Two Sisters in Court

Today, as part of my research project about Barnard Castle during World War 1, I came across a rather interesting article from The Teesdale Mercury, dated 5th May 1915.

Jane E. Okey of 7, Baliol Street, Barnard Castle, charged her sister, Martha Okey, with having assaulted her on 23rd of April 1915.

The complainant said that on Friday night she was walking along Baliol Street when Martha Okey took hold of her arm, called her a big rogue and dirty thief, tore the sleeve of her blouse and threatened to break her windows. The witness said she had never spoken to her sister at all.

The unpleasantness had supposedly arisen through family affairs, as Martha had not been given a share of family money, when her sister had.

One of the assessors of the case, was Lord Barnard.

He stated: “This is rather a painful case. Is it necessary to go on with it? From what we have heard it is quite clear that you have a difference of opinion on these financial affairs. I would ask you to consider what you would gain by these proceedings?”

The Complainant argued “All that I want is protection. I don’t want to be knocked about in the street.”

Martha Okay, the defendant, in the course of her statement in defence, said she was feeling very angry at the family’s treatment of her, and as this was the only opportunity of asking her sister personally for this money, she took the chance. She had been told that she was nobody, and had nothing to do with it. Her sister was wearing a very heavy cloth cloak and the defendant said she had simply took hold of her by the garment, when the complainant said: ‘”loosen me.”

The Witness replied: “Jane hit her several times with her fist, and her leg had a black mark upon on it.”

The Chairman said the Bench came to the conclusion that both sisters were to blame for this unseemly dispute in the street, and the summons for assault would be dismissed, with the defendant paying the hearing fee of one shilling.

The defendant said she would not pay the shilling.


By Daisie Moore, volunteer