Lady Bicyclist’s Grave Charge

Alledged Assault Near Littlebourne

Mary Ann Young (née Hayward) my great-grandmother was witness in an assault trail in 1910. She married my great-grandfather on 9 Oct 1880 in St Mildred at Preston Next Wingham, but they had lived at Brick Kiln Cottages in Littlebourne at the time of the 1911 census. William and Mary Ann had seven children, 4 boys and 3 girls. They did move around the area, having children born at Gillingham, Willesborough, Ramsgate, Sarre and Littlebourne. William was an Agricultural Labourer. And they later lived in Bekesbourne at Holly Tree Cottage.

Mary Ann and William Young

As related in The Canterbury Journal, Kentish Times and Farmers’ Gazette on the 19 Feb 1910, this is the story and how Mary Ann was involved, the only mention I have found of her in the newspapers so far:

At an Occasional Court held on Thursday at the County Magistrates’ Office, Watling Street, before Mr. G. W. Rivaz, Joseph Bushell, labouring man, of Sturry, was charged with indecently assaulting a married woman on the Sandwich Road.

Prosecutrix, Elizabeth Taylor, wife of John Taylor, draper, Hight Street, Wingham, said that on the morning of the 7th she was walking on the path near the wood on the Canterbury side of Littlebourne pushing her bicycle on the hedge side, when the prisoner, coming from the direction of Canterbury and passing her on the outside, where there was “heaps of room” for him, suddenly took hold of her in a way she described. She fell on the top of her bicycle, both going into the hedge. She thought she got up very quickly and turned round on him and said, “You brute!” Prisoner went on towards LIttlebourne. She spoke to a van-man about him, but did not say the nature of the assault. Prisoner presently turned down through a gate into the wood and she lost sight of him, and she went into Canterbury. On returning home she told her husband about it, and he gave information to the police. It was the footpath on the main road, and just outside the village.

Screen Shot 2018-12-21 at 11.44.44 AM

Map of Littlebourne around 1910 – Canterbury is off to the left. 

There was a path there on one side of the road only. She might call it the top of Littlebourne Hill. Her back was to the houses, but she thought the houses could just be seen from there – the big house and the cottages. It was about half-past ten to a quarter to eleven – not later than a quarter to eleven. She was getting near a wood – the wood was on the right. It was nearer to the farm gate than to the houses. She could not see the gate owing to the bend in the road. The prisoner also was on the path. SHe had got beyond the oast-house when she saw the prisoner come along, but not beyond the house on the left side in the field. The oast-houses were the last in the village. There was no footpath on the other side. The road was in such a dreadful state that she walked with her bicycle on the footpath. The footpath was splendid, and there was no one to hinder her using it. SHe did not leave the footpath to go into the road when she saw the prisoner coming, as there was plenty of room. He was passing on her left – prisoner’s right – the proper side. If it had been a lady she would have moved – got off the path. Prisoner did not seem to mind her being there on the inside of the footpath. He had actually passed her, passed her seeing him, passed the glance of her eye, but had not passed her otherwise, when what she complained of occurred. He put out his hand in front of her and took hold of her. Whether, to save herself, she let go her bicycle, she did not know. He put out his hand and caught hold of her in the way she described. It was over her clothing. The bicycle went into the hedge. She was sure of that; but whether she let go the bicycle she did not know – it was such a shock. She fell on the bicycle towards the hedge – on top of it. She did not think the prisoner said anything to her. He only laughed – gave a grin. He did smile. She did not remark that he spoke – thought he did not. When she said, “You brute,” she added, “Now I shall follow you back to the village and give you in charge to the police.” It was then he grinned, and two or three times he looked round. He kept on towards Littlebourne and looked round two or three times. Prisoner grinned when he looked round. She followed till she met the van. She saw the van coming up Littlebourne Hill towards Canterbury. The man looked round, and prisoner never looked round any more. She noticed the man in the van and stopped him and he looked at the prisoner, and she wondered if he knew him. Prisoner was past the van then. After her speaking to the van-man he never looked round any more, and when he came to the gate he turned in. That was the gate leading to the wood – the same wood. That was before she got to the oast-house. She did not go any farther then. SHe simply saw him go into the wood and did not follow him further. She went on to Canterbury, and when she got home told her husband about it. He said he would go back to Littlebourne. She was dreadfully tired. She thought she would go on and tell them about it when she got home – as she did. Her husband gave the information to the police. She had no doubt that prisoner was the man. She was quite certain she did not run against him with her bicycle. There was heaps of room, and he was on the other side of her. Other people with bicycles used the footpath at this time of year.

Prisoner had no questions to ask. He only wanted to say he did not assault complainant.

Prosecutrix, in reply to the magistrate, said she stood talking to the man in the van a little till she could get a policeman. It was such dreadfully hard work pushing the machine. There was no knowing where he would be. She told the man he had assaulted her. She did not tell him how. She could not very well do that.

P.S. Frank Skinner said: About 4 p.m. on the 9th I went to the prisoner’s house at Sturry where I saw him. I cautioned him and told him I should charge him with indecently assaulting Elizabeth Taylor at LIttlebourne on the 7th. He said, “I did not do it. I did not interfere with her.” On the way to the police-station he said, “I was not going to admit it in front of mother. It was the girl’s fault. She was pushing her bicycle on the footpath, and when she got to me it slipped and she fell over.”

Prisoner: I told you it side-slipped.
Witness: Yes; “It side-slipped and she fell over it and I did not touch her.” I brought him to the police-station where I charged him. In reply to the charge he said he did not do it; he did not touch her, but if she said he did he supposed he would have to put up with it.

Prisoner: I said if I did it I should admit it, but I did not do it.

Witness, cross-examined by Superintendent Heard: He said she had her head down and there was a bend in the road and he could not see her. SHe was pushing the bicycle and she ran the bicycle over his foot. He made the same remark outside her just now.

Superintendent Heard said that this was as far as he proposed to go at present. He had other witnesses, and would ask for a remand.

Prisoner said he had nothing to say against being remanded. He was remanded accordingly till the Saturday Sessions.

Prisoner was brought up again at St. Augustine’s weekly Petty Sessions held at the Guildhall, Canterbury, on Saturday.

The magistrates were Mr. F. H. Wilbee (in the chair), Mr. F. J. Godden, Mr. Allington Collard, and Mr. G. W. Rivaz.

The charge had been charged to common assault.

Prisoner” She charged me with indecent assault.

The Acting Magistrates’ Clerk: Never mind what she charged you with then. It is what you are charged with now.

Prosecutrix confirmed her evidence and said that it was only a few minutes after the occasion that she spoke to the van-man.

Sergt. Skinner added to his evidence: On Thursday whilst waiting for the committal order prisoner said, “If the lady only charged me with pushing her down, I would have admitted that.”

Richard Tunbridge, the van-man, said he kept a general shop at Littlebourne. He passed the prisoner at the top of Littlebourne Hill, and a little after was stopped by the prosecutrix, who complained to him that he had knocked her down. He saw the prisoner turn into the wood after she complained.

Mary Ann Young, wife of WIlliam Young, said she lived at Brick Kiln Cottage, Littlebourne. This was at the other side of the wood on the top of Littlebourne Hill. At about quarter to 11 on the Monday morning she was at home and saw the prisoner coming out of the wood. He kept running and looking back. He was not more than the length of the hall off. She was quite sure about him. SHe had often seen him. He had often come begging.

Brick Kiln Cottage
Beside a track and footpath from Swanton Lane towards Littlebourne.

© Copyright David Anstiss and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

Prisoner asked no questions of any of the witnesses. He now said that he was walking on the hedge side of the path. There was a bend in the road and came suddenly upon the prosecutrix. She had not seen him and he had not seen her. He stepped outwards to the edge of the path to get out of her way and let her pass and she wheeled the bicycle over his foot and fell. He did not hurt her. He went on towards Littlebourne and looked back, and when he found, from her stopping the man in the van, the she meant to make a disturbance he turned into the wood. He had had no dealings with the police and did not want to have. He walked and ran till he got home.

Superintendent Heard said that the prisoner lived with his mother at Sturry. He was informed he was a lazy, worthless character. He was very verminous when apprehended. There were no previous convictions against him.

The Chairman said the prisoner might think himself very lucky that he was not standing there on the more serious charge. The magistrates had no doubt that he did assault the prosecutrix, and they sentenced him to one months’ imprisonment with hard labour.

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