Thursday, 20 December 2012

Unchristian Charity ~ by Janet Cameron

A narrow lane in Brighton - Photo by Gareth Cameron
The Brighton Guardian of 20 May 1863 reported the case of Dinah Mitchell, described by the paper as 'a miserable-looking woman'. Dinah was charged before the Mayor, Mr. Biggs, at the Brighton Borough Court, with begging. Mr. Bridger-Stent was sworn, and said that during the morning, at about quarter to nine, the Rev. Mr. Coombe at Compton Terrace, summoned him.

Dinah Mitchell Begs for Relief

The prisoner had come to the door and sent in word that she wanted relief. Mr. Coombe replied that he could not relieve her, and so the prisoner became very abusive and refused to go away. The impatient clergyman tried to persuade her to leave, but she remained violent and used bad language.

She forced her way into the house and sat down in the chair, saying she would see them to hell fire before she would go. She was there for about a quarter hour and then the constable was summoned and the prisoner taken in charge. The Court was informed Dinah Mitchell had been a great nuisance for some time.

Mr. Biggs told her she would have to go to prison with hard labour for one month. The prisoner said she was a very happy woman, as she would get something to eat now.

This sad reply apparently provoked great amusement in Court.

A Refuge for Lucy Adams

A further case was reported by the Brighton Guardian of 26 October 1881. This was the case of Lucy Adams, aged 35, who appeared before Brighton Police Court. The paper recorded that she presented 'a wretched appearance'. At about half past nine on Tuesday night, P.C. Finch found her begging in the Dyke Road. She appeared to be cold and ill, and told the policeman she was starving, so he took her to the Town Hall.

Mr. A Brown, who took an interest in the welfare of prisoners, said he would get her admitted into a refuse at Albion Hill in Brighton.

The grateful prisoner said she would like that very much, and so she was discharged.

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