The Evidence of Rebecca Jarrett2

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The Evidence of Rebecca Jarrett

The Old Bailey (October 30, 1885). Quoted in Alison Plowden, The Case of Eliza Armstrong: A Child of 13 Bought for £5 (1974)

Mr. Webster: What is your name?

Jarrett: Rebecca Jarrett.

Mr. Webster: Have you ever been married?

Jarrett: Never.

Mr. Webster: Your first acquaintance with Mrs. Broughton was in service at Claridge’s Hotel?

Jarrett: Yes.

Mr. Webster: At the beginning of 1883?

Jarrett: Yes, in the month of May, I believe.

Mr. Webster: Had you been in service before that?

Jarrett: Yes. I had been in service sometimes to try and get myself up.

Mr. Webster: You say that previously to your going to Claridge’s you kept a gay house?

Jarrett: Yes.

Mr. Webster: Where?

Jarrett: In High Street, Marylebone.

Mr. Webster: The number?

Jarrett: I have told you I have led a bad life, and I beg that you will not bring these matters up.

Mr. Webster: The number please?

Jarrett: Twenty-three.

Mr. Webster: Did you rent it?

Jarrett: No. The man I lived with did.

Mr. Webster: His name?

Jarrett: Sullivan.

Mr. Webster: The man Sullivan that you have spoken of before?

Jarrett: Yes.

Mr. Webster: When was that?

Jarrett: I believe about the end of 1882 and the beginning of 1883.

Mr. Webster: Where else did you keep a gay house?

Jarrett: Bristol.

Mr. Webster: What street?

Jarrett: On the Cliffs.

Mr. Webster: Number?

Jarrett: Number six.

Mr. Webster: When was that?

Jarrett: I can’t recollect how long ago.

Mr. Webster: Before you were at Marylebone or after?

Jarrett: Before.

Mr. Webster: How long? Years before or months before?

Jarrett: It might have been two or three years before.

Mr. Webster: Of course it might have been; but how many was it?

Jarrett: I don’t know. It was not so many as ten years. The landlady was Mrs. White. I rented that house myself.

Mr. Webster: What name did you pass by there?

Jarrett: Hazells.

Mr. Webster: Anywhere else did you keep a gay house.

Jarrett: Yes, 3 Ward Buildings, Manchester. That was before I was at Bristol. Hazells, the man I lived with rented it.

Mr. Webster: Now, Jarrett, Sullivan you say, had been a commercial traveller?

Jarrett: He had.

Mr. Webster: Where is he now?

Jarrett: I don’t know.

Mr. Webster: Answer this question carefully. When did you first know the man named Sullivan?

Jarrett: I believe between two and three years ago.

Mr. Webster: Fit the date as closely as you can. When was the earliest time you knew him?

Jarrett: I believe it was between two and three years ago I first went to live with him. I had known him before.

Mr. Webster: Did you know Mr. Broughton before you met Mrs. Broughton at Claridge’s?

Jarrett: No, I only knew him as Mrs. Broughton’s husband?

Mr. Webster: A respectable man?

Jarrett: So far as I know about him he was.

Mr. Webster: I may tell you fairly, Jarrett, that Mr. Broughton is here. There had never been any impropriety between you and Broughton?

Jarrett: Never.

Justice Lopes: Are you sure?

Jarrett: Yes.

Justice Lopes: Never any impropriety?

Jarrett: Not in acts.

Mr. Webster: Previously to your leaving Claridge’s he had been very kind to you, had he not?

Jarrett: Yes.

Mr. Webster: From the time you left Claridge’s till September, 1884, you were continuously in hospitals or convalescent homes, except when you were at Mrs. Broughton’s?

Jarrett: Yes.

Mr. Webster: During all that time you were endeavouring to lead a good life?

Jarrett: Yes.

Mr. Webster: You had been under good influences and trying to lead a good life?

Jarrett: Yes. I could not help myself. (Laughter)

Mr. Webster: Had you ever known Mrs. Broughton, prior to June 3rd, 1885, do anything disreputable?

Jarrett: I don’t know whether she did. I daresay she could.


Mr. Webster: It is no laughing matter. Now, on your oath, have you ever seen or heard of Mrs. Broughton committing any immorality?

Jarrett: I have never seen her do so.

Mr. Webster: Had you ever known Mrs. Broughton, from her own confession, or from anything you have seen, to be guilty of immorality?

Jarrett: No, I have not.

Mr. Webster: On the day before Derby Day, did you go to a house of ill-fame in Marylebone, before going to see Mrs. Broughton?

Jarrett: Yes, to No. 16 Spencer Street.

Mr. Webster: Was that house kept by an old friend of yours?

Jarrett: No.

Mr. Webster: Then it is not true, as stated by Mr. Stead in his article, that in Derby week you went to a low house kept by an old acquaintance?

Jarrett: I met a person whom I had previously known. She told me she had given up her old habits.

Mr. Webster: The article says that “a woman old in the work of procuration entered a brothel in Blank Street, Marylebone, kept by an old acquaintance.” Does not that mean Mrs. Broughton?

Jarrett: No, it means the house in Spencer Street. I went three times to Ladylake Road, Whitechapel, to try to get a girl and did not succeed. Afterwards I went to Mrs. Broughton. I saw Mr. Stead on the Tuesday night and told him I had failed. I am sure of that. On the Tuesday Mrs. Armstrong refused to let Eliza go.

Mr. Webster: On the Wednesday, until you said to Mrs. Armstrong “Here is a shilling”, had any amount of money ever been mentioned between you?

Jarrett: No amount, but money had been mentioned.

Mr. Webster: Do you represent to the jury that Mrs. Armstrong agreed that her daughter should go, without the slightest idea of how much money she was to receive?

Jarrett: Yes; but she knew she was going to receive money.

Justice Lopes: Do you suggest that she trusted to you to give her what you thought fit?

Jarrett: Yes.

Justice Lopes: She knew nothing of you and your antecedents, and yet she trusted entirely to you to give what you thought fit for her daughter?

Jarrett: She did.

Justice Lopes: Why did you suddenly change your name to Sullivan?

Jarrett: Because when I entered Mrs. Broughton’s house, I told her I had gone back to live with Sullivan again. By living with him, I had taken upon myself his name.

Mr. Webster: Can you explain why Mrs. Broughton was to have £4?

Jarrett: Because she procured the child for me.

Justice Lopes: Whom did you consider you were buying the child from?

Jarrett: From Mrs. Broughton, because she procured her for me.

Justice Lopes: Did you not know that Mrs. Broughton could have no right or title to dispose of the child?

Jarrett: Certainly, unless her mother had given her full consent, and I should not have taken her away unless the mother had given consent.

Justice Lopes: But if it was Mrs. Armstrong’s child, why was Mrs. Broughton to have £4 and the mother only £1?

Jarrett: Because she got the child for me.

Mr. Webster: Until you handed, as you swear, £2 to Mrs. Broughton on the Wednesday, had any amount of money been mentioned between you and Mrs. Broughton?

Jarrett: No amount, but money had been mentioned.

Mr. Webster: Was that £2 given after the mother had consented to let the child go?

Jarrett: Yes; and I intended to send her another £2 if the girl turned out to be pure.

Mr. Webster: Why, if your story is true, was not that £2 given to the mother?

Jarrett: Because I had promised Mrs. Broughton I would give it to her.

Mr. Webster: Did you tell Mr. Stead truthfully all that had passed?

Jarrett: I believe I told him as truthfully as I could.

Mr. Webster: Has he put down truthfully what you told him?

Jarrett: I think he has made some slight mistakes. One mistake is where he says the child was bought off a brothel-keeper. Mr. Stead did not write down what I told him.

[Examined by Stead]

Jarrett: I first saw you on Whit Monday at No. 6 Northumberland Street. I brought a letter from Mrs. Butler who told me to answer all the questions you might put to me—to make a clean breast of it. In fact, to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth. You asked me a great number of questions, some of which were very painful to me, and I was unwilling to answer. I told you I had kept a house of evil repute, and had procured young girls of 13 or 14 for some of my customers, and that this was a practice at most of the brothels. The girls, I told you, were brought to these houses, not knowing what they were, and drugged and violated… (bursts into tears)…I was much daunted by your speaking sharply. You said it was too bad to be believed, and you would only believe it if I could do it again. I objected to try to do it again, whereupon you said you would not believe that I was a changed woman if I refused to make some reparation for my past crimes. When I left you, I went to the Salvation Army headquarters. I saw Mr. Bramwell Booth and asked him if he thought Mrs. Butler would approve of my doing what you had asked me, and he said that I was to do whatever you desired me. It was owing to what Mr. Booth said that I went to Ladylake Road before hearing from Mrs. Butler. I went there on Whit Tuesday, and I was to have two little girls brought to me if the negotiations came out right. I was to meet them at Waterloo Station on the Saturday night, but they did not come. I went down to Whitechapel again; but I got cheated, for the girl ran away after receiving £2.

Justice Lopes: This has very little to do with the case, and you must confine it within narrow limits. We are not trying whether girls can be bought for immoral purposes, but whether you took Eliza Armstrong away against the will of her parents.

Jarrett (to Stead): In consequence of my failure in Whitechapel, I said that I should have to go among my old friends, but I would only do so on your promising me that you would not prosecute them. You said that in the first instance I was not to get fresh girls, but only those that were on stock or on hand.

Stead (to the Judge): My object in this was to get a girl kept for the purpose of being ruined, and not one who, but for my action, would not have fallen into the hands of a procuress.

Justice Lopes: I repeat that the question of motive is irrelevant until after the verdict of the jury.

Jarrett (to Stead): On the Tuesday night I believe I told you that I had seen a little girl, but her mother refused to let her come. I believe that I mentioned the name of Armstrong, but only as one of my failures. I believe it was in Albany Street that I eventually told you Mrs. Armstrong was to have one sovereign and Mrs. Broughton another. I told you on the Wednesday night that the parents knew the purpose for which Eliza Armstrong was intended, and were quite willing that she should come. I also said that I sent the girl to bid her parents ‘good-bye’, for the purpose of giving them an opportunity to relent. I half repented myself at the work you had thrust upon me, and I hoped the mother’s heart would change at the last moment.

Justice Lopes: But you knew that no harm was to be done to the girl?

Jarrett: Yes, I knew, but the mother did not. (to Stead) Nothing was said to you about the child having permission from me to write letters. You said you were going to send her away for a time, and then she should be sent to me to Winchester to bring up, that I might eventually take her back, and show that no harm had come to her.

Justice Lopes: It is not suggested that you had any but kindly intentions, from your point of view, Mr. Stead.

Stead: I think it is not realised that Rebecca Jarrett herself had kindly intentions, and I wish to suggest that that was one of my difficulties in dealing with her.

Justice Lopes: At present there is nothing to the contrary. She has said she was most reluctant to enter on this work; but all this does not in any way justify taking the child out of the charge of her legal guardians.

Stead: My object is to show that prejudices have been imported into this case by the prosecution to affect the public mind.

Justice Lopes: We cannot undertake to dissipate prejudices from the public mind, or the case would never end. The case for the jury is, which of these stories is true? Is it true as the prosecution put it, that you obtained this child under the pretence she was going into service, or is your contention true that the was sold for immoral purposes?

Jarrett (to Stead): I never told you anything to lead you to suppose that Mrs. Armstrong would want her child back again, or that anything about service had ever been said.