Friday, 13 February 2015

A Soldier and a Servant Girl

One Pound Note c.1914-15 [X106/597]

Saturday 13th February 1915:  Private George Rowbotham of the 6th Battalion of the South Staffordshire Regiment appeared today at Luton Borough Court charged with stealing a £1 note from a servant girl. Nesta Dennis, who is employed at 60 Hastings Street, came to Luton about three months ago, and met Private Rowbotham soon afterwards when he turned up one night instead of the friend of his that she had expected. They went for several walks and he borrowed money from her amounting to nearly thirty shillings, saying he did not earn much and would pay her back as soon as he could.

Last Thursday Miss Dennis went out shopping, met Private Rowbotham and went for a walk up Farley Hill with him and a friend. She had a £1 note and three shillings in her pocket. When she took the note out Private Rowbotham snatched it from her hand, but when asked to return it said he had dropped it, although she knew this was not true. Later on he said that if she would give him the three shillings, he would find the pound note.

Private Rowbotham had told Miss Dennis that he was unmarried and was only 19. When asked about their relationship Miss Dennis mentioned several things which had happened but said she did not consider that the soldier was courting her. Private Rowbotham insisted that the money had been given to him, which Miss Dennis denied; she said she had it in her hand because she was afraid he would take it out of her pocket.

Police Inspector Attwood said that he saw Private Rowbotham yesterday when he returned from shooting and questioned him in the presence of his officer. Rowbotham said the note was at his billet; when Inspector Attwood said they would go and fetch it he said he had spent some of it and produced 18s 5d from his pocket. He admitted receiving the note from Miss Dennis but said he did not steal it, claiming he had asked to borrow money from her. She at first claimed she did not have any, but then showed him the note and he took it as “a bit of a game”. He intended to give it back to her, apart from the little he had spent on “smokes”. He admitted he was a married man, and Miss Dennis said she had heard from two or three of his companions that he was married. He also admitted he had previously been in court for assault, but said this was known when he enlisted. The Court took a dim view of Private Rowbotham’s  “joke” and sentenced him to one month’s hard labour.

Source: Luton News 18th February 1915

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