Frocking tale – Herts Guardian, Agricultural Journal, and General Advertiser, 15 November 1853:
Ann Bacon, Sarah Sayles, and Jane Archer, three uninteresting young ladies of Hatfield, were charged with assaulting May Ann Mitchell, another young woman of Hatfield, with a remarkably fierce looking deportment. – Complainant exhibited a tattered, tawdry, five-and-nine-penny muslin frock to the magistrates, and then told her sorrowful tale as follows:-“On Monday evening, gentlemen, I were walking up Park-street, when these here three young women began to abuse me. Their discourse was dreadful, and they swore they would strip me to the skin. Two got one side me, and one the other, and they tore my frock as you see (exhibiting it). I did not speak.”- All girls denied touching her. Two of them admitted saying to her as passed, “bladders of lard and cakes of fat,” and the third kindly warned her not to fumble over a pail of water. After a long and patient hearing they were fined 2 shillings sixpence for the assault, and 12 shillings sixpence for damages and costs; total 15 shillings or 5 shillings each, or ten days in default.-One of the accused, a pert young drab, addressing the bench in stone which would have become Abnack’s*, said: “If you please gentlemen, will you allow me time to pay the money; for I have none, and I shall have to earn it.”- the Bench however would not hearken to this pathetic appeal from one of the fair sex, and the young lady was locked up with her companions.
*(Unclear on what Abnack’s means but seems to suggest some sort of exaggeration – WN )