Sexual Harrassment at Work in 1852 - complaint upheld.
Harriet WINDEATT was only 16 in 1852 when she brought a court case against her employer, The Reverend Hugh Kelly, for indecent assault. She had started working for him in August, 1851 and complained that from just before Christmas onwards he had started "taking liberties". Then, one day, Mrs. Kelly went into Torquay for the day and he assaulted her. She took him to court and he was found guilty at the Petty Sessions and fined £2.10s.0d. with 11s.6d. costs. Apparently the case aroused a lot of interest and she had to stand up to a defence lawyer who tried hard to blacken her character. It must have been daunting for a sixteen-year-old servant to have lodged this complaint when it was just her word against that of a clergyman.
Such cases illustrate the difficulties faced by domestic servants when they were pestered by their masters or the master's sons. If they complained they could be accused of lying and dismissed. And, without good references, it was very difficult to get another respectable job.
- Link to a newspaper report of the court case from Trewman's
Post, Thursday, June 10,
1852; Issue 4511.
This lengthy article gives a detailed account of the case and Harriet's testimony and cross-examination. She gave no answer when asked if she was 'ashamed'. This is surely the correct response to a trick question. If she had said, 'Yes', it would imply guilt and if she had said, 'No', then it would imply she was no better than she should have been.
- Link to a newspaper report of the case from
The Morning Chronicle (London,
England), Friday, June 11, 1852; Issue 26665
This shorter article gives no details of the case for reasons of 'delicacy' but, instead, appears to rejoice in the downfall of the clergyman of a church with which the author appears to have little sympathy. You can find further information about this particular church and its supporters in the footnotes on the linked page.
- Link to a newspaper report about dissatisfaction with the verdict from
Trewman's Exeter Flying Post ,
Thursday, June 17, 1852; Issue 4512.
This report quotes a letter from Rev. D. PITCAIRN asking to see extracts of the evidence "in the case of the alleged assault". This request was scathingly denied by Mr. PHILLIPS (one of the Magistrates) and the suggestion made that the application was motivated by prurience. However, the reporter in his introduction, mentions the dissatisfaction amongst Hugh Kelly's friends and the fact that the evidence was not altogether convincing.
Family History Tree
I originally thought that she was the Harriet who was the daughter of George and Harriet CALL and who emigrated to Victoria, Australia aged 21 and married Edwin COWLISHAW but thanks to the online newspaper databases recently available, the more detailed reports of the case reveal that she was the daughter of Thomas WINDEAT/WINGET of St. Mary Church who lived only a quarter of a mile away from the KELLYs and the family were his parishioners.
WARNING: This tree is speculative and has been put together from secondary sources and guesswork.
Thomas WINDGATE m. Agnes
| other brothers and sisters
cr.13/9/1773, Marldon, m. James MARE on 21 07 1803 in Tormoham
Thomas WINDEATT Robert and John MEYER: Thomas' half brothers
m. (1) Mary Ann ? m.(2) Grace WEBBER
| | | ??
Mary Harriet William
bpt 24/11/1833 bpt 23 Aug 1835 bpt 30/6/1837
b. 11/11/1833 b.1/5/1835 b. 11/2/1837
We think Harriet's father is the Thomas who was baptised in Marldon in 1794, the base child of Mary WINGETT who later married James MARE/MEYOR. See the Marldon page for a transcription of relevant parish records. We don't know where this Thomas came from but there is some speculation on the Walkhampton to Woolwich page.
We know from the court case that Thomas married twice because Grace is said to be Harriet's 'stepmother'. According to Free BMD a Mary Ann WINDEAT died in the Newton Abbot register district in the September quarter of 1838 and this could be her [Ref 10 [8_]7 ]. Also on Free BMD a Thomas WINGETT marries a Grace WEBBER in the Newton Abbot register district in the March quarter of 1846 [Ref : 10-273].
Thomas's children listed above are only those found in the IGI who were all baptised at "Totnes, Fore Street" Independent Chapel. But Thomas and Mary Ann may have had more children prior to 1833 and further children after 1837.
We don't currently know what happened to Harriet after the court case, nor to her sister, Mary. Her brother, William, also is a mystery, although he may be the William WINGEAT, aged 23, who was serving in the Royal Navy in the 1861 census.
1. CENSUS DATA
(taken 6th June 1841) © Crown Copyright (taken 6th June 1841) © Crown Copyright
I haven't found Thomas and his family in the 1841 yet but if his wife is the Mary Ann who died in 1838 then he could be anywhere - perhaps he went to sea. We have found what might be his son William WINGEATE, aged 4, in the Newton Abbot Union Workhouse. However, also in the workhouse are an ANN WINGEATT, aged 35, and a Grace WINGEATT, aged 6, so one would think William must be Ann's son which would probably rule him out to be our William.
Here is Mary (presumed née WINGATE) with husband and son (born when she was 49 according to the census data). He doesn't have an occupation listed. Perhaps an oversight on the part of the enumerator?
|Name||Relationship||Age||Sex||Occupation||Born in county?||Possible DOB?|
|James MAYER||Head||62||M||Ag. Lab||Y||1778|
|Address:||Coombe, St Marychurch Devonshire|
Also In 1841 a Robert MEYRE, Sawyer, is living in St. Mary Church with an Elizabeth. Their ages (rounded down to the nearest five years) are given as 25 and 20. This is almost certainly Mary's other son, Robert because she was living with him ten years later, see below.
Here is Thomas and his second wife, Grace, living in St. Mary church. The grandchild must be the child of a son of Grace's.
|Thomas WINGATE||Head||M||M||57||Coal Retailer||Devon Marldon|
|Grace WINGATE||Wife||M||F||43||Laundress||Devon - Chawley|
|Grace WEBBER||GDau||-||F||3||Scholar||Devon - Newton Abbott|
Here's Robert, Thomas's stepbrother, living with their mother Mary. in Old Road, St. Mary Church.
|Robert MAYER||Head||w||37||M||Timber Sawyer||Tormoham-DEV||1813|
And here is the infamous Hugh KELLY living with his wife and a servant in New Road, St Mary Church. I wonder if Susan BRIMMICOMBE experienced a similar harassment?
|Hugh KELLY||Head||M||58||M||American Clergyman||Sunderland-DUR|
|Susan BRIMMICOMBE||Serv||U||17||F||House Servant||Brent-Dev|
Here are Thomas and Grace living at 26 Fore Street, St. Mary Church, Torquay but this time they have a grandson living with them. We think this is the James who later moved to London. I stupidly thought for a time that he could have been the son of Thomas' son, William, but as William was only 23 in 1861 this is patently impossible. William, we think, is the William WINGEAT, who was serving in the Royal Navy in the 1861 census (secondary source).
|Thomas WINDIAT||Head||M||M||68||Seaman||Devon Marldon|
|Grace WINDIAT||Wife||M||F||54||Wife||Devon - Chawley|
|James WINDEATT||Grnson||U||M||13||Painter||Devon - St Mary Church|
Next door at no. 25 are Robert MAYER and his wife and family. If Thomas is Mary MAYER's illegitimate first child then Robert is Thomas's elder half-brother.
|Robert MAYER||Head||M||M||47||Labourer||Devon St Mary Church|
|Elizabeth MAYER||Wife||M||F||35||Devon - Sth Bovey|
|Frederick MAYER||Son||U||M||8||Devon - St Mary Church|
|Henry James MAYER||Son||U||M||7||Devon - St Mary Church|
|Clara MAYER||Dau||U||F||4||Devon - St Mary Church|
|Sophia MAYER||Dau||U||F||6m||Devon - St Mary Church|
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