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Colonial Cases

R. v. Macgregor, 1887

[domestic assault]

R. v. Macgregor

Police Court, Shanghai
Jamieson AAJ, 10 September 1887
Source: North China Herald, 17 September 1887

Shanghai, 10th Sept., 1887
Before Geo. Jamieson, Esq., Acting Assistant Judge.
  John Macgregor, a watchmaker, appeared to answer a charge of assaulting Mary Anne Smith, a woman with whom he cohabited.
  The plaintiff, a person seemingly of education, appeared in the witness box with a small baby in her arms. Her evidence was as follows:-
  I reside at No. 7 Chefoo Road, I came out here to live with Mr. Macgregor as his wife.  He has constantly ill-treated me and used filthy and disgusting language.  About a fortnight ago he beat me severely while I had my baby in my arms; he only comes home when he is drunk and wants to sleep.  He takes no food in the house; I only come here because I am afraid of him and driven to do it.  I was sitting on the bed with my baby and he (defendant) caught me by the hand and forced me down. The people next door heard my screams and rushed in and asked him not to murder me and the infant.  I have plenty of witnesses to prove what I say.  This child was only a few days old when Macgregor attacked me, and two gentlemen contemplated breaking in the door to save me from him, I can give both their names if necessary, one is a next door neighbor and the other is in a hong here.
  I am really compelled to do what I am now doing because I am afraid of Macgregor who begs outside for a little food for his "poor dear wife." I am telling you the truth Mr. Jamieson and do not fear any thing.  The only thing which kept me back from coming here before, is the simple fact that I am not married to this man.  While I was lying in my bed sick another time he took out my gold watch and disposed of it without my knowledge and since then he has disposed of my books one by one; when he left the house yesterday he said "may my curse rest upon you, goodbye baby." (To the defendant) Isn't that true Macgregor?
  The Defendant - You are making a good case but I will answer you.
  Witness resuming - The other morning he said he wished he could curse me into my grave and used such filthy language that I cannot repeat I before gentlemen.  He wished he could sent me to hell, and threatened my life several times.  When I lived in Quinsan terrace he almost strangled me upon one occasion. And we had no neighbours to hear my screams, but a questionable woman next door.  In the month of February last, he locked me out all night in the cold, and the police had to break the door in. I rent the house from Mr. Ambrose in my own name.
 The Defendant - She does not! She does not pay for it.
  His Worship - Be quiet sir! (To plaintiff) - Why do you let him into the house if it is yours?
  The Plaintiff - He threatened and curses me and I am in fear of him.  Besides he has got the key now in his pocket.
  The Defendant in reply to his Worship said - I deny what she says, and I insist upon witnesses being called; my next door neighbor and a man in the Bubbling Well Cottage, where she goes every day and gets drunk.  Then she comes home and abuses me.
  His Worship - I won't listen to this.  If you have any witnesses why don't you summon them here?
  The Defendant - But you must listen to this I insist upon it!
  His Worship - You must keep quiet.  The charge against you is of assaulting this woman.  What do you have to say to it?
  The Defendant - I deny it! There is a Japanese man-servant who could prove it, but she has got rid of him. The other day she came home pretty drunk and scratched my face.  I will write down the name of the man who saw it, and she annoyed me by saying "Thank God this kid id not yours." (laughter.)
  The Plaintiff - I am not in the habit, Mr. Jamieson, of using such language.
  The Defendant said he wanted to call a Mr. Hoyte who was in Hirsbrunner's for a long time, but he was now in Australia.  He had other witnesses too,
  His Worship - Why don't you summon them to come here then?
  Defendant - I have no money.  I earned a few dollars yesterday and went home and lay down on the stairs to sleep, when this woman attacked me.
  The Plaintiff - He was dead drunk your Worship.  I did not wish him to come to my house at all. A gentleman in the Customs gave me $4 for some photograph books belonging to my poor husband who is dead. (To Mr. Jamieson) - The house is a small one near the gaol.
  The defendant - The house does not belong to her, a Mr. Mayne took it for her.  The defendant then named a number of persons whom he said he would call in his defence, but one was in Australia another was dead, and a third was a pilot and away from Shanghai.
  His Worship said he could not wait for them and would decide the case at once.
  The Defendant said that drunk had a good deal to do with the case.  Yesterday he took a gin bottle from the plaintiff and threw it over the wall.
  His Worship then ordered the defendant to pay a fine of $10- or go to prison for a fortnight, and afterwards to enter into a bond of $100 not to interfere with the plaintiff again.
  The Defendant - I should prefer to leave Shanghai.
  His Worship - You can leave as soon as you have satisfied the Court.  These are my terms.
  The Defendant - I have not got $10 in the world.  A man in the Bubbling Well Cottage has something to do with this ------
  His Worship - That will do.
  The Defendant then went down, and after a conversation with the plaintiff, she left the Court as it was understood, to endeavour to raise the money to pay the fine.

Published by Centre for Comparative Law, History and Governance at Macquarie Law School