Tuesday, 11 December 2012

A couple of shillings for a kiss

In a bit of a contrast to last weeks blog where it was "acceptable" in 1880 to marry off your fifteen year old daughter and have her thirteen year old sister sign as a witness to the marriage. This weeks find on Trove is a report from the Queanbeyan Police Court in 1878, where Frederick Chambers faced a charge of indecent behaviour towards two little girls.  The girls concerned were aged eleven and thirteen.

Perhaps there was a fine line around thirteen ? Were you a little girl or more of an adult ? Did society influence this ? Or was it a case of the circumstances determining the manner in which people behaved ?

Anyway, I came across the article when I was searching for tidbits about the McIntyre and Cameron families in and around Queanbeyan.

Annie McIntyre was 3rd of fifteen children of Alexander and Sarah Ann (nee Dickinson), who I have written about previously. Rebecca was her cousin - well really her father's cousin, which may have been why she referred to Rebecca's mother as Mrs Graham rather than as an aunt. Rebecca's mother was the youngest sister of Annie's paternal grandmother Margery (nee Cameron).

Queanbeyan Age (NSW 1867-1904) 23 November 1878 p2 article30674589-3-001

I wonder what sort of character Frederick Chambers was, how old was he ? He seemed to have a bit of loose change on him to try to lure young girls that day. Was it just a bit of "harmless fun" ? Or was he truly dodgy ? But seven days seems like a fairly lenient sentence to me.

I think that Rebecca and Annie were quite sensible and responsible young ladies. Annie was already working at what appears to have been babysitting. now we cant even leave a child under 14 years old in charge of children. How interesting that they actually appeared in court themselves and gave their account of the events - not someone appearing for them or reading their testimony on their behalf.

There was definitely a lot of good in the simple unbridled upbringings that our pioneering forebears (and a few of us) had that should be re-adopted today and less of the pc-ness that abounds

After I realised that there was a family connection and that Annie wasnt merely a friend tagging along with Rebecca that day, I've been able to add another family name to my search list for Trove. I also wondered whether Mrs Davis, referred to in their testimonies, was possibly the widow of Annie's grandfather Joseph Dickinson. Annie would have been seven when her grandfather remarried. His new wife may well have been known to her and Rebecca as Mrs Davis before that marriage took place - and possibly throughout the marriage and after Joseph's death by adults in their families. I dont suppose I will ever be able to be sure of that though.

This post forms part of Trove Tuesday as suggested by Amy, from Branches, Leaves & Pollen.

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