Thewlis Vs Mumford – Extraordinary Seduction Case

Whilst researching a previous post, ( Springwood colliery) I was looking for a land surveyor, in Huddersfield, and was searching the old newspapers of the 1860’s. A lot of information in my posts comes from old newspapers. and often takes some wading through, it’s not like reading  modern tabloids;  But I did find this piece in “The Huddersfield Chronicle “( Dec 27th  1862) and was drawn into the tale of these people, who have since  been completely forgotten.

Huddersfield  Chronicle office from 1870
Huddersfield Chronicle office from 1870

This was the Huddersfield Chronicle building , used as an office and printing works, the building is on Lord  Street , and still stands today.

Chronicle building 2015
Chronicle building 2015

The case involves Mr Titus Thewlis  suing a Mr Charles Mumford for seducing his daughter , Eliza Thewlis. The definition of seduction in a legal dictionary is –

The act by which a man entices a woman to have unlawful sexual relations with him by means of persuasions, solicitations, promises, or bribes without the use of physical force or violence.

Also

At Common Law, a woman did not ordinarily have the right to sue on her own behalf; the right to sue for seduction belonged to a father who could bring an action against a man who had sexual relations with his daughter. A woman who was seduced by a marriage promise could sue for breach of promise, and if she became sexually involved with a man due to force or duress, she might be able to sue for rape or assault. Regardless of whether the woman was a legal adult or an infant, seduction was considered to be an injury to her father.

Charles Mumford was actually a land surveyor ( not the one I was looking for) but I find this interesting for the way that these people stand up in court and candidly state their opinions of their fellow townspeople’s morality; tittle tattle and gossip !  The case was heard in London(!) before Mr Justice Crompton and a common jury; why in London ? Mr Thewlis says that his solicitor told him that it would be no cheaper than in York (?), anyway it seems that both sides brought their friends/supporters, who saw it as an excuse to party and have a good time. Mr Titus Thewlis  is the first person called to give evidence:  he tells the court that he is a commission agent, living on Upperhead  row , Huddersfield , and has thirteen children. There are no dwellings as such on Upperhead row now, only the bus station, and the entry to Sainsbury’s carpark, but lets have a look anyway.

Upperheadrow
Upperhead row
Bus station Upperheadrow
Bus station Upperhead row

How times have changed.

Mr Thewlis is then put on the spot,  and questioned about previous court appearances  by Charles Mumford’s  Solicitors (trying to blacken his character, like they do). It would seem that in a previous occupation as a ” cotton doubler and warp maker”, he was accused of holding back  – i.e  pilfering four pounds of cotton.  The first time the case was dismissed, but he was retried and found guilty, but appealed , and the verdict overturned. Reading between the lines, it was a case of -in normal practice the cotton doubler kept the left over cotton as a perk.

Mr Thewlis gives Eliza’s age as 15, and states that he had found her a position in early 1860 at a millinery establishment , to learn the business. There was a mutual agreement  between Mr Thewlis , and Eliza’s new mistress that she would stay home every Saturday, and occasionally two days a week, when she would be engaged in general domestic duties of the house. The millinery where Eliza worked was situated down Lowerhead Row, which was joined to the bottom of the Beastmarket (locally pronounced beezmarket). lowerhead Row is no longer there but it ran behind the (old ) sports centre onto what is now called Old Leeds Road

Beastmarket circa 1910
Beastmarket circa 1910
Beastmarket 2015
Beastmarket 2015
Former Lowerhead Row
Former Lowerhead Row

Mr Thewlis tells the court ” I am not aware if there are many loose girls frequenting the neighbourhood of The Beastmarket. Huddersfield is noted  for having very few loose women.” He also tells the court that Eliza leaves work at 8 o’clock and is home for 9 o’clock. He removes Eliza from Mrs Kayes  the milliners in september 1861 when one of his sons tells him that some of the girls working there were not very respectable. He then keeps her at home until March 1862, where he sends her to a draper in the town( Mr Denham) as an improver. He also states that in June 1862 they became concerned about her health and sent for a medical man who found that Eliza was ” enciente”

Old word used back in 1800s meaning unwed pregnant woman bringing shame to the family.

 

Next to give evidence was Eliza Thewlis  –  . This is what she tells the court ” I first became acquainted with him ( Charles Mumford) on the 13th feb 1861 , at the bottom of Halifax road.” – This no longer exists , but the nearest approximation is where  the bottom of New North Parade now stands

Bottom of Halifax road ?
Bottom of Halifax road ?

Eliza tells the court “The first time I met him I was standing with Fanny Lombardini. He was in  company of another gentleman called Lowenthal. Fanny introduced me to both of them , and we all four remained talking there for three quarters of an hour. I then went home. I met him again Easter Tuesday following, in the morning, it was by accident I met him. We had some conversation together , and I met him at eight o’clock the same evening, by appointment in the Beast Market . He then walked me home to my father’s door.”         It seems like The Beast market was where it was all happening in the 1860’s.

 

The Beast Market
The Beast Market

Eliza told the court that she next met Charles Mumford ( age 24) at the Huddersfield Fair on the 14th of May,  again by accident and walked round with him. He bought her a “fairing”

 

fair·ing 2

(fâr′ĭng)

n. Chiefly British

A gift, especially one bought or given at a fair.
The fairing was a small toilet brush, Eliza continues ” As he was buying me some nuts at another stall, my brother came up, with whom I went away” Eliza then claims that she did not see Mumford again until the middle of September 1861 when she saw him on John William Street, when she was heading home after visiting her grandmother, and was with him about an hour. She carries on ” It was no appointment I met him a fortnight after that. In the Bay Hall fields there is a footpath with a hedge on each side; it was there he asked me to sit down on a style. I told him I was not tired and refused to do so. Several people were passing by that way. On getting out of this place , he asked me to go out of the footpath , saying it would be a nearer way home. I did so, when he took me to the cemetery wall, and had intimacy with me. I swear I did not know for what purpose he took me there.”           ( really ???)    It is worth noting here at the legal age of consent for a girl was 12 years old, with no age of consent for a male. It was raised to 13 in 1875, then 16 in 1885.    When Charles Mumford gives his evidence later, he tells us the path through the fields is at the back of St John’s  church, St Johns Road.    footpaths often survive (sometimes  partially) through all types of demolition, and development, but the footpath , being a right of way survives, lets look.
footpath
footpath
 This footpath runs behind the church, and has allotments either side, it is likely that these allotments were formally Bay Hall Fields, and yes it does go up to the cemetery wall.

Footpath
Footpath
Cemetery wall
Cemetery wall
looking toward the church
looking toward the church

Eliza continues ” I saw Mr Mumford again in November. At that time I and  Ann Elizabeth Haley were standing talking, close to our house, when he came up and asked me to take a walk. I at first declined, but ultimately he persuaded me to go with him. We went up George Street; from thence into Spring Street , near the water works, there is a large space of ground near the water works, and there he had intimacy with me again. He came back with me to my father’s door, where he asked me to meet him again.I agreed , but have not met him since.”        George street was  wiped away by the ring road, but Upper George Street, Spring Street, and the frontage of the water works still stand.

Upper George Street
Upper George Street
Spring Street
Spring Street

This is Spring Street, with the frontage of the old water works at the top. The rest of the waterworks building was demolished , but the front retained to be used as frontage for new  living  accommodation .

Old water works ,
Old water works ,

So far Eliza’s evidence has been good, but then she starts to dig herself into a hole; among other things here are some of her statements.

” I have known Ann Elizabeth Haley for about six years . I used to wash clothes with her one day a week. We used to tell each other our secrets. I never told her I had been with Joe Riley into the Spring Wood” ( ! )       ” I asked Haley   if she remembered the night Mumford stepped up to us? She replied that she had never seen us together .”   Don’t you feel like saying Eliza   SHUT UP. but no she also adds ” I did NOT tell Haley   that the last time Mumford had been with me was the week after  I had been with Joe Riley”     Eliza  NOOOOO!!!.   You can imagine her father putting his hand over his eyes and shaking his head.   She carries on ”  She did NOT ask me how I could tell the child was Mumfords. She did NOT say ” ” You know you have been with  Joe Riley” ” Nor did I say ” “for my sake Ann , don’t tell””  ” I did tell her that I was relying on her for a witness, I also told her that Fanny Lombardini and Ellen Hill could prove it – but they are disreputable girls”.  ” I never told her that Riley had had intimacy with me at the same place as Mumford had” .  This was of course before Ann Haley had given her evidence.  Eliza did admit to being in the company of Joe Riley, with several other young girls, at the back of  John Haigh’s warehouse,for about ten minutes, which was close to her father’s house. She then adds ” I left Riley there. He did  not follow me. I solomnly swear neither on that, or any night , did I ever go with him to Spring Wood. He never, no never had intimacy with me – nor has he ever hinted he wanted to do so. He has never even attempted to kiss me. ” She then adds “I will swear that no man ever to a liberty with me of any sort or kind , but Mr Mumford.”  I have not given all Eliza’s testimony. just picked bits and pieces out . One more thing that Eliza tells the court is that on the last occasion, in Spring wood Mumford offered her half a crown and no one ever offered her a pair of gloves. ( the relevance of this becomes clear in a later statement). Basically that was the case for Ms Thewlis’s.

Spring wood
Spring wood

Spring Wood has been much built up since , but  there is still a small area of woodland left, we can only guess where the dirty deed(s) took place.

The next person to give evidence is Mr Charles Mumford – who gives a slightly different story. After giving his age -24, occupation and address, etc ” On the 5th of September, 1861 I went from Huddersfield to Byram Hall” [ Home of the Ramsden family, land owners of much of Huddersfield]

Byram Hall
Byram Hall

” Returning from there , back to Huddersfield, at about half past eight or nine o’clock, I went up to Mr Morgan’s house, and stayed with him about a quarter of an hour, after which I went into John William Street, where I met Miss Thewlis. She was standing alone near the railway arches. Before this I had constantly seen her walking about the street. On one occasion I had a sort of half introduction to her, through the medium of a loose girl named Hill, at that time Hill was not so bad a girl as now” [laughter in court ] ” I asked Miss Thewlis where she was going? – to which she replied , she did not exactly know, but she thought she would go for a walk, I offered to walk with her, and on her assenting, we went on a footpath , just above St John’s church.”  At this point Charles Mumford detailed particulars , that the Chronicle declined to publish !  He continued – ” I was intimate with her, she did not offer the slightest resistance . since that night I have only seen her once, and she was one hundred yards from me. Since that night I have never been alone with her or had any conversation with her.”

John William Street
John William Street

This is where the railway bridge crosses John William street, where Mumford saw Eliza; – perhaps loitering is not the right word to use, shall we say  – kicking her heels.  On cross examination Charles Mumford says” Mr Lowenthal. who is a particular friend of mine, was not present when I was introduced to Miss Thewlis, Mr Arnold was. I will swear that Miss Thewlis pulled up her own clothes. ” – The statement about ” pulling up her own clothes ” seems to be very significant , as a girl that pulls up her own clothes is seen to be a willing participant, rather than a victim of seduction, in the judgmental eye of the public. The cross examination continued , and Charles Mumford was asked about another girl , he replied ” I Know Eliza Webster. I have been intimate with her once, but did not seduce her. I was the putative father of her child, and during its lifetime I paid towards its support. I did not pull up Miss Webster’s clothes.”   Further questioned  Mumford says he usually saw Eliza Thewlis in the company of Polly Hill, He also stated he could not remember offering her any money, or buying her anything at the fair in 1860, though says a friend told him that he did buy Eliza something at the fair, but he had no memory of it.

Next to be called was Joe Riley,  I will copy verbatim

“I am a cigar maker in the employ of Messrs Beaumont and sons, tobacconists and live five doors from Mr Thewlis. (I) have known Eliza Thewlis for about three years, and during the night have been out with her several times. In October 1862 I was with her behind Mr Haigh’s warehouse. Charles Schofield, George Christy, Fanny Dawen, and Mary Jane Hill – not Polly Hill- were with us. Between nine and ten o’clock at night, Eliza Thewlis and I left the others and went up to Spring Wood” [ Grinning ] ” I was intimate with her. After that she told me young Lowenthal had offered her a pair of gloves to let him do the same as what I had done. There was no hesitation whatever on her part in submitting to her wishes. Anne Elizabeth Haley is not a sweetheart of mine ”

Upperhead row
Upperhead row

Joe Riley was then cross examined by Mr Price ( representing Titus Thewlis)  “Haley never was a sweetheart of mine, I have been intimate with her. I was twenty years of age last month, I remember it was October because it was close to Honley Feast”

Mr Price  ” When is Honley  feast? ”

Joe Riley ” It’s about four miles from Huddersfield” [ laughter in court]

Mr Price  ” But when is it ”

Joe Riley  ” Oh ! every year”  [ more laughter in court ]

The cross examination continued – ” It is not a public place between Conacher’s factory and Mr Haigh’s warehouse. The others saw Eliza and I go away together. ”       There is a Conacher’s factory building ( organ builders) still standing in Spring wood, but this was built about ten years after this court case.

Conachers  factory @ Water Street
Conachers factory @ Water Street
Conachers organ builders
Conachers organ builders

Joe Riley carried on giving evidence – ” A fortnight ago I was asked to give evidence in this case . Mr Mumford came to our house. I had never seen him before, and was very much surprised to see him, He wished me to go to the offices of Messrs  Hesp and Owen, and tell them what I knew, ”   After consulting his parents , Joe Riley makes a statement at the aforesaid offices a few days later, which was written down by a Mr Spence. he then tells the court ” I cannot tell how Mr Mumford knew I had been intimate with Eliza. I never told him so, I merely told him I knew several things not so good about her.   They asked me if I could swear I had been intimate with Eliza. They also hinted I should be held harmless – that the girl couldn’t get at me .” Joe Riley finishes with this statement ” When Mr Mumford came to our house, he said I could do him a great favour.  I told him very little at that time. It is all true about me being intimate with Eliza. ”    A Mr George Arnold was then called  I will pick out portions of his statement. ” I have once or twice met Miss Thewlis, and frequently seen her in the streets of Huddersfield with other young girls, one of whom as turned out to be a girl of light character” …” I have walked  with Miss Thewlis , but never offered any familiarities to her, certainly I have kissed her”[ laughter]  “I have frequently seen her walking with different young men. On one occasion I walked out with her myself, This was a long time ago. I don’t remember if I kissed her then.”    Cross examined by Mr Price he says ”  I am a foreigner, as also is my friend Mr Lowenthal. It is two years since I  kissed Miss Thewlis. She was in the street. I walked up to her , put my arms around her and gave her a kiss. ”          ” I thought at the time that Miss Thewlis was a girl of light character, from the manner in which she allowed me to kiss her. I have seen her conducting herself in the street as a loose girl would. ”       Eliza’s  so called friend,  Ann Elizabeth Haley was next sworn , under examination she says “My father is a master blacksmith. I live with him at Upperhead Row. I was fifteen years of age last June. I know Eliza Jane Thewlis. I have been in the habit of going to her father’s house. Myself and Eliza were in the habit of washing [clothes] together, at which time we used to talk our secrets over. Though I have never been down[the] street with her, I have often stood talking with her near her father’s house. I have seen her talking to Joe Riley, also to John Henry Bumby ” Ann Elizabeth Haley, then basically refutes all the evidence given by Eliza about their conversation , saying that Eliza told her that she HAD been intimate with Joe Riley, then with Mumford in the same place the following week, she told Ann not to tell for her sake, Cross examined she says, ” for a long time I have been on very intimate terms with Eliza. She confided to me all her secrets , and I confided all mine to her. I first mentioned this to Mr Mumford, and then went to the solicitors to give my evidence. I do not think Mr Mumford is a very seductive man. I have seen him measuring land in our neighbourhood. ” Now Ann Haley is asked about  Joe Riley, she replies ” Joe Riley is a great friend of mine, but has never been my sweetheart. Sometimes I have walked out with him”

Mr Price -” have you ever been intimate with him?”

A long pause and no response

Mr Price – “have you ever had intercourse with Joe Riley ?”

Another long pause and no reply

Mr Price- ” Come – out with it”

His Lordship to Ann Haley – ” you must answer the question put to you”

Ann Haley – ” yes I have”

Mr Price – “And in London ? ”

Ann Haley – ” no not in London , in Huddersfield ”

What is all that about ?  Trying to blacken the witnesses character? – I just think he is getting nasty because he is losing. but it certainly looks like even in the prim and proper Victorian  era , people were at it like rabbits – they were in Huddersfield anyway.

The trial was drawing to an end , and one final witness was called, by Thewlis’s  solicitors. George Etchells of Clayton West was called. George Etchells had allegedly spoken to Charles Mumford, when Mumford was speaking to Etchells’s sister, who worked at Mrs Kaye’s, the milliners when Eliza worked there – Mumford was of course looking for people who could give incriminating evidence  about Eliza; Mumford had earlier claimed that he barely knew George Etchells. This part again I will copy verbatim.” I am a pattern designer, and live at Clayton west. On Friday the 5th instant I saw Mr Mumford at the top of our garden. I cried out ” Hallo Charlie what are you doing here?” at the time he was speaking to my sister. He replied to me saying- ” here’s a pretty mess I’ve got into” I said ” Well Charles – you know you have been with Thewlis’s daughter many a time ”  He answered saying that He knew that ; but this was not a question of affiliation, but seduction,for which Mr Thewlis was going to make him pay some thousands of pounds. ”  Under cross examination  Etchells is asked if his sister “Has gone astray and done wrong?” ( well she did work at Mrs Kaye’s where a lot of disreputable girls worked ) . That question was overruled by the judge, Etchells was then accused of being repeatedly drunk while in London,  and had to admit that on one occasion , he was a little worse for wear.    Both legal teams then addressed the jury on behalf of their clients , then the judge adjourned the court until the following day.

Thavies inn area Holborn
Thavies inn area Holborn

This is the Thavies Inn area in Holborn london where some of the witnesses stayed.

The following day – Saturday after summing up by the judge , the jury retired  just before midday.  At three o’clock they returned to court and asked if the decision of eleven could be taken, as the twelfth member would not agree with them. After listening to the plaintiff’s ( Thewlis’s) council the judge said – that the decision should be from all twelve, so the jury were sent back to their room.  At ten minutes to five the jury returned again and said that the twelfth member would not listen to either argument or persuasion. His Lordship ordered them back , saying they would have to agree before he would dismiss them. He also added that it was very annoying that Yorkshire cases should be brought before a London Jury. His Lordship then retired and said he would leave the chief clerk of the court to record the verdict. [ I’m alright jack – I’m going home ]

From time to time up to half past seven, violent language, and cursing were heard to issue from the jury room. at half past seven a loud crash was heard. On hearing this the court usher went to see what the matter was. He was answered from the other side of the door that two of the jury men were fighting, and that one of them was killing the other one with a chair.  At nine o’clock more thuds were heard from behind the door – the usher on asking what was going on was told to open the door or something serious would ensue. On opening the door the obstinate Juryman fell across the usher’s feet , completely prostrated  with repeated attacks being made upon him. A message was sent to the Judge about the goings on with the Jury , and the Judge dismissed the Jury at a quarter to ten.The case was reported in most of the London Dailies and the Times  finished their short report with “several  witnesses were called, who PROVED an apparently  very loose morality in Huddersfield. ”  So that leaves us with no answer to the case, I have found out the result from further research. I have also found out that in 1872 Eliza married James Wilson at Oakes Baptist Chapel. I do not know anything about the illegitimate child, but have not researched it, but may do in future. Don’t you love some of the names – ” fanny Lombardini “, ” John Henry Bumby, ” “Polly Hill”.    This tale does prove  the adage that there is nothing new under the sun.  Thanks Eliza for sharing part of your life with us.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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