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1881: 'Nice sort of husband and father'

Updated: Mar 9, 2022


Joseph Mansbridge, butcher, late of Cuckfield but now described as of Portslade, was charged with leaving his four children: Joseph, Stephen, Jesse, and Philip, chargeable to the common fund of the Cuckfield Union.-

Cuckfield Workhouse c1909 colourised (courtesy of Cuckfield Museum)

Mr. T.T. Riches, governor of the Cuckfield Workhouse, said the four children were now in the Workhouse, but defendant was at present able to maintain them. They had become chargeable for the past 12 months, the charges amounting to £42 18s.

Defendant now made a long, rambling statement, from which it appeared he had placed himself in a regular "kettle of fish." The gist of his statement was that his first wife died in the hospital some two years ago, and that in the event of her dying, her sisters had each promised to take a child, but when he was left with them, they refused to take the children, consequently he was driven to desperation, and left his home, the children being placed in the Union, and a warrant was issued for his apprehension. He had striven hard to get her home about him again, and he had done so, but could not get his children back. He was now married again.

- Lieutenant Colonel Holden Rose: but we hear you have deserted her too, - is that correct?

-Defendant: no sir; I did not leave her.

-The magistrate: where is she now?

- The defendant: In the ward – the room I mean.

It was understood however that he had deserted his second wife.

Defendant now said he would offer £1 per month towards the charges incurred by the keep of his children in the Workhouse, if the magistrates would accept that offer, as he was now in full work.

The deputy clerk said it would take a long time to pay £42 18 shillings off at that rate.

Defendant said he could not do more than that. The chairman committed defendant to prison for a month. Defendant said that he should appeal, as he could prove his marriage was not a legal one, and therefore the children were illegitimate, and he was not bound to pay for them, although he would admit that they were his. He could produce documentary evidence to prove that his first "marriage" took place under false names.

He was however removed.

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