Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Extraordinary Master and Servant Case

From time to time I delve into the antics of my ancestors and their kin, as a form of distraction from writing scholarly articles about people I'm not related to, I suppose. This evening I chanced upon the following article in the Dundee Courier, one of many therein regarding the misadventures of my kinsman the farmer at Fithie.

Extraordinary Master and Servant Case, Cross-Swearing.
In the Forfar Small Debt Court yesterday--Sheriff Robertson presiding--an action was brought at the instance of Annie Smollet, some time domestic servant at Fithie, against David Lamb, farmer, Fithie, for £6 10s, as wages for the six months from Martinmas to Whitsunday last. Mr Thomson, Brechin, appeared for pursuer, and Mr Walter Oswald, Arbroath, for defender. The defence was justifiable dismissal. Pursuer, who is about 20 years of age, said she entered defender's service at Whitsunday, 1883, and was dismissed from her place on 3d May last for "speaking to a man." The Sheriff--That was very hard. (Laughter.) Mrs Lamb, however, took her back on condition that she did not take men into the house, and also that she kept away from the bothy, but she was again dismissed before the term. She denied that she had been in the practice of taking John Anderson, one of the farm servants, into her bedroom almost every night; nor had she, about two o'clock in the morning, left her room and gone to the bothy. She had no recollection of having been found in one of the bothy beds by her mistress. Asked if she had ever let the cattle out of the courts one night through malice towards her employer, she replied in the negative. She likewise swore that she never gave the pigs a dose of cayenne pepper, and she blamed a fellow-servant for having put burning cayenne pepper under Mrs Donald's door to smoke her out of the house. She denied stealing whisky or anything else from her mistress. Witness stated that she was last dismissed for having gone to the bothy to put a mustard plaster on Anderson, who was bad with inflammation. Mrs Lamb deponed that pursuer was a very bad woman, that she stole whisky, sugar, beef, and bread, and in fact everything that she could lay her hands on. She knew that Smollet had been in the habit of taking men into her bedroom, and on one occasion she saw John Anderson there. Witness taxed pursuer with dosing the pigs with cayenne pepper, and she did not deny it. On a Sunday evening witness found Smollet hiding in one of the bothy beds, and at another time she saw her leaving the bothy about three o'clock in the morning. Pursuer was dismissed for going to the bothy, which she had been forbidden to enter. [illegible] Colville, domestic servant, Fithie, gave evidence to the effect that Anderson had been in pursuer's bedroom almost every night during the past six months, and that she let the cattle out of the courts one night, and by scouring about one of their number got a broken leg. Pursuer was again recalled, and the Sheriff having warned her as to the consequence of committing perjury, she adhered to her former evidence, and signed the notes which had been taken by his Lordship. The Sheriff--I feel myself bound to go into this case, because it is scandalous to a Court of Justice. I don't know who is committing perjury. John Anderson, examined, denied that he had ever visited pursuer in her bedroom. This witness's statement was also taken down by the Sheriff. William Lamb, farm servant, Fithie, corroborated Mrs Lamb's assertion in regard to pursuer having been in the bothy on a Sunday night. Defender stated that he dismissed pursuer because she was making his house a brothel. After other evidence had been led, the Sheriff said he was satisfied that there was no cause for his interference, as dismissal had been proved to be justifiable. Every farmer was entitled to have a pure household, and if he insisted on its purity, the law would back him up. Having commented on pursuer's character, he granted decree of absolvitor, and said he would place the statements which Smollet and Anderson had made in the hands of the Fiscal.

Local news ain't what it used to be.

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