Ballymoney Barrister Treats Servants as Guests, 1913

From the Jarrow Express, 21 July 1913:

A remarkable defence was made in a case in which Mr Robert Cramsie, barrister-at-law, of Ballymoney, Co Antrim, was prosecuted before the local magistrates by the Irish Insurance Commissioners for failing to pay the contributions under the National Insurance Act in respect of three employees. The defence was that the latter were not servants, but guests living in his house.

Maria Crawford said that she had been kitchen-maid for four years, but was dismissed on July 1st by Mr Cramsie, who said she was no longer his servant and he was no longer her master. Since then she had been in the house as a friend, doing just whatever she pleased. Mr Cramsie now did the work in the house himself – such as lighting the fires.

Mary Quinn, who had been housekeeping twenty-nine years, but was dismissed in July, said she now just occupied her time ‘mooching about’ the house. Mr Cramsie answered the door and attended to the fires, and she had seen him carrying food to the kitchen.

John Crawford gave evidence of a similar character, and said he was happy now, because there was no one like Mr Cramsie.

By a majority the magistrates imposed a fine of 6d in each case.”

Mr Cramsie, a JP and a very active and popular member of the Ballymoney community, died in 1932. In his will he left, among many other bequests to charities, friends and acquaintances, an annuity of £200 and any furniture in her bedroom and the kitchen she desires to have to his ‘faithful housekeeper’ Mary Ann Quinn, £100 each to her brother, George Quinn, and her sisters, Eliza Quinn and Mrs Ellen Dempsey.

He also left an annuity of £26 to Esther Green, formerly in his service, an annuity of £13 to Mrs Connor in his service, £100 to any other person in his employ of six months’ service and £100 to the trustees of Cramsie Endowment for the Benefit of the Poor.

Mr Cramsie sounds like a really lovely person!

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Author: Ruth Cannon BL

Irish barrister sharing the history of the Four Courts, Dublin, Ireland, and other Irish courts.

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