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1833 Criminal Behaviour

1833 Cruel treatment.

On 14 September 1833, Magistrates R.W. Hall, MP (Chairman) with Major Anderson, Messrs. R.J. Brasry and Wm. Davis on the bench with the Rev. J.L. Fanshawe in attendance, heard the case of a butcher, Henry Wickham, charged with beating an apprentice.

London Sketch 1880
Courtesy London Sketch 1880
Children of the RMA as they would appear in the main assembly room
of the Chelsea Asylum after all girls had moved to the Southampton branch.

The case has been several times before the Bench, in which Henry Wickham, a butcher, at Barking, was accused of ill-treating a boy, named Patrick Boyd, who was apprenticed to him from the Royal Military Asylum, with a premium of £20. [The premium was paid by the School authorities to Henry Wickham as an incentive to take on the apprentice.]

      Wickham, it appeared, got the boy from the Asylum by false pretences, and instead of teaching him the business, employed him in other work, and beat him severely. A long correspondence upon the subject has since taken place between Major Anderson and Colonel Williamson, the Commandant of the Asylum, in consequence of which, today a Serjeant of the establishment attended to endeavour to get the indenture cancelled, part of the premium returned, and if necessary to prosecute the master for his conduct.

      Wickham did not appear, although he had been requested to do so by the Commissioners of the Asylum. A summons was sent, but he made no answer to it.

      The Chairman, addressing the Serjeant, said - I am glad to see you here upon this case, for it shows that the gentlemen of the establishment to which you belong are determined to do their duty. I think they were wrong in binding the boy to the man in Barking, whose conduct to him has been anything but what it ought to be; certainly there was fraud and imposition practised upon them in this case.

      I hope you will persevere, and we as Magistrates will do all we can to punish the master for his shuffling conduct. We are determined to go as far as we can for the good of the Institution, and to serve as an example to others. We shall now issue a fresh summons for the master's appearance next Bench day, and if he does not come we shall proceed without him.

      Some conversation took place between Major Anderson and the other Magistrates relative to the boy's appearance, and the evidence which it would be necessary to bring forward.

      Mr. Davis thought that rested with the Asylum, - they were to manage their own case, and all the Magistrates had to do was to decide upon it when it was brought before them.

      Mr. Dare, I will take all the responsibility upon myself-I do not wish to divide it with my friends here, if they have any scruple. This is such an atrocious case that I should be guilty of a dereliction of duty, if I did not do all I could to bring the party to justice.

      Mr. Davis, I have all along been excessively anxious to have the case investigated. It was at my suggestion that our excellent friend Major Anderson, undertook to write to Col. Williamson upon the subject, but what I mean is that I do not desire to step out of the way.

      Some further discussion took place, and it was then agreed that a warrant should be issued against the master.

Chelmsford Chronical Friday 20 September 1833

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