Family Names

Tuesday, 5 January 2016

Mrs Lucy Henry vs Mrs Martha Todman Prahran Police Court

The Prahran Police & Court House, corner of Greville Street and Macquarie Street where the cases of Mrs Lucy Henry and Mrs Martha Todman were heard in 1901.


“Prahran Court House and Police Station” photographed by Sandra Williamson 2/01/2016















Mrs Henry & family lived at 576 Chapel St, South Yarra next door to the Todman family who occupied the 578 & 580.
Mrs Lucy Henry appeared 3 times in the Prahran Police court. 
Mrs Henry was fined 20 /-and 21/-costs after her first appearance in court  regarding the City Inspector’s charge of having filthy premises.  Martha Todman appeared twice, each time in response to Mrs Henry charges against her.  Martha responded by counter suing, all of the four cases were dismissed without charges.

Details of the Court Cases

Cases heard on the 10th January 1901

Two court cases were held on Thursday 10th January 1901.
The first was regarding an inspection by the Prahran City Inspector Mr Rider on New Year’s Eve, Monday 31st December 1900, of the Henry family property at 576 Chapel St, South Yarra. 
The second case held before the same judges on the same day was brought by Mrs Lucy Henry who charged Mrs Martha Todman of assault.  In return Mrs Martha Todman counter sued Mrs Henry with assault.  Both cases were dismissed.

Background:-

When the Fruit shop next door had closed down in late 1901 next door the Henry family had moved in[i].  The Todmans had complained to the authorities that “of the premises being dirty”[ii]  According to the inspector “There was a lot of clothes in a tub of soapsuds which gave out a smell sufficient to knock you down.”[iv] 
When City Inspector Rider visited the Henrys on the 31st December, he told them that the inspection was due a neighbours complaint.. 
The Henry’s felt that the inspect was a result of the Todman’s spite.
On the same day, possibly after the City Inspector Rider had visited the Henry household, the Henry children had thrown “a paper full of rubbish” [iii] into the Todman’s yard.  Martha went next door to complain, but Mrs Henry would not listen.  The two women then argued, it appears that Martha slapped Mrs Henry across the face and in retaliation Mrs Henry struck Martha with her broom.  Mrs Henry also threw a mallet during the argument.

Case heard on the 17th January 1901

On Thursday 17th January 1901 both Mrs Henry and Mrs Todman were before the courts again, the case being bought by Mrs Henry regarding an incident on Friday 11th January.  The incident began after “the third time on that day her rubbish tin had been turned over and threw dirt at some clothes on her line..”[v]  “Mrs Lucy Henry charged Mrs Martha Todman with assaulting her (Mrs Henry's) boy "Joey." 6 years of age.”[vi]  Both cases were dismissed without costs.

Background

This was the second case brought by Mrs Henry against Mrs Todman.  Mrs Todman appeared to have difficulty withstanding the nervous strain of appearing in court[vii]  The second case was before the court with a week of the first case being heard, both cases referred to separate incidents.

From Martha’s perspective - Washing Day

Martha would always rise early on a Monday morning.  Monday was washing day.  She always hoped for a fine day otherwise there would be wet linen strung up all over the house. She needed to get the sheets dry before the evening as they were the only ones they had. 

She hated Mondays.  If she got up early enough she could have the fire going under the copper and have the water ready to commence the wash straight after breakfast.  She would strip the beds as soon as everyone was up.  The sheets were made of heavy calico, rough to the touch.  It was hot sticky work with the steam rising as she stirred the clothes as they boiled. She used the washing stick to help her pull them out of the copper as they were far too hot to touch.  By the end of the day her back would be sore and her hands raw from scrubbing the clothes on the washing board.  Once they had been put through the wringer they would be ready to hang. 

Walter had strung up the line up in the narrow yard. She hoped it wouldn’t fall as sometimes the wooden pole would be blown over by the wind or knocked by the children during their play.  If they fell she would have to repeat the whole process over again.  After all this the copper would then have to emptied, the fire cleaned away.  And finally the washing after it had dried needed to be put away.


It was no wonder that she had slapped Mrs Henry across the face after her kids had thrown dirt at her newly washed sheets! 

Sources

  1. DIRTY PREMISES. (1901, January 12). Prahran Chronicle (Vic. : 1894 - 1906; 1914 - 1918), p. 3. Retrieved December 3, 2015, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article165242991
  2. Prahran Police Court. (1901, January 12). Prahran Chronicle (Vic. : 1894 - 1906; 1914 - 1918), p. 4. Retrieved December 2, 2015, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article165243015
  3. Prahran Police Court. (1901, January 12). Prahran Chronicle (Vic. : 1894 - 1906; 1914 - 1918), p. 4. Retrieved December 2, 2015, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article165243015
  4. PRAHRAN POLICE COURT. (1901, January 12). The Prahran Telegraph (Vic. : 1889 - 1930), p. 5. Retrieved October 5, 2015, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article144604687
  5. THURSDAY, JANUARY 17. (1901, January 19). The Prahran Telegraph (Vic. : 1889 - 1930), p. 3. Retrieved October 5, 2015, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article144603996
  6. No title. (1901, January 19). Prahran Chronicle (Vic. : 1894 - 1906; 1914 - 1918), p. 2. Retrieved October 5, 2015, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article16524202 

Background References

THE HOUSEHOLD. (1907, September 28). Leader (Melbourne, Vic. : 1862 - 1918), p. 47. Retrieved December 4, 2015, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article198096845




[i] DIRTY PREMISES. (1901, January 12). Prahran Chronicle (Vic. : 1894 - 1906; 1914 - 1918), p. 3. Retrieved December 3, 2015, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article165242991
[ii] DIRTY PREMISES. (1901, January 12). Prahran Chronicle (Vic. : 1894 - 1906; 1914 - 1918), p. 3. Retrieved December 3, 2015, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article165242991
[iii] Prahran Police Court. (1901, January 12). Prahran Chronicle (Vic. : 1894 - 1906; 1914 - 1918), p. 4. Retrieved December 2, 2015, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article165243015
[iv] DIRTY PREMISES. (1901, January 12). Prahran Chronicle (Vic. : 1894 - 1906; 1914 - 1918), p. 3. Retrieved December 3, 2015, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article165242991
[v] THURSDAY, JANUARY 17. (1901, January 19). The Prahran Telegraph (Vic. : 1889 - 1930), p. 3. Retrieved October 5, 2015, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article144603996
[vi] No title. (1901, January 19). Prahran Chronicle (Vic. : 1894 - 1906; 1914 - 1918), p. 2. Retrieved October 5, 2015, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article165242027
[vii] No title. (1901, January 19). Prahran Chronicle (Vic. : 1894 - 1906; 1914 - 1918), p. 2. Retrieved October 5, 2015, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article165242027

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