Its different when it's family...

In the twelve months following May 1908 four children were systematically abused according to a court record.  They were malnourished, dirty, their clothes didn't keep them warm and they were beaten.

They were in the care of their stepmother, Gertrude Goodhand - she was tried at Spilsby in Lincolnshire, prosecuted by the NSPCC. Interesting that the court acted on the evidence of the charity and the schoolmaster and the Doctor.  The complainant was the children's father who told the court that he was powerless to act but added that there was always plenty of food in the house.  The children ranged from 6 -11 years of age and were, it appears, systematically starved.  They stole food at school.

One child was deemed so inadequately dressed to protect them from the school that the teacher gave them a coat to wear.  The child was "thrashed"at home for protecting such charity.

The court considered sending the mother to prison and the children to the workhouse - but judged it would have served none of them so the case was adjourned for six months. Gertrude's behaviour did improve and the NSPCC dropped the case. Though the bitterness towards her from Charles, Olive, Florence and Doris was never lost.

In the late 1970s I sat at the table of my grandmother one Sunday teatime.  She  told me with iron resolve but never an angry word, that I wasn't leaving the table until I had eaten everything on my plate. On my plate was a pastry case, from which I had licked all the jam.  My profligate ways were not stopped by Grandma - but I did eat the pastry case and the jam from then on.

40 years later - I'm aware of something: that pastry case was very unimportant to me, but one can see why for Florence Goodhand, the beaten, starving, dirty and abused child for whom 60 odd summers had passed, it was so very important. My great, glorious, inspiring, independent Grandmother, Florence Goodhand was inextinguishable from a very early age.


Popular Posts