Family Names

Thursday, 24 November 2016

Immortalised in a Poem

A poem published on the 20 Dec 1895 in the North Melbourne Courier and West Melbourne Advertiser featured my great grandparents.[1]    The newspaper article containing the poem compared two jurisdictional Melbourne court approaches to matrimonial cases.  Walter and Martha Todman were not mentioned directly but the preamble contained the words "put-them both in a bag and shake 'em up” an often mentioned quote taken from other newspaper court reports referring to their case. [2]
Figure 1 Ronuj, ‘Permiskus Pars’, North Melbourne Courier and West Melbourne Advertiser, page 3. Accessed 20 November 2016 http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article103238468

PERMISKUS PARS column transcribed 

“At Prahran, where Dr. Fetherston is the presiding Solon, it is ruled in court that woman when she marries must accept her bargain for better or worse, and the best thing to do when married people disagree is to "put-them both in a bag and shake 'em up" - literally force them into each others' arms again, so to speak. Apparently it is not only regarding the treatment of the ills of the body, but also those of the spirit, that the medical profession hold views as opposite as the pole.
When mammy wants papa to shout,
And bangs the blessed things about
Unless he does, he'd best go out
And get a blue prescription from
The Doctor ruling at Prahran,
Who, pitying the average man,
Will always do the best he can
To stiffen Poll, if she whacks Tom
In the mouth,
Down South. 
But Polly'll get full leave to flirt,
And pass her boss like so much dirt
When out of doors-and if he's hurt,
Get maintenance apart-if she
Consults the veteran Dr. Lloyd,
Who never gets so much annoyed
As when he cannot well avoid
Subduing his famed chivalry,
In his wrath,
Up North.”[3]

Courts of the Day

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a Solon as
 “a wise and skilful law giver”[4]  
The Solons mentioned were:-

  •  Dr. Lloyd from the North Melbourne court (Up North)
“Dr. Lloyd is known as the Friend of Women - he always leans to the side of the wives rather than to that of the husbands in cases of conjugal difference”[5]  


  • Dr Featherston  from the South Melbourne court  (Down south) 

“Dr. Fetherston is the presiding Solon, it is ruled in court that woman when she marries must accept her bargain for better or worse”[6]
 The different approaches of the two courts is highlighted when a claimant on losing her case in the South Melbourne court vows to take her case to the North Melbourne Court
 “afterwards declared her intention of taking the matter to the North Melbourne Court,” as she would get justice there!”” [7]

 Some interesting phrases of the day and what they mean

“a blue prescription from The Doctor ruling at Prahran”
 “A ‘blue prescription’ refers to a doctor’s prescription pads which were all coloured blue before the advent of computers.” [8]
“Who, pitying the average man, Will always do the best he can To stiffen Poll, if she whacks Tom In the mouth”
 “The meaning of stiffen in this piece is most likely to be ‘punish’, especially given the court context” [9]

 Post-Natal Depression

The preamble of the poem mentions what would probably be referred to as post-natal depression these days  
“treatment of the ills of the body, but also those of the spirit”.  
Could the word “spirit” be referring to post-natal depression? Did my Great grandmother suffer from post-natal depression?  It’s an interesting thought. 

Related Links

The early years of Walter & MarthaTodman's marriage click here

Sources

[1] "PERMISKUS PARS.". (1895, December 20). North Melbourne Courier and West Melbourne Advertiser (Vic. : 1895 - 1913), p. 3. Retrieved December 1, 2015, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article103238468 
[2] "Domestic Troubles", The Argus, 10 December 1895, p. 5. Retrieved November 20 2016  from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article8883765; "Domestic Troubles", Mount Alexander Mail, 11 December 1895,  p. 2. Retrieved November 20, 2016, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article198250800; For Better or Worse, Warragul Guardian,  13 December 1895, p. 2 (Bi-weekly.). Retrieved November 20, 2016, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article67446720; Prahran Police Court, The Prahran Telegraph, 14 December 1895, p. 5. Retrieved November 20, 2016, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article144631672; Prahran Court, Prahran Chronicle, 14 December 1895, p. 4. Retrieved November 20, 2016, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article165213885; Here and There, Warragul Guardian, 20 December 1820, p. 8 (Bi-weekly.). Retrieved November 20, 2016, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article67446889
[3] ‘Permiskus Pars’, North Melbourne Courier and West Melbourne Advertiser, 20 December 1895, p. 3. Accessed 20 November 2016 http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article103238468
[4] "Solon." Merriam-Webster.com. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 30 Nov. 2015.
[5] Anon., ‘Magisterial Humour’, Table Talk, 17 May 1895, p. 13. Retrieved November 27, 2015, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article145921427  
Excerpt “Dr. Lloyd is known as the Friend of Women - he always leans to the side of the wives rather than to that of the husbands in cases of conjugal difference - but he never hesitates about publicly rebuking them for their own good when he thinks it desirable to do so. The other day, for instance, he informed a number of ladies conceited in a case of threatening language that it would be better if they stopped at home and minded their own business instead of gossiping, scandalising each other, drinking beer and wasting the time of the court. But in his heart he must have been thankful to them for giving him a chance to deliver one of his characteristic discourses.  It is a well-known fact that wives seeking alimony from their husbands, and women requiring orders of the court for maintenance for their illegitimate children, go to North Melbourne to reside for a time in order to be able to bring their grievances before Dr. Lloyd. And Dr. Lloyd is proud of his reputation in this way.”
[6] ‘Permiskus Pars’, North Melbourne Courier and West Melbourne Advertiser, 20 December 1895, p. 3. Accessed 20 November 2016 http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article103238468
[7] Anon., 'People We Know”, Melbourne Punch, 11 April 1895, p. 3.Retrieved November 27, 2015, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article178588178
Excerpt “A REPUTATION for consistency is rapidly bringing game to Dr. Lloyd and the North Melbourne Bench. Wives separated from their husbands, and unmarried girls with encumbrances are always sure of sympathy in the Court presided over by the Dr. We recently drew attention to the fact that the North Melbourne Bench had extended its old established business of giving verdicts to lovely women in distress or disgrace. Formerly the maintenance cases were local ones, but latterly the North Melbourne justices have constituted themselves a Court of Appeal from other courts, saying in effect—" If you can't get a maintenance order in any other court give Dr. Lloyd and Co. a trial. Satisfaction guaranteed." There is no necessity to advertise this in the papers, since it appears to be tolerably well known. At the Prahran Court on Monday a woman who had been granted a maintenance order for 25s a week applied for a further grant for her children. The application was refused, and the woman afterwards declared her intention of taking the matter to the North Melbourne Court, "as she would get justice there!" We shall watch with interest the appeal to the gallant and reliable Dr. Lloyd and his brother justices.”
[8] Andrea Buckely to Sandra Williamson, telephone conversation, 12 September 2016
[9] ‘To Stiffen Poll, Mail Bag’, Oz Words, Issue April 2016, p.4. Retrieved November 20 2016 from http://andc.anu.edu.au/sites/default/files/Ozwords%20April%202016.pdf. This article that appeared in “Oz Words” with the response to my query about the meaning of “to Stiffen Poll, if she whacks Tom in the mouth”. A big thankyou to Julia Robinson for her help.

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