On the 28th July 1888, no less a person than Dr. Thomas Barnardo, would find himself in a spot of hot water over an alledge assault he was accused of making on the person of Eliza Whitbread in Stepney.
According to the East London Advertisers report on the subsequent court case:-
“Dr John Thomas Barnardo, of Stepney-causeway, was summoned with assaulting Eliza Whitbread, Cambridge-road, Barking, and Dora Whitbread.
Eliza Whitbread said:-
“I am a daughter of Frederick Whitbread, who has a yard in Stepney-causeway. My father’s gates are on the Commercial-road side of the Blackwall Railway – and they open outwards, onto the Commercial-road.
I recollect the morning of Tuesday, when my father told me something which induced me to go under the railway arch where the gates are. I found my father on the barrier, which had been erected and taken down.
Dr Barnardo was in front of him, and several persons were lifting my father with iron bars.
I took my father’s arm and said, “they dare not kill you.”
Dr Barnardo said “go on higher,” and I heard a voice cry, “shame! Do you want to kill the old man?”
On Dr Barnardo hearing the voice, he said, “lower him down,” and he was then lowered.
My sister came round, and I asked her to stay with me, and we both remained a short time.
Dr Barnardo’s boys were in the playground.
We were then joined by five or six of our own friends,when Dr Barnardo gave his men, the dock labourers, bread and cheese, and said to them, “clear these people off,” but they did not move.
Dr Barnardo rushed at me and struck me in the chest, but not with his clenched fist, and it knocked me back into a man’s arms.
An inspector said, “I believe you are hurt; wont you go home?” and I replied, “I must stop until my father comes back.”
Dr Barnardo again said, “clear these people off,” but the labourers to whom he appealed did not respond. He then said, “now boys,” and pushed at me a second time, but did not strike me. He only pushed me.
The witness added:
“I had no bruise where the doctor struck me, but I have a swelling.”
Three days afterwards I went to see a medical man. In cross-examination the witness said:-
“I and my father were on the gates and I did not see others there. The gates were being lifted before I came out to my father. Dr Barnrado never requested me to leave the gates. I was more indignant at that time than hurt. I did not make any complaint that I was hurt, but the inspector said “now you are hurt,” and I said, “no, I am not,” the inspector said “do go off; I am afraid you will be hurt.” More force was used than necessary to move us off, and I was not taken off before the rush was made.”
After hearing some further evidence Mr Montagu Williams adjourned the summons for a week.”