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Henry Simmonite


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Henry Simmonite, described himself as a Medical Botanist. He tried to follow in his brother William's footsteps, and was sentenced to life in prison for manslaughter.

Henry Simmonite, born Whiston, Yorkshire, son of Joseph Simmonite and Frances, married in 1848 at Sheffield, to Sarah Haywood, born 1821 at Southey Hall, Sheffield.

The rest : http://www.whistonweb.co.uk/gen/henrysimonite.htm

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Henry Simmonite ran a ‘clairvoyant’ service specialising in absent spouses and their infidelities - popular enough to bring in a tidy profit. 

In 1891 he was serving his life sentence (for manslaughter) in Parkhurst, Hampshire, after an ill-fated attempt to terminate the unwanted pregnancy of a client, resulting in her death.

Deprived of her father's expertise in locating absent husbands, Henry's daughter Clara Harlow, a former Music Teacher, was left destitute with two children in Sheffield the following year. Her husband, William Harlow was a music-hall performer who had "skipped the town" to travel West:

The Music-Hall Artiste and His Family.— William Harlow, a music-hall artiste, formerly pleased local pantomime-goers by his impersonation of a policeman; lately he has delighted crowds by playing on the banjo...on the sands at Blackpool.

                                         (Sheffield Telegraph, 9 Aug 1892)

He had joined a Troupe of seven 'Christy Minstrels' in the sea-front resort, sending Clara only a miserly five penny-stamps for maintenance. The Guardians of the Poor had to step in with urgent relief, and "made enquiries"; Sergeant Jackson, perhaps mocked once too often by police impersonations on stage, resolved to visit Blackpool - and return with more than just a stick of rock. He tracked the deserter, recognising him despite the burnt-cork blacking on his face (he had a distinguishing lump on the back of his neck) and Harlow was duly apprehended while "busking on the Sands". He was sentenced to three months (with hard labour) by the Sheffield Stipendiary Magistrates.

The Telegraph reminded those progressives wanting reform of the Poor Laws, that:

Progress and pantomime have much in common— defying rules and laws, and upsetting policemen, being great features of both...

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Hi, I was wondering if you have any more information on Henry Simmonite.  The whistonweb.co.uk website mentioned in RichardB's post no longer exists.

Henry was implicated in the death of Betsy Hill, the first wife of my great grandfather, Walter Thomas Ross.  Betsy died from peritonitis arising from an abortion, but not enough evidence could be found to convict anyone over her death.  However, in 1881 Henry was found guilty of manslaughter when another of his 'clients' died from an abortion.  He was sent to Parkhurst prison (as you mentioned) where he died in Dec 1892.

I have got a lot of detail about his illicit activities from the reports in the Yorkshire press available on the British Newspaper Archive website.  Any further info you may have on his background and his family would be much appreciated.


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I wonder if they're related to the Simmonite family who did off-road racing and owned that Land Rover garage in Bradford?

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