by Jon Malings

Transcribed from The Advertiser (Adelaide, SA) Wednesday, March 14th, 1914 

Charges of Cruelty

Visitor and husband fight.

That her husband was often cruel to her is the ground on which Mrs. Ellen Catherine Ford is seeking a judicial separation.  The lady is the daughter of a major in the Garrison Artillery. She was formerly a barmaid at Ilford (England), and at the time of her marriage to Mr. Ford, a Bridlington (England) horse dealer, was a widow, her first husband having left her £600 a year.  They were married in January 1910 at the registry office, Kensington, and afterwards lived at Highfield, Bridlington.

Mrs. Ford alleged that her husband drank to excess, was hot tempered, and rough to her.  He also used foul language, and had frequently assaulted her.  She admitted being jealous in respect of her husband and a lady with whom he used to go hunting, but denied she drank too much and was hysterical.

When the case was resumed in the Divorce Division Mr. Henry Samman stated that he made the acquaintance of Mr. Ford in the hunting field.  On a Sunday in April 1910 he was invited to go for a motor ride.  He called at Mr. Ford’s house first and he heard him use filthy language to his wife. She was not “under the influence of drink, lying on the sofa with a bottle of brandy.”

Mr. Samman told Mr. Ford he was not a man and that he would not stop there to see a lady insulted.  “Then we had a ‘scrap’ in the dining-room” added Mr. Samman.  They had a tumble on the floor and afterwards Mr. Ford apologised.

Dr. W. A. Wetwan, Bridlington, said he had never seen Mrs. Ford under the influence of drink. 

Mrs. Jesse Turner, Mrs. Ford’s sister, residing at Reigate Heath, deposed to acts of cruelty that occurred during her visits to her sister. She said that Mr. Ford used to get excited by drink. He became violent and used to put them in terror. One night when she was asleep, he entered the bedroom and ordered her to get up and clear out. Afterwards she heard a fall in the “hunting room” and on going there she found her sister lying unconscious. Mr. Ford told Miss. Turner to clear out and said, “It is or through you that these troubles have come to me.” Miss Turner said that her sister had a seal coat over her nightdress. When a neighbor was called in the husband was burning his wife’s letters and trinkets. On another occasion, said Miss Turner, Mr. Ford threw a jug of cold water over her.

Mr. Ford told the court that he knew his wife when he was a boy. Soon after the marriage her conduct changed.  Mr. Ford said, “She seemed to think she had got me fast, saying ‘I have got you now and I can do as I wish.’”

He denied that, in Buenos Ayres, he dragged his wife upstairs by the hair of her head, spat in her face, and abused her. The fact was, she went out one night without him. He remonstrated. She said “nasty things” and finally he partly carried her up the stairs. 

The next day, he continued, she went off without leaving any trace of her whereabouts. It was not until two or three days later that he saw her name amongst the list of passengers on a steamer which had sailed for England. 

Mr. Ford said that when he got home his wife accused him of an intrigue with one of his late nurses.  There was a quarrel.  He denied that he picked up a whisky bottle by the neck and threatened his wife. As a matter of fact she dropped a chair on his head. On returning from his next trip to Bueno Ayres with ptomaine poisoning, Mrs. Ford accused him of coming home drunk. He was very upset and cried. Later she threw her arms around him and said she loved him. She said she was very jealous and wanted him all to herself.

Mr. Barnard, in cross examination, read a letter Ford wrote to Mrs. Ford after she had left him, in which he said:—”I am going to open a vein deliberately and sign in my own blood, and our babe’s (the child’s blood) too.” Counsel  asked was not that a suggestion that you would commit suicide?” 

“No, “ replied Mr. Ford. 

His Lordship said the letter was signed in red—blood he presumed. 

“I just opened a little vein here,” said Mr. Ford (pointing to his wrist), “stuck a match in and signed the letter..”

The hearing was adjourned.