Stamford Mercury 8th July 1881.
EXTENSIVE THEFT OF CLOTHING.
Betsy Emptage, married, Holles Street, Grimsby, surrendered to her bail charged with stealing over 100 articles of fishing apprentice’s clothing, the property of Henry Smethurst, smackowner, Grimsby; and from 40 to 50 articles of similar clothing, the property of Carl Magnus Orundahl, smackowner, Grimsby, during the years from 1878 to 1881.
Mr Weightman and Mr Kennedy prosecuted, and Mr Etherington Smith defended.
The circumstances were that the prisoner who was the wife of William Henry Emptage, a labourer, had found lodgings for fishing apprentices in the employ of the prosecutors, the arrangement being that prosecutors were to pay for the board and lodgings, and when the boys required clothing, prisoner was to make application for it.
During about three years and up to March last, she was regularly supplied with various articles of clothing on her representation that they were required for the apprentices.
In the early part of this year it was discovered that she had been continually pledging bundles of this clothing at the shops of Moses Abrahams and W. Boulton, pawnbrokers, Grimsby.
The prosecutors identified the articles by their make, the collars on the guernseys, and the stripes on the fearnought trowsers, the latter being especially distinctive as the cloth was stated to be manufactured expressly for prosecutors with a coloured stripe in the web.
It was provided in the indentures that all clothing supplied to the apprentices in the employ of the prosecutors should remain the property of the latter.
For the defence it was alleged that there was no felonious intent, but that the prisoner pledged the articles when hard pinched by poverty, intending to redeem them, and in proof of this it was stated that she had redeemed various bundles of the clothing.
The jury found the prisoner guilty, and she was sentenced to nine months imprisonment.
Betsy Emptage nee Hockney, daughter of Charles Hockney and Amy (Robinson), was born in Brigsley, Lincolnshire in 1841. Betsy married William Henry Emptage, son of James Mayers Emptage and Elizabeth (Harvison) at St James Church, Grimsby, on the 7th October 1858.
In 1881, Betsy and William Henry were living at 91, Holles Street in Grimsby with their children, Charles James, William Henry, and Amy Charlotte.
William Henry died on the 7th December 1904 age 66, followed by Betsy on the 27th June 1919 age 77. It is hard for us to imagine in this day and age what life in a women’s prison in 1881 would have been like. Betsy was sentenced to hard labour and those 9 months incarceration away from her husband and children must have been appalling. How William Henry looked after their children whilst working as a general labourer is unknown. Betsy was released from prison around March 1882.