Thursday, 20 July 2017

Sad Northwich Case

Last year I wrote about a very tragic story about Elizabeth Ann Palin (nee Williams) that ended up dying after being taken prisoner for public drunkenness.  The poor woman had lost four of her six children at a young age and I had wondered if that might have been a reason why she drank herself to death.

I just found another article regarding Elizabeth Ann in the Northwich Guardian April 21, 1906.  Because of the length of the article, it does not scan well enough to read so I have transcribed it for you.



A sad case, in which drink was alleged to be the primary cause of the trouble, was investigated by Messrs. J.W. Deakin (Chairman) and C.J. Hughes at the Northwich Police Court on Thursday, when a young married woman, named Elizabeth Ann Palin, of Manchester Road, was charged on remand with neglecting, exposing and ill- treating her child, Harold Palin, aged three months, in a manner likely to cause him unnecessary suffering and injury to his health, between February 14th and April 14th.

Mr. J Ernest Fletcher prosecuted on behalf of the N.S.P.C.C. whilst Mr. W. Bancroft defended and pleaded not guilty.

At the onset, Mr. Bancroft suggested in order to spare the husband, who was a highly respected man,, and who felt the case acutely, that there should be a consultation between himself, Mr. Fletcher and the Bench as he felt would meet with the approval of the Bench, and save facts of a highly contentious nature coming out.

Mr. Fletcher said that he was there to help his friend all he could, but it was not responsible in the interests of the society and all concerned that the case should be dealt with in such a manner.  A certain responsibility rested upon the society in connection with the case, and they wanted to be relieved of that.

Mr. Bancroft expressed himself anxious that the Bench should remove the responsibility which rested upon Mr. Fletcher and himself, hence the terms he was prepared to submit.

The Chairman – Can any arrangement be made by which the child can be placed in safe keeping?

Mr. Bancroft – Yes that is provided for in the terms I am prepared to submit.

Mr. Fletcher said he was prepared to go and discuss the case in another room, but it was a matter which would lead itself to comment afterwards.  The sole object which the society had in view was the protection of the child.  He would not say anything about punishment because they did not press for any penalty, but they asked the Bench to take the responsibility from them of the future safety of the child.  The case came before the Bench on February 27th and it was then adjourned until May 22nd on the understanding that the defendant would take the pledge which she did, but unfortunately failed to keep it.  The case was somewhat complex, because the woman did not come under the heading of a habitual inebriate.  She had fits of drunkenness and then was absolutely uncontrollable.  He had nothing to say about the treatment of the child when the woman was in her sober senses because he understood that the home was then a very happy one.

The evidence of several witnesses went to show that on Saturday morning the defendant with the child in her arms was seen staggering along the branch railway at the back of Hadfield Street and it was alleged she fell down twice.  On the evening of the same day, the father took the child to Dr. Armstrong, who informed the Bench that it was in a state of collapse.  It was cold and pinched looking.  Its condition was critical and there were three marks on the head like slight bruises consistent with the child having fallen.  Its condition was such as to cause it unnecessary suffering.

P.C. O’Neill, called for the defense, said he saw the defendant on Saturday morning at 10.20 and 10.45 and then she was sober, and did not appear to have had any drink.

Mr. Bancroft contended that there was no case to answer.  The charge of drunkenness had fallen to the ground, and there was no neglect alleged previous to Saturday.  The woman was not drunk on Saturday, but was run down through nursing a child, which had been poorly for three weeks, night and day.  Whatever might be alleged against her, nothing could be said against the husband who was the best of husbands, the best of fathers and the best of workmen.  He was prepared to submit to the Bench the following terms:  “That the wife and the children go to her mother’s at Rhyl for four weeks.  At the end of the month the husband to engage a servant to look after the children and also the wife in the daytime, whilst the husband is at work, this is to last for another two months – three months in all.”

The Magistrate’s Clerk (Mr. C.E. Newell) – What authority will a servant have to look after her mistress?

Mr. Bancroft – We will go in for a good respectable girl.

Mr. Fletcher said, on behalf of the society, if the Bench thought the terms were such as they could agree to under the circumstances he would be satisfied.

The Bench retired and returned after about 10 minute absence.

The Chairman said those cases were always sad to investigate.  They looked carefully into the circumstances and they thought the best suggestion was the one made with a little extension – that she should go to her mother’s house at Rhyl with the child for a month and on returning her husband should engage a servant for three month.  The case would be dismissed on the husband agreeing to the terms and if in the meantime the society found the woman was not carrying out their wishes they could take out a warrant.

Mr. Palin concurred with the Magistrates suggestions.

Before I go on any further, I just want to state that Harold did indeed live a long life and died at the age of 93.    Elizabeth, on the other hand, died not three years after this court case on February 28 1909.  In the 1911 census Harold and his older brother Arthur were living with their maternal grandparents in Rhyl.

So with this new piece of information, I am not sure what to think.  Did the previous three children die of neglect and that is why the N.S.P.C.C.  (National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children) were so concerned with this child?

What do you think?

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