Jarratts Buildings - The Community

Roll of Dishonour - Bad Language

Several residents of Jarratts found themselves in court for swearing. Although bad language would have been heard in most working communities, newspaper coverage indicates that it was seen as an especial problem at the fifty-four. A reporter for the Barnsley Chronicle commented that strong language appeared to be specially cultivated by certain occupants of Jarratts Buildings. Hearing some of the specimens cited in court he was involuntarily reminded of the bargee's reply to the bishop who questioned him on his versatility in this direction, “Yer can't learn it. It's a gift”.

In addition to anyone overheard by the police, several disputes between neighbours ended with both parties in court as each accused the other of swearing. Around 1900, Barnsley magistrates tried to crack down on the use of bad language, which may account for the number of arguments that Jarratts residents escalated by laying charges. Women were often involved in these cases.

Fines issued to women raise the question of how they were paid as they generally did not have any income of their own. They may have been settled from week's housekeeping money with the woman then cutting her food to the bare minimum in order to balance the weekly budget.

Newspapers did not quote the words complained of as they wanted to avoid offending public decency. As a consequence it is not possible to determine what was considered foul language at the time a charge was brought.

The following residents were taken before magistrates for swearing. Any further cases that come to light will be added.

October 1885

Charles Stanley fined 5s and costs for using obscene language.

July 1892

Maria Taylor fined 2s 6d and costs for using disgusting language.

June 1894

Richard Swift was fined 5s and costs. He apologised for having allowed himself to be dragged into an altercation between some of the Jarratts women.

April 1899

Jeremiah McCarthy, George McDonald and Aaron Padgett fined 5s and costs for having made use of obscene language.

December 1902

Charles Ward and Bridget Ward both fined 5s and costs for uttering profane language.

April 1903

Grace McDonald fined 2s 6d and costs for using abusive language.

June 1903

Bridget Ward and William Pickering each fined 5s and costs for using obscene language. The incidents do not appear to be connected.

January 1904

Grace McDonald fined 5s and costs for using violent and abusive language.

31st August 1904

Sarah Goodlad was summoned by Pamela Cauldwell who called Agnes Beevers and Grace McDonald as witnesses. Agnes was her mother and Grace was her sister.

Pamela Cauldwell was summoned by Sarah Goodlad who called Sarah Rigby and George Taylor as witnesses. There was no dispute that foul language had been used in the heated argument between the women. The witnesses were probably called to prove that one of them had only uttered the words in question because she had been provoked. The magistrates concluded that the women were one as bad as the other in the language used and fined both 5s and costs.

5th September 1904

Margaret Fairhurst and Kate Bennett were summoned by Hannah Padgett for using violent and abusive language. Both were fined 10s and costs.

Hannah Padgett was then summoned by Elizabeth Sellars for using abusive and indecent language and was also fined 10s and costs.

Mother and daughter, Sarah Harper and Sarah Bussingham were then summoned by Bridget Dunleavy for using bad language and were fined 10s and costs.

There are no indications as to what caused this row or how women women who lived on different parts of the site came to be involved. The chairman of the magistrates told the women that they should all be ashamed of themselves and to remember the effect on children who would pick up the words and think they were acceptable.

December 1904

Mary Ann Stanley fined 5s and costs for using violent and abusive language.

December 1905

Jacob and Margaret Fairhurst were summoned by a neighbour, Bridget Dunleavy. The dispute was about a girl referred to as 'little Mary', who may have been Bridget Dunleavy's daughter. Bridget complained that the couple had used violent and abusive language to her but the lawyer defending the Fairhurst's asked how the language she was complaining of tripped so glibly off her tongue. Both sides were reported to have called several witnesses to prove the incident. The Fairhurst's were ordered to pay just the costs of the case as the magistrates concluded that Bridget Dunleavy had provoked the argument.

October 1906

Peter Prescott fined 5s and costs for using violent and abusive language to Mrs Taylor, a neighbour.

July 1907

Squire Howson, Harry Howson and Ellen Howson were each fined 10s and costs for using obscene language. It appears that a family argument had been conducted in a public place.

October 1907

George McDonald fined 10s and costs for swearing.

June 1914

Jane Tasker fined 10s and costs for using abusive language to James Wordsworth, School Attendance Officer

Although Jarratts had a reputation for strong language in the early twentieth century, only a small number of the many residents were convicted in court. In a few families strong language may have been a norm, but the vast majority of Jarratts inhabitants do not appear to have indulged in it publicly.

Page compiled from newspaper reports, mainly the Barnsley Chronicle.

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