Mary Kelly

Evidence Type: Newspaper Report
28 November 1837

It would frequently save the “ladies” of the female factory some personal inconvenience, as well as render themselves more valuable to the parties to whom they are or may be assigned, if they were to remember that, although they may be assigned out to their respective services as needlewomen, nursemaids, or any other department of domestic establishment, they are nevertheless not at liberty to refuse any other work which their masters or mistresses may order them to perform. A case of this kind was heard by MR STEWART, the Third Police Magistrate, on Thursday last. A woman named MARY KELLY was put to the bar, charged by her master, a resident in Elizabeth-street, with insolence to her mistress, arising out of the idea that because she was assigned as a needlewoman she was entitled to “a comfortable room to herself, where she might sit down to her work without interruption”—demanding, as the alternative, that she should be forthwith turned into the first class of the factory, for that such work as washing clothes and cleaning floors was not fit for her, and such as she would not submit to. MR STEWART speedily enlightened her understanding on this abstruse question in “criminal justice,” by sentencing her to pass a month in the third class. She was about to be handed away by an attendant provided for doing the amiable on such occasions, when she happened to espie a “friend” in Court, and a new idea flashed upon her. She informed the Court that her mistress had given her no bedding, that she had to sleep upon the bare bricks of a cold kitchen, and that her friend could prove it. ELIZA CALLANAN promptly came up, but instead of throwing any new light upon the matter, proved that she was in perfect ignorance of every thing relating to it, but evinced, nevertheless, by her recommendation that no servant ought to be allowed the complainant in future (the why and the wherefore did not transpire), that she entertained a strong desire to serve “a friend in need.” The master described to the Bench the bedding and the accommodation which the woman had supplied her, which his Worship said was quite sufficient, it not being at all requisite that convicts should be found in feather beds and such other conveniences as the prisoner seemed to consider indispensable. MARY then retired.


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