Thursday January 22nd 1756
This day was held at the Guildhall in this town (Nottingham) before the Right Worshipful Samuel Fellows Esq; Mayor, and the Aldermen his brethren, the General Quarter Sessions of the Peace of this Place.
(The same having been adjourned from last Thursday on Account of the Fair), when Obadiah Emptage, of this town, Stocking Maker, was indicted for burning and torturing his Apprentice, Anne Eyre, Spinster, (an Infant under eleven Years of Age) with a hot Iron Wire in the Tongue, Arms and Back, and for whipping and scourging her in a violent and cruel Manner with knotted Cords.
Upon his pleading guilty to the Indictment, the Council for the Parish of St Nicholas in this town, who were the Prosecutors, (as she was a Parish Apprentice) moved the Court for Leave to examine the King’s Evidence; when such a Scene of brutish Cruelty and inhuman Barbarity appeared, as greatly shocked the whole Court.
The only Crimes for such Inquisitorial Tortures were invented, being taking privately her necessary Food, which her Master refused to allow her, unless she performed such Tasks, as were beyond the Ability of her tender Years: after which, the Grand Jury requested the Court to pronounce such a Sentence upon the Criminal, as might be sufficient to deter any one from exercising the like Cruelties, (tho’ it is hoped, that in this Protestant Kingdom, a parallel Instance of Cruelty and Barbarity will never be found).
The Court gave Judgement that Obadiah Emptage should be committed to the common Gaol for three Months, without Bail or Mainprize; then pay a fine of ten shillings, and after that continue in Gaol till he should give Security for his good Behaviour one year, himself in 40 pounds, his Surety in Gaol.
And the Mayor then declared, that had it been in the Power of the Court to have inflicted corporal Punishment, he should have been severely punished.
The Prosecution was carried on very favourably on Account of the Girl’s being so very young, who was the chief Evidence for the King.
It is hoped, the Overseers of the Poor in all Parishes will, from Time to Time, make Enquiry into the Behaviour of the Masters, to whom their Parish Children are put out Apprentices, in order to prevent any inhuman Treatment; such Behaviour in the Parish Officers will deserve the public Thanks.
Derby Mercury 30th January 1756
Who was Obadiah Emptage?
Of course, when we read of such brutality we are inclined to say that Obadiah couldn’t possibly one of ‘our’ Emptages and then we remember that we are conducting a world wide one name study and so, like it or not, we have to record our discovery.
The question is: what else can we find out about him?
FamilySearch reveals an Obadiah Emptage married Sarah Drakely at St Martin, Leicester, in 1749. Leicester is under 30 miles from Nottingham, where the trial took place.
It seems he had at least two sons: John in 1762 and Thomas in 1766 (who died in 1770). Both were baptised at St Mary’s, Leicester. I hope he treated his sons better than he did his apprentice.
And that is the sum total of our knowledge of this wretched man. As we extend our research perhaps we may come across more details for Obadiah Emptage, the stocking maker of Nottingham who so cruelly treated his young apprentice but in the meantime, we can only wonder just how somebody could do what he did.
David Emptage and Susan Morris
Note: there was a baptism of an Obadiah Emptadge, daughter of Daniel Emptadge in 1635 in Saint Laurence, Thanet. She died in 1639.