Monday 3rd January 1916: In an unusual case the Duke of Bedford has instructed both the prosecution and the defence solicitors when applying at the Police Court for the eviction of one of his tenants. Before the war the Duke would clearly have been in a position to evict the man and his family, but the Court now has discretion in cases where it appears that a tenant was unable to vacate a property through circumstances directly related to the war. In the light of this the Duke wished to secure a fair, legal decision in a difficult situation.
A cottage at 70, Leighton Street, Woburn was let to Mr. George Tansley in 1906 at two shillings and sixpence a week. The tenancy was tied to his employment with the local blacksmith, Mr. W.H. Marshall, and it is essential for the blacksmith’s business that his employee should live opposite the smithy. Last September Mr Tansley left to join the Army Service Corps, resulting in the closure of the smithy until a replacement for him was found in October. However, despite being given notice to quit Mrs. Tansley and the couple’s two daughters remained in the cottage. The new employee, a Mr. Manning, had initially gone home to Olney at weekends, but was now living with his family in a small cottage at Birchmoor Green which was not suitable for his needs, being almost a mile from his work. He had already threatened to leave as he was unable to get home for breakfast and struggled to get home for dinner.
Mrs. Tansley is not from Woburn, and the Duke has admitted it would be impossible for her to get another cottage in the village. The Duke's estate agent stated that he had explained the situation to Mrs. Tansley and had offered her reasonable expenses to move to any part of the country of her choice, and any legal assistance she required to defend the eviction case. While the Duke did not wish any harm to the family of a man who was serving his country, the smith's business was essential for agriculture and could not be carried out properly without the cottage. He therefore wished the magistrates to make a legal decision on the matter. After giving the matter consideration the magistrates exercised their discretion and decided that the eviction should be carried out; Mrs. Tansley was given 28 days to leave.