Headington history: Articles in the press

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Quarry Schoolmaster assaulted, 1895

Newspaper report, November 1895:

The Headington Quarry Schoolmaster assaulted.

Emma Parsons, married, of Headington, was summoned for assaulting Alfred Henry Bickley, at Headington Quarry, on the 18th inst.

Mr E. H. Fuller appeared for the complainant, who is the schoolmaster of the Headington Quarry National Schools.

– Mr Bickley stated that he went to the school about half-past eight on the morning in question, and saw the defendant standing by the door. Without speaking a word she struck him on the face and seized him by the whiskers, some of which she pulled out. Witness asked for an explanation, and Mrs Parsons said that he had punished her child and she would punish him. Witness invited her into the school, where he offered to explain the reason why he punished the child, but she refused to go. She followed him into the playground, where she scratched his face.

Lily Higgs, infant mistress, said she was in the playground at the time of the alleged assault, and heard defendant say “You sandy puppy; I should like to duck you in the pond.” Witness also heard another woman in a garden adjoining the school premises say, “Go on, Mrs. Parsons; give it him.”

George Bushnell, aged 11 years, also gave evidence. He said he saw Mrs Parsons pushing the master about, but there were no blows struck or any whiskers pulled in his presence.

– Defendant alleged that Mr Bickley struck her child with a cane and put his fingers down her throat to make her sick and then slapped her face. As a result of Bickley’s treatment the child had two fits and defendant had to take her to school the following day, as the girl refused to go.

– The Rev. C. F. H. Johnston, Vicar of Headington Quarry, said that defendant had not complained to him of Bickley’s conduct. If such an assault as defendant had complained of had been committed upon the child witness would have heard of it.

Sarah Coppock, daughter of defendant, said she asked Bickley why her sister had been ill treated, and the latter replied, “You have nothing to do with it.”

– Cross examined: It was on the Friday that this took place.

– Mr Bickley re-called, denied meeting the last witness on the day named, or that she made any complaint to him.

– Defendant was fined 5s., and 5s. costs, the Warden of Merton remarking that cases of this sort would not be tolerated.

Mrs Emma Parsons lived at the Moors (near the present Slade) with her husband Richard, a farm labourer. At the time of the 1891 census, nine of her children were still living at home, including her daughter Sarah (soon to become the Mrs Coppock mentioned above), then a laundry maid of 19. Mrs Parsons continued to live at the Moors until her death at the age of 85 in 1929.

The daughter who was allegedly mistreated by the schoolmaster was probably Elsie, who would have been 9 in 1895. On 27 January 1906, when Elsie was 19, she married William Henry Coppock at Holy Trinity Church.

The witness George Bushnell lived at 38 Quarry High Street with his parents Isaac and Emily Bushnell.

© Stephanie Jenkins

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