1923 : Seaton Road Feuds

From the Norwood News – Tuesday 5th June 1923, via the British Newspaper Archive

GIPSIES’ MELEE.
WHOLESALE SUMMONSES FOLLOW.
AMAZING COURT SCENE.

A feud among gipsy folk living at Seaton road, Mitcham, culminated on Saturday in quite a colony of them appearing at Croydon County Police Court.

They swarmed about the precincts of the Court to the extent that everybody was asking what was the matter.

The full details of the feud or vendetta did not come to light, and the public were disappointed, inasmuch as the story was not told for their benefit.

Evidently something serious happened in Seaton-road on May 19, and the outcome was 19 summonses and cross-summonses for assault. Leonard Dixie and his wife, Britannia Dixie, of Seaton-road, were summoned for assaulting William Smith and Alice May Hudson; Mercy Sparrowhawk, of Portland-road, Mitcham, charged with assaulting Amy Deakins, Britannia Dixie and Leonard Dixie; Phoebe Smith, William Smith, John Smith and William Smith, junior, all summoned for assaulting Leonard Dixie and Britannia Dixie and Thomas Edmund Stevens for assaulting Louisa Stevens, on the 20th.

Louisa Stevens did not appear to charge Thomas Edmund Stevens.

The charge sheet looked so formidable as to almost stagger the sitting magistrates.

Sir Arthur Spurgeon, chairman of the Bench, hit on a happy idea. He got all the parties ranged together on one side of the Court. There they stood in a row, with a crowd of onlookers greatly interested in them.

Mr. Clark, solicitor for some of the parties, said: I would suggest to your Worship that everybody be bound over.

The Chairman : We cannot do that at this stage.

SUMMONED TEN TIMES

Mr. Stanley Gibson said he represented the Dixies, who were summoned ten times and in turn were the prosecutors four times. His friend, Mr. Clark, was in six of the cases, and he must say they were both mystified how to settle the whole business.

The Chairman : How did the trouble originate?

Mr. Gibson : There was a general fight on May 19, and it is the outcome of that.

The Chairman : What led to the fight — a wedding?

Mr Gibson: I could not say.

The Chairman: Or perhaps a funeral?
(Laughter.)

Mr. Gibson : I don’t know.

The Chairman : You don’t know much about it then.

Mr. Gibson: My instructions are that a fight was going on when my clients, the Dixies arrived on the scene. How the original fight started we cannot say.

The Chairman : This is evidently a quarrel amongst families. I don’t know who is to blame, and I suppose if you heard all the cases we should not get to the bottom of it. The result, one pretty well knows, would be to find there were six to one and half-a-dozen to the other. All the lot are mixed up, summoning and cross-summoning one another, and what will be the advantage in the end to any particular party, I fail to see. My suggestion is that they should all shake hands and go home.
(Laughter.)

BYGONES:

The Clerk : That is the best thing, Sir Arthur, and let them bury the hatchet.

Both Mr. Clark and Mr. Gibson intimated they were agreeable to settle the dispute in that way. Meanwhile the parties looked on bewildered.

The Chairman : What do you say, Dixie?

Dixie : I don’t want to punish anybody.

The Chairman : Certainly not ; and you have no objection to shaking hands with these people and letting bygones be bygones?

Dixie (reluctantly): No.

The Chairman: And you, Smith, your are also agreeable to shake hands and let bygones be bygones?

Smith : Yes.

The Chairman : Come on, then, you two shake hands.

Smith approached Dixie and held out his hand. Dixie paused a moment, and then took the outstretched hand in his own.

Mrs. Dixie refused to shake hands with Smith, and indignantly brushed past him.

Alice May Hudson shouted out that she did not agree to a settlement in this way. She handed up to the Bench a doctor’s certificate as to the state of her health.

The Chairman : Of course, the usual bruises, and lost hair. (Laughter.)

Smith said he would take the responsibility for his married daughter, who objected, and withdrew proceedings on her behalf.

The Chairman : Very well, that is the best ending. All the cases are withdrawn.

The ending was so sudden and abrupt that all the parties looked at one another in amazement.

The Court was quickly cleared, but the parties remained about the corridors for a long while after, and there were heated conversations going on.

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