Shocking neglect of children

Hertfordshire Mercury, 1st May 1915


At Ware Petty Sessions George Wylds (45) and Denny Wylds (43), of Kibes Lane, Ware, were charged with neglecting their children.  The male defendant pleaded not guilty, and the female guilty.

Mr H.S. Hawks prosecuted on behalf of the N.S.P.C.C., and said the defendants lived in a three-roomed house in Kibes Lane, for which they paid 4s. 6d. per week rent, with their five children – Eliza 18, Edith 16, George 14, Daisy 11, and James 8.  There were also living in the house a married daughter and her child, aged 19 months, the married daughter being the wife of a soldier serving in the Army.  Wylds was a farm labourer earning 16s. a week, and his wife earned from 6s. to 8s. per week.  The daughter, Eliza earned 6s., Edith 5s., and George 6s., a total of 39s. per week.  In addition there was a sum of 15s. a week coming to the married daughter from the War Office, so there was about 54s. going into the house every week.  The case had been under the Society’s notice for some time.  The woman was indolent, of dirty habits, and addicted to drink.

Inspector Thorne, of the N.S.P.C.C., said the two children, the subject of the summons, Daisy and James, were dirty and badly clothed.  He met Daisy on one occasion about two years ago between Ware and Wareside at 11.00 in the morning.  It was a bitterly cold day, and he questioned her.  She said her name was Wallace, and she gave a false address.  He found out who the child was, and later on visited the house and examined the children, who were dirty and verminous, and the house was in a dirty condition.

He saw the parents and warned them, and had since visited the house many times.  There had never been any bedding in the house on the occasion of his visits.  The bedding was made up of old clothes.  On April 10 the two children were in a dirty condition, and had small sores on their backs.  The clothes were dirty, and the boots produced (showing that nails protruded inside the child’s feet) were taken from the little girl.  There was no food in the house, and the home was in a dirty condition.  Dr May had examined the children and had certified that their condition was likely to cause them unnecessary suffering and injury to health.

When he saw the male defendant he said his wife liked a drop of drink, and neglected the children.  He had ‘subbed’ money for her to get the children clothes, and when she had got the clothes she pawned them.  She said she did not care, and he had often found her the worse for drink.  The witness, continuing, said the case had been taken under the notice of the Society since 1904, but the man was not so bad as the woman.  The rent, he believed, was paid by the man’s employer so that the home could be kept on.  The man was a good worker and not drunken, but the woman was simply hopeless.

P.S. Herring said that he had visited the defendant’s house almost every Saturday night.  The last time he went there the wife and the married and eldest single daughter were drunk, and the man complained of their conduct.  He had frequntley seen drunkenness on the part of the females, but never the male.

P.C. Bignell corroborated, both as regards the conduct at the house and the condition of the children.  He said the children when he saw them looked as if they had not been washed for months.  They were verminous, and the girl had blood on her feet caused by the nails running into them.

Mr Lewis Ashwell, the man’s employer, said he had worked for him for about six or seven years, and he had always found him a hardworking and straightforward man, and never the worse for drink.  The witness stopped the rent money every week and paid that for the defendant.   He could not find him a house on the farm because of the dirty habits, as no one would live against them.  Mr. Hawks pointed out that there had been a conviction for a similar offence against the female defendant.

The Chairman, addressing the female defendant, said her conduct had been very bad indeed.  She would be sentenced to three months’ hard labour.  The male defendant had received a very good character from his employer, but it was his duty to take care of his children or see they were properly taken care of.  If he had any difficulty in keeping order at his house he could get the assistance of the police.  The state of the children was very bad indeed, and he was much to blame in that respect.  Owing to his good character they would not convict him, but place him under supervision of the Probation officer for six months.


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