‘Dastardly conduct’ in Covent Garden

Sarah Williams approached the magistrate at Bow Street for his help. She asked him for protection against her husband, William, who had deserted her for another woman.

Mrs Williams was sworn on oath as her husband had turned up in court to hear the case made against him. She told Mr justice Flowers that some ago Mr Williams had introduced her to a barmaid he knew. Now it appeared he was living was with her.

What made it worse was that Williams had been asking his wife to help support him (and his new love)  financially. Apparently the ‘authorities’ in Covent Garden (where he and the girl now lived) would not allow him to work. Sarah deposed that she already worked hard to keep herself and her  two children, she could hardly be expected to support her absent husband as well.

Mr. Flowers sympathized with her; he told Williams that he ‘did not know of any conduct more dastardly than for a man to run away with another woman and then deliberately demand support from his wife’. He said he would grant her request for a protection order.

Now Williams spoke up in his own defence. He said he had returned home only to be kicked out again. He claimed that Sarah had also been unfaithful (she ‘had been guilty of the same sin that she imputed to him’).

Sarah denied the charge and told the court it had been leveled by a drunken man in the market and there was no truth in it and Williams knew that. She wasn’t cold hearted either, when her husband told her he was ‘starving’ she offered to send him bread and meat, she only refused him money.

Mr. Flowers clearly felt this matrimonial dispute should be dealt with elsewhere but he acted to help Sarah, binding her husband over on his own recognizances of £10  for six months so he would (hopefully) not bother her any more.

[From The Morning Post, Friday, September 04, 1874]

One thought on “‘Dastardly conduct’ in Covent Garden

  1. It’s interesting to see what a range of behaviours the Magistrates had to deal with. Hardly something a JP these days would expect to deal with . I thought this particular Magistrate displayed quite a bit of common-sense.!


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