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The Nineteenth Century:
Vaccination Cases - August 1898
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Mostly extracted from "The Derbyshire Times and Chesterfield Herald", 13 August 1898.

On Wednesday 10 August 1889 over 70 cases were heard in a packed Magistrates Court at Matlock. Local people who had not had their children vaccinated, and who were described as "anti vaccinators", were summonsed for disregarding the vaccination laws then in place. This was following "orders given since February last to proceed against those parents who were in default[1]". The vaccination law was in a state of transition and a new Act was awaiting Royal Assent.

"The Matlock magistrates were occupied for four hours ... dealing with an almost unprecedented batch of prosecutions against offenders under the Vaccination Acts of 1867 and 1871. Some were charged under Section 31, having agreed to vaccinate but not then done so[2]".

The key players:

Justices on the Bench:
Mr A Clay (chairman)
Mr Tom Wright
Mr T Cooper Drabble

Mr Jas Evans, the vaccination officer for the Bakewell Union

Defendants' Solicitor:
Mr H S Schultess-Young, of London, represented all the defendants, instructed by Mr B A Cheverton, solicitor to the London [Anti] Vaccination Society

During the proceedings Mr. Young, for the defendants, said that a conscience clause was to be inserted into the new Act and it was only a matter of detail for the law to be altered. He pointed out that his was the only instance in the United Kingdom where the vaccination prosecutions had not been withdrawn or suspended. The prosecutor, Mr. Evans, admitted that none of the defendants were either indolent or lazy. Mr Drabble personally felt that every child ought to be vaccinated, but because of the existing state of the law he was bound to adjourn the cases. He added that the Matlock hydropathists had neglected their duty in not providing treatment.

Cases heard first, defendants under Section 29:

SURNAME / Christian name / Occupation / Abode / Verdict

BIRCH William stone cutter Darley Dale - case dismissed, within four days of the prescribed time
BODEN Arthur labourer Two Dales - out of time, given the benefit of that doubt
CROWDER Henry road surveyor Wensley
HAND Hiram labourer Darley Dale - case dismissed
HAYTO Ann Amelia The Meadows, Darley Dale - out of time, given the benefit of that doubt
HOLMES Anthony stone cutter Darley - had intimated to the Court that he would have his child vaccinated in a fortnight. Case adjourned
KNOWLES William weaver Matlock Bank - out of time, given the benefit of that doubt
MARSDEN Henry draper Darley Dale - out of time, given the benefit of that doubt[3]
MARSDEN Samuel farmer Matlock Moor - out of time, given the benefit of that doubt
SLACK Saml brewer's drayman, Matlock Bath - out of time, given the benefit of that doubt[4]
STRANGE Herbert smallware weaver Tansley - case dismissed
WATTS Joseph stonemason Darley Dale - out of time, given the benefit of that doubt
WRAGG Samuel stonemason Matlock - out of time, given the benefit of that doubt

The charges under the "other Section" [31] were next taken:

SURNAME / Christian name / Occupation / Abode / Verdict
[58 names]

ALLWOOD William steam crane driver Tansley - promised to have child vaccinated
ALWOOD Thos stone cutter Matlock Bank
BERRESFORD Howard labourer Matlock Bank
BLAGDEN John gardener Matlock Bank
BOWLER Geo Edward labourer Matlock Town
BRADSHAW Solomon mechanical engineer Darley Dale
BRAILSFORD Thomas Joseph Harry mechanic model maker the Dimple, Matlock
BRAMWELL James stonemason Dimple, Matlock
BROOKHOUSE Ernest grocer Matlock Bridge - promised to have child vaccinated
BROWN Henry cabman Matlock Bank
BROWN Samuel butcher Cromford
CLAY William ironmonger Matlock Bank
COOKE Geo stonemason Bakewell Road Matlock Bridge - case dismissed
DAKIN Frank stonemason Matlock Bank
DAKIN Harry shoemaker Matlock Bank
DOOLEY James tile layer Matlock Bank
DOXEY Walter Howe plumber Matlock Bank
EDGE Frederick hydropathic nurse Matlock Bank
ELLIS James drayman Matlock Dale
EMERY Henry hardware dealer Matlock Bank
EVANS Walter fruiterer Matlock Bath
FALDING Arthur Edwin architect Matlock Bank
GOODLAD Victor Albert hydropathic nurse Matlock Bank
GREATOREX Henry miller Matlock Cliff
HEATHCOTE Lawrence innkeeper Two Dales, Darley
HILTON Richard tailor & clothier Matlock Bridge - case dismissed
HODGSON Thomas stone sawyer Dimple, Matlock
HOLMES John Buckley stone dresser Matlock Bank
HOOD Mark railway signalman Starkholmes
JOHNSON Thomas Crowder hosier Matlock Bank
KNOWLES Walter carter Matlock Bank
LE CALVEZ Francois Guilliame chef Matlock
LILLEY Francis Charles labourer [no abode given]
MARSDEN Arthur draper Matlock Bridge
NEEDHAM Rowland James stone-cutter Matlock Bank
PARSONS John masseur Matlock Bank
RYDER Wm gardener Lumsdale Tansley { case dismissed
RYDER Wm wool factory hand Lumsdale Tansley { [unsure if this is the same man]
SEEDHOUSE Edward joiner Scarthin Matlock Bath - promised to have child vaccinated
SLACK Samuel brewer's drayman Scarthin Nick - promised to have child vaccinated[4]
SMITH Edward Scholfield stonemason Upper Hackney
SMITH William John hairdresser Matlock Bath
STANLEY Arthur framework knitter Matlock Moor
SWIFT Charles stonemason Matlock Bank
TEASDALE Geo Bunting bleacher Matlock Green
TEASDALE John labourer Matlock Green
TRAVIS Job stone cutter Matlock Bank
WAGSTAFFE Geo stonecutter Hillside, Darley - promised to have child vaccinated
WALTERS William labourer Wensley
WARD Geo Frederick tailor Matlock Bank
WARD Thos butcher Matlock Bank
WILDGOOSE James Anthony hydropathic nurse Matlock Moor
WILDGOOSE John gardener and florist Upper Hackney, Darley
WILMOT Ernest Luke cashier Matlock Bank - case dismissed
WILMOT Thos cab proprietor Matlock Bank
WOODIWISS Henry stonemason Matlock Bank - case dismissed
WRIGHT John James tinplate worker Matlock Bank
WRIGHT Philip nurseryman's clerk the Hazel View, Darley Dale

The outcome
There were no convictions recorded and all first offender cases were also postponed for three months[2]. The "Derbyshire Times" journalist described the proceedings as ending in a fiasco[1]. A new Vaccination Act became law on 1 Jan 1899[5]. Later the same year, in a letter to the Anti-Vaccination League, the Local Government Board said it had "repeatedly pointed out that the new vaccination order issued in 1898 [October] does not instruct vaccination officers to take proceedings against the defaulters without the direction of the guardians. The duty is imposed on vaccination officers directly by a superior authority, namely, Parliament"[6].

Almost two years after this, on 25 July 1900, Arthur Henry Marsden, draper of Matlock, and Hy. Ballington of Matlock Bank, were granted certificates of exemption from vaccination for their children"[7].

Information above researched, provided by and © Ann Andrews.
Intended for personal use only.


[1] "The Derbyshire Times", 13 August 1898

[2] "The Derby Mercury", 17 August 1898. Vaccination Prosecutions.

[3] Henry Marsden was described as a well known gentleman and his was the first case to be heard.

[4] Samuel Slack's name appears in both lists and it is unclear whether he was being prosecuted twice or whether it was a journalist's error.

[5] "The Standard", 5 January, 1899 :
"Vaccination Act (1 Jan 1899, except as to certificates of exemption, and the power, exercised in the Vaccination Order, 1898 - to make Rules, in each of which cases the Act came into operation on 12 Aug 1898) ... does away with repeated penalties, includes requires vaccination to take place within six months of the birth, but exempts penalties under the 1867 Act the parent or any person having custody of a child who satisfies the Petty Sessional Court, including Police Magistrates and Stipendiary Magistrates, within four month's of the child's birth, that he conscientiously believes vaccination would be prejudicial to the child's health, and obtains a certificate to deliver to the Vaccination Officer".

[6] "The Derby Mercury", 1 November, 1899.

[7] "The Derbyshire Times", 28 July 1900. Matlock.