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100-YEARS-AGO: A BREAKFAST TABLE DISPUTE IN SALFORD LEADS TO A SEPARATION


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I came across this story from December, 1920 in the pages of the Salford City Reporter and it tells what happens when love breaks down and tempers get frayed.

Lucy M Roberts who resided at Albany Street, Salford appeared at the Stipendiary Magistrates Court asking for a separation from her husband, Thomas who was a commissionaire at Salford Town Hall, Bexley Square.

She told the Magistrates that he was her second husband and they had been married since June, 1917, but she had left him, last Tuesday because of his persistent cruelty.

At the end of November he didn't give her any housekeeping  money until the Sunday at 9.30pm which meant she was unable to buy any food for the house.

The following day she purchased bacon and bread and made a breakfast, with her daughter from her first marriage sat beside her, the girl had the temerity to put her cup of tea, close to Thomas's plate, who with the back of his hand pushed it away spilling tea over the table and the girl, saying he was not going to allow people to do what they liked at his table.

Lucy told him that her daughter was allowed to sit at the breakfast table, that her own Father bought, this obviously touched a nerve with Thomas, who said that they wouldn't be able to do as they liked at the breakfast table.

As if to prove his point he chucked the contents of the table into the open fire, and smashed the cups and saucers, then added that he was going out for a policeman to witness what had happened and stormed off.

No policeman appeared so Lucy went looking for one, and showed him the scratch marks on her face which she said he had caused, would appear no action was taken so she decided to pursue the matter in the courts.

Back in the dock she told the Magistrate that he talks in his sleep all night, and hardly sleeps, but when he is awake accuses her of seeing other men.

In March this year she had him at court on a summonses for putting her daughter's only costume and hat up the chimney whilst they were out, adding that he threatened her and promised worse was to come.

Mr Desquesnes for the Defence asked if things were unpleasant between Thomas and her daughter, she told him that she hadn't spoken to him since June, six months ago, and he had told her that he didn't want her living there, also it was her Fathers home and I have said I will keep a home for her.

Things got a tad, heated when Mr Desquesnes suggested that she was more attached to her daughter than her husband, and that if she left, she would follow her, she vehemently denied this and said he was the one causing all the trouble, also he gave her £2.15 shillings a week and accused her of being  extravagant whilst he had bought two suits of clothing and spent £7 on a new gramophone.

The daughter, Gladys May took the stand and said that when Thomas tipped the table into the fire, she had to stop him from beating her mother, such was his temper.

At last, Thomas took the stand and said that he was living at nearby Florin Street and was a Commissionaire at Salford Town Hall earning £3- 12 shilling a week he also received a pension of three shilling a week and told a tale of woe.

He said that home life was very unhappy and that his wife was constantly knocking him about, and had called him, "A dirty old pig" and that he had to report for duty at The Town Hall with scratches and bruises ion his face.

As for the breakfast table incident he said that Gladys had told him that the table was her father's not his to which he had replied that the things on it, were his and pushed it into the fire.

The Stipendiary granted a separation order and ordered Thomas to pay 30 shillings a week to Lucy.

Not sure what to make of this case, obviously both, better off not being under the same roof, possibly the marriage may have survived if there was no third party, lets hope they both lived happily ever after.


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