thomas attacked her with a knife. Their 18-year-old son, George Alfred,  seeing this take place, struggled with his father and was subsequently hit on the head with some tongs [Not sure if these would be saddler tongs or coal tongs or another type). Ann had managed to escape the house during the scuffle and discovered she had been cut on the wrist.

newspaper article
Walsall Advertiser 27 May 1905 p6 c7


A saddler named Thomas Wheeley (53), of 91, Dalkeith Street, was charged with unlawfully wounding Ann Wheeley, his wife, with a knife, and also with violently assaulting Alfred Wheeley, his son, by hitting him on the head with a pair of tongs. -The police authorities agreed to withdraw the charges, and substitute charges of common assault only. -The story for the prosecution was that on Saturday night the man Wheeley went home under the influence of drink, and a quarrel, arose. He called his wife a bad name, and she threatened to throw a saucer at him. During the quarrel she found that she had received a wound on the wrist, and went out of the house. -The son’s evidence was to the effect that he saw his father with a knife, and struggled with him. He succeeded in getting his mother out of the house, but while he was doing so he was struck on the head with the tongs. -Dr Mackenzie-in-Thurm (house surgeon at the hospital) said he attended to the woman’s injured wrist. There was only a small punctured wound. It was not serious. -The magistrates sentenced Wheeley to 14 days’ imprisonment.  (Walsall Advertiser 27 May 1905 p6 c7)

I find it interesting that “the police authorities agreed to withdraw the charges, and substitute charges of common assault only”. Who requested the charges be withdrawn/substituted? Common assault is a lesser charge than ‘unlawfully wounding’ or ‘violently assaulting’ [source] and so appears to minimise Thomas’ actions. Was the switch to a lesser charge because: a) there was a lack of evidence of more serious injuries; b) prosecution were more likely to secure a conviction this way; or c) the general view that domestic violence was less serious?

Thomas’ two-week stint in prison for the assaults seemed to have little effect. A few weeks later, the couple were living at separate addresses – Thomas on Cannon Street and Ann at 481 Pleck Road – when Ann requested a separation order to support her and their four remaining dependent children – Sidney, Ernest, Grace Hilda and Maria (whose ages ranged from 14 to 7).

newspaper article
Walsall Advertiser 24 June 1905 p2 c5


Thomas Henry Wheeley, Cannon Street, was summoned for persistent cruelty to his wife, who applied for an order against him. -Complainant stated that she had been obliged to leave her husband because of his persistent cruelty. She had been married 29 years and had eight children, four of which were depending upon her. Her husband had assaulted her several times and was always threatening her. She had had seven pair of black eyes in less than three months. -The Chairman (to defendant): How many black eyes have you given her since you were married? -Two, that’s all sir. -An order for 10s a week was eventually made.  (Walsall Advertiser 24 June 1905 p2 c5-6)

In 1895, the ‘Summary Jurisdiction (Married Women) Act’ was introduced. It allowed married women to apply to the magistrates’ courts for separation and maintenance orders if their husbands had:

i. been convicted of an aggravated assault under S.43 of the Offences Against The Persons Act 1861
ii been convicted on indictment for assault and sentenced to at least two months imprisonment or fined £5
iii. deserted them
iv. been guilty of persistent cruelty so as to make their wives leave home.
v. wilfully neglected to maintain so as to cause their wives to leave home.

(Radford, M. T. (1988) The law and domestic violence against women. PhD Thesis. University of Bradford. Available from: (Accessed: 13 May 2020), page 38)

Ann applied for an order of separation on the grounds of his persistent cruelty and subsequent articles definitely paint a picture of an unhappy marriage marred with ‘persistent cruelty’ and alcohol abuse.

image of coal hod for sale in 1904
A coal hod for sale in 1904 – Thomas was witnessed to have struck his wife Ann with one.

Ann told the court that her husband had ‘never treated her kindly’ and that she had had ‘seven pair of black eyes in less than three months’. Thomas denied this and claimed he had ‘only’ given her two and struck her ‘no more than three times’. Ann also claimed that Thomas had hit her on the head with a coal hod – a claim supported by their 25 year old daughter, Blanche who witnessed the incident. Blanche also confirmed that her father had ‘frequently’ given her mother black eyes. However she also said that her mother had also ‘been under the influence of drink’ but this had not been for some time since “she has not had the money”.

newspaper article
Walsall Observer, and South Staffordshire Chronicle 24 June 1905 p2 c5


Thomas Wheeley, saddler, Cannon Street, was summoned by his wife, Ann Wheeley, of 481, Pleck Road, who sought to obtain a separation order on the ground of his persistent cruelty. -Complainant stated that she had been married 29 years, and of her eight children four were dependent upon her. Her husband, who was resently [sic] sent to prison for stabbing her in the wrist, had said that he had done 14 days, and he would yet do 14 years for her. He had never treated her kindly, and a few weeks ago he had struck her on the head with a coal hod. He had given her seven pairs of black eyes in less than six months. Since he came out of prison he had continually threatened what he would do to her. -She denied, in cross-examination by defendant that he had not struck her more than three times since they had been married. -In reply to a question from the Bench, defendant said he had only given his wife two black eyes, and she denied that she had been locked up for being drunk. -Blanche Marston, daughter, also spoke to her father’s ill-treatment of her mother, and said that he had frequently given her black eyes; she did not know how many. She saw him strike her with the coal hod. She admitted that her mother had been under the influence of drink, but not for some time. “She has not had the money,” she added, amid laughter. Since her father came back from gaol his language had been unbearable. -Complainant was re-called, and asked for 10s. a week. -An order was made for that amount.  (Walsall Observer, and South Staffordshire Chronicle 24 June 1905 p2 c5)

Despite the 1895 act, it’s clear that domestic violence was still not regarded as seriously as it should. Thomas’ seemingly casual, or even blasé attitude regarding the violence he actually admits to inflicting on his wife indicates that beating your wife was largely seen as ‘fine’ depending on its regularity or severity. A woman’s options were very limited and there were many reasons a wife would remain with an abusive husband – whether financial, emotional or social.

For whatever reasons, Thomas and Ann were together again by the 1911 census.

Snippet of the 1911 census page
Wheeley family on the 1911 census (130 Bridgeman Street)

I was completely unaware of the events of 1905 until recently. Thomas and Ann appeared in every census together since their marriage in 1878 (1881-1911) so I didn’t expect there to have been such a rift. We like or want to believe that the families we research lived peacefully together despite their often difficult lives. My discovery of these newspaper articles reminded me this is often not the case.

The census is only a ‘snapshot’ every ten years – it’s important to remember this. A lot can happen between these ‘snapshots’. Just as living at the same address two censuses in a row doesn’t always mean they’d actually been there all that time, a family simply living together does not always mean their lives were harmonious all that time.

This family is also featured in Wheeley Interesting and Wheeley Interesting Sequel.

An Old Car Accident

‘The New Citroen’ was advertised in the newspaper reporting on Eduard’s accident (De Zeewacht, 1933 May 13)

My mother’s recollections of her grandfather, Eduard LEMMENS, included his involvement in a serious car accident. She believed it occurred in a chauffered car in Switzerland which led to maybe brain damage or a coma but she was not sure. I have since been able to find mention of this accident and the serious injuries obtained through Eduard’s local newspapers at the time (via the Stad en Zee Oostende site).

On the 5th of December 1931, Eduard Lemmens (then living on Nieuwpoort Avenue in Westende, Belgium) was involved in a traffic accident.  He had been travelling as a taxi passenger along Albert Avenue (which I have been unable to locate see update below) in Ghent (not Switzerland), when the vehicle collided with another car and was overturned. “As a result of the very violent impact, the last car, carrying three travellers, crashed while Van Pottelsberghe’s car swerved and stamped the car of beer merchant Haerinckx, domiciled in Dendermonde, Mont-St-Amand.” (Le Littoral, 20 May 1933, p3 c2)

Initial report of accident – Le Littoral, 1931 Dec 12, p4 c1


Ostend biesse in Ghent
Last Saturday, one of our fellow citizens, Mr. Edouard Lemmens, was driving in a taxi with three other people along Albert Avenue in Ghent. Arriving at the corner of a street, the taxi was hit/overturned by a car.
The occupants were immediately removed and Mr. Lemmens, who had a head injury and a face injury, was taken to a clinic. We wish him a speedy recovery.

Ostendais biesse à Gand
Samedi dernier, un de nos concitoyens, M. Edouard Lemmens roulait dans un taxi avec trois autres personnes le long de l’avenue Albert a Gand. Arrive au coin d’une rue le taxi fut renverse par une auto.

On retira aussitot les occupants et M. Lemmens, blesse a la tete et au visage fut transporte dans une clinique. Nous lui souhaitons prompte guerison

(Le Littoral, 12 Dec 1931, p4 c1)

Eduard suffered what seemed to be a serious head injury as initial signs of recovery were only reported on a few weeks later. He was rendered unable to work as the entire left side of his body had been paralysed, and attended further appointments in a Ghent clinic.

Le Littoral, 1932 Jan 3, p3 c3

We are pleased to learn that Mr. Edouard Lemmens, who was recently injured in a car accident, is on the road to recovery.

Nous sommes heureux d’apprendre que M. Edouard Lemmens, qui fut recemment blesse dans un accident d’auto, est en bonne voie de guerison.

(Le Littoral, 3 Jan 1932, p3 c3)

In 1932, a court date was set for the prosecution of the driver of the other vehicle, Mr Van Pottelsberghe but the court’s decision wasn’t actually reached until May the next year.

De Zeewacht, 1932 Mar 19, p6 c4

Court of Ghent

It is on the 11th of April in Ghent that the case of the car accident, of which M. Ed. Lemmens is the victim. It is M. Van Pottelsberghe who is being prosecuted.

Rechtbank van Gent
Het is op 11 April dat te Gent de zaak opgeroepen wodt van het autoogeval, waarvan M. Ed. Lemmens het slachtoffer is. ‘t Is M. Van Pottelsberghe die vervolgd wordt.

(De Zeewacht, 19 Mar 1932, p6 c4)

The driver of the other vehicle, Albert Van Pottelsberghe was an ‘entrepreneur’ of Erenbodegem, but I have been unable to find any other information on him. He was found responsible and sentenced ‘on account of involuntary injuries caused by carelessness’ and ‘violation of traffic regulations’. Van Pottelsberghe was ordered to pay 93, 058 francs to Eduard to compensate for the past two years.

[One article mentioned the “capital that will be given to him is 880,000 francs” but I’m unsure as to what this means with regards to the 93, 058 francs already awarded to Lemmens.]

De Zeewacht, 1933 May 13, p4 c2



An old car accident. – On 5 December 1931, the car of Mr. Van Pottelsberghe, contractor in Eerembodeghem, ended up on the taxi of Mr. Jules Van Ertvelde, Albertlaan in Ghent, which was knocked over with the result that the three occupants were hurt: the taxi driver Van Ertvelde, M.M. Edouard Lemmens, living at Nieuwpoortlaan in Westende and Georges Stinon, employee in Schaerbeek. The investigation regarding this case seemed without end, although the responsibility of Van Pottelberghe, from the beginning was assumed. The investigation was particularly directed towards the situation of Mr. Lemmens, who was beaten totally incompetent to work, as the entire left side of his body was paralysed. All the strikes by doctors confirmed this and the victim had to submit himself to treatments in a clinic in Ghent. On Tuesday morning the case was summoned to the fining court in Ghent. After the pleadings the following verdict was pronounced: Van Pottelsberghe is sentenced on account of involuntary injuries caused by carelessness to pay a fine of 2,100 francs or a month’s imprisonment, on account of violation of the traffic regulations to twice 210 francs, a fine or 9 days and to pay the following fees: 250 francs to Stinon, 9,157 to Van Ertvelde and 93,058 francs, to Ed. Lemmens, this already preliminary title and subject to the possible worse consequences. The payment granted to M. Lemmens represents the compensation for the two past years. The capital that will be given to him is 880,000 francs.


Een oud autoongeval. — Een Oostendenaar die eene vergoeding bekomt.Den 5 December 1931 kwam de auto van den heer Van Pottelsberghe, aannemer te Eerembodeghem, terecht op de taxi van heer Jules Van Ertvelde, Albertlaan te Gent, die omgestooten werd met het gevolg dat de drie inzittenden gekwetst werden: de taxivoerder Van Ertvelde, M.M. Edouard Lemmens, wonende Nieuwpoortlaan te Westende en Georges Stinon, bediende te Schaerbeek. Het onderzoek nopens deze zaak scheen zonder einde, alhoewel de verantwoordelijkheid van Van Pottelberghe, van den beginne aangenomen werd. Het onderzoek was bijzonder gericht tegenover den toestand van M. Lemmens, die totaal onbekwaam tot werken geslagen word, daar heel de linkerkant van zijn lijf verlamd is. Alle slag van dokters bestatigden zulks en het slachtoffer moest zich zelf onderwerpen aan behandelingen in een Gentsche kliniek. Dinsdag morgen werd die zaak voor de boetstraffelijke rechtbank van Gent opgeroepen. Na de pleidooien werd het volgende vonnis uitgesproken: Van Pottelsberghe wordt veroordeeld uit hoofde van onvrijwillige kwetsuren door onvoorzichtigheid veroorzaakt tot het betalen van eene boete van 2.100 fr. of een maand gevangenis, uit hoofde van overtreding op het reglement voor het verkeer tot tweemaal 210 fr, boete of 9 dagen en tot betaling van de volgende vergoedingen: 250 fr. aan Stinon, 9.157 aan Van Ertvelde en 93.058 fr, aan Ed. Lemmens, dit al ten voorloopigen titel en onder voorbehoud van de mogelijke ergere gevolgen. De betaling toegekend aan M. Lemmens vertegenwoordigt de vergoeding voor de twee verloopene jaren. Het kapitaal, dat hem zal geschonken worden is van 880.000 frank.

(De Zeewacht, 13 May 1933, p4 c2)


Le Littoral, 1933 May 20, p3 c2

Courts of law

Low allowance to a fellow citizen who is the victim of a car accident

On 5 December 1931, the entrepreneur Albert Van Pottelsberghe, residing in Erembodegem, unleashed his car in Albert Avenue, Ghent, and collided with the car driven by the driver Jules Van Ertvelde, living on the said avenue. As a result of the very violent impact, the last car, carrying three travellers, crashed while Van Pottelsberghe’s car swerved and stamped the car of beer merchant Haerinckx, domiciled in Dendermonde, Mont-St-Amand.
This accident CAUSED three VICTIMS, the driver Van Ertvelde and two of the passengers, Georges Stienon, employee, residing on Felix Marchal Avenue, in Schaerbeek and Edouard Lemmens, residing on Nieuwpoort Avenue, in Westende. The investigation proved that Van Pottelsberghe was responsible for the accident. He appeared Tuesday morning before the Ghent Criminal Court, which sentences her to a fine of 2,100 francs or one month’s imprisonment for unintentional injuries due to carelessness, for violating the driving regulations at a fine of 210 francs or 9 days, and for paying the following damages: 250 francs to Stienon; 9,157 francs to Van Ertvelde and 92,053 francs to Lemmens, all provisional and subject to possible future action.

Maigre allocation a un coneitoyen victime d’un accident d’auto
Le 5 decembre 1931, l’entrepreneur Albert Van Pottelsberghe, demeurant a Erembodegem, deboucha avec son auto a l’avenue Albert, a Gand, et y entrea en collision avec la voiture conduite parle chauffeur Jules Van Ertvelde, habitant ladite avenue. Par suite du choc, tres violent, la derniere auto, transportant trois voyaguers, culbuta tandis que la voiture de Van Pottelsberghe fit une embardee et tamponna l’auto-camion du marchand de biere Haerinckx, domicilie chaussee de Termonde, a Mont-St-Amand.
Cet accident fit trois victimes, le chauffeur Van Ertvelde et deux des voyageurs, Georges Stienon, employe, demeurant avenue Felix Marchal, a Schaerbeek et Edouard Lemmens, habitant avenue de Nieuport, a Westende. L’enquete prouva que la responsabilite de l’accident etait imputable a Van Pottelsberghe. Celui-ci a comparu mardi matin devant le tribunal correctionnel de Gand qui la condamne, du chef de blessures involontaires par imprudence, a 2,100 francs d’amende ou un mois de prison, pour enfreinte aux reglements sur le roulage a deux fois 210 frs d’amende ou 9 jours, et au paiement des dommages-interets suivants: 250 francs a Stienon; 9.157 francs a Van Ertvelde et 92.053 francs a Lemmens, le tout a tilre provisoire et sous reserve des suite futures possibles.

(Le Littoral, 20 May 1933, p3 c2)

Obviously being paralysed on one side of his body, would have a profound effect on his life but it doesn’t mention if the paralysis was temporary or permanent. He must’ve been a determined man as he was still able to add two more children to the family (for a total of 10!) despite his injuries (Frederick b. Feb 1933 and Micheline b. Jun 1935). My mother also recalls that they ‘ran chateaus’ and that her grandmother ‘ran the house as a Bed & Breakfast’. Although not mentioned in the articles, Eduard had previously worked in banking so perhaps the accident prevented him from continuing that career and the family needed to make a living in this new way (making use of the compensation money). Or perhaps they had already started this new business before the accident. Hopefully, the answers can be found one day in other family members.

Translated mostly with with some alterations.


Since posting, a distant Lemmens cousin helpfully explained that Albert became king so the avenue ‘Albertlaan’ was renamed ‘Koning Albertlaan’ (King Albert Avenue). King Albert I died in 1934 – the year after this accident.  I have been able to find a 1930 map (in french) that names this street ‘Boulevard Albert’.

The Hannah Chronicles: Obscene Language

Newspapers are ‘da bomb‘ for finding out information about relatives but it’s important to widen searches for different spellings, variations and even other family members. This time, searching just the name Rollett (it helps that it’s not too common), brought up an article I hadn’t seen before:

Nottingham Journal, 20 March 1876, p4 c2

USING OBSCENE LANGUAGE – Hannah Rollett was charged with using obscene language in Walker lane, on Wednesday last, to the annoyance of Sarah Ann Rollett, and fined 40s. and costs, or, in default, one month with hard labour. -Ann Wright was charged with a similar offence in the Market place and Bold lane, to the annoyance of John Rollett, on Wednesday last, and fined 40s. and costs, or, in default, one month with hard labour.

Nottingham Journal, 20 March 1876, p4 c2

Typical of the Hannah I’d come to know and love, and interesting that it involved Alexander’s sister, Sarah Ann, again. But underneath, the next case also involved a Rollett and I was wondering if there was a connection when I noticed the name ‘Ann Wright’. I know that Hannah had a sister, Ann, who married a Wright in 1872. Could this be her? Were they all arguing together – siblings against siblings? And who was this John Rollett?

It was only a couple days later that a different search revealed more information:

Derby Mercury, 22 March 1876, p2 c5

Hannah Rollett was charged in her absence with using obscene language to the special annoyance of Sarah Ann Rollett, her sister-in-law, in Workhouse-yard, Walker-lane. -Fined 40s. and costs, or one month’s imprisonment.

Ann Wright was charged in her absence with using obscene language to the special annoyance of Alexander Rollett, the husband of the last defendant. The affair took place in consequence of the complainant demanding his child, which had been under Wright’s care. -Fined 40s. and costs, or one month’s imprisonment, with hard labour.

Derby Mercury, 22 March 1876, p2 c5

Derby c1899 map showing places mentioned in the articles (Blue line marks Bold Lane)

The extra details indicate that this was indeed a ‘family affair’ so it’s more than likely this Ann Wright was in fact, Hannah’s sister. We know that her first daughter, Sarah Jane, was ‘under Wright’s care’ in 1881 where they appear in the census together. Sarah Jane would have been aged 4 at the time of this article but it could also refer to his son, Richard William who would have been nearly 2 years old. By 1881, ‘William’ was living with his father and his live-in-lover, Selina Banks. [Hannah was 3 months pregnant with John William at the time.]

1881 census – Bonsall – Sarah Jane living with her aunt, Ann
1881 census -Derby (Nun St) – Richard William living with his father, Alexander
1881 census – Derby (Willow Row) – John William living with his mother, Hannah

It seems a bit rich that Alexander and his sister would take his wife and sister-in-law to court based on their language – they were hardly beacons of modesty. The move seemed designed to antagonise but it is hard to say who was in the right here as neither parent seemed like a great role model. A few months later, Alexander was involved in a ‘murderous assault on a policeman‘; the next year, Hannah committed her own ‘murderous attack‘; and a few years later, Hannah and Alexander would again argue over custody of their children which caused newspapers to report on their ‘Shocking Immorality’.

The Hannah Chronicles: A Disorderly House


Nottingham Evening Post, 27 Jan 1886, p2 c4

Hannah Bates/Rollett and William Henry Lamb were not ones to live life quietly it seems. In January of 1886, they were subjects of a raid where it was found they, along with some neighbours, were keeping a ‘disorderly house’.

At the Derby Borough Police-court, to-day… Edward and Patience Helmsley, husband and wife were charged on a warrant with keeping a disorderly house at House 7, Court 3, Willow-row, between January 16th and 24th…

-Similar penalties were imposed in a similar charge against William Lamb and Hannah Rollit, of House 4, Court 3, Willow-row. Detective Clay stated that most of the persons who entered the house were young men. Prisoners, who had lived together for two years, were found guilty. There were five minor convictions against the man, and six against the woman.

Nottingham Evening Post, 27 Jan 1886, p2 c4

The neighbours in House 7 appear to have held the most serious charge as they appear first in reports.

The Nottingham Journal (28 Jan 1886) was less euphemistic when they reported a “RAID ON BROTHEL KEEPERS”.

Upon being read the warrant, Patience Helmsley had asked “Why don’t you do them up No. 1 court as well?” which indicates this was a relatively common thing in the court houses of Willow Row. “In consequence of complaints he and Sergeant Dexter watched the houses in this this court”…


Nottingham Journal, 28 January 1886, p6 c1
Nottingham Journal, 28 January 1886, p6 c2

Hannah Rolle[t] and William Lamb were charged with a similar offence at house No.2, Court 3, Willow-row. -Detective Clay spoke to arresting the prisoners who denied keeping a brothel. -They had lived in the house about three or four months. On the 16th inst. four women and three men entered the house; on the 21st two men and two women went in the house; on the 23rd two women and nine men went into the house. The prisoners lived together as man and wife. The prisoners were about when this state of things was going on. -The man denied the charge, but the woman admitted the offence. -The prisoners had each been previously convicted, and they were now fined £5 and costs, or one month’s imprisonment with hard labour.

Nottingham Journal, 28 January 1886, p6 c2

Interesting that in both cases, the men plead ignorance:

In defence the male prisoner [Edward Hemsley] said he did not know anything about the “affair,” as he was at work every day. -The female said it was all her fault. He did not want her to keep such a house, and she wished she never had. If the Bench sent them to gaol, her husband would get the “sack.” If they would let her off she would lead a better life.

Nottingham Journal, 28 January 1886, p6 c2

Derbyshire Advertiser and Journal, 29 January 1886, p3 c5


…William Lamb and Hannah Rollett were charged on a warrant with keeping a disorderly house in Court 3, Willow-row between the 16th and 23rd Jan. -Detective Clay gave evidence of a similar nature to that in the previous case and said that he and police-sergeant Dexter apprehended the prisoners on the previous night, when they emphatically denied the charge.- The woman, who had been convicted six times before, pleaded guilty. The man had been in trouble on five previous occasions, and he now denied the charge.- They were fined £5 and costs each, with the alternative of a month’s imprisonment.

Derbyshire Advertiser and Journal, 29 January 1886, p3 c5

The Sheffield Indpendent (28 January 1886) gave much the same information but mentions the “Prisoners… had lived together for two years…” even though we have evidence that they had been living together for around four.  [see previous post]

Sheffield Independent, 28 January 1886, p2 c5

It’s unclear whether Hannah or William opted to pay the fine or take the imprisonment. I should note at this point that despite all these convictions against Hannah over the years and reports of serving time, I’ve not yet been able to find any jail record under any of her names.

Despite her claim that she would “lead a better life”, newspapers show that Patience Helmsley was charged with the same offence a few years later in 1890 (with double the penalty):

Derby Daily Telegraph, 25 March 1890, p3 c2

The Hannah Chronicles: Enter William

It wasn’t too long after the ‘shocking immorality‘ of 1881 that Hannah Bates/Rollett established a relationship with the significantly younger, William Henry Lamb.

William’s family had lived in the West End area of Derby for generations and he and Hannah soon set up home in one of the court houses in Willow Row. His parents lived in neighbouring Goodwin Street (where William himself was born at number 29), and like his father, William worked as a bricklayer and chimney sweep.

By 1882, Hannah was already referring to William as her husband, and using his surname when she was charged with drunkenness in Willow Row. (William was only 17 years old at this point and Hannah was 25.)

Derby Daily Telegraph, 08 May 1882, p4 c3

–Hannah Lamb was charged with drunkenness in Willow-row.-Prisoner said she was suffering more from passion than drink. Her husband had turned her out of the house.-She was fined 5s. and costs, or seven days’ imprisonment with hard labour.

Derby Daily Telegraph, 08 May 1882, p4c3

From this we can assume they had been living together as ‘man and wife’ despite not being married and that the relationship was quite tumultuous even in their early days together.

The next year, it was William’s turn to be fined for drunkenness:

Derby Daily Telegraph, 03 November 1883, p3 c4

DRUNKENNESS.-William Lamb was fined 10s. and costs for being drunk and disorderly in Willow-row, on Thursday afternoon.–Police-constable Levers proved the case.

Derby Daily Telegraph, 03 November 1883, p3 c4

A few years later, Hannah was summoned for threatening Mary Toon after a quarrel ‘about a cat’:

Derby Daily Telegraph, 07 May 1885, p3 c3

USING THREATS. -Hannah Lamb, a married woman, was summoned for threatening Mary Toon, on the 2nd inst -The parties live in Willow-row, and quarrelled about a cat -The defendant was bound over to keep the peace for 3 months in the sum of £10.

Derby Daily Telegraph, 07 May 1885, p3 c3

Interestingly, William’s mother was a Toon so this Mary could be one of his relatives.

It was only a few months later that both Hannah and William were involved in some kind of brawl with the neighbours:

Derby Daily Telegraph, 25 August 1885 p3 c6

THE VIOLENT ASSAULT IN WILLOW ROW. – Thomas Limbert, John Tearney, and Henry Hill were charged with violently assaulting William Lamb, in court 3, Willow-row, on the night of the 21st instant. -Mr. Briggs defended Tearney and Hill. -The prosecutor stated that he lived in Court 3, Willow row, and knew the prisoners, who live in the same court. On Friday night, about half-past eleven, he went to Limbert’s house. The door was locked, and he shouted “Is our Nan here?” meaning Hannah Rollet. Limbert replied that she was not. Witness then requested to be allowed to look, and Limbert unlocked the door and went outside, and, using some bad language, he asked what witness wanted there. Without getting an answer he struck witness a number of times, and knocked him down. The other prisoners then went up the yard, and said to Limbert, “Give it the –, Tommy.” They then started kicking him whilst he was on the ground. Witness was taken to the Infirmary where he remained until that morning. He had been on friendly terms with the prisoners. He did not kick at the door when he went to Limbert’s house. -Hannah Rollit gave similar evidence. -The defence was that Lamb and Limbert were fighting, when Lamb fetched a sweep’s scraper out, and would have killed Limbert with it had not Hill prevented him. Tearney, it was said, was never within ten yards of the place where the fight took place. -Mr. Briggs called several witnesses, who corroborated the latter statement. -The Bench, having a doubt as regards Tearney, discharged him, Limbert, who had been convicted 15 times before, was sent to gaol for a month, with hard labour, Hill who had 21 previous confictions against him, was sentenced to a similar term. 

Derby Daily Telegraph, 25 August 1885 p3 c6

The Derbyshire Advertiser and Journal gave a different account a few days later:

Derbyshire Advertiser and Journal, 28 August 1885, p3 c5

ALLEGED VIOLENT ASSAULT IN WILLOW-ROW. -Jas. Limbert, John Teeney, and Henry Hill were charged with violently assaulting William Lamb, in Court 3, Willow-row, on the previous day. -Police-constable Robinson said that on the previous night he was called to a house in Court 3, Willow-row, by a woman named Rollet. On arriving there he saw the prosecutor who was bleeding from the mouth, and he complained of having been assaulted by three men. Witness did not see any wounds or bruises on him, and consequently told him to summon the men, who had attacked him. The woman Rollet subsequently procured a cab, in which the prosecutor was taken to the Infirmary, and from what the doctor who there examined him stated, the prisoners were apprehended and charged with the offence. Limbert said that Lamb went to his door, and made several unpleasant remarks about his wife. The door was fast, and he commenced kicking it. He (Limbert) then opened the door, and Lamb struck at him, whereupon he retaliated and knocked him down in self-defence. Prosecutor regained his feet, and they then had a fair fight, during which the other men came up, and Lamb ran into his own house. He came out again with a sweep’s broom, with which he struck at them, but after a scuffle they took it from him. -Police-constable Shirley also gave evidence as to Lambert’s condition. -Prisoners were remanded until Monday.

Derbyshire Advertiser and Journal, 28 August 1885, p3 c5

To be continued…