Matrimonial Infelicity In The Rhondda

The South Wales Daily News, on Friday 1st December, 1893, published the following article about a particularly unpleasant case that had been heard at the Police Court In Porth, in which a husband had used the infamy of the Whitechapel murderer to threaten his wife:-


At the Porth Police-court on Thursday, Richard Booth, collier, apparently of about 35 years of age, residing in Upper Williamstown, Penygraig, was summoned for assaulting his wife, Margaret. Mr Phillips, Pontypridd, represented the complainant.

Complainant deposed that on Thursday last, about four o’clock, her husband came home. He appeared irritated, and was somewhat snappish, and seated himself by the fire. There he remained for a few minutes talking to himself.

Finding his conduct very strange, she went out to the back of the house, and he got up and followed her up the garden, still talking to himself. Then, abruptly, he went up to her, shaking his fist before her face.

She screamed, and he threw her upon the stairs, placed his knee upon her chest, and grasped her by the throat.


She begged of him imploringly not to further ill-treat her, whereupon he pulled her towards the table in the kitchen, and extended his hand towards a knife. She ex- claimed, “Oh, Richard, don’t kill me.”

The defendant then gripped her by the hair at the back of her head, and she, having shaken herself free, escaped into a neighbour’s house.

He pursued her, shouting that he would “put all the furniture on the fire,” and that he “would do better with you than Jack the Ripper did.”


The defendant cross-examined his wife, inquiring whether he had not frequently complained that she had not put his food out when he arrived home from work.

Then he asked, “Have I not told you many times that I was not willing for you to play with your mother’s lodger?”

Complainant (sharply): No.

Defendant rejoined that he had on several occasions, and there then followed a good deal cf cackling between the parties regarding the matter, one denying, the other affirming vehemently.


“Don’t you remember,” broke forth the defendant, angrily, “the Sunday I went to Penrhiwfer, and when I got home that evening your hair was all down your back, and you were sitting beside your mother’s lodger, your knees touching each other’s. Don’t you remember that?”

Complainant: My mother’s lodger is my nephew.

Defendant: He is your sister’s son by your sister’s uncle.

Complainant: No, not by my sister’s uncle.


The defendant then turned towards the bench, and, addressing the learned stipendiary particularly, he exclaimed, “I only wants a little fair play, your Honour. That’s all I want.”

Then, facing his wife, he said, “You promised me on Friday night that you would let everything drop, and I asked you to live with me in peace.”

The Stipendiary: You should not have abused your wife.


Defendant: I only wanted her to keep away from her mother’s lodger. She and her mother and her mother’s lodger have robbed my house of the furniture while I was at work.

“Robbed your house,” exclaimed the wife indignantly, “I only took away what belonged to me.”

Defendant: You have robbed my house of the furniture, and left all the bills for me to pay.

The Stipendiary: You have left your husband then?


Complainant I was afraid to live with him, and I’m not going to live with him. He has threatened to rip me open with a knife like “Jack the Ripper.”

Defendant: No, your Worships I only threatened to punch her.

The Stipendiary: How many children have you?

Complainant: Only one, sir.

The Stipendiary: By you ?

Yes, sir.

Mr Phillips: Did he tell you seriously that he would do better with you than Jack the Ripper did?

Complainant: Yes, sir.

Defendant: I didn’t say that. Jack the Ripper was a clever man. I have threatened to punch her. I Wanted my house work done as I wished, but instead of that I’m badly treated. I’m ashamed to see my shirts, because they are full of holes, and I could not get my food on returning home from work, and I had to wait many times for over an hour before I Could get water to wash myself.

The Stipendiary: Do you mean to say that she neglected her house work?

Defendant: Yes, sir, she goes jaunting about with someone else. I can’t say what she is doing besides when I’m at work.


The Stipendiary: I think you said you are willing to pay towards maintenance?

Defendant: No, sir.

The Stipendiary: It is quite clear you can’t expect your wife to live with you when you abuse her in this way. There is no doubt that this is a very aggravated assault, and you must pay ten shillings per week towards her support, and we bind you over to keep the peace as well.

Defendant: I can’t pay it. sir, and I don’t want her to keep the child.

Mr Phillips: She is entitled to the child.

The complainant remarked that she and her child had resided since she deserted her husband at her mother’s house, where it appeared her nephew also lives.”