Tuesday, 13 August 2013

With intent to ravish … Trove Tuesday

Newspapers are an amazing source of information and researchers looking for details about Australia and Australians, need look no further than Trove. Stories ranging from the tragic to the unfortunate, fill page after page and articles may be packed with humour or passion. The following is a sad sample for Trove Tuesday.

Brickmaker, Joseph Elliott had a hankering for Matilda Langton of Windsor. However his advances were not welcome, Matilda was married.

Elliott visited the Langton house on Sunday morning, 20 November 1859, whilst her husband, Henry, was at church and assaulted her. Mrs Langton reported the episode to the authorities and Elliott was placed in custody. Details of the incident were reported in the Sydney Morning Herald following the court hearing. The article stated that:

Joseph Elliott "assaulted Mrs. Langton, with intent to ravish her. Mr. Coley and Mr. Walker appeared in defence of the prisoner. The evidence of Mrs. Langton went to shew that whilst her husband was at church on Sunday" morning "the prisoner with his son (a young man) walked into her house, put his arms round her neck, kissed her, and attempted improper liberties with her."

Mrs Langton was not happy with the situation so "she took up a stick and beat him; he wrested the stick out of her hand, and struck her over the arm severely with it" - Elliott then called her inappropriate names. 

Joseph Elliott's son, was also present. After being sworn in, he stated, that "he saw no improper liberties taken, further than the kissing; his father was tipsy at the time."  The Bench after deliberation declined to commit, and it was unfortunate that Matilda did not have any witnesses. The defendant was found guilty of an aggravated assault and sentenced him to three months imprisonment with hard labour in the gaol at Windsor.

One can only imagine the despondency that Matilda may have felt. The inhabitants would have known that she had been ravished from the court case and the newspaper reports. What did her husband think about the situation?

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