A disgrace to their sex

Hertfordshire Advertiser, 6th January 1917

Transcript

 

At a St Albans City Occasional Court on Monday, before Mr H Partridge Smith and Councillor W Fisk, Julia Hedges and Clara Ford of Church Cottage, Park Street, both wives of soldiers, were charged with immoral behaviour at St Albans between Dec. 1st and Jan 6th..

P.c. Payne deposed that on Saturday night, acting on instructions, he watched the two prisoners speak to several soldiers belonging to the A.V.C. Hospital, St Stephen’s Hill.  Later, they went up the hill towards Park Street.  Witness and P.c. Wright followed and at 11.20 pm saw them with two soldiers on the Park Street road.  On seeing the police officers however, the two women hurriedly said “Good Night” to the soldiers and went off.  Witness and P.c. Wright overtook them, and after some conversation accused were taken into custody.  Hedges struggled violently and attempted to stab witness with a hatpin saying ” if you are going to have me you shall have me for something”.

P.c. Wright spoke of seeing the prisoners walking about and calling out to soldiers near the A.V.C. Hospital on several nights.

A soldier witness, speaking of Saturday last, said that when the Hospital guard called to him ” who’s there?” one of the women, from across the road, replied “The Merry Widow”.  He and a friend spoke to them and were given chocolate, which they threw away.

Sergt. Major Francis McDermott, of the A.V.C., said that for five or six weeks past the two women had been “hanging about” their hospital between 9 and 10.30 practically every night.  Their behaviour had been so bad and their language so obscene that he eventually informed the police about their conduct.

P.c. Lovell of Park Street, said the two women and their families lived in the same cottage: their husbands were on service.  They each had six children and all were under 13 years of age.  The women usually left home of an evening about seven o’clock and returned about midnight.  The children were left with the two older among them – a boy of nine and the other a girl of twelve.  He had frequently seen the prisoners with soldiers.

The prisoners had nothing to say in their defence.  The Chairman said the case was clearly proved.  It was the most deplorable one they had ever had before that Court and he very much regretted they were unable by law to send them to prison for more than a fortnight.  They were both a disgrace to their sex.

The accused were therefore sent to prison for fourteen days.

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