Bow Common Schools

The following very sad story appeared in the Luton Times and Advertiser on Saturday, 22nd July 1871:

"Catherine Hatch, a middle-aged woman, the governess of an infant school in Fern-Street, Bow-Common, was brought before Mr Paget, at the Thames Police-Court on the 19th inst., charged with unmercifully flogging Richard Goddend, a boy aged four years.  A few days since the mother of the boy brought him before Mr Paget, who now said that the back was covered with weals and black and blue marks.  In the whole course of his experience as a magistrate he had never seen any child in such a shocking condition.  He interrogated the boy and his little sister, aged six years, who said the defendant stripped her brother and flogged him with a thick leather strap over his naked back until he was covered with black and blue marks.  The defendant, in reply to the charge, said the little boy had some of the marks upon him before he came to school, which Mr Paget said he did not believe.  The child was very naughty and bit her hand, and she did not intend to beat him so much as she had done.  Three poor women whose children were scholars of the defendant, said they were never ill-used, were very fond of their governess, and cried to go to her school.  Her humanity and gentleness were proverbial.  Mr Paget said it was of the utmost importance that the children of the poor who went to infant schools should be protected from the violence of those in authority over them.  The child had received inhuman punishment from a cruel woman, who had lost her temper, and who had employed a heavy leather strap, a most improper weapon to use on a child.  He should inflict such a punishment as would be a warning to her and others not to abuse the power entrusted to them.  He sentenced her to fourteen days' imprisonment and hard labour."