- Assizes record courtesy of Mr John Gillespie, grandson of Insp Fred Janes.
Maud Kitchener, aged 40, single, straw worker, 14 Gaitskill Row, Luton, first appeared before magistrates on July 24th, 1919, and pleaded not guilty to the charge: “On the 19th July 1919, together with other persons to the number of one thousand or more, unlawfully and riotously did assemble to disturb the public peace, and then did make a great riot and disturbance to the terror and alarm of His Majesty’s subjects there being, and against the Peace of our Sovereign Lord the King and his Dignity”.
She was stated to have been about the streets on Saturday wearing a soldier's cap and tunic. Police Sgt Arthur Clarke stated that when she was arrested Kitchener said: “I didn't do any such thing. I plead not guilty. I didn't move away from the bottom of Wellington Street. I know I had a soldier's cap and tunic on.”
Prisoner did not object to being remanded, but wanted bail, saying she had two children at home and no one else to look after them.
The Chief Constable: “The man she lives with is in court and can make arrangements about the children.”
Kitchener was before magistrates again on July 31th on the rioting charges. Then, Sgt Parsons said she was in front of the Town Hall about midnight, and he heard her say: “Knock the ----- down,” referring to the police. She repeated this and similar expressions many times. She was urging the crowd on as much as possible.
Pc Alfred Ellingham said he heard prisoner say, “I've lost two brothers in the war. We're not afraid of the police. I've got more pluck than any of them. Go for them!”
Pc William Green, Bedford Borough Police, who took part in the police charge on the Sunday night, said he identified the prisoner as one of those in the crowd at Dunstable Place.
The Town Clerk dropped a charge of demolition against prisoner, who was committed for trial on charges of rioting, pleading not guilty to each one.
Prisoner made an earnest appeal for bail because of her children and home, but Chief Constable Griffin opposed and said she was the most violent woman in Luton. The bail application was refused.
Maud Kitchener was, however, allowed released from jail on bail on August 13th when friends made an application on her behalf to Luton Borough Court. She was bailed in her own surety of £5 and of two others of £10 each. She was also bound over to keep the peace.
AT THE ASSIZES
When Kitchener was brought up for sentence at the Beds Assizes on October 24th, Inspector Fred Janes stated that prisoner had previous convictions, including assault, fighting and obscene language, was addicted to drink and was very quarrelsome when in drink. Her last conviction was in August 1916, for fighting.
His Lordship: “Does she do any work when not fighting?” Inspector Janes said the prisoner did straw work at home. She was living with the man who was the father of her four children.
Kitchener, who did not take the witness box, said she had no intention of taking part in any rioting, and had been a hard worker. If she were sent away her two young boys would be left to the mercy of her aged mother.
The Judge: “Their father is responsible for them.” Prisoner: “My chap has to go out to work.”
His Lordship: “I am afraid it is impossible for me to pass over this offence. You are known to be a dangerous character and a difficulty to the police.”
The sentence imposed on Kitchener was six months imprisonment. She had been found guilty of rioting and of malicious damage, but not guilty of riotous demolition.