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

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