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1918 court: Wife’s drinking habits affect husband’s nerves

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At the Scarborough Police Court before Mr WS Rowntree (in the chair) and Messrs W Sayner, W Boyes, and Servington Savery, Clara Botterill, married woman, 22, Albion Street, was charged with being drunk in a public passage at the back of West Square on 26th of April.

Defendant pleaded guilty.

The chief constable said the woman was found helplessly drunk in the passage behind West Square. A relative took her home.

The chief constable said there were previous convictions, the last in 1915, when she was placed on probation for twelve months.

Defendant said she had not been drinking since then. She had had a glass of beer for supper - that was all. On April 26th it was glasses given to her.

Defendant’s husband went into the box and asked whether something could not be done for him. He could not go on living with her on account of her drinking habits. He could not bear it. It was always like it, week after week, and it had come to the breaking point. She was drinking with other men, soldiers, and he could not put up with it. It was affecting his health and nerves so much that he could not carry on. There were three children at home and four away. The eldest daughter had been sent to a home, and if the girl came back he did not think it was a fit place for her. “Her drinking with soldiers and bringing them to the house is more than I can bear,” added the husband.

Defendant: I promise I will not go into a public house again. I promise I will not touch it any more. I am very sorry.

The Chairman said he was afraid defendant had not told them the whole truth. She had said she had not been drinking badly until now. He was afraid they must believe the husband upon that matter. “Are you prepared now to promise to be entirely teetotal?” asked the Chairman.

Defendant: Yes, sir; perfectly. I will never touch drink again. I can do without it.

The Chairman: I hope you will not be too confident of yourself. You have gone on a long time, but we want, if we can, to help you. The case will be adjourned for a month, and then we shall have a report.

Addressing Mr Botterill, the chairman said he was afraid the magistrates could not act in the way he asked until his wife had been convicted three times within twelve months. When she had been so convicted, he could apply for a separation order, but at present the magistrates could not assist him.

Mr Botterill: I don’t mind if she is different.

The Chairman: We went to give her a chance. It will be her last.