Canterbury Journal, Kentish Times and Farmer’s Gazette 25th September 1909.
“AND THE CONSEQUENCE WAS…”
At the St. Augustine’s Petty Sessions, Canterbury, on Saturday, before Lieutenant-Colonel E.S. Newton Dickenson (chairman), and Messrs. F.H. Wilbee, A.A. Kemp, and Nathaniel Rowden, the case was heard of Emptage versus Steed.
This was one in which Georgina Emptage nee Munns, a married woman, charged Harry Steed with an assault on her son, John Charles Emptage age 11.
The assault alleged was a box on the ears, which though sometimes dangerous, was not in this case suggested to have left any evil effects behind it.
Mr A.K. Mowll defended – The affair occurred at Chislet on September 8th.
Mr Mowll said there was a boy who saw what took place and his evidence was entirely in favour of his client Mr Steed.
They admitted at once that Mr. Steed did smack the complainant’s boy with the open hand, and he wrote and told defendant he did not think it was necessary to bring the witness.
There was no keeping him away, but the case could be adjourned if the magistrate thought fit for his attendance.
The boy John Charles Emptage was present, with his mother and a younger boy, presumably John’s brother.
The Chairman: Why was not this before the Juvenile Court?
Mr Mowll: I don’t think the Act is meant for such cases, Emptage is the complainant. There is nothing improper.
John Charles Emptage said: I am the son of Georgina Emptage. The defendant struck me on the 8th September. Mother sent me down to get some milk at Mr Steed’s at the dairy. He was not there, so I had to go round to the stack yard for him. He asked my father if I could go and help with the cows.
Father said “Yes.” Mr. Steed told me to take some milk to Mrs Hammond’s. I told him I wasn’t to go to Mrs Hammond’s for anything. I said mother had promised me a good hiding if I did.
He said, “Don’t you talk to me like that, I can’t help woman’s fallings-out,” and he made me take it. I took it up and placed it just inside the hedge by her gate. She saw me place it there.
I went down again and helped with the cows. As I was going down the path, Mr Steed came round the corner and caught me and pulled me between his legs and boxed my ears. My ear was swollen up when I came home. That is what I complain of.
John Charles Emptage cross examined by Mr Mowll: I was stung by a wasp the day before. My father (Charles Emptage) works for Mr Steed. My father did not want any summons to be taken out. I did not put up my hands to protect my ears when Mr Steed boxed them. Mr Steed had my hands between his legs.
By the Chairman: There is nothing wrong with me now.
Mrs Emptage: This is not the first time.
Defendant Mr Steed was sworn and said that Mrs Hammond’s baby was ill. What the boy had said was substantially correct. He had worked for witness casually. His father was very annoyed that any summons was taken out. I met the boy and asked him “What have you done with the milk” At the same time I went like this. (Defendant illustrated his meaning by smacking the air in a playful sort of way).
He immediately ducked his head. It would be impossible for me to touch his ears. I did not put him between my legs. My open hand touched him about there. (Witness indicated about the elbow). I told the boy to deliver the milk. I had asked him to take it to the door. I said “Your mother will never mind that, for the baby is ill.
“Where he left it is a hole in the hedge. It is practically a cat and dog passage – a passage made by animals. As a matter of fact there were complaints made that a cat very nearly got it, and immediately after a dog rushed through.
The Chairman: It is an assault in law and – Mr Mowll: You have not heard me on the law, sir. In law it is not. An employer is in the same position as a schoolmaster or a parent. We admit the boy was not employed all day and every day.
The Chairman: Was this boy a servant – a regular paid servant?
Mr Mowll: He has been employed from time to time.
Mrs Emptage: May I speak sir?
The Chairman: Yes certainly!
Mr Mowll: I object. The wife bears a very bad reputation in the place. Charles Emptage (husband) has had to leave his work purely because of her. The assault was trumpery and in pursuance of the same right as a schoolmaster or parent has. The boy has told you he disobeyed his master because, forsooth, he did not want to be hided by his mother.
The Chairman: The boy was not a regular paid servant.
Mr Mowll: He was not employed from morning to night, but apart from that, “de minimus non curat lex.” The whole thing is too absurd. Fancy what the position would be! The Court might be sitting everlastingly hearing such cases.
The Chairman: We are of the opinion that an assault has been committed. It is of the smallest possible kind, but it is in law, according to our opinion, an assault. You will have to pay a shilling.
This with costs made 11 shillings.
John Charles Emptage 1897 – 1982, son of Charles Emptage and Georgina Charlotte (Munns).