1916 court: Baker in court over maintenance order

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At the Scarborough Police Court Robert Jarvis, a baker, 33, Potter Lane, was summoned by his wife, Ada Jarvis, who made an application for a maintenance order.

He denied desertion and was represented by Mr GE Royle, Mr J Whitfield being for complainant.

Mr Whitfield said the two were married in October 1898, and there were no children. They lived together at his mother’s house until August last year. She then went away and into the hospital. She had had a breakdown of nerves, and seemed to be suffering from some form of paralysis. In March she came to see her husband, but he declined to let her stay the night. He said he would not help her, it was her own fault, and he would have nothing to do with her. She went back to her mother’s at Doncaster, but in April returned. Defendant, however, refused to do anything for her, and she therefore applied to the court for a maintenance order. When she went away in August he promised to send her money but he had never done so. Until she was taken ill she had gone out to work, and this money had helped to keep the home. Now, when she was unable to work he would not help her. Complainant bore out the opening statement. She went to her mother’s for a fortnight, but during that time she was sent to Sheffield Hospital. She was in bed until just after Christmas. He blamed her for not returning at the fortnight’s end when she saw him in March. He said she had left him, and he would do nothing for her. Last Thursday, when she asked him if he was going to provide a home, he said: “No, do you think I am a fool?” The doctor thought the nerves of the spine were affected. Her parents could not afford to keep her.

By Mr Royle: She would certainly agree to go back to him if he would see that she was not interfered with by others. A niece of defendant interfered with her. Witness could not do the work, and defendant’s mother was nearly 80. The girl did the work, but she interfered with witness.

Mr Whitfield; I shall advise her not to go back. The desertion has taken place.

Proceeding, Mr Whitfield said the offer was a mere dodge on the part of defendant. It would be heaven help the woman (who needed constant attendance and could not go upstairs alone) if she went back to the old surroundings in her present state of health. Defendant had failed to maintain her.

Mr Royle said if she went back, and the husband did not do his duty, she could again take out another summons.

The case was proceeded with, Mr Whitfield stating that the case could not be decided unless it was heard. It might save time, but it was not satisfactory.

Witness, replying to Mr Whitfield, said the husband promised to send her money, when he saw her off at the station, but he had never sent a penny.

Miss Robinson, 46, Avenue Victoria, spoke as to an interview with defendant. He just said she was not writing to him, but on being told this was not true, and that she was anxious, he said he had not sent money because he was out of work. This, however, she found later, was not true. Defendant had told many lies to witness about his wife. When told by witness she hoped he would pay her something when he got work, he said: It would take a clever man to make him pay.

Mrs Emmerson, 20, Arthur Street, Doncaster, mother of complainant, next gave evidence. Complainant required constant care lest she fell down. Witness had been with her daughter last week when she asked him what he was going to do, and said he would neither take her back, or give her anything - she could do what she liked.

Defendant, in the box, said that his wife had sent for certain of the goods and gone for others. Then last Thursday she went and asked what he was going to do. He did not deny her a home. He was willing now to take her back. It was not the first time she had gone away. Three years ago she went in August and returned in October, and she told him she had gone back to either cause a row or cause him to strike at her.

Mr Whitfield: Tell me one thing you have done since she went away.

Defendant admitted that he had done nothing. He could not afford to keep two homes going.

In the course of further evidence defendant said his wife would not be happy - she was too bad tempered. Defendant was earning 26s a week and 28s in the summer.

Asked by the mayor why he did not send his wife money, he said she wrote such nasty letters, or someone did for her, and she would have gone home when she was able - he could not keep two homes going.

After retiring the mayor announced that the magistrates found desertion proved and they made a maintenance order for 7s 6d a week.