In August 1826 John Green was accused of child abuse. The newspaper reporter spared his readers any intimate detail but it is quite clear form the report that Green was accused of incest with his daughter.
Green and his wife lived in the parish of St. Andrew’s in Holborn. They had a daughter who was 16 and lived with them. Green was about 40 to 50 years of age and on the previous Saturday afternoon he and his daughter had dined around 1 o’clock . Mrs Green was out and her husband now took advantage of this to ‘interfere’ with the girl.
He ‘took liberties’ with his child and was only prevented from the ‘completion of his offence’ by the unexpected return of his wife. The girl told the court this was not the first time it had happened. About two months previously he father had sexually abused her and in fear of punishment she had kept quite and let him continue on several subsequent occasions.
Mrs Green backed up her daughter’s evidence of what had happened at the weekend and a surgeon sent a certificate to show he had examined the girl that ‘corroborated in part the girl’s testimony’. John Green pleaded his innocence and claimed it was a ‘wicked conspiracy’ between the two women against him. He spoke of his wife in ‘terms of detestation’ but it did him no good. He was committed ‘for the misdemeanour; the parish officers [having] declared it to be their intention to prosecute’.
This suggests that this was going to be brought by the parish not by the girl or the wife. It was not against the law to have sex with someone of the girl’s age (the legal age of consent in 1826 was 14, it was not raised to 16 until 1885) but this was incest and that was a matter for the authorities. It also seems to be a case of rape, but that doesn’t seem to be how it was being treated.
[from The Morning Chronicle. Tuesday, August 22, 1826]