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A Quarrel in Gnosall High Street, 1837

The following pieces report on hostilities between the households of Joseph & Ann Barratt and Joseph & Maria Bratton. Both men were agricultural labourers. At the time of the fights, they were sharing a property near a water hole. By 1841, the couples no longer shared a property. The Barratts were then living with their sons William and Richard apparently between the Red Lion and the Travellers Rest in District 2 and the Brattons with daughter Sarah (1823) were listed in District 1 in  “Gnosall” soon after “Gnosall Heath” and before the High Street. By 1851 the Barratts had both been taken into the workhouse, where they died. Joseph Bratton had become a bread hawker. Their granddaughter Elizabeth (c. 1836) was with them. In 1839 Joseph Bratton was summonsed for non-payment of poor rates, but he voluntarily paid up and was released. Joseph Barratt born c.1781 Staffs, married Ann Leake 1804, died in Union 31 Oct 1848; Ann Leake born c.1781 Gnosall, died in Union, 30 August 1851. Joseph Bratton born c.1786 Gnosall, died Gnosall 1853; Maria (maiden name unknown) born c.1802 Donnington, died Gnosall 1861. From COUNTY POLICE INTELLIGENCE Grand Jury Room, Shire Hall, Stafford Staffordshire Advertiser 4 March 1837 Before the Rev. R. Levett, Charles Clarke, Esq. and the Hon. & Rev. A C Talbot Ann Barratt and Maria Bratton, two out-and-out termagants residing at Gnosall, in this county, appeared to exhibit articles of the peace against each other. It seems that the parties live under the same roof, though in different tenements, and that they frequently amuse themselves by venting counter sallies of vituperative abuse and sometimes close the scene by a regular assault and battery. A short time ago these worthies appeared before the bench (having made some assailant exchanges) and they were then bound over to keep the peace. On this occasion it was extremely difficult to ascertain the real state of the case as each was desirous of making it appear that she had merely occupied a defensive position, and that the other had taken aggressive ground. It was quite clear from a witness that they were both well saturated with the contents of a dirty puddle hole which happened to be at hand, whilst they were indulging their native predilections. It was with difficulty that they were prevented from open collision before the Magistrates, and the constable was under the necessity of interposing his authority and placing himself between them whilst the case was proceeding. After a patient hearing, the Magistrates decided that Ann Barratt (who had preferred the complaint) was the most blameworthy, and they ordered her to pay the costs amounting to 10s, and to find sureties for her future good behaviour. 6 May 1837 Before the Hon. & Rev. A C Talbot, Charles Clarke, Thomas Hartshorne, and Richard Beech, Esqrs. Joseph Barratt was brought up, under a warrant, charged with assaulting Maria, the wife of Joseph Bratton, on the preceding Wednesday. The parties are of the labouring class, residing at Gnosall, and have been before the Magistrates on several former occasions for assaulting each other. The complainant and defendant occupy separate tenements under the same roof, and appear to be in the daily practice of quarrelling. On the present occasion, the complainant, on going to wash her mop in a hole near the house containing water, for the mutual accommodation of the tenants, an altercation commenced, and was carried on for a short time with considerable warmth, when the defendant went into his house and fetched out a short staff, about two feet long, part of a spade handle, with which he struck the complainant several heavy blows on the head, accompanying the blows with the most violent and offensive language. A person named Thomas Adderley providentially interposed, or it is probable he would have taken away the life of the victim of his brutality. During the enquiry, the defendant acted with most unbecoming levity, and at the close of the case, entered upon a rambling story to make it appear that the complainant had shaken her mop in his face, struck him, and otherwise acted most insultingly. The Constable of Gnosall was examined as to his knowledge of the parties, and he gave an unfavourable account of their ordinary conduct. After the Magistrates had conferred together, the Chairman (Mr Clarke) observed that the Magistrates were strongly inclined to send the case to the Sessions. It was difficult to know what to do with such turbulent spirits. No sooner had one quarrel been settled before the Magistrates, than they recommenced preparations for a renewal of hostilities, and in this petty warfare they set the laws at defiance. They had been before the bench several times, and it was stated that the defendant at that time was under recognizance to keep the peace. That fact had not been formally put in as evidence, or it might have been judged necessary to estreat his recognizance. Such outrages, however, could not be allowed to pass with impunity, and they therefore had decided to visit the present case somewhat heavily, in the hope of putting a stop to these disgraceful proceedings. The Chairman then ordered him to pay forthwith a fine of £4 and 16s costs, which not being able to do, he was sentenced to be imprisoned in the House of Correction, and kept to hard labour two calendar months. Felicity Potter
Barratt Bratton Adderley Dukes Head
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