Thursday Flashback

1915 Police Court

Today before the mayor Mr CC Graham in the chair; Mr AJ Tugwell, and Mr G Rowntree, a matrimonial case in which some curious statements were made, came on for hearing.

Defendant said her husband travelled with a “show” and he had a woman living with him as his wife.

Harry Neil Mogford, otherwise Harry Neil Vernon, 72 Dronsfield Street, Highfield, Leicester, was summoned by his wife, Phoebe Alice Mogford, otherwise Phoebe Alice Vernon, who made an 
application for a maintenance order.

Defendant denied desertion.

Mr J Whitfield, solicitor, was for complainant, and Mr HC Mansfield, solicitor, of Leicester, was for defendant.

Mr Whitfield said that defendant was professionally known as Vernon, he being a musical director, conducting in the winter pantomime orchestra, and in the summer pantomime orchestra, and in the summer playing with various pierrot troupes or any other engagements which might present themselves from time to time. In addition Defendant was a skilled music writer, and earned, he was instructed, from 15s to a £1 a week at this. His wages, as a musical director, varied from 30s to £3, according to circumstances. The two married at Leeds in February, 1905. There were no children. The wife had a small house at Scarborough (at Ruddock’s Cottages, Cambridge Street), the husband had allowed her sometimes £1 a week, and sometimes less, according to his earnings. They had lived fairly happily, and as late as Shrove Tuesday to the following Saturday had been together at Leeds. Later, he wrote that he had been thinking seriously during the last ten days, and had come to the conclusion that it would be very foolish on his part to pretend to have any love for her, and the sooner they decided to have nothing more to do with each other the better it would be for both. He was disgusted with the way she had 
behaved, and he alleged that she had repeatedly forgotten her position as a wife.

Since Shrove week, added Mr Whitfield, the wife had not received a penny. Proceeding, Mr Whitfield read postcards and letters from defendant which had been received previously – in December, for instance, after the bombardment he wrote that he was glad she had not been hurt. He was evidently anxious, said Mr Whitfield, about his wife’s safety.

The wife gave evidence. There had been no serious quarrels – only short tiffs now and then such as 
married people have.

Mr Mansfield asked if there was not a serious quarrel about four years ago – what was that about?

Defendant said, for one thing, that her husband travelled with a “show” and he had a woman living with him as his wife and she gave birth to a child.

After that she, witness, went to London for a few days and her husband 
accused her of living with 
another man in London.

It was a man named Black? – Yes.

And you were living with him? – No, I was not.

Are you living alone in Scarborough? – Yes.

Do you always live alone? – Yes.

Asked as to Sunday and Monday nights defendant said her sister and husband visited her on the Sunday night. She admitted that a man was in the house for some time about midnight on the Monday night.

Mr Mansfield said the defendant was sure that undoubtedly this woman had been visited by men. If he could prove adultery had been committed the case failed, but it was difficult to prove actually that adultery had been committed.

The Justices, however, might fairly assume this if a man remained in the house with a woman until early in the morning.

Defendant, in the box, said that for a few years his married life was happy; then there was a disturbance about a man. He forgave his wife for that.

Further examined he said there were other reasons. Pressed by the magistrates as to these reasons he said a letter, dated February 18th, had gone to an address to Miss Stephenson, but, he alleged, it was for his wife, it was from a man at Scarborough, signed, “T”, which he thought was short for Teddy, but he did not know the other name. It was written in affectionate terms, and in it, defendant alleged, the man committed himself entirely.

The Clerk said he had learned his wife claimed the letter and burnt it. He did not see her, he had only been told of it.

The bench, after retiring for a quarter of an hour, intimated through the Mayor that they proved adultery, and they made an order for maintenance at 12s 6d a week with usual costs.