Exeter Flying Post

Life In A Gipsy Camp

Saturday, 21st January 1899

Five Children Sleep in a Cupboard

At the Wonford Sessions on Tuesday, Wm and Jemima James, gipsies, now stopping at Broadclyst, were charged at the instance of the N.S.P.C.C. with wilfully neglecting their seven children, all under the age of 16 years, in a manner likely to cause them unnecessary suffering and injury to their health, on the 15th January and previous dates.

Mr. Orchard appeared to prosecute on behalf of the Society. He stated that the defendants were hawkers. They travelled the country in a van, which was of the ordinary size and was situated at present about two miles from Broadclyst. They arrived there about the 10th of January. They had seven children, ranging from fourteen years to eleven months. These children were properly nourished, but what the defendants were charged with was with housing them in such a manner as would be liable to cause them serious injury to their health.

The defendants were in the habit of leaving the van about nine or ten o'clock in the morning and the children had to look after themselves. They generally retired late at night and very often in a drunken condition. In the van was a stove and a chest of drawers and at the end was some elevated planking about three feet above the floor. The defendants, and sometimes the little child, slept on this. The under part of this planking formed a cupboard, in which place five of the others slept, while the remainder slept on the floor of the van. There was practically no bedding for the children and very little covering at all for them. The van itself was very dirty, and the children were not kept clean.

P.C. Gammon, Inspector James (N.S.P.C.C.) and Mr. Selly (surgeon) bore out the statements.

The defendants, in defence, said that the children were fed well and never required a doctor. They could not be so bad as had been made cut, and if their living was injurious to health, they would not be so healthy as they were.

The Bench retired, and on their return stated that they would adjourn the case for a month to see if the defendants would alter their arrangements for the better housing of the children.

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The British Newspaper Archives

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Extracted From:
Exeter Flying Post - Saturday, 21st January 1899
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  • Jemima James
  • William James