The neglect of the children led to theft
Hertfordshire Mercury, 31st August 1918
At Hatfield Police Court on 26th August, Nellie Bacon (15) and Reginald Bacon (13), of Thornton Cottage, Middle Row, Northaw, were charged with stealing 12 half-quatern loaves of bread, the property of George Frederick Taylor, baker, on 24th August, and their mother, May Bacon (50) was charged with neglecting her children, Winnie (9) and Harry Douglas (7). The mother and the two elder children looked in a deplorable condition, but Winnie, who had been in the Hatfield Workhouse Infirmary since Saturday, appeared bright, clean, and comfortably dressed. The fourth child, it was said, was detained in the infirmary by the doctor’s orders. The father was also ill in the infirmary where he had been for a month.
On the first charge, William McKie, of Northaw, stated that at 6.00 a.m. on Saturday morning he was going down the road past Mr Taylor’s place when he saw the defendants, Nellie and Reginald, in an orchard adjoining the baker’s premises. Nellie had a sack on her back with something in which he thought might be apples. He shouted to them and they ran away, and when he went and took possession of the sack he found it contained twelve half-quatern loaves of bread. He took the loaves to Mr Taylor who found that that it had been taken from his cart which was loaded in the yard ready for delivery. Mr Taylor said the bread was worth about 4s 6d.
PC Redges said that when he saw the children about the bread they replied “Mother sent us, sir”, and added that they had been to the same place for bread on the previous Saturday morning. The mother, when spoken to about it, said she sent the children to get bread from Mr Taylor, but did not give them any money as she had not got any. In answer to the Chairman, Mr Taylor said he had missed bread before, and he had supplied Mrs Bacon until he could do so no longer because the account owing got so big. He had been very easy with her.
On the charge of neglect, the Police, and Inspector Cullen of the NSPCC, described the filthy and neglected condition of the younger children and said there was no furniture, bedding, or clothing in the house. The child who was too ill to attend Court was in a shocking condition.
The Relieving Officer, Mr Tillbury, said the husband formerly worked on the roads for the County Council and earned 27 shillings a week up to the last week in June. He was suffering from bronchitis and asthma and he was afraid he would never be able to work again. The woman and the elder girl earned good money on the land, and the elder children, who were in service, made the mother an allowance each week. Mrs Bacon said that after being at work in the fields all day she was always very tired when she got home. The girl of fifteen also worked in the fields, but the boy of thirteen was too ill to look after the home. She wanted to join her husband and children in the Workhouse.
The Chairman said the mother’s case was a very bad one and she would have to go to prison for a month with such hard labour as she was capable of performing. The two children would be bound over and sent to the Workhouse with the other two, and the Magistrates would consult with the Probation Officer as to their future.