Saturday 19 February 2011

My Bloody Valentine

Now that February 14th has passed, I can introduce you to the dark side of Valentine's day in Victorian England ...  a perennial opportunity for sending anything from cruel hoaxes to hate-mail:

ALL ABOUT A 'VALENTINE' .—John Pickles is a young mechanic employed at Manningham Mills, near Bradford, and early last February some of the mischievous girls employed there sent him a valentine, which raised his ire, and he imagined Sarah Ellis, comb minder, had sent it. The result was a rupture between the parties, which culminated on Thursday, last week, when Pickles, forgetting his manhood, struck Ellis, and she retorted by throwing a sliver can at his head, which fortunately missed him. The poor fellow, tantalised by the girls, who called "Valentine" after him, again fell to violence on Friday evening, when he got hold of Ellis, kicked her several times, accompanying the kicks with blows on the head with his breakfast can. He had to answer for this offence on Monday, at the Bradford Borough Court, where he was summoned by Ellis, when the above statements came out in evidence. The defendant did not deny that he had assaulted the girl, but said the valentine was of a gross character, and he had been aggravated until he could restrain himself no longer by the girls calling after him. He produced several witnesses, the case causing some merriment, and eventually the Mayor said as the defendant had evidently received some provocation, he would only be fined 5s. with 10s. costs, or fourteen days in default, reminding him that he ought to know better than ever to strike a woman.
The Hull Packet and East Riding Times , 1869
BITING A MAN'S LIP OFF. Francis Burke, 21, Edmund's-place. Aldersgate-street, was charged with biting a large portion of Cornelius Hanley's under-lip off in Aldersgate-street. It appears from the evidence that the parties are neighbours, and are both sailors. They had been drinking together and quarelled as to the sending of a certain valentine. The prisoner accused Hanley of having sent the valentine, to which Hanley called him a liar. Prisoner retorted "You're another," rushed at him, caught his under-lip in his (prisoner's) mouth, and bit it off. It was suggested that Hanley was the aggressor but this Hanley denied. He was committed for trial.
Lloyd's Weekly Newspaper, 1869
THE RESULT OF SENDING A VALENTINE. - Margery Coupe was summoned by Mary Mawdsley, a widow, for being riotous and disorderly.—Complainant stated that on Tuesday night defendant came into her house and caused a great disturbance, charging her with having said she was a "drinking slut." A crowd of people gathered in front of the house, and Coupe made use of most shocking language.—Defendant stated that on Tuesday morning a valentine came to her house, and on reading it, she found it called her (defendant) a "drunken slut." When her husband came home she showed him the valentine, and he put her out. She suspected that complainant had sent the valentine, and therefore went to her house to tell her what she thought of her—(laughter). —Mr. Humber :  Well, will you promise to let these people alone in future?—Defendant: Oh! Yes; I don't want to touch them, if they won't annoy me again.—The case was dismissed on payment of costs.
Preston Guardian, 1879

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