Whilst I was researching the Ranmoor Child Cruelty case which involved the wretched Mr and Mrs Pochin, I came across another case in Ranmoor, Sheffield that also resulted in a father appearing before the City magistrates. However whilst the Pochins were deemed to be a respectable professional couple the same could not be said about Arthur Mason and his wife.

The report appeared in The Manchester Guardian dated 22nd October 1891. Under the title "A Barbarous Father" it stated

"At Sheffield Town Hall yesterday, Alfred Mason who lives at Ranmoor, was charged with assaulting his daughter Esther, eight years of age, and causing actual body harm; and further with having neglected and ill-treated the child. The case had been taken up by the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children which was represented by Mr. A Neal. The little girl appeared in the witness box with both her eyes blackened and her head nearly wholly discoloured and covered with bruises. She was very much emaciated although apparently in good health. Her stepmother had been previously been bound over to keep the peace towards another child she had ill-treated, and the father (the prisoner) became the woman's surety.

It appeared that on Wednesday in the last week the child now under notice did something the father thought she should not have done and as a punishment he took her into the back room and thrashed her unmercifully with the buckle end of a waist strap, the blows being directed to the head and face principally, though every part of the body was visited. The medical evidence showed that the child to be in a very low condition, weighing only thirty-two pounds. The prisoner when charged said " I did it, and shall do it again. It is hard if I can't correct any child in my house without the police interfering. "

He was committed for trial.

The Birmingham Daily Post dated 23rd October 1891 carried a much briefer report

"The Sheffield magistrates on Wednesday committed for trial a man named ALFRED MASON who had so beaten his daughter, eight year old, with the buckle end of a "waist strap" that the little creature - who was moreover in a state of extreme emaciation - appeared in court with both eyes blackened and her head entirely covered in bruises. Mason expressed astonishment that he was not permitted "to correct his child in his own house without the police interfering". He also vowed to do it again."

But two days later The Reynolds Daily News (25th October 1891) reported under the title


At Sheffield Quarter Sessions on Friday a labourer named ALFRED MASON was sentenced by Mr Frank Lockwood QC, MP the Recorder to twelve months imprisonment with hard labour for cruelly ill-treating his child ESHER aged eight, who he systematically ill-used, beating her with the buckle end of a strap until she was covered in wounds. The Recorder said that it would slander the brute creation to call such treatment brutal and words would be wasted on such a being so utterly depraved and base. 

Alfred Mason must be listed as one of the most despicable and vile persons ever to have lived in Sheffield. " depraved and base" was putting it politely. I would of course like to know further information about this family an so if anyone can assist please contact me 


The Manchester Guardian dated 21st October 1891

The Birmingham Daily Post dated 23rd October 1891

The Reynolds Daily News 25th October 1891

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