An ungrateful son and the case of the hard boiled eggs


Frederick Vincent lived with his parents in Brown’s Buildings, a model dwelling in Kensington. On the 13th August 1877 he came home to find his mother boiling eggs for his tea. He made some remark about how she was cooking his eggs which she didn’t like. Mrs Vincent told Frederick that if he didn’t like his home he should leave it.

The lad responded with an ‘offensive epithet’ (we can probably all imagine the sort of thing he might have said). She told in no uncertain terms that should he repeat such language she ‘would knock him down’.

At that Fred swung for her and hit her in the eye. In court he started to say “this woman…” before the magistrate silenced him with “this woman! Sheis your mother”.

Fred said that she had tried to strike him with a nearby pot and so he was only defending himself. His father appeared to back him up, saying his wife was a “curious compound” and there was ‘no peace in the house with her’. The justice was uninterested in either of the men’s excuses, it was ‘difficult to conceive a more disgraceful act than for a son to strike his mother?.

He sent Fred to prison for 21 days, with hard labour. The boy complained that it was ‘an unjust decision’.

[from Daily News, Thursday, August 23, 1877]

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