A fraud of a husband Court appearance throws light on family history


On first glance the attached newspaper article, about a fraud allegedly undertaken by William Walters, would seem to be just a background piece to the main family history. William was at one stage married to great aunt Phyl – Phyllis Amelia Scott.

Article 21 Sep 1934

By reading through to the end, however, three distinct lines of inquiry emerge which have a broader impact.

The cutting is from The West London Star, Friday 21st September 1934, under the column heading ‘Police Court News, Monday’ (sourced from British Newspaper Archive/ FindMyPast). A summary of the case is given below – ‘The alleged fraud’.

Walters or Waters?

First off, Phyl’s marriage in 1930 (Pontypridd district) was to ‘William C Waters’ according to the registration index. Having obtained the marriage certificate for her second marriage in 1947, it clearly cites her divorce from “William Chevalier Waters”, and she signs as P.A. Waters. Even if the middle name of Chevalier seems a little too good to be true.

So is Walters just a journalist’s error? On the other hand, it is difficult to find a William C Waters elsewhere in the records who fits, while there are a couple of possibilities in the Pontypridd district for a Walters born in 1899 (he’s stated as 35 in the newspaper item). {1}

Are they already separated?

According to testimony, Phyllis Amelia Scott was living with William “at 113 Walm Lane this year” (Willesden, north west London). That implies that they aren’t living together right at this moment, which is rather supported by the fact that her surname is given as Scott.

Trying to locate any information on the divorce was the original purpose of this particular search on the newspaper archives!

Hearing from Phyl’s brother

The above evidence is imparted by her brother William. What we learn about William himself is minimal but still leads to an interesting discovery.

His address of 12 Southhill Park Gardens, Hampstead, is the same as that given in 1923 by sister Daisy and her husband Spencer May – their last residence in Britain as they left for missionary work in India. William at 1934 is a “student master” (should that be student minister?) but by the time of the WW2 1939 register he’s become a Minister of Gospel in Stoke on Trent.

Spencer was with the Pentecostal Missionary Union, which was absorbed into Assemblies of God in 1925. As the latter’s missionary training establishment (which became Mattersey Hall) is known to have been in Hampstead Heath at this period, Southhill Park Gardens must have been an associated residence. {3}

William Charles Scott

It makes sense that this is the time when William had abandoned working in the Rhondda coalmines and started training with the Pentecostal church at the same place that his brother-in-law had attended. Perhaps he had an eye on overseas missionary work too, but settled for taking the gospel to the citizens of Stoke on Trent. While his niece (Norma Howes nee Watkins) thought he made the move in his late twenties, which would be a few years earlier, it is close enough.

The alleged fraud

A summary of the case against William Walters as reported by the West London Star: that he fraudulently told a young woman (name and address of this witness not divulged) that he was the private secretary to a rubber merchant, and had a wealthy maiden aunt. He was single and looking to settle down, had been involved in an accident and was waiting on an insurance claim settlement. A post-dated cheque for £900 later appeared “a result of the claim”. The witness advanced a total of £60 against this – she had also been given an engagement ring, and had received several letters mentioning marriage.

Part of article, West London Star, 28 Sep 1934

There is an additional news item a week later, from the same publication (right). A further charge, of £90 falsely obtained from Mrs Lily Evans, gets added alongside an earlier charge of housebreaking and theft. And the other accused, Albert Young, is trying to argue that he only played a minor part in the plot. An extract:

Young wished that Miss Walters and “Jim” Robinson should be called to give evidence. Det.-inspector Lynch said the police were making enquiries on behalf of Walters but had not seen Robinson. Walters said that Robinson had run away with his wife.

That is rather ambiguously worded – presumably “Miss Walters” is the maiden aunt. It does seem to suggest, however, that great aunt Phyl had decamped with Robinson.

Coverage of the actual trial and outcome is yet to be discovered. Sorry!

Another question

Where is Phyllis?

From the first committal report, it is not clear whether she is absent from court due to wives not being regarded as reliable witnesses on their husbands, or because she is perhaps frightened to appear. However, the second piece of coverage gives another angle.

The family story is that aunt Phyl was abused by her husband, and disappeared during the war – supposedly being found by the family at some point, in the Channel Islands. Perhaps she disappeared a few years earlier than that.

As ever, if there are relations out there who know more or have suggestions, do get in touch.

Notes

  1. Phyllis Scott and her siblings were all born in the Tonypandy area, part of Pontypridd registration district in Glamorganshire.
  2. Some further dates:
    • Phyllis Amelia Scott was born 28th August 1907 Blaenclydach, Glamorgan, died 4 December 1986 Belvedere, Kent. Second marriage to James Hendry, March 1947 at Stepney Registry Office, London.
    • William Charles Scott born 1901 Blaenclydach, died 1979 Stoke on Trent. Married Jessie Doris Liddy (from London) 1941 Stoke on Trent. Update; an old family address book shows him at High Lane, Burslem.
    • Daisy Maud Scott born 1st March 1899 probably Bush Houses, Cwmclydach, died 1982 Auckland, New Zealand. Married Spencer Edward May in 1923, Tonypandy?
  3. See Mattersey Hall’s ‘history matters’ web page.
  4. Jessie Doris Scott’s funeral notice in 2005 says “no flowers … donations preferred for Missionary Work”. The funeral was at Bucknall Pentecostal Church, Eaves Lane, Bucknall.

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