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…

Aunt Sally

Before Rose Richards [nee LAMB] died, we were chatting about her family history via facebook messenger and she wrote:

“… my Dad had a sister we called Sally. She married a man named Woodward who left her and went to America. During the war an American soldier had a piece in the Derby Evening telegraph asking for her, But my Dad wouldn’t let us answer it.”

Rose Richards [nee Lamb], 2 Aug 2016

I dutifully added the name Sally Lamb to the family tree as a brother of Reuben Henry LAMB (son of Hannah BATES and William Henry LAMB) but was unable to find the newspaper piece Rose refers to.

At a later point, likely trawling the newspapers for Rolletts, I came across an article requesting William Woodward come forward, or else his now deceased legal wife’s estate would be given to her brother John William Rollett:

Derby Daily Telegraph, 12 May 1947 p10

“TO WILLIAM WOODWARD formerly of Derby… and Birmingham… but whose present whereabouts is unknown.
TAKE NOTICE that a Citation has issued citing you to cause an appearance to be entered for you in the Principal Probate Registry… within one month after publication hereof and accept or refuse Letters of Administration of the estate of SARAH JANE WOODWARD, of 53, Gisborne-street, Derby, in the County of Derby, deceased, or shew cause why the same should not be granted JOHN WILLIAM ROLLETT as a lawful brother of the whole blood of the said deceased and one of the persons interested in her estate, with an intimation that in default of your appearance Letters of Administration will be granted to the said JOHN WILLIAM ROLLETT.”

Derby Daily Telegraph, 12 May 1947, p10

This showed that Sally, officially known as Sarah Jane was actually a child of Hannah BATES’ first husband, Alexander ROLLETT. Until then, I had only known him to have two sons – John William and William Henry. But since John was referred to as ‘a lawful brother of the whole blood’, I adjusted the tree and changed her maiden name to Sarah Jane ROLLETT, daughter of Alexander.

Unfortunately, this still didn’t help me in my quest for information. The closest I got was Sarah’s likely appearance in the 1939 register, where she was recorded as a widow and retired ‘rag sorter’.

Sarah Jane Woodward in the 1939 register

Today, however, I came across her long lost husband in an ancestry member tree. This tree gave her name as Sarah Jane BATES (her mother’s maiden name) and also shared a copy of the marriage certificate which shows the two had married in Birmingham in 1891.

The 1891 marriage of Sarah Jane BATES to William WOODWARD

Interestingly, Sally does not give her father’s name so it is still uncertain whether Alexander truly is her biological father. It is unlikely that her birth record would have his name either, since she is registered under her mother’s maiden name but I’d still like to order it one day to check. The fact that Sarah Jane was never recorded with her family intrigues me – perhaps she wasn’t actually Rollett’s child either?

It turns out that William had actually formed a relationship with his barmaid, Alice Robinson around 1907 (William & Sally ran a pub in Aston – noted on the 1901 census) and had a couple of kids with her before migrating to Canada around 1910, where they lived as a married couple and continued to grow their family.

As for the newspaper piece Rose mentioned, according to William’s family he returned to England for a few years at the beginning of the war so it’s possible William did try to reach out to his former wife at that time (for whatever reason).

It’s so amazing to actually find answers to these little mysteries and especially from another perspective. In addition, the search for Sally allowed me to unlock more doors into the intriguing life of Hannah Bates…

Update:

Due to the above article, I had assumed Sally died in 1947 but the only likely death record in the index was in 1941. I have now found the probate record that states she did die in 1941 but probate wasn’t granted until 1947. Presumably, time had to be given to locate her missing husband, William before it being passed on to her brother(?).

Next Steps:

  • order Sarah Jane BATES’ birth certificate
  • locate newspaper article mentioned by Rose

And that’s where things have stayed for a long while. I was unable even to find a likely marriage between the two. But today, all that changed when I came across an ancestry member tree, which finally blew the doors open on this couple. More importantly, the discovery has helped me unlock even more doors.

Wheeley Interesting

Researching the children of Thomas Henry WHEELEY led me to a few interesting discoveries this morning – particularly to do with his eldest daughters.

His first born daughter, Gertrude Annie Wheeley married a Thomas Fox in 1900 at St Andrews Church, Walsall. His second born daughter, Blanche Emma Wheeley was there and signed as a witness to the marriage along with possibly their younger brother, Thomas (presuming that the father would have signed his name as Thomas Henry as recorded above).

Marriage entry of Gertrude Annie Wheeley & Thomas Fox

The next year, Gertrude Annie married a man called William Henry Marston.  William was Roman Catholic and I was surprised to see the marriage entry recorded in latin (this is the first instance of Catholic records in my research).

Marriage entry of Blanche Emma Wheeley & William Henry Marston

Checking the census, I was pleased to find the sisters together – Blanche was visiting Gertrude at their Inn in Darlaston – the Britannia. Blanche had also brought along their 5 year old sister, Hilda.

1901 census showing Wheeley siblings staying with Gertrude Annie and her husband Thomas

I always love finding entries like these as it shows how the families were still in touch throughout the years but it turns out this was not such a happy story. Blanche was in fact staying with her sister after an altercation with her new husband and his mother.

In an article headed, ‘SOON TIRED OF MATRIMONIAL LIFE’, it outlined how the relationship soured after only 5 weeks (!) of marriage:

The parties were only married in January this year, and went to live defendant’s mother in Lumley Road, Walsall. Unpleasantness seemed to have arisen through the defendant’s mother, and the defendant always appeared to side with his mother. Five weeks after the marriage the defendant ordered his wife to leave the house on two occasions. On March 26th a dispute arose between the complainant and the defendant’s mother, and the defendant then practically turned his wife out of the house. The following day complainant went with her own mother to defendant to see what he was going to do. Defendant declined to have her back again and told her that if she wanted anything from him for her maintenance she would have to go to law to get it.

Sounds like William tried to make out it was because she was running him into debt but it seems like this was untrue as their was only a small amount owing for groceries. William was ordered to pay Blanche 12s 6d a week (approximately £48 in today’s money – worth about a day’s wages at the time).

Walsall Advertiser 20 April 1901 p8 c7

The address given by Blanche was her sister’s residence – the Brittania Inn. Another interesting point was that this incident happened only 5 days before the census evening (31 March 1901).

Hopefully, Blanche had a happy ending…