Thanet Advertiser 11th May 1943
RAMSGATE FAMILY’S DIFFERENCES
A dispute between the members of a Ramsgate family over the disposal of some furniture occupied the attention of his Honour Judge Clements for some hours at Margate County Court last week.
Frederick Wootton Emptage aged 80, of Bright’s-place, Ramsgate, was sued by his son and daughter, Frederick Walter Emptage and Laura Minnie Hawkins, as exors of their mother, Ada Minnie Emptage nee Saxby, for 49 pounds 3 shillings, representing the value of the furniture sold, which they contended belonged to their mother.
Mr A.R. Young appeared for the plaintiffs, and Mr E.C. Allfree for respondent.
Mr Young said the late Mrs Emptage was married to respondent in 1891 and they lived for some years in a Public House at Ramsgate before going to live with Mrs Emptage’s mother at 23, Camden Road.
The relations between respondent and his wife were not good and in 1919 respondent left and went to live elsewhere.
He did not take any of the furniture with him.
He did not contribute to the support of his wife until 1926, when she obtained a maintenance order against him in the police court.
The wife maintained herself from 1919 by letting rooms to visitors in the summer, and in that way acquired money to buy more furniture.
In 1934 respondent applied to the magistrates for a reduction of the maintenance order on the grounds his wife was living in a house for which she did not have to pay rent, which was true, the house having been conveyed to them jointly.
NEW LOCK FITTED.
In 1940, Mrs Emptage was evacuated to an Institution in Wales, where she died on the 3rd September 1941.
When she was evacuated she left the key and the care of the house with her son, who was one of the plaintiffs.
Shortly before Mrs Emptage’s death, respondent approached his son and asked for the key in order that he might do some repairs to the roof of the house. He gave it to him and thought no more of the matter until he next visited the house and found that a new lock had been fitted and he could no longer get in.
On the 16th September, plaintiffs’ solicitor wrote to respondent asking for the deeds of the house in order to settle the estate, but did not receive any reply.
Some days later, they wrote again stating that his son feared that he contemplated removing articles from the house. There was still no reply, and although further letters were sent they were not answered. Eventually plaintiffs’ heard that the furniture in the house had been sold.
Frederick Emptage, the co-plaintiff, said he did not receive any claim from his father for the furniture after his mother’s death. Early in December last he heard that his father had sold the furniture.
He had only seen his father when he passed him in the street, and since the death of his mother, he had been very abusive.
In reply to Mr Young, witness said the house belonged to his grandmother at the time his father left.
Mrs Elizabeth Todd, of Bright’s place, Ramsgate, a retired furniture dealer, said she knew the late Mrs Emptage and saw her at auction sales.
Examining a list of articles which it was alleged respondent had wrongfully disposed of, witness picked out a large number which she said she remembered Mrs Emptage buying at sales after 1919. She has since recognised some of them at a sale in Ramsgate.
Mrs Clara Impett, of Camden road, Ramsgate, a sister of the late Mrs Emptage, and Mrs Ann Emptage, wife of the co-plaintiff, also identified certain items in the list of furniture as having been acquired by Mrs Emptage after her husband left.
Mr Allfree said the defence was that every single item of furniture claimed had always been the property of the respondent. He was married 50 years ago, being a wheelwright by trade, and for some time was licensee of the Forester’s Arms public house, Boundary Road, Ramsgate.
The time came when the house at 23, Camden Road was for sale, and respondent and his wife attended the sale and bought it.
Respondent had it conveyed to himself and his wife jointly in 1921. It was bought with the assistance of an advance from a building society, which had long since been paid off.
Not long after the purchase, respondent found he could not continue to live with his wife and went into lodgings, arranging for his wife to live in the house rent free and have the use of all the furniture.
He considered she would then be able to make sufficient to live on by letting. When the the maintenance order of 15 shillings a week was made, he paid it regularly for many years, until he became old and unable to work. The amount of the order was then reduced to a shilling in view of the fact that the wife had the house and the furniture.
GOT IN THROUGH WINDOW.
He did not know of his wife’s death until one day he met his son. He had gone to the house to repair the roof and found his son had in through a window.
The son or someone on his behalf had been to the house before and removed many articles, such as crockery, and as they belonged to him, he decided that he must lock the place up and arrange for the sale of the furniture.
They were eventually sold at an auction room.
Giving evidence, respondent said all the articles he removed from the house were there at the time he left his wife, he having bought them himself “by hard work.” He said he was not separated from his wife until after the house was bought in 1921.
Giving judgement, his Honour said it was a very unfortunate dispute. He could not accept respondent’s statement that all the articles belonged to him.
It was obviouse that from time to time there must be renewals. On the other side, there was the evidence of three witnesses in regard to definate items of furniture which Mrs Emptage acquired.
Though it was a long time ago, he felt constrained to accept Mrs Todd’s evidence because she was in the furniture trade. Mrs Todd impressed him as a person who could be reasonably relied on.
It had been proved to his satisfaction that certain articles to the value of 22 pounds and 7 shillings belonged to the late Mrs Emptage.
There was no direct evidence in regard to the other items, and therefore there would be judgement for the plaintiff’s for 22 pounds 7 shillings with costs.
Frederick Wootton Emptage 1863 – 1945.
Ada Minnie Emptage nee Saxby 1863 – 1941.
Frederick Walter Emptage 1896 – 1958.
Laura Minnie Hawkins nee Emptage 1892 – 1976.