Sunday, 29 March 2015

"Madame Lee" in Court at Luton

Chart of the hand (Wikimedia)

Monday 29th March 1915: Adelaide Garrett of 24 Church Street, Luton, has appeared at the Petty Sessions Court charged with “practising palmistry to deceive and impose”. She had hired a room at 11, Church Street and placed a notice in the window which read “Madame Lee, a genuine relative of the old-established Gipsy Lee family, now nearly extinct, which has been patronised by the leading aristocracy, nobility, and gentry”. She was known to live in Luton during the winter; in the summer she told fortunes at the seaside, and had been seen at Yarmouth. At 9.20pm on 22nd March two soldiers went into the room to have their palms read. One was told that he would soon be going abroad, that he would be wounded, but only slightly, and would soon get over it; the other was told that he also would go to war but would return without a scratch. Each man was charged one shilling.

The Town Clerk stated that with the large number of troops in town, it was “extremely inadvisable” for anything of this sort to be allowed. The woman had given the younger of the two men a book and he warned the Bench not to be fooled by any claims that she had charged the shilling for the book and not for the fortune telling. Driver Partridge of the Army Service Corps said that he had gone to have his fortune told, and although he was given a book he did not go there to buy it. Mrs Garrett did indeed say that she had told the men it was a shilling for a book, that she had given one to both the soldiers, and that she displayed a notice saying she sold books. She produced a card which she said could be bought for a penny from automatic machines all over the country, saying that if the card was worth a penny, then surely her twelve page book was worth a shilling. She used the name Madame Lee as a professional name as her married name of Garrett was not a gipsy name, but she was indeed related to the Lee family and a cousin had told the fortune of the Duke of Clarence. She had been born and brought up in Yarmouth, where her husband’s father had twice been Mayor.

Mrs Garrett’s husband Henry also gave evidence. Asked his occupation he said “I am all professions, I am anything” and that he had been a “foreign sailor” but was born and bred at Yarmouth. They had been prosecuted at Yarmouth for practising palmistry and had won the case in the High Court. The business they carried out at Luton was under the same rules and conditions. They had been to the police station to get permission and were told that if it was lawful at Yarmouth it was lawful at Luton. The Chief Constable, however, said he had never spoken to Mrs Garrett until a short time before when she came to see a friend who was in the cells, having been arrested for telling fortunes in Burnley. The lady palmist was convicted under Section 4 of the Vagrancy Act of 1824, for which the maximum sentence was three months’ imprisonment or a £25 fine. She was fined 50 shillings including costs, an amount which was immediately paid.

Source: Luton News, 1st April 1915

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